Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cold War, Part Deux

Russia seems keen on engaging in a revamped Cold War with the West. By officially recognizing the Georgian autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they are laying down a line in the mud.

Russia has ignored territory integrity by its invasion of Georgia. South Ossetians and Abkhazians are not Russians; nor are they Georgians. Russia is not coming to the rescue of its people -- Russian people in foreign lands, though they want us to think so.

South Ossetians and Abkhazians have had their issues with Georgian for decades if not centuries. Russia is not going to allow North and South Ossetia to merge into the independent nation of Ossetia. If they do that, why not the nations of Dagistan or Chechnya?

Russia is trying to avoid fighting this new cold war alone. This week, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan hoping to gain support for his Georgian intrusion. It is not clear how successful Russia will be at winning over the central Asian member states of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Russia is on shaky ground with respect to Georgia. Everyone one with a brain knows that Russia is posturing against its ex-Soviet comrade states who find the west more appealing company than non-democratic Russia.

The west actually has a key lever in this battle: economics. Since the excursion and Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian ruble and Moscow stock market have fallen. Europe needs Russian oil and natural gas (a carbon or fossil fuel Speaker Pelosi). Russia wants the revenue. Russia desires WTO membership and G7/G8 participation.

The further Russia goes down the Cold War II line, the more it will ostracize itself from its customers. Its international friends will be limited to Iran and North Korea. The Kremlin cronies will do okay in their self-centered worlds, but the Russian masses will suffer. They will return to Soviet-era "freedoms" and lack the abiliity to access the global market for their other goods and services. Western nations and individuals will elect not to invest into Russia. Russia will pay a severe price due to its egotism.

In additiona to a growing NATO, Russia claims that this Georgian invasion is due, in part, to its opposition to the missile defense system planned for the Czech Republic and Poland. The West says it is a strategic defense against rogue nations. Russia is acting more and more like one of these rogue nations. It seems that using this defense system against Russia is becoming more appropriate.

Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail and Russia will back down from it cross-border excursions; that Cold War part deux will be avoided...until the next time.

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