July 23, 2020

Georgia on My Mind

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Not talking about the Middle East greatly clarifies the mind. Once you clamber out from under all the factual and analytical nonsense, the confused ideological distortions about the Middle East, it’s possible to see clearly how international affairs actually work. Consider the Russia-Georgia war.

Russia is a powerful country which once again has a strong government and leader under former president (and actual ruler) Vladimir Putin, extending its influence as a great power, as is still done even in this age of multicultural, perfectionist virtue.

Here are some of the main features of how this works:

  1. Subversion. No doubt the Russian minority in Georgia has grievances. Yet these are not submitted to peaceful discussion or international mediation but are rather stirred up by a neighboring state for its own interests. By aiding internal forces with funds, weapons, backing, and encouragement to fight, Russia increases their demands and makes any negotiated resolution impossible. Parallel: Arab states and Palestinians. The parallel would be more complete if thousands of articles and hundreds of books were written, Georgia was denounced by scores of non-government groups and the world spent much of its diplomatic energy trying to ‘resolve’ the issue, naturally to the disadvantage of Georgia.
  2. Aggression:  Russia is staging unprovoked attacks on Georgia, playing up the nonexistent Georgian threat to itself. This fact is concealed behind all sorts of ‘even-handed’ coverage. Parallel: Arab states and Israel. Hysteria over the ‘Israeli threat’ to the Arabic-speaking world drowns out a simple, sober evaluation of what’s actually happening.
  3. The International dysfunctional community is afraid of Russia or at least does not want to antagonize it for strategic and economic reasons. Perhaps Russia will do something to them or not cooperate on other issues, and so on. Thus, the emphasis is on both sides stopping rather than on supporting Georgia as a victim of subversion and aggression. Parallel: The world and Israel. The Arabic-speaking and Muslim-majority countries are so strong and in some cases rich as to discourage supporting Israel, all the while as these self-interested motives are being portrayed as humanitarian and moralistic.
  4. Elimination: Russia’s long-term goal is to eliminate Georgia as a state, absorbing it into Moscow’s empire. This objective is concealed behind alleged concern for its poor brethren suffering under the Georgian yoke.Parallel: Too obvious to need discussion.
  5. At least it’s not America: Criticism of Russian policy is rather muted in the West even though it represents the kind of bullying imperialism that is supposedly the Satan of the progressive, mainstream media and intellectual line today. This includes its unilateral nature. Moscow certainly didn’t ask for a UN resolution or consult anyone else. Parallel: America and the world. If the United States did this kind of thing it would excite a tidal wave of horror and revulsion. If you want it is possible to make a comparison to the Iraq war though that-whether right or wrong-had a far better rationale.

Of course, none of these parallels are exact but such a comparison tells us that the concept of ‘double standards’ is a severe underestimate of what goes on nowadays regarding international affairs.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

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About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)