GEORGIA TOLLS FOR THEE.
Moscow, per its genesis and intrinsic nature, is anti-Western. As simple as that. Nothing irremediable, but a serious disease nevertheless.
This dreadful pathology was long hidden by the fact Moscow claimed to be Marxist, and socialist, and many in the West were, and are, genuine socialists. Basically, all of Western Europe, Britain included, is socialist (and the USA is not too far behind!). So there is a lot of sympathy for socialism in the West, and Moscow used that sympathy as a trick to advance itself (seducing thus Roosevelt’s gullible advisers at the Yalta conference).
That Moscow is deeply anti-Western was also hidden by the fact that Stalinian fascism, after being allied to, and an indispensable life support system of Hitlerian fascism, was attacked by it, and conducted a desperate fight against it. The USSR suffered 20 million dead, but with unbelievable ferocity orchestrated by Stalin, was able to win the crucial battles of Moscow (December 1941; between 900,000 and 1,600,000 total casualties) and Leningrad (total casualties above 1.5 million). Retreating troops were shot on sight by NKVD “blocking” sections (NKVD = KGB = FSB = Putin); prisoners, or soldiers gone missing, were viewed as traitors, and condemned to death (in first approximation).
But now the smokescreens are dissipating. Moscow has invaded Georgia, a country that existed for more than thrice as long as Moscow itself. A country with its own culture, language, religion, alphabet. A country always nestled among the mountains, south of the formidable range of the Caucasus. Georgia was the first country in the world to make Christianity its state religion (around 300 CE).
Moscow said Georgia, with one-fourth of its tiny army in Iraq, attacked its forces first. Never mind that those Russian forces were inside Georgia officially recognized frontiers already. Where Muscovite tanks are, it’s Russia, and attacking them is an unforgivable act of hostility. Moscow had deployed, or was in the process of deploying, more than 3,000 tanks, from many directions, inside Georgia, by the time the fighting broke out. The Georgians tried to block the mountain tunnel the Russian invaders were coming out of. (It has long been reproached to the Tibetans to not have resisted by force to the Chinese invasion, thus demonstrating a sort of consent; the Georgians were determined not to do this mistake; the Russians suffered significant losses, especially of bombers, heightening Moscow’s rage.)
The time of the final confrontation is at hand between the mentality of the West and the anti-Western mentality of Moscow. That anti-Western mentality is more than 1,000 years old (indeed it is much older than Moscow itself). This confrontation is much bigger than any problem connected with the US mistake of having invaded Iraq, because invading Iraq was deeply anti-American. Invading Iraq was contrary to American nature. Whereas invading Georgia is exactly what Moscow has always been about, ever since that city blossomed as the double agent stooge of the Mongols (before 1480).
Why is Moscow so enraged, so invasive? Because its mentality came from a confrontation between some Slavonic monks, disciples of Cyril and Methodius (two saintly brothers who invented a special alphabet and celebrated mass in Slavonic) and Western authorities (religious and political). The Western authorities viewed the disciples as divisive (and they were, as the fullness of time did show). The angry disciples got help from the just installed Bulgarian empire (the Bulgars were a nomadic people pushed 2,000 kilometers west by ancestors of the Mongols). The Bulgars converted to Christianity, but to the version of Christianity these irate disciples insisted on, complete with a new alphabet nobody had ever seen before (“Cyrillic”), and that nobody civilized could read. Thus the Bulgars inherited the conflict those disciples had with the Franks and the Pope. Next this happy crew went north into the land of the RUS’, the Swedes who had colonized Ukraine. They converted the Rus’, to their version of Christianity hostile to the West.
The result was that the growing Russia inherited a conflict it did not start. The alphabet and other mysteries of the same sort increased the alienation with the West. Two centuries later, the Mongols invaded, and destroyed the Russian army. Whereas Europe fielded vast armies that were soundly defeated in Poland, and then in Hungary, it ignored Russia’s fate. The Mongol victory in Hungary had been costly for the descendants of the Huns, and although the Mongols reached the Adriatic, they did not stay.
But they did stay in Russia, as the “Golden Horde”. Russia was left under the Mongol yoke for more than two centuries. The “Grand Duchy of” Moscow grew up, by rising the tribute for the Mongols over an ever extending domain. Working for the Mongols taught some special antidemocratic ways to Moscow, and a great distrust of the rest of Europe. The early republics of Rus were forgotten. Russia never forgave Europe to have let it down, and Moscow’s Mongolian ways won over democracy and enlightenment. The more antidemocratic and obscure, the better, and the Russian soul was left to whine about the tragedy of the human condition, while never forgetting to invade here, there, and everywhere. No doubt the mentality inherited from those travails helped it build the largest, most stable empire the world has ever seen. It knew its greatest extent under Stalin.
Then, entrapped in Afghanistan, and left behind in nearly all civilizational ways by the democracies, the USSR disintegrated, as the captive nations escaped Moscow’s grab. Putin whines about it: “the collapse of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century”. Sob. Notice Putin speaks about “tragedy”, not “humiliation” (Putin’s apologists in the West generally have it that he is not a tragic figure, but an humiliated one: they are not paying attention!).
Collapse of the USSR as “greatest tragedy”? What about the time the kid next door stole the big red balloon of little Vlad? The “greatest tragedy”: never mind Nazism and its 60 million dead. Never mind Stalin who boasted to Churchill that he “killed even more Soviet citizens than Hitler did”. The greatest disaster, according to Putin, was the relatively small shrinkage of the world’s largest empire, when dozens of nations escaped its yoke (many of those nations were way older than Moscow, such as Poland, the Baltic republics, Ukraine, Georgia, and many “Muslim” republics). The twenty thousand tanks and fourty thousands nukes were not used to keep the empire together, but everything else was. And it did not work. No doubt Putin, the ex-KGB officer has noticed this, and that is why he invaded Georgia with more tanks than Hitler used to invade the USSR.
So now Putin wants to grab it all back. Georgia is just a trial run, testing the waters the way Stalin or Hitler used to (after all, if Putin admires Stalin so much, and since Stalin was fascinated by Hitler, it all fits together).
For Putin, the more appealing objective is Ukraine. But it will not stop there. A Colonel General of the Russian army suggested Poland would have to pay too. Of course Putin can only be besides himself that Bulgaria, that started the entire adventure in alienation land, is now safely tucked inside the European Union. Kosovo is way beyond Bulgaria, when coming from Moscow, so the fact that Bulgaria is now a part of the EU has got to be resented as another enormous outrage by Gorbachev, Putin, and their hateful ilk.
The Europeans have to carry the main economic weight of confronting Moscow at this point. The Europeans need the courage to go all the way, and forget about begging for energy from Moscow, down on their knees. They can do it, but it will be tough. Otherwise Moscow will reinvade as much as it can (until the unavoidable military struggle).
Gorbachev, the Russian tsar before Putin, impudently condemns the fact that Kosovo voted for its independence repeatedly. Voting is a big no-no for Moscow. Invading is what Moscow does. Voting gets in the way.
Kosovo has been its own country forever. It was part of Illyricum, from which many formidable Roman emperors came (Diocletian, Constantine). A baby from a family of Illyricum could be born in York, Britain, as Constantine was. Meanwhile, the first Russians did not even exist, and had not gone anywhere near the future site of Moscow (a settlement founded around 1147 CE).
The Serbs were invited to settle in the area by emperor Heraclius (7th century). The Serbs are the guests, the Kosovars are the original stock. And, although the Serbs fought a battle against the Turks in Kosovo, they mainly stayed out of it for a very long time.
Moreover the Serbs have voted recently twice to confirm implicitly that Kosovo could go its own way, and that Serbia would join the European Union instead. Ultimately, belonging both to the European Union will reunify Serbia with Kosovo, in the fullness of time!
Kosovo, besides, is 40 times the population of South Ossetia. South Ossetia has been a province of Georgia for 3,000 years. It has its own little tini tiny language and particularism, a method of divide and rule invented by Stalin, all over the USSR (and especially in the Caucasus). Now Moscow has decided that South Ossetia is part of Moscow’s empire.
Is Kosovo also part of Moscow? What about Berlin? After all, Berlin is much closer to Moscow than Kosovo. That new method is simple: Moscow distributes passports to some residents of a foreign country, and then claims Russians are under attack, and invade. In the initial fighting in South Ossetia, Moscow claimed the Georgians killed 2,000 Ossetians in the major city (thus, 2,000 Russians!). At last real count the fighting inside that city killed only 137 (or so). And who has been using bombers bombing inside Georgia, including Ossetia? Moscow. (Georgia shot down several bombers: one more anti-Russian crime). Now Moscow is distributing Russian passports to Ukrainians living in Crimea. Soon it will have to “rescue” them, no doubt.
Oh, by the way, why is Moscow so obsessed about Kosovo? Kosovo is smack dab in the Middle of the Mediterranean region (100 kilometers from the sea). Kosovo never had anything to do with Moscow, except as an object of desire. The Muscovite desire for the Mediterranean sea. Moscow wants all the seas. It has many of them, but not that one. It is painful. Moscow wants it all, like Staphylococcus Aureus. It is high time to draw the line. The line is that if Moscow wants to keep on with its anti-Western, antidemocratic, invasive mentality, it can stay in its own sand box. After all, it is the largest in the world.
P/S: 1) The NYT published a simplified version of the text above in their electronic edition, minus the final section, that it cut out. It was an interesting wink: OK, we know who you are, and you are right, but we, at the NYT, have our own foreign policy, we are sure you understand. The NYT apparently wants people to think that the Russian government and its Gorbachev are reasonable. Thus, having grabbed Kosovo from Moscow is a crime. Never mind that Kosovo is next to Rome (and never had anything to do with Moscow, as we said). A precedent: the NYT, and US media in general, refused to be alarmed by the way Hitler treated Jews, and the way Hitler’s “kingdom” was, and that, for years (this led directly to the defeat of the French army, the occupation of Europe, and thus the Shoah, and 60 million dead). The present situation with Russia is very similar. After all, Hitler’s Reich started as a democratic republic. Soon Chancellor Hitler made himself President too, just like Putin, but going the other way. Soon, with British cooperation, Hitler violated the Versailles Treaty (1935). That was the crucial step: France could not attack as long as Britain was collaborating with Hitler (the similar step now is the invasion of Georgia). A few years later, including severe alcoholics and other drastic social outcasts, the total population of inmates in Nazi concentration camps was only 4,700. It would soon explode into the millions, yes, but that discreet begining means that Hitler’s evil had to be detected in the detail of his actions. Guernica should have been plenty enough (1936).
2) Ultimately, the only solution for Moscow is to quit the alienation it likes to roll in like some animals do in the mud. That means joining the European Union. That means forgetting on the resentment that seems to drive Putin all too much. Far from being an economic superpower, Moscow has a significantly smaller GDP than France (although with twice the population and about thirty times the area of France; or less than half the population of the USA, with nearly double its area!) It could be easily swallowed, once it satisfies the democratic requirements for membership. Right now, Putin is going the other way, though, since he declared grandly Russia should not bother with the World Trade Organization. Indeed, who needs trade, when one has so many tanks? And so many juicy neighbours to invade?
3) Ah, a last strategic perspective: the central Asian republics, determined to shake Moscow’s yoke, have set up a system of pipelines to send crude oil and gas directly to the rest of the world, bypassing Russia. All these pipes go through Georgia, and have to go through Georgia (to avoid Russia north of the Caucasus, and Iran to the south). Russian tanks got next to the pipes, and they were shut down (imagine Putin’s glee!). A fourth giant pipe is also planned. Still one more of these Georgian crimes! Thus the invasion of Georgia is also an attempt by Moscow to reestablish control of central Asia.
4) As far as Abkahzia and Ossetia being non Georgian, according to international observers, two thirds of the population of the former, ethnically Georgian, were ethnically cleansed (around 400,000 Georgians were expelled from their home area). And as far as the 50,000 South Ossetians with Russian passports are concerned, the presence of their province within immediate proximity of the very center of Georgia (Gori, where Stalin was born), and the capital of Georgia, Tbilissi, makes the claim that it is indeed a different country extremely dubious (there too thousands of Georgians were expelled).
5) Human Rights Watch says the pictures of five villages near the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, are “compelling evidence of war crimes and grave human rights abuses”. Those are ethnic Georgian villages. The organization called on the Russian government to prosecute those responsible.
6) People who aspire to be taken seriously, like Obama’s Samantha Power (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard), argue that Russia was humiliated, and thus, attacked. This spin was disseminated by the Kremlin critters themselves. The Nazis had used it before as an explanation of why they wanted to kill everybody. This attempt to brandish humiliation as a prime motivator of human beings is an attempt to substitute a feel good hierarchy about what motivates humans most, to the, much more violent real thing. It is erroneous in the first approximation. When a bear, or a bull charges, it is not out of humiliation (too complicated), nor, of course, fear (because, if afraid, it would flee). A bull, or a bear, or a lion charges out of anger, rage, or hatred. And, first of all, because that is what it does when excited. Humiliation is not an option.