esmaspäev, august 04, 2008

dog days of august

My attention in recent hours has been on the warming up of the frozen conflict in the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia.

My only thoughts are that, if somebody wants to resolve that issue violently, then now is the time. In only a few days the summer Olympics will begin in Beijing and presumably capture more global attention than some renegade province in the Caucuses ever will.

The leaders of the "West" -- as the EU and North America are commonly known -- are also likely to be distracted. The European priority is still finding a solution to the Lisbon treaty drama; plus most good Europeans are likely to be away sailing the Aegean or hiking the Alps at this time of year. In the US, the presidential race will get hotter, with vice presidential picks dominating the news cycles, followed by the actual political convention coverage that will take us through the first of September.

In this environment, it would make sense for those who wish to settle their scores to unleash their bags of dirty tricks. It brings to mind one eventful June in the year 1940, when, as Hitler's troops marched into Paris -- a city far better known to the world than Tallinn, Estonia -- the government of Estonia suddenly found itself blockaded by Soviet military on land, sea, and air, and directed at gunpoint to abandon its sovereignty.

Some carriers of news took notice at the time, but who could be bothered to pay attention to some former-tsarist province when German troops were goose stepping down the avenues of the French capital.

Update: Vladimir Socor has an interesting post up about this.

24 kommentaari:

plasma-jack ütles ...

Scary stuff. If you add the looming Iranian campaign to the picture, it gets even more sinister.

Giustino ütles ...

People always raise the specter of something like that happening in Ida-Virumaa, but I don't buy it.

AndresS ütles ...

Hope my planned vacation to Georgia isn't affected by any of this posturing. :)

Giustino ütles ...

Yeah, I was thinking about you. Things there seem to heat up then cool down. But, like I said, if Medvedev wants to look tough, now's the time.

plasma-jack ütles ...

I would say that if somebody wants to make Medvedev look weak, then it migh be the time.

Sebastiaan ütles ...

I can only hope Russia is going to help the South Ossetians as much as possible. It is no fun living under a fascist regime for so many years. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are in the same boat as Kosovo. When a large part of the world acknowledges Kosovo. They should also acknowledge Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independed nations.

Georgia is now attacking not only South Ossetians but is also shelling their own people. Georgians are afraid of their own government now, which is fully controlled by the US. Millions of dollars are pumped into the Georgian army while the poor Georgian citizens frequently are without electricity etc.

I hope Russia will annex both Abkhazia and South Ossetia so those two regions can live a normal live under a government that respects them.

More news about this war can be found on the blog of http://artemis.ws

Gavin ütles ...

Yeah! That's it, Bas! Then maybe during the Sochi Winter Games in Russia, China can invade Taiwan and restore basic human rights to Taiwan, US-controlled fascists that they are.

Of course what really has to be done, as long as we're on the subject of geopolitics, is giving the Netherlands back to Germany to manage. It's gone far enough, their little upstart dopey coffeeshop enclave. Out with gezelligheid and in with the gemütlichkeit. But what Holland really needs (besides to be called "Holland" for 50 years) is precision.

Giustino ütles ...

I hope Russia will annex both Abkhazia and South Ossetia so those two regions can live a normal live under a government that respects them.

And then Russia will rule the world, and all will bow down before her boring novels, lesbian pop duos, miniature president, and Stalinist history!!!

In the words of the late Joe Strummer, bring me the biggest balalaika!

plasma-jack ütles ...

Giustino, Russian literature is NOT boring. If you're afraid of Dostojevski, start with Dovlatov - since he was a non-Estonian journalist working in Tallinn, his memoirs should be interesting enough. As for the living authors, Mihhail Veller and Viktor Pelevin are certainly worth a look.
Among the classics, the fundamental textbook for understanding the Russian soul is Gontcharov's "Oblomov" (was translated to Estonian by Tammsaare).
Sebastiaan, you should certainly read all these authors.

plasma-jack ütles ...

http://www.raamatukoi.ee/cgi-bin/raamat?9187
This is a must-read - a Russian take on Russian politics.
(I hope some Nashist will point out that Veller shouldn't be called a Russian author, because he's a filthy Jew)

Giustino ütles ...

Dovlatov, Gontcharov, Oblomov? I am feeling light-headed already. But Veller sounds like a name I can handle. Maybe I'll start with him.

martintg ütles ...

Blogger Gavin said...

Yeah! That's it, Bas! Then maybe during the Sochi Winter Games in Russia, China can invade Taiwan and restore basic human rights to Taiwan, US-controlled fascists that they are.

Of course what really has to be done, as long as we're on the subject of geopolitics, is giving the Netherlands back to Germany to manage. It's gone far enough, their little upstart dopey coffeeshop enclave. Out with gezelligheid and in with the gemütlichkeit. But what Holland really needs (besides to be called "Holland" for 50 years) is precision.


I'm with Gavin. France should also liberate their oppressed French speaking compatriots in Belgium, and drive out those fascist Vlaams-Blok lovers infesting the ancestral lands of the French Fry.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Russian propaganda aside, I can see no way for Abkhazians and Georgians to live peacefully in the same state.
http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/389337

tommy ütles ...

“And then Russia will rule the world, and all will bow down before her boring novels, lesbian pop duos, miniature president, and Stalinist history!!!”
That’s right, Giustino. The West is bowing at present soon before Russia, (of her oil and gas). What’s Estonia + another East Eur.? “A far away countries of which we know little” But how do vote ‘Hausfrauen’, not having gas to make lunch?! So their husbands!

Giustino ütles ...

That’s right, Giustino. The West is bowing at present soon before Russia, (of her oil and gas). What’s Estonia + another East Eur.? “A far away countries of which we know little”

My hypothesis is that Germany has resumed its secret plan to steal Russia's resources. The problem is that Russia has its own plan to Finlandize Europe and then ... I don't know what. Get even shinier new cars? Feel important?

We have gotten to the point where we don't know whose secret plan will succeed.

Estonia and the Czech Republic were added to the EU empire because of their nice beaches and nightlife. Besides, the venelased will always have Sochi, and how could the Germans turn fellow secular Lutherans and Catholics down?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, I don't think that history will repeat itself even as a farce. Even the Kremlin has more sense than that. Europe would be an ideal strategic partner for Russia, but first Russia has to learn to live with(in) its new borders in the West. Contrary to appearances I believe it is very busily learning to do just that.

Gavin ütles ...

You're absolutely right, Martin. I negleced to consider that quite possibly Sebastiaan would take a keeneer interest in that avenue...

Jonas ütles ...

It seems that your fears could be realised. A very worrying report in the 14.00 Finnish radio news here. Moscow claims that several Russian soldiers have been killed by Georgian artillery, according to YLE. So, perhaps they are already ´forming´ their pretext for intervening. Hopefully not.

Giustino ütles ...

Jonas,

I finally got a beginner's Swedish book. It's called "Sverige paa Svenska" and it's for Estonian and English speakers. It has nice cartoons too -- exactly what I was looking for.

As for Georgia, notice how I said "somebody" in the post, rather than "Russia." However, I think both sides were planning something this week; the Georgians just decided to hit them while Putin was in Beijing.

He's got to look tough now to prove how resurgent Russia is. I have no idea what Russia's response will be.

Jonas ütles ...

Indeed, you have to admit, their timing has been unbeatable! No doubt we can expect Russia to claim Ossetia is in the same situation as Kosovo and that the west is hypercritical if it backs Georgia but not Serbia. Etc. Stubb has broken off his holiday and flown back to Helsinki. (Finland is chairman of OSCE just now).

I am glad that you found a book now. Even better if they have aimed it at English- and Estonian speakers. If you go to Sveriges Radios website, Sweden's public radio company, they produce news in ´easy Swedish´, which could be nice for you as a learner. http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p4/klartext/index.asp?nyheter=1&ProgramID=493

Or you find all of Yle's Swedish news programmes (tv and radio) assembled here, because you should really learn to speak like a Finland-Swede ;) not a metrosexual Sweden-Swede: http://arenan.yle.fi/hae?cid=164618&filter=4,2

If you google ´Lättläst´ (easy reading) you will find a lot of news and other resources in easy language which is aimed to be accessible to learners. Of course, mainly from Sweden. However, I found this newspaper from Finland in simple Swedish:
http://www.digipaper.fi/ll-bladet/
You need to register to be able to read it - and the form is only in Finnish. But hopefully you can understand the form from your Estonian -if not, let me know.

plasma-jack ütles ...

No doubt we can expect Russia to claim Ossetia is in the same situation as Kosovo and that the west is hypercritical if it backs Georgia but not Serbia.

And what about Chechnya, then?

plasma-jack ütles ...

Btw, Georgia haven't recognized Kosovo, so this point couldn't logically be made.
Oh, I'm sorry. Logic. Russia. Nevermind.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, well, this doesn't look so excellent. One is now wondering about all those endless Russian teary eyed sermons about the inviolable territorial integrity of nation states during the Kosovo crisis. And I thought they were serious... A smiley.

Jonas ütles ...

Yes, and don't mention countries trying to reassert control over their own breakaway provinces, genocide and Chechnia in the same sentence. At least if you're in Moscow.

I find it interesting that Bush and other world leaders make very verbal, public statements of their views on China's human rights and democracy. Yet, you don't hear the same on Russia. And yet, in many ways, Russia is the far more erratic and emotionally inclined country and thus more of a threat to western interests. Especially as it is shown it's willingness to act irrationally before (turning the taps on its gas pipelines to the off position.) I suppose many countries can't afford the luxury of being overly critical. I wonder how Stubb will get on in Moscow in his OSSE role. President Halonen, in particular, must be dreading the fact that we our (Finland) usually lightly worded critique of Russia will have to be stepped up to a volume that could potentially irritate Moscow due to our OSSE chairmanship.