Let Not History Repeat Itself
Why we must denounce Russia’s Georgian Incursion
Sometimes—as with Nazi Germany—we try so hard to prevent a conflict that we have to eventually fight a greater, emboldened enemy.
On the eighth day of the eighth month of 2008, the Games of the 29th Olympiad opened in Beijing. Despite being foreshadowed by the Sino-Tibetan Crisis, the 2008 Games are not boycotted by any nation. It would have been an occasion for the entire world to rejoice the Olympic brotherhood, if not for a despicable act of aggression that occurred a few hours earlier in the Caucasus Mountains.
Russian forces invaded the separatist region of South Ossetia in Georgia. In the next few days, the Russians also entered Abkhazia, another Georgian break-away province, as the international community sits and watches. By this time, it is of no use to argue over whose faults caused this international crisis. Regrettably, Georgia has its own share of blame for ignoring the Ossetian and Abkhazian grievances, but it is clear who is David and who is Goliath in this unmatched conflict.
In the UN Security Council, the sitting nations found their hands tied by the impending Russian veto reminiscent of the Cold War days. Not only that, the Cold War-style exchange of acerbic words also descended into the Council Chambers in New York; however, it is a much more dangerous rhetoric from another page of history that eerily reflects the situation.
What Russian Prime Minister (and the Kremlin’s own eminence grise) Mr. Putin wants is the rehabilitation of the former Soviet glory at the expense of its neighbors. The concept almost sounds like something that Adolf Hitler would have proclaimed in one of his fiery and misguided speeches. Hitler deemed the German defeat in the First World War was unjustified while lamenting over the failures of the Kaiserriech and the Weimer Republic; Mr. Putin views the Soviet defeat that the end of the Cold War and the Yeltsin administration that followed as a humiliation of an equal nature.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be nothing but the Russian version of Anschluss which Hitler enforced on Austria. After Austria, the Nazi leader’s next target was Czechoslovakia; the Russian Bear’s next move could as well be towards Georgia itself, or towards any of former Soviet states like Ukraine, Moldova or Estonia which it is currently harassing.
As the hapless nations of Central Europe once looked West at Britain and France, everyone in Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus currently is counting on America and her NATO Allies. Perhaps it is the hollow promises of a NATO membership that emboldened Georgia and that forced Russia’s hand. The Western World will be repeating an egregious mistake of history if it let Russia get away with this destruction of everything we have worked so hard to accomplish since the fall of Berlin Wall. A note of caution for well-intentioned mediator President Sarkozy of France: it is not time for appeasement a la Neville Chamberlain or for economic sanctions which Russia government couldn’t care less.
No matter how much words and negotiations are more powerful than actions, sometimes it is necessary to take out our arms when our cherished values are threatened. To defend her long-espoused values of liberty and democracy, the West has little choice but to take out her slingshots once again. Sometimes, the war is the sole effective weapon to teach Goliaths a lesson or two. Russium et Moscua delenda est.