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August 26, 2008

Michael Totten: Georgia Didn't Start the War

Yup:

TBILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Worth reading in full, though Captain Ed provides a digest if you only have that.

Despite the fact that the Russians started it, and have behaved monstrously for their own cynical agenda of empire-rebuilding, I can't say the situation is quite clear-cut as regards the "renegade provinces." Yet again we have territory which contains a mix of ethnicities. The Georgians, of course, want to protect the Georgians living in the provinces (who themselves want to be governed by a Georgian government); but others in the provinces don't want to be under Georgian rule, and are perfectly willing to kill to express this preference. The country had a nasty civil war in the early nineties, so there's plenty of bloodlust to go 'round. Seems to me that there are two questions here which shouldn't be confused: 1, was Russia right to invade and bomb cities in Georgia, and 2, is the Georgians' "right" to rule the disputed provinces so great we should support that, or, indeed, if they should seek such rule themselves.

A great short briefing on the situation and history.

Totten under Cyberattack... Most likely from Russian hackers. Correction: I meant to say Russian hackers, and specifically note they weren't necessarily government hackers (invading other countries is wildly popular in Russia). But the word "government" was stuck in my head and I brain-farted.

Guess it's a good time to note Totten's work is reader-supported.


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posted by Ace at 01:49 PM

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