Before it recedes, mercifully, into history next January the Bush Administration and their Democratic enablers (Obama’s V-P candidate, Joe Biden is only one; Obama himself is sounding like another) would appear to be trying to force the Russians into a confrontational situation. Military confrontations between nuclear powers are inherently more dangerous than others.
The bear is the symbol of Russia. Bear-baiting was a popular sport in England during the late medieval and early modern period. In this most “civilized” of sports, a chained, and more or less defenseless bear would be set upon in an arena by trained dogs . The unfortunate bear was then slowly torn and bitten to death by his canine tormentors, to the delight of the human audience. Elizabeth I was, reportedly, an aficionada of this savagery.
Unfortunately for the aggressive and bullying Bushies in Washington, the Russian bear has escaped its tether. It has proven it can and will use its own power to defend itself and what it considers its vital interests.
Lest it be forgotten, it was the Georgian government who began the latest Caucasian war when, in early August, it began shelling the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, after which they invaded. Hundreds (Russia claims 2,000) of Ossetian civilians were killed along with more than a few Russian military personnel, there as peacekeepers undera previous agreement between Russia and newly independent Georgia, that settled an earlier armed conflict from the early nineties.
The Russians, of course, responded with undeniable ferocity. Regular army troops entered South Ossetia in August and decimated the invading Georgian army, which actually panicked, threw down its weapons, and fled in disgrace. The Russians pushed further into Georgia proper, occupied several cities, destroyed what they could find of Georgian military equipment and more or less laid waste to Georgian infrastructure.
The French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, then negotiated a ceasefire which the humiliated Georgians were forced to sign. They had no choice. The Russians agreed to withdraw to positions held before the conflict began, and despite what the Americans and their British clones are saying, have adhered to the agreement, if a bit more slowly than the Georgians and Americans would desire.
As I wrote in an earlier column the Americans would like to portray this conflict as one of an aggressive expansionist Russia crushing a small, defenseless democracy unfortunately located on its borders. Actually, the opposite is true.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early nineties, the Americans have been relentless in pushing their influence eastwards, to the point where Russia felt that it was being surrounded, threatened and that its legitimate security concerns were being ignored by the gang of unilateral, aggressive bullies that dominate the American government. Until a few years ago Russia was simply not in a position to do anything about this. Now they are. The times have changed, and the Russian bear has escaped its tether.