I've spent much of the weekend reading blogs about the conflict, including Russian-language blogs of people supposedly there. Most of these are maintained by youth and read like angry propaganda. This widely cited blog is from a youth in Tskhinvali who was supposedly nice enough to emerge from his bomb shelter to make posts about how the women and children were being run over by tanks, even though the city was without power.
He's a member of one of several youth movements in Russia called New People to go with Young Russia and Nashe, the official "Putin Youth" government-sponsored nationalist organization. They held demonstrations in Moscow protesting "NATO-Georgian aggression." The photos posted showed teenagers gathered around a jar of red liquid labeled "Blood for Saakashvilli," while in the videos you can hear them chanting anti-Georgian and anti-U.S. slogans.
The liveblogging Russian youth are quite angry and nationalistic, seeing Georgia as merely a puppet of the U.S., and their actions despicable violations of international law. There are a few Georgians asking questions on the blogs who are getting told to go to hell.
The Russian media is state-controlled and producing some very one-sided coverage. Here's an English-language example.
What sounds more like "genocide", responding to an attack after publicly declaring a unilateral ceasefire (what Georgia did)? Or asking UN peacekeepers to leave the Kodori Gorge (in Abkhazia, not even S. Ossetia) so you can shell Georgian villages (What Russia did)?
Russia is now singling out Ukraine for selling Georgia weapons. However, the U.S., Turkey, Lithuania, France, and other NATO countries have sold the majority of the weaponry to Georgia.
So, one reason I blog is to try to balance what I perceived as very anti-Georgian efforts on the Net.
The other reason I blog is because of what an anonymous White House official told the NY Times yesterday: "Maybe we're learning how to shut up now."
In other words, we've been critical of Russia and others despite our own poor unilateralism, and made many promises to countries like Georgia, and now we are powerless to deliver any action. We can't "walk the talk."
We give billions to a country like Pakistan whose own internal security forces tried to assassinate Hamid Karzai and give aid to the Taliban while our own soldiers die trying to keep the Taliban out of Afghanistan. Yet we just keep giving more and pretend that things will get better. We do nothing.
We promise Georgia a NATO position in April, train their troops and pledge to support them because they sent 2,000 soldiers to Iraq. But now when the chips are on the table and their country is on the verge of invasion, we do nothing.
Even the Ukraine had the guts to tell the Russian Navy not to return to their Ukranian bases.
So, I mourn the newfound impotence of my country, whose President says The Case for Democracy was one of his favorite books. I mourn the dirt in the eye of Georgia who will now likely be kept at arms length and out of NATO.
I mourn for countries like Moldova and Azerbaijan who will have to think twice about reuniting with seperatist parts of their countries in order to move forward economically & politically. Moldova especially can learn from the Georgian precedent-- Moscow will intervene in your affairs.
I firmly support Georgia's efforts at joining the West and their fragile and imperfect democracy.