A More Proactive U.S. Approach to the Georgia Conflicts

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Casper, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Casper

    Casper Member

    Sep 6, 2010
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    Georgia faces a stark choice between two mutually exclusive futures.

    The first depicts Georgia as a modern-day divided Berlin and envisions the conflicts it currently faces as a Cold War in the Caucasus—a long-term and largely bloodless division between sides whom outside forces have divided so profoundly that compromise is ruled out a priori. The conflicts are resolved when the other side surrenders, its own residents tear down the artificially imposed division, and its government implodes due to the weakening of its patron.

    Unfortunately, an outcome like Berlin 1989 is highly unlikely for the Georgia conflicts even in the long term. Residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—selfgoverning entities currently recognized as independent states by Russia and three other countries—would have to magically “get over” their grievances—some of which originate from conflicts fought with Georgians in the 1990s while others are a product of more recent hostilities. But they would also have to embrace the Georgian government as their own and renounce their longstanding ambitions for self-government. In other words, the divisions among peoples in Georgia are anything but artificial.

    Further, Russia would have to suddenly and drastically reverse its policies, undo its decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, cut off its economic support, and withdraw its military presence. All paths to that outcome are far from inevitable: Russia’s leadership being coerced into a radical policy shift or instantaneously realizing the error of its ways, a new leadership coming to power that is willing to do something deeply unpopular with the Russian public and elite, or Russia’s collapsing like the Soviet Union.

    Finally, Georgia would have to stand stoically on the frontlines awaiting its inevitable victory for Berlin 1989 to repeat itself in the Caucasus. But we have learned from the past two and a half years that there is nothing noble about the status quo: Neither the Georgian elite nor the public can simply focus on the country’s development with the conflicts unresolved. Georgia as a barracks state is unlikely to develop its economy successfully or complete its democratic transformation, remaining indefinitely on the global periphery. It could also eventually face diplomatic scorn as its Western friends tire of Georgia’s using all international settings to raise the conflicts and continuously being at loggerheads with Russia.

    The full version of the article was published on valdaiclub.com

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