Thursday, 14 August 2008

Old Feud Needs New Rules

By Mikhail Gorbachev

What happened on the night of August 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia (under the leadership of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin) had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenceless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.

Mounting a military assault against innocents was a reckless decision whose tragic consequences, for thousands of people of different nationalities, are now clear. The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of US instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a "blitzkrieg" in South Ossetia. In other words, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was expecting unconditional support from the West, and the West had given him reason to think he would have it. Now that the Georgian military assault has been routed, both the Georgian Government and its supporters should rethink their position.

Hostilities must cease as soon as possible, and urgent steps must be taken to help the victims — the humanitarian catastrophe, regretfully, received very little coverage in Western media at the weekend — and to rebuild the devastated towns and villages. It is equally important to start thinking about ways to solve the underlying problem, which is among the most painful and challenging issues in the Caucasus — a region that should be approached with the greatest care.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/old-feud-needs-new-rules-20080813-3v1a.html?page=-1

(thanks to Tired for the link !)

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, August 14th, 2008.]

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