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The Forum > Article Comments > The Bear is back from hibernation > Comments

The Bear is back from hibernation : Comments

By Paul Dibb, published 20/8/2008

Russia’s attack on Georgia shows that it is back as a force to be reckoned with.

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To understand the Russian-Georgian conflict it is necessary to stand back from the detail of Ossetia and identify the longer term historical trends. These include:
1.For some time an undeclared war has been waged between the US and Russia over access to the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. Russia/Gazprom has been largely successful in tying up deals with the various republics.
There are rival schemes for pipelines sponsored by Russia and the US, eg South Stream and Nabucco. One pipeline designed to exclude Russia has been established through Georgia (Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan).
2. The real significance of Kosovo is the vast Camp Bondsteel- the largest “from scratch” foreign US base since the Vietnam War. It will provide security for the construction of the proposed Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian oil pipeline( AMBO) with a terminal in Georgia..
3. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than dismantling NATO, the US, in a spirit of triumphalism, has pushed NATO further and further into Eastern Europe. With Georgia going to extreme lengths to secure membership, and Ukraine a candidate, Russia feels encircled.
4. At the same time, the US has abandoned the Cold War nuclear arms agreements (MAD-mutually assured destruction), and ,instead ,opted for the terrifying doctrine of "nuclear primacy". Implementing this involves establishing the missile bases in Eastern Europe, which Russia believes are designed to stymie its nuclear capacity.
5. There are also dangerous antagonisms, locally ( like Ossetia), and globally Europe feels threatened by a Russian monopoly of energy supplies. On the other side, Russia fears it is back to the bad old days of encirclement. But it is now off its knees, resurgent, and inspired by alarming nationalism and not a little paranoia which derives from the series of invasions it has suffered.
6. In this global conflict over oil and gas, active players include China and Iran.
7. The intolerable pressures are turning Russia away from Western cultural influences and setting back the processes of democratisation. Worse will follow if it seeks alliances with the backward Central Asian Republics and China – the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation already exists.
Posted by Leslie, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 9:52:48 AM
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So much for the "End of History" thesis, it seemed a fantasy even in those optimistic days of the 1990s.It's worth remembering that in the depths of the Cold War some Western commentators believed that Russian potential was stifled by the dead hand of Marxist-Leninism. Russia would be a far more formidable opponent of the West, when and if the Communist system collapsed and a more efficient economic system was introduced. We have returned to the "Great Game".
Posted by mac, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 10:28:58 AM
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Because we live in a Western World country with strong military ties, (rightfully or wrongfully) to the US, we seem to excercise the tendency to condemn everything seen as counter-productive to the great US sponsored cause of pseudo-Democracy, Capitalism and Globalism!

Viewed from the Russian perspective,....what is so different today with the US deploying a "Nuclear Missile Shield" in Poland, ( in the words of George Bush and Condaleesa Rice "to protect and destroy enemy missiles in flight" this from the mouth of a man who fabricated the great lie of WMD to justify "eliminating" Iraq! ) and the great stand-off in the late 60`s between the US and the USSR who were allegedly preparing the installation of a "protective" missile base in Cuba to protect their friend and ally Fidel Castro and his people from invasion from the US mainland?

At that particular time Kennedy was prepared to plunge the world into Nuclear holocaust if the Soviets had not backed down and dismantled their missiles!.....Luckily for the world, the bluff (or simple reasoning) worked and the issue cooled down!

Are we now to see a similar crisis occur between Bush and Putin over this deliberate provocation by the a very dangerous game of brinkmanship?.....I hope NOT because I believe that Bush is frustrated and idiotic enough to commit the world to nuclear war simply to prove a point and get his own petulant way!
Posted by Cuphandle, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 12:11:13 PM
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This story, from the English language version of the weekly, 'Moscow News' was written in April:, this article was in the same issue:

Neither could really be said to be particularly peace-orientated, could they? Neither for that matter could this: (from January of this year).

On the other hand, Chechnya (from whence the troops used in Georgia were withdrawn) looks to be spiraling out of control again:

And the economic might of Russia, it ranks a long way behind that of NATO, thus it is inconceivable that it should attempt to rebuild it's military, but that is precisely what it is trying to do. The effect of this in the region, is summed up here:

Perhaps people might want to look at the disinclination on the part of the former socialist republics to be absorbed once more into the USSR (thus explaining there willingness to join NATO), rather than simply trying to blame the whole thing (although a part rightly belongs) on the USA.

At the present time, Russia is trying to rebuild it's enormous sphere of influence in order to rebuild it's wealth. It matters little who is in charge in the Kremlin (the Soviets or the Russian Mafia), the principle is the same. Only by reabsorbing/reconquering the Ukraine, East Germany, Poland, Georgia, Armenia, etc. can they rebuild the Union. It is only by rebuilding the Union that Russia can attain & maintain its previous position in world affairs.

Perhaps the most worrying trend of all is the resurgent nationalism throughout Europe/Northern Asia and the convoluted alliances that have once again been built (extraordinarily similar to those existing this time last century).
Posted by Haganah Bet, Sunday, 24 August 2008 8:47:06 AM
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