Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ah crap


Russia stunned the West on Tuesday by recognizing the independence claims of two Georgian breakaway regions...The announcement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ignored the strong opposition of Europe and the United States, and signaled the Kremlin's determination to shape its neighbors' destinies even at the risk of closing its doors to the West.

"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," President Dmitry Medvedev said hours after announcing the Kremlin's decision.

Russia really seems willing to make a big fuss out of these regions. I wasn't around for the coldest days of the Cold War, when people were ready to launch nukes over the geologic equivalent of dandruff in the China Straits. I don't see how South Ossetia and Abkhazia are worth all this rot, anyway. For either side.

The other thing I can't understand is the utter absence of calls for a referendum in these regions on independence. Even before the recent fighting, it seemed to me that the population clearly wanted out of Georgia. If Puerto Rico and Quebec can have independence referendums, why not Abkhazia and South Ossetia? We can load up the place with international observers just to make sure things are on the up and up. Georgia loses de jure control of regions over which it lost de facto control ages ago, the residents of the regions get what they want, and nobody dies or goes to war.

It worries me that Russia is ignoring such a simple, clean, legal step that would get it what it wants. That tells me that Russia isn't interested in those two regions per se, but rather it's interested in a new sphere of influence, and the people of Georgia are merely a proxy for advertising that fact. Not good.

And heaven help us if Cap'n Shoot 'em Up ends up as president. Oy.

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