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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 9-Aug-2008
Russia and Georgia are in a "state of war"

Web Log - August, 2008

Russia and Georgia are in a "state of war"

Russia pours tanks and soldiers into South Ossetia, as planes bomb Georgia military targets.

There are fears of all-out war between Russia and the Republic of Georgia as both sides are escalating the battle over South Ossetia. Furthermore, Russia appears to be expanding the war, by bombing military targets in Poti, on the Black Sea coast.

I've often referred to the Caucasus in the last few years. For web site readers who weren't sure what I was talking about, here's a great map from Der Spiegel that makes things clear:

The Caucasus <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Der Spiegel)</font>
The Caucasus (Source: Der Spiegel)

Top: Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev; Middle: Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili; Bottom: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin scolds American President George Bush at Beijing Olympics. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Top: Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev; Middle: Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili; Bottom: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin scolds American President George Bush at Beijing Olympics. (Source: BBC)

Historically, the Caucasus mountain region, which controls many valuable land routes connecting the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, has been the battlefield for many crisis wars between the Orthodox and Muslim civilizations, and between different ethnic groups of the same or different religions for many centuries. A war between Russian and Islamist forces has been going on in Chechnya since 1994.

Georgia itself has been the object of rivalry between Russia, Turkey and Iran (Persia) for many centuries. Russia took control in 1921, but Georgia gained independence in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze became Georgia's leader, but was overthrown by the "Rose Revolution" in 2003, resulting in the Presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili, someone who has not been to Russia's liking. Many Georgians accuse Russia of imperialism, while Russia criticises Georgia of nationalism and pursuing an anti-Russian foreign policy.

The current crisis comes during a long period of increasing tensions between Georgia and Russia over the two of Georgia's breakaway regions: Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both regions have ethnic Russian populations that are claiming to be part of Russia rather than Georgia.

Russia has been conducting a diplomatic war with Georgia for several years, imposing harsh sanctions in 2006. By these sanctions, Russia stopped all railway, marine, air and car communication with Georgia for a period, and even ended all postal communication between the two countries, claiming a security risk.

The populations of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have become increasingly restless over the years. This week, Georgia initiated a police action in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital. Russia responded by pouring troops into South Ossetia, and by bombing Georgian targets both in and out of South Ossetia.

Georgia is a close political ally of the United States, and Georgian officials had expressed the desire to get closer to Europe and to join Nato. This possibility is extremely threatening to Russia, and explains the harsh response.

Neither side appears willing to back down, at the present time, despite widespread international calls for peace talks.

I'd like to quote a portion of a Spiegel article on the conflict:

"Caucasus Violence Took Europe By Surprise

European diplomats have been trying to maintain peace in Georgia with financial incentives and promises of partnership. But now that bombs have started to fall, no one in Brussels, Berlin or Paris quite knows what to do.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, the mood in Brussels was still positive: The crisis in the Caucasus appeared to be under control.

For days Georgian troops and fighters in South Ossetia had been exchanging fire. And on Thursday morning, Russia -- which backs the Ossetians and is present in the region with a 1,000-man "peacekeeping" force -- openly warned that Georgia was preparing to wage war.

But when chief European Union diplomat Javier Solana telephoned with Mikhail Saakashvili on Thursday afternoon, the Georgian president sought to calm him down, saying he had just called a unilateral cease-fire. And, Saakashvili reportedly said, of course he shared Solana's opinion that every possible step to stop the violence should be taken, and that the problem could only be solved at the negotiating table.

Of course.

A few hours later, though, heavy fighting broke out. Bombs fell on civilians. A Georgian general spoke of "retaking" South Ossetia. The developments caught Europe by surprise.

Helplessly, Solana said the European Commission and the French government -- which is currently the rotating president of the 27-member club -- were "deeply concerned." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier didn't miss the chance to call the Georgian president from his vacation spot in the Alps around noon on Friday to express his "concern." Just days earlier, Steinmeier had visited Saakashvili, who had given him assurances of his desire for peace. Of course, NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer didn't want to be missing from the list of senior European officials expressing their "serious concern," either.

But the truth is that in Brussels -- both at the European Union and NATO headquarters -- leading personalities are concerned because no one actually knows what's going on. How did the shooting start? Who escalated it? With what intention? There's been a clueless shrugging of shoulders.

For some time now, relations between the EU, NATO and Georgia have been steadily deepening. As the gateway to the Central Asian oil and gas fields, the former Soviet nation has huge strategic importance to Europe. Planned pipelines will pass through Georgia to help reduce Europe's energy dependence on Russia. ...

The last time the Brussels emissary visited with Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze, the politician defined his country's political course by saying: "We want free trade with you, simplified visa procedures and EU membership."

But overnight, it appears, the country has fundamentally shifted course.

Georgia may want to improve its strategic position ahead of the coming peace negotiations, and take back a bridge or a hill here or there. Or else the South Ossetians saw their chances of independence slipping away after Russia signalled that it might wash its hands of the whole problem. According to this theory, the South Ossetians have decided to reach for their weapons and heat up the war. But there may be some truth to a story by a journalist who knows the region well that the new conflict is nothing but a flare-up of "seasonal" violence.

NATO was also surprised by the fighting. Until very recently (from July 5 to 30), around 1,000 American soldiers were on maneuver in the region with the Fourth Infantry Brigade of the Georgian army in a training mission called "Immediate Response 08." The goal was to train Georgians for a stint in Afghanistan, where Tbilisi is soon set to send 400 soldiers."

There's one particular sentence I want to mention again: A Georgian politician defines his country's political course by saying: "We want free trade with [Russia]," but overnight the country fundamentally shifted course. People who think that China and Taiwan will not go to war because it's bad for business should understand that business concerns dissolve instantly during a generational crisis era.

People who criticize me or Generational Dynamics should read the above description, because it illuminates some important principles. People tell me, "There's no war with China on the horizon." Or, "There's no stock market crash on the horizon."

But that's the way these things always work. For reasons I've stated many times, a war with China is absolutely certain, and a stock market crash is absolutely certain.

When I started saying in 2002 that a stock market crash had to happen because of generational reasons and because stocks were overpriced by over 200%, I didn't know about CDOs or CDSs or that there would be a crippling worldwide credit freeze starting in August, 2007. All I knew was the final result.

I don't know how many times I've heard things like, "Where did this credit crisis come from?" It was perfectly obvious since 2004 that there's been a real estate bubble, but everyone was caught by surprise when it leaked.

Now we're in the same kind of situation with the Caucasus.

I wrote an an analysis of the South Ossetia situation in 2004, and several additional articles since then.

And so, when you read the above article excerpt that talks about how "surprised" everyone is that this happened, you have to remember that it's exactly the same kind of "surprise" that occurred over the global financial crisis. The survivors of the Great Depression and World War II would not have been "surprised" by any of this, and they would have been prepared for it.

The Caucasus is a major crossroad of the world, bringing many different ethnic and religious groups into close proximity, as they try to pursue trade or expand their populations. It's not surprising at all that there have been many genocidal wars in this region, nor should it be any surprise to anyone that a new genocidal war in this region is coming, with absolute certainty. It's only today's leaders, born after World War II, who are "surprised" by everything, and who don't have a clue what's going on in the world. Unfortunately, there will be many more surprises to come. (9-Aug-2008) Permanent Link
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