Posted by: adithoughts | September 17, 2008

Article for Sept 15 2008

Here’s the article I wrote for this week’s column:

The war between Russia and Georgia:
Russia and Georgia fought a war recently over the region of South Ossetia. In this article, I am going to break down the two sides different perspectives on the war and attempt to look at the implications of the war.
The region of South Ossetia has a history of conflict with Georgia. Russia and Nicaragua officially recognize South Ossetia as an independent nation, while the rest of the world sees South Ossetia as a part of Georgia. In early August, Georgia sent its troops into South Ossetia, breaking the terms of a 1992 ceasefire. As a result, Russia which has given passports to many South Ossetians reacted to the Georgian assault by sending in its troops to South Ossetia and then into Georgia. Under a ceasefire agreement, Russia has agreed to withdraw most of its troops.
Georgia is blamed by most countries for the immediate start of the war after it sent in troops into the region of South Ossetia. However, the overt assault by Georgia was followed by a history of skirmishes and saber-rattling by the two sides. Georgia claims that Russian troops had begun moving into the region of South Ossetia before its assault; however, no other independent source can corroborate the veracity of the claims.
Critics of Russia contend that the Russian response was disproportionate and heavy-handed. Russia is criticized for invading a sovereign country with a democratically elected government.
It would be interesting to note the moral equivalencies between recent US actions and Russian action in Georgia. Two instances of US intervention shall be examined, the first being the US invasion of Iraq and the second being US recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation from Serbia. The US invaded Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and therefore the US needed to depose him since the post 9-11 world was too dangerous for a dictator like Saddam Hussein to have WMDs. Ofcourse, no such weapons were ever found and the same was said by the UN inspection team which had been continuously monitoring Iraq’s WMD program. Iraq also had not made any direct attacks against the US or US interests whereas 90% of South Ossetians had Russian passports and therefore Russia claimed that it acted to protect its own nationals when Georgia attacked South Ossetia. However, one major difference between Georgia and Iraq was that Georgia has a democratically elected government, whereas Saddam Hussein was a dictator who ruled his people by force.
With regard to Russia’s recognition of South Ossetian nationhood, Russia compares the situation to Kosovo which recently held a referendum to separate from Serbia. While the West recognizes Kosovo’s sovereignty, Russia never accepted Kosovo as an independent nation. It can be argued that if Serbia had invaded Kosovo, the US and NATO would have come to the aid of Kosovo.
What does the military action taken by Russia mean in the larger context? One worrying trend that I see developing is the lack of diplomacy and increased unilateral actions taken by different nations. The League of Nations and the UN were formed after the two devastating World Wars to give nations a conduit to come together and talk about their differences so that the best possible outcome can be reached. In recent years, the UN has been deemed increasingly irrelevant as a result of the actions of a number of nations including the US and Russia, two of the most militarily powerful nations in the world. It is my hope that in light of this deteriorating communication situation, there will be a renewed emphasis on strengthening international institutions.
Humanitarian casualties: The Humanitarian impact is unclear as no independent corroboration has been obtained to verify either sides claims. Human Rights Watch has accused both Russia and Georgia of committing abuses against the civilian population. Russia had also accused Georgian forces of committing genocide in their initial assault, claiming that as many as 2,000 people had been killed by Georgian forces in South Ossetia at the start of the war.


Bomb blasts in New Delhi:

A series of bomb blasts occurred in Delhi on Saturday Septermber 15th. The bomb blasts took place in crowded marketplaces killing at least 20 people and injured 90. India has seen a spate of bombings in recent times which have claimed more than 400 lives since October 2005. Extremist Islamist organizations have usually taken responsibilities for the explosions.

Zimbabwe gets a power-sharing agreement:

After more than 28 years of unbroken rule, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday, September 15th, 2008. While many of the details of the agreement are yet to be worked out, the agreement to share power is seen as a positive step forward. The deal was brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Freezer-the place for cool things:
In the freezer this week is a talk by Jonathan Drori, who helps us realize just how many preconceived, misconceived ideas all of us harbor, and how adults are more susceptible to misinformation than children because we don’t ask the right questions.



  1. […] Article for Sept 15 2008 September 2008 4 […]

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