South Ossetia: A challenge for the new world order. August 8, 2008Posted by Sverre in : World politics , trackback
Numerous media sources inform us today about a Georgian offensive against South Ossetia, its separatist state. At first glance, it sounds like yet a minor border dispute in a forgotten corner of the world. But this is something more, bound to have an impact on geopolitics. For the South Ossetian sepraratists are under the protection of Russia, which reportedly have started bombing Georgian targets. And Georgia has since 2006 been on the path towards becoming a NATO member, having signed an “Individual Partnership Action Plan“, which has repeatedly raised russian protests.
So what are the implications of Russia bombing a “near-NATO-member”? Is this a direct military challenge to NATO? Or have Georgia blown their chances for good relations with NATO by escalating aggression with South Ossetia? European commentators have barely woken from their sleep, and have yet to get to their keyboards and radio microphones to let us know what this all means. But all the ingredients of an international relations crisis seem to be there…
US deputy secretaryof state, Dan Fried, says the following to Financial Times: “It appears that the South Ossetians have instigated this uptick in violence,” he said. “We have urged the Russians to urge their South Ossetian friends to pull back and show greater restraint. And we believe that the Russians are trying to do just that.” This doesn’t harmonize well with reports of russian bomber jets, volunteer troops and military supplies spilling over the border.
According to Reuters, the UN Security Council has been up all night discussing the matter, without reaching any conclusions but aggravating Russia further.
What do I think? I’m not an expert on this matter, or even on international relations at all. But I do notice one thing: an absence of the kind of confronational rhetoric categorizing the cold war. Admittedly, the big guys themselves haven’t started commenting yet, leaving the speaking to the diplomats. But that might also mean neither Moscow nor Washington are prepared to let this escalate into a major international crisis.
This is a test of the new world order after the Cold War, as fighting erupts on Russia’s doorstep. Let’s hope this won’t be proof of the new cold war neoconservative Robert Kagan claims is in the making. As yet it’s too early for an uninformed being to make predictions. I’m waiting for European and later American commentators to wake up and tell me what we can expect.