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Archive for Friday, August 15, 2008

KU professors voice concerns about Russian invasion of Georgia

August 15, 2008

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The first thing Kansas University professor Diana Carlin thought of when she saw the Russian invasion of Georgia wasn't what effect it would have on the stability of the region.

"My first thought was, 'I was just there and I know people,'" she said. "On a personal level my first concern is for the safety of those who I worked with."

Carlin, who teaches communication studies, was in Georgia in December as an election observer.

Russian forces invaded Georgia on Aug. 10, a day after seizing control over separatist South Ossetia from Georgia. Russia's military reaction came after Georgia launched a surprise attack on South Ossetia on Aug. 8. South Ossetia has a large, Russia-loyal ethnic population and has had ongoing tensions with Georgia.

While there, Carlin said it was education, health care and unemployment that dominated public concerns. Yet, at the back of everyone's mind, she said, was the brewing tension between Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia.

Marc Greenberg, chair of KU's Slavic languages and literature department, said it wasn't surprising to him that Russia invaded Georgia after it had already taken foot in South Ossetia.

"Russia was waiting for a propitious moment to punish Georgia," he said. "South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been Russia's toeholds in the region and Russia has been unhappy for quite some time with Georgia's leaning toward the EU and America."

Greenberg said he thought it was a pity that Russia viewed itself as an entity unto itself opposed to Europe and the United States, and felt that Russia was picking fights it knew it could win.

Greenberg said that although he couldn't see the future, he did think it was possible the invasion could set off a new Cold War.

"Even if the 'state of war' ends soon, the process whereby Russia attempts to reintegrate parts of the former Russian/Soviet Empire will probably not end in the foreseeable future," he said. "Russia has quite a bit of leverage to do so and the everyday people whose lives will be affected will have little influence on how it goes."

The human impact is still hard to ignore, especially as the issue becomes increasingly blurred.

Erik Herron, a KU professor who has friends and colleagues in Georgia, said he was relieved to know that they were safe for now.

But the issue isn't as black and white as some in the press have made it out to be, Herron said. Georgia's goal to be accepted to NATO - an organization that Russian officials see as adverse toward them - was seen as a threat.

"That, understandably, would be threatening to Russia," Herron said. "Just as it would be threatening to the United States if a country along our border were to join an alliance that is perceived as antagonistic to the U.S. But the invasion into Georgia is hard to justify."

Herron said Georgian President Mikhail Saakashivili's presentation as an embattled democratic leader is equally tenuous.

"His portrayal as an embattled democrat is challenged by his own actions in the last few months," he said. "He closed an opposition television station, at least temporarily. He has harshly repressed opposition protesters."

In the end, he said, it was extremely difficult to know what was happening.

"I have great sympathies for my friends and colleagues in Georgia," Herron said.

Comments

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 4 months ago

XPECT- well what we need here is an enemy. We cant find Bin Laden and cant go after Moslem's because it isnt PC so why not rediscover Godless Communism in the form of Putin and scare the heck out of everybody with that? Now of course the Russians are heavely invested in Fannie and Fredie and we have doubled our trade with them in the last two years but non the less when we need to scare the heck our of the public what could be better that Godless former Communists?

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 4 months ago

I keep thinking about the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. It is a research organization dedicated to understanding the causes of war and learning how to prevent them and it was started by Herbert Hoover, or else inspired by him, so it has been around a long time. Condaleeza Rice and Richard Cheney are affiliated with this organization and a lot of Republican party types are affiliated. What have they learned? What have they accomplished?Not much methinks. It is time to say enough is enough of military ventures on foreign soils unless they directly effect our national security and as a last resort. It is far better to develop our own energy resources than to send our young men and women into battle to save precious oil fields for our big oil companies.Isn't it better to develop alternative technologies and conservation rather than going into another stupid war. And what of the Balkans. We wouldn't be dealing with that but for the oil reserves there. So oil pops up its ugly head over and over, because our leaders don't have any sense to think and plan and lead.There is far too much rhetoric for war in this world and it is time to find another way.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 4 months ago

In the end, no action was taken against the US going into Iraq, the same will be true for Russia.Russia, China, and the US are unchecked powers that can do about anything they want. Money rules.

eddiez 6 years, 4 months ago

Georgia drew first blood. Did the leaders really think Russia would sit back and watch while Georgian troops killed what they consider Russians?Let's let them figure this one out.

OnlyLawrenceRepublican 6 years, 4 months ago

Unfortuanely, EddieZ is right. Georgia apparently "assumed" the west would provide support. We're spread so thin, all we can do is talk about it. Russia has a dangerous level of leverage on us right now. This is honestly cold-war style escalation with no short-term end in sight. You've got to think that the past few years of isolationism have reinstilled a sense of Russian pride that fuels a culture based on unilaterally taking whatever action they want.

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 4 months ago

Russia got Georgia in 1801. Lets see, when did we annex California, Arizona, and New Mexico? 1849. Oh but thats different because.. well because its just different. Now we can say that the Mexicans in the Southwest are happy whereas the Georgians aren't. So thats what makes the diffence, Happy People. Russia is a great power. It has interests. But I will say this for Bush. He has finally found the WMD's. Didnt find them in Iraq but he's got us cross ways with the Russians and they have them. Good Job George.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"While we are trying to digest all the rhetoric, let's make a law forbidding the Pentagon (or any US Military organization), CIA, etc., from seeding our media with planted stories to influence public opinion to promote their military expansionism overseas."There already is such a law-- one that BushCo has violated repeatedly.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 4 months ago

Let's make sure we protect Poland from Iran too. How about Aruba. Maybe they need some missiles too.While we are trying to digest all the rhetoric, let's make a law forbidding the Pentagon (or any US Military organization), CIA, etc., from seeding our media with planted stories to influence public opinion to promote their military expansionism overseas.Ask yourselves what we gain from supplying foreign governments with military hardware or getting embroiled in other people's business. (South Vietnam...)

XEPCT 6 years, 4 months ago

Senegal,Georgian tribes first appeared on the historical register in the 7th century BCE. They are famous for inventing wine and introducing it to the Ancient Greeks. Fast forward 2,500 years and they are conquered by the Russians. Which, is pretty similar to the story of the American Southwest, didn't the Mexicans introduce Maize to the Greeks in 500 BCE? Oh wait, they didn't, that is completely ridiculous. Jayhawklawrence,"Ask yourselves what we gain from supplying foreign governments with military hardware or getting embroiled in other people's business. (South Vietnam:)"We won the Cold War, without bloodshed. Also, there are laws against exactly what you mention, although they are breached pretty brazenly, I don't think making another law will teach "them" who runs the show.Aruba, is in NATO because it is part of the Netherlands. They've had our missiles long before we could dream about Poland being our ally. Finally, you are misunderstood, we didn't want to "give" any missiles to Poland, we wanted to put our own missiles there, but the Polish wouldn't let us unless we included some Patriot Missile batteries. The whole Russia-Georgian conflict accelerated the process, because if the Russians were crazy enough to push west, the more Russian planes the Poles shoot down the better, and they aren't going to get as many with crappy old Russian or Czech surface-to-air missiles (the SAMs have proven to do alright in the past, but recently only against Russian made counterparts in the sky, we didn't lose much out of Serbian skies in 1999), right?

fastwalker 6 years, 4 months ago

it's simple, Mark Vierthaler. Georgia invaded Russian controlled enclaves, not the other way around. Russia responds to protect its CITIZENS. Georgia is a client state of the United States. I know it's necessary to push your propaganda, but does it have to be so obvious?

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 4 months ago

This country needs to worry about our own business instead of worrying about another foreign affairs situation.The USA has starving people, people out of work, rampant crime, and civil liberties violated every day.We need to work on cleaning up our mess before we go messing around in the affairs of some foreign country.

fastwalker 6 years, 4 months ago

the goal of the Russians now, Mark, is to destroy the Georgian army, which wouldn't exist without US support.

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