A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgian unrest

The Russian incursion into Georgia is very troubling. Not just because innocent people are yet again being slaughtered in another grand-scale political potboiler, but because it spells trouble for the concept of the nation state. The Russians declare that they are coming to the aid of the bealeagured South Ossetians. Possibly, but the look on Putin's face as he adddressed trouble Ossetians could be taken two ways. He could just as well be telling them they were on there way to Siberia. Putin is very typically Russian. Using people to get to the greater Russian glory.

I think we misunderstand the Russians. They are both cultured and corrupt at the same time. Their history is a mixture of brutality and the sublime. In a way, I can understand that they feel the West is encircling them. That was why Gorbachev once said "We are Europeans too, you know!" Well, the Russians are, the tribes reaching out to the Siberian wastelands are not, but have embraced Russian values to a certain extent.
Georgia is an independent country, but thanks to vinegar Joe Stalin, a man raised in the republic, it is left with a legacy of minorities. Ossetians being one of them. The European Union has being giving the nod to the President of Georgia that th EU would be a place to be. This, coupled with the idea of joining NATO, has upset the Russians.
Now I heard Jim Murphy, Europe Minister, on the radio this week. He's a man given to thinking that black and white are all shades of grey. Asked about Kosovo and its independence from Serbia, he blithely commented that that was different. Not really, but because it had a UN backing of sorts, he could say so. However Serbia does not agree, but what the heck.
I think this all serves to undermine democracy and the notion of the nation state. If countries are forced to stay together or forced to break up, then it just means bigger countries win all the time. In Europe there are many minorities all seeking some individuality even if it is short of independence. Spain has the Catalans and Basques, France has the Bretons, Germany has the Bavarians, the Netherlands has the Frisians and so on. Nearly every country in Europe has a minority that could get uppity at any given time.
It is no good holding people together if they don't want it but at the same time they should not be forced apart. I've always wondered what would happen if Texas decided to go it alone again. They did for nine years. They wouldn't last nine hours today because the US Army would roll into Houston to put it all down. Scotland may go independent, it may not. I would hope not, but democracy means the Scots may decide so.
Most people of different backgrounds stick together through a common language, history or religion. Where these differ, differences are greater. It is no great shakes if a country splits, as Czechoslavakia did, but the power of larger countries doesn't always go with democracy.


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