Comparing the Russia-Georgia and NATO-Serbia wars
by markjay, Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 09:39:11 AM EDT
A recent diary takes the left to task for not sharply enough attacking Russia's incursion into Georgia. I would suggest that Russia's attack on Georgia is at least as defensible as the NATO attack on Serbia of 1999, which the left largely supported.
Consider the following:
(1) Kosovo has been an important historical region within Serbia for many centuries. The historical ties of South Ossetia to Georgia are more questionable.
(2) Serbia's military crackdown in Kosovo (that was used as a justification of the NATO attacks) was in response to a violent insurgency by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Georgia's military attack on South Ossetia was unprovoked by any act of violence.
(3) South Ossetia has a natural connection to Russia, dating back to the days of the Soviet Union, and the people of South Ossetia have worked steadily to maintain that connection. In other words, the breakup of the Soviet Union thwarted a natural cultural/political climate for South Ossetians, in which they were part of an entity (the USSR) that includes North Ossetia, that was tied to Ossetian language and culture and Russian language and culture, etc. The autonomy that South Ossetia received shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union allowed South Ossetians to continue their cultural and linguistic traditions, traditional alliances, etc. (And the Georgian military incursion threatened to halt that.) Kosovo had no history of political connection to Albania or NATO. Kosovo was part of Serbia-dominated Yugoslavia, and, when that broke up, Kosovo remained part of Serbia. In a sense, then, the Russian incursion into Georgia was designed to maintain a political status quo of autonomy, whereas the NATO incursion into Serbia was designed to break up a status quo.
Of course there are counter-arguments, the main one being that Serbia's atrocities against the Kosovars were so widespread as to justify intervention. However, I think that perspective needs to be balanced with the ones above, which is that Georgia precipated the military conflict, etc.
I should also mention that I have been a strong supporter of both Clintons and that I put this perspective out even though it was my hero, Bill Clinton, who was largely responsible for the NATO action in Kosovo.
The bottom line? I think it is very hypocritical to attack the Russians for what they have done in Georgia, when the U.S./NATO took action that was no more defensible, and perhaps less defensible, in Serbia.