Georgia, Part III: Rejecting Russian/leftist claims of moral equivalency
Posted by sanityinjection on August 15, 2008
Let’s not waste any time in debunking the notion that what the Russians are doing in Georgia is somehow morally equivalent to what the US did in Iraq or what NATO has done in Kosovo. This is exactly what you are going to be hearing from Russia, and echoed dutifully by the leftist fifth column in the West, which as in Cold War days is always ready to blame America for everything.
Gerard Baker of the London Times takes a good crack at this:
In the Russian case this week, the conventional wisdom is that Moscow was provoked by the hot-headed President Saakashvili of Georgia. It was really all his fault, we are told.
What’s more, the argument goes, the US and Europe had already laid the moral framework for Russia’s invasion by our own acts of aggression in the past decade. Vladimir Putin was simply following the example of illegal intervention by the US and its allies in Kosovo and Iraq.
It ought not to be necessary to point out the differences between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Mr Saakashvili’s Georgia, but for those blinded by moral relativism, here goes – Georgia did not invade its neighbours or use chemical weapons on their people. Georgia did not torture and murder hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Georgia did not defy international demands for a decade and ignore 18 UN Security Council resolutions to come clean about its weapons programmes.
And unlike Iraq under Saddam, Georgia is led by a democratically elected president who has pushed this once dank backwater of the Soviet Union, birthplace of Stalin and Beria, towards liberal democracy and international engagement.
The Kosovo analogy has a more resonant ring of plausibility to it and has been heavily exploited by the Russians in defence of their actions. But it too is specious. It is true that South Ossetia and Abkhazia, like Kosovo within Serbia, are ethnic-minority-majority regions within a state that they dislike. But that’s where the parallel ends.
Unlike Serbia, Georgia has not been conducting a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the people of these provinces. In the 1990s Serbia had firmly established its aggressive intentions towards its minorities with ugly genocidal wars against Croatia and Bosnia. And in any case the two Georgian enclaves have been patrolled by Russian “peacekeepers” for the past 15 years.
We need to be morally clear about what is going on in Georgia. Perhaps Mr Saakashvili was a little reckless in seeking to stamp out the separatist guerrillas. But to suggest that he somehow got what he deserved is tantamount to saying that a woman who dresses in a miniskirt and high heels and gets drunk in a bar one night is asking to be raped.