14 August 2008
What does the post S. Ossetian future hold for the world?
Seamus Milne has a piece up in today's Guardian which has caused quite a stir, at least judging from the comments that it has elicited. Milne argues that there was a certain inevitability to the South Ossetian Conflict, given the breakup of the old Soviet Union. Peoples "who were happy enough to live on either side of an internal boundary that made little difference to their lives feel quite differently when they find themselves on the wrong side of an international state border," is how he puts it.
Meddling by the USA in Russia's near abroad has certainly not helped matters, but I think that Milne is wrong to lay all the blame at Washington's door. The sad truth is that international relations hates a vacuum and Russia allowed one to be created when she basically withdrew within her still massive borders for the decade of the 1990s. Blaming the USA for doing what just comes naturally to all states is a waste of time, so the question that we really need to ask is what will become of the international states' system in the future?
It is a fact that America and her allies have used the past few years to expand their system of globalised capitalism by attacking first Yugoslavia, then Afghanistan and Iraq. It may be argued that Afghanistan is a special case, but that argument cannot be made against the other two who were attacked simply because their governments were not acceptable to Washington. Now Russia has returned the favour, albeit with more justification, since Georgia broke the agreement that she had with Russia concerning the use of force in South Ossetia. That said, Russia has announced that South Ossetia and Abkhazia will not be returned to Georgian sovereignty, so a parallel can be drawn with the Kosovo aggression, at least in its outcome.
So the question is, will the world continue to see aggression after aggression, which will lead to a world in turmoil, or can we recreate the states' system that existed before?
If we are to recreate that system, then it means accepting that states are sovereign entities and interference in their internal affairs is out of the question. Obviously it will be honoured in the breach, since states always meddle. That said, if a regime is in control of its national territory, as the government of Iraq was prior to 2003, then the meddling can be kept to a minimum and the system will continue to tick over without too many major international problems.
This writer knows which system he prefers, but has America been brought around to accepting that the old order was the best for all of us in the long run? If there are any long term benefits to Georgia's lunatic adventure of last week, then awakening America to the need for a world in order might just be one of them.