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Thursday, August 14, 2008



If I was being generous I'd guess this is a rather crass attempt at satire.

No-one worthy of the tag "progressive" would try to justify choosing one belligerent (an authoritarian one, to boot) over another, without even a nod towards - ooh, let's see - peaceful negotiation, support for democracy, universal human rights, etc. And they certainly wouldn't follow conservatives by asking us to "get real" and forbear the better, juster, and happier state we look towards, in favour of the status quo.

Chris Bain

What all of this shows is that the first casualty of war is indeed truth.

The coverage of this conflict has been heavily skewed to cast Russia in the role of bullying agressor whilst painting Saakashvili and poor little Georgia as a defender of liberty and democracy.

The truth is rather more complex. Georgia's Human Rights record is poor and deteriorating under Saakashvili. Georgia have been aggressors in the past and probably were this time. Certainly Saakashvili is seen as a maverick by key NATO members.

We also need to keep in mind that the territorial integrity so much quoted by the US was imposed on Russia, and the people of South Ossieta and Abkhazia as part of the post cold war settlement. This at a time when Russia was weakened and in chaos

On the other hand it is also true that a resurgent and powerful Russia is flexing it's muscles and using excessive force, and that they had an agenda of imposing their will on a State that is increasingly looking to the West and to NATO.

Russia is also sending out a powerful message to other former Warsaw Pact countries and the people of Georgia are paying the price of that message in blood.

The helplessness of NATO and the UN, not to mention the United States, in the face of what is an unfolding humanitarian crisis should also give food for thought. The world may be changing for good, and our international institutions may need to change as well.

But I can't help feeling that looking to apportion blame is pointless. What the people of Georgia and the breakaway enclaves need is a lasting ceasefire, an end to the bloodshed and the terror. Only if that happens can a solution to one of the many post cold war contradictions be found. Surely that is the most important thing

Andy Ray (Wimbledon)

A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Cold War II.

Cold War II seems to have now formally broken out with the Russian dismemberment of Georgia (albeit being triggered by Saakashvili’s recklessly CRIMINAL rocket attack on his own CIVILIANS at the middle of night!). Possibly this is the logical prognosis of the Bush-Blair doctrine of dismantling the painstaking achievements of Reagan-Thatcher-Gorbachev by unnecessarily needling Russia instead of capitalising on its eagerness to be “European” and be the vanguard against terrorism. So, whilst we may brace ourselves to sadly watch history repeating itself (unless Obama’s diplomatic approach later on stops the rot), let me defer to the oracle of Matthew Arnold (“Dover Beach”) written in the 19th Century :

..... the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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