Saturday, 9 August 2008

Ossetia

Oh shit, the South Ossetia situation looks bad, but I'm intrigued at some of the reactions (e.g. Crooked Timber here, and on Comment is Free). I've never understood the seeming willingness of people to back western proxies against Russia with some really specious and hypocritical arguments. It harks back to the sort of cold war rhetoric that saw leftists backing dictators against western imperialism, and western democratic governments destabilising democratic socialist regimes and propping up despots.

For my own part I think a 'Neither Washington or Moscow' approach is needed here (more like this article in the Guardian), although I'm fairly unimpressed by legalistic arguments about territorial integrity and sympathetic to calls for regional autonomy where this is backed by the population. I certainly won't be "stand[ing] in solidarity with Georgia" in their attempts to subjugate the population of South Ossetia.

More informed coverage from A Fistful of Euros and Lawyers, Guns and Money.

2 comments:

Woobegone said...

I'm puzzled that there seems to be a sense that we ought to take sides in a conflict like this - like there has to be a "right side" in every war.

I doubt that many people think that there was a right side to most of the wars fought before the 20th century. We see them as just senseless wars. Now I don't know if the South Ossetia conflict could be called senseless, but neither side seems to have the moral high ground to me. I'm no expert, but I'm puzzled that some people, who are also not experts, seem to feel strongly about this. It's as if neutrality is somehow shamefully close to apathy. (Of course I feel strongly that the violence should stop, but that's different.)

pj said...

There was a noticeable sense in the British media during the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia that there were goodies and baddies in the conflict. But I wouldn't have expected more obviously intelligent commentators to take sides in such a knee-jerk fashion. Particularly at that early stage.