I have been listening to the news as of late and have issues with the way the Mainstream Media and the Punditry have framed the Russia/Georgia conflict.
They are not telling you the whole story. And the fact they are not merely exemplifies the attitude of the US that is part of the problem for Russia.
Lets start with some history first…
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia elevated Boris “Yes-Man” Yetslin to the Presidency. Under his weak leadership several things happened, but the two biggies were:
1. Economic Change
The transition to capitalism was extremely rough and unplanned leading to HUGE dispairities between the rich and poor, as well as the dramatic rise of cowboy/mafia style capitalism. This left the masses EXTREMELY dissatisfied and upset.
Coming from a system where they KNEW they would at the least have shelter, food, and medicine, the rough and tumble version of capitalism that exploded in Russia was devastating in many ways. They felt downtrodden and conquered, unsure and broken.
2. The Isolation of Russia
The US continued to treat Russia with a Cold War mindset. Instead of being inclusive, accepting and supportive, the US sought to essentially neuter Russia. Not including Russia in the building and installation of the missile defense system in Poland was a big slap in the face, for example.
The Eastern Bloc countries pushed for the isolation of Russia as well. They wanted to avoid any prospect of continued Russian domination of the region and rushed to apply for membership to NATO and the EU. Since 1999, no less than 10 former Soviet Republics have been formally accepted into NATO, an organization originally created to combat Russia. In additon, there are also a whole host of cooperative treaties between many other former Soviet Republics and NATO, which is essentially a stepping stone to formal membership.
The exclusion of real military cooperation and integration into a NATO type alliance, the continuation of NATO itself, the exclusion of Russia from the EU, the acceptance of many of the countries around it into NATO, and the criticism of how Russia handles it’s internal politics has left Russia feeling isolated… backed into a corner if you will.
And I don’t really blame them. I would feel the same way too.
So, let’s fastforward to the present and talk about the whole “Russia Invades Georgia” thing…
On the border of Russia and Georgia there are the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The bulk of the population is ethnically Russia, but it does fall within the traditional borders of Georgia… sorta. In additon, the larger half of the Ossetia region (North Ossetia) currently lies within Russia’s borders.
There has essentially been a stand off in the two regions between Russia and Georgia for a good while now with both governments essentially exercising control over the region in a tense cooperation. Russia had sent troops in to quell disputes between ethnic Russian and Georgian civilians. These troops were merely engaged in peacekeeping operations and had been in South Ossetia for a while. Essentially, they were in South Ossetia to protect the Russians living there.
Russia sees itself as the guarantor of the safety of the ethnic Russians in all the former Soviet states.
Ok, so, eventhough Georgia was denied membership to NATO a year or so ago, there are cooperative treaties with NATO and a perceptual support of Georgia’s claim to those regions.
So what did Georgia decide to do?
They attacked South Ossetia on August 7th, killing the Russian troops engaged in the civilian peacekeeping operations, killing and displacing tens of thousands of ethnic Russians in the area.
So what did Russia decide to do?
Well, they said “Oh, hell no! You did not just kill our troops and people!” So, they sent in the Army to protect their peacekeepers and “their” people. And Russia, predictably, is kicking the crap out of Georgia.
So what did the US decide to do?
First, the US blames Russia for being a bully eventhough Georgia threw the first punch.
Second, the US flies the Georgian troops in Iraq back to Georgia on US planes so they can fight the Russians.
Third, the US starts sending in food and medical supplies to Georgia.
Fourth, the Russians are starting to discover caches of American weaponry being used by Georgia.
So, let me get this straight…
1. We isolate Russia
2. We surround Russia
3. We blame Russia for striking back when hit
And so, what are we going to do now?
Well, the President of Georgia is screaming that the denial of Nato entry allowed Russia to invade.
With our current attitude, we will probably allow the entry of Georgia into NATO, further isolating Russia and thumbing them in the eye.
Does anyone still wonder why Russia is not all that cooperative and treats the US with suspicion?
I certainly don’t.
But do you hear about any of this in the media… Nope.
Now, does this mean that I endorse the actions of Russia in any shape, form or fashion? No, I don’t.
But, I do think that with renewed sabre rattling from DC and the media only telling half the story… well, we have all seen that movie before, let’s just say that.