13 August 2008

Thought on Georgia

Having just returned from a lovely vacation in Crimea where I had only sporadic news on the conflict in South Ossetia, I have come to the following conclusion:

Regardless of whether you're right or wrong, and no matter how many friends you think you have, it is rarely a good idea to poke a hungry bear with a stick. He's got the teeth and you have a stick. You do the math...

It's a lesson that I hope Ukraine will heed. There was some talk that Kiev might not allow the Black Sea Fleet back into Sevastopol (incidentally, I was there the day they set sail for Georgia...). I hope it is just rhetoric and not an indicator of true intentions. For as much as I support Ukraine's sovereignty and its ability to make its own decisions about its future, there is no getting around that fact that this is still a realist world (following the traditional usage of the term "realism" in International Relations theory). It is a struggle for power and security is zero-sum.

Georgia has shown us that if provoked, the bear will fight back with surprising ferocity. Given Russia's reaction, it seems apparent that there are some fights that just aren't worth picking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty much agree with your post, except for the word "surprising" in this sentence:

"Georgia has shown us that if provoked, the bear will fight back with surprising ferocity."

Russia's response was not surprising. The Georgian government and military should have anticipated and planned for such a response (at least as a strong possibility).