Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Situation in South Ossetia

God bless President Medvedev.

As many of you have doubtlessly seen, Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia Thursday night in a surprise attack aimed at restoring central control over the region, which has been de facto autonomous for fifteen years. Russia, which has maintained a peacekeeping force in the area since disputes between newly-independent Georgia and the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia last erupted in violence, moved to counter the Georgian strike. Lest anyone think, however, that the Russian manoeuvre was purely humanitarian, it should be borne in mind that there is some self-interest involved; a large portion of the residents of both regions are Russian citizens.

Let us not get lost in the squabbling over how many civilian deaths there are and who caused them, the bottom line is this: the diplomats of the post-war world created a monster. In the aftermath of the Second World War and the painful process of decolonization in Africa and the Middle East, the world's great powers instituted the doctrine of inviolable 'territorial integrity'. No line they had drawn could be moved, removed, or shifted without such an act being regarded as a crime against the international order. Such was the power of this ideal, that the so-called champions of democracy, like the US and Great Britain, routinely allowed 'territorial integrity' to supercede even the right of a people to self-determination, no matter how much lip-service they paid the latter.

Herein lies the source of most of the bitter conflicts of the last fifty years. A few examples may be asked for. The Kurds, treated as second-class citizens by Turkey, their language restricted by law, surely deserve the sympathy of every freedom-loving Westerner. However, regardless of how degreading their treatment is, no matter how the Turkish authorities attempt to extirpate their culture and forcibly assimilate them, no Western power will countenance the Kurds dividing the territory which a series of treaties have determined 'belongs' to Turkey. Bosnia, which even a decade after the war lies in the grip of paralyzing ethnic animosity, has been reduced to this sorry state by the fact that thousands of ethnic Serbs, who petitioned to have their border towns incorporated into Serbia after the war, were compelled against their will by the NATO forces to remain in Bosnia, to ensure the territorial integrity of a state whose borders' ink hadn't dried on the map yet. (This fact is a major justification used by the Serbs to mock NATO's pretensions of caring for the right of self-determination of the Kosovars, most of whom are actually Albanian refugees from WWII and their descendents, who ought to have been repatriated.) The biggest case, of course, is Iraq. Iraq is, simply put, a fake country. During most of the past five centuries, the Ottoman Empire treated what is now Iraq as three entirely seperate administrative provinces: one for the Sunnis, one for the Shiites, and one for the Kurds. The English, inheriting this territory after the Great War, amalgamated it for their convenience into a single unit, Iraq, in the 1920s. Today, of course, the American government is willing to pour the blood of thousands of our children across its sands to preserve Iraq's 'territorial integrity'. God forbid a people should have a land to themselves! Unless, of course, they're Jews.

Georgia, the US, and the EU now hurl accusations at Russia for violating the 'territorial integrity' of Georgia. Of course this is a sham. The whole concept of a country's inviolable 'territorial integrity' is an excuse for minsters and diplomats to chuck centuries of history out the window and turn a deaf ear to the cries of oppressed peoples. It is a fig leaf to cover the nakedness of their scheming ambition, and all the free world has worn it for fifty years. Though I deplore the suffering of innocents on both sides, I cannot help but rejoice at the outbreak of this conflict, hoping (let it not be in vain!) that it represents the first chink in the armour of this tyrannical international order. Let all the world take a lesson, that when 'free' America and 'progressive' Europe turned their backs on the downtrodden to further their own geopolitical interests, Mother Russia alone dared to speak for those who would not otherwise be heard, and to put first in her heart the principle of freedom which, as has been justly said, "no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Addendum 18.08.08 - If anyone doubts that today's politicians defend 'territorial integrity' with the kind of religious fervour which I have described, they need only read Sen. McCain's responses to Pastor Warren's interview at Saddleback Church:

"And now the Russians are coming in there in an act of aggression. And we have to not only bring about cease-fire, but we have to have honored one of the most fundamental rights of any nation, and that is territorial integrity. We must respect the entire territory of Russia -- excuse me -- the Russians must respect the entire territorial integrity of Georgia. And there's only 4 million people in Georgia, my friends. I've been there. It's a beautiful little country. They're wonderful people. They're suffering terribly now."

1 comment:

Michael Collins said...

"Such was the power of this ideal, that the so-called champions of democracy, like the US and Great Britain, routinely allowed 'territorial integrity' to supercede even the right of a people to self-determination, no matter how much lip-service they paid the latter."

That is the great dilemma, for those of us who are citizens, and irony for the world - we look at income opportunities, geopolitics, then civil liberties and democracy a distant third or fourth.

Self determination combined with social justice, that should be the message. But it isn't and, in general, has not been.

One might begin to suspect that those in control and their servants are fully aware that the periodic magic shows called elections are vehicles for the dominance and expansion of power at home.