Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Proud to be Ineffectual

But there are lessons we can draw from this crisis. First, the European Union rose to the occasion. At the behest of the French presidency, Europe put itself on the front lines from the outset of hostilities to resolve this conflict -- the third on European soil since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout the first phase of this latest crisis, Europe's commitment was decisive: It was the European Union, through France, that created a space for diplomacy by quickly proposing reasonable terms for a cease-fire and rendering the political cost of pursuing war exorbitant for both parties. If our efforts finally paid off, it is because Europe -- despite a few differences in tone -- did not limit itself to condemnation.

- Nicolas Sarkozy, from Le Figaro on
Sunday-17/Monday-18 August

Three is a consolidation of numbers, of course... That he means the US is obvious, and no, the US did not limit itself to condemnation. It made sure the door for talks remain while a limited demonstration of support for the Georgians could clearly be seen by the Russians, and in a manner that didn’t appear unrelated to Georgia in any way. THAT is how one doesn’t escalate but communicates an opinion.

Gyrating to come with any kind of fake cease-fire that the EU could show off for people, Super-Sarko announces a recovery from the previous hoodwink the Russian put him through. Monday (18-AUG) was supposed to let the world see Russians withdrawing from “Georgia proper” as it’s just been redefined through European acquiescence and clearly without the Euro-warm-fuzzy of “meditative” consent with the Georgians, but it seem that all we know by Wednesday that Russians troops are joyriding around, and Tbilisi is still cut off as if to be offer the Russians the option of turning it into another Sarajevo, and Georgian access to the sea has been effectively cut off.

If anything, this exercise has shown the world where the Russians stand – both on their plans to dismantle Georgia’s independence, and the lack of seriousness with which they take any sort of diplomacy that requires anything of them. Ah! But they AGREE to things. They’ll sign anything, and that seems to be good enough for Europe’s aging children.

What HAS slowed the Russians down was the unanimity the nations on its borders took. Much as the Russians have traditionally feared being surrounded by enemies, its’ done a nice job of ensuring that they remain enemies. Those states – the Ukraine, Poland, and others who have a fear of becoming Russian satellites again, and being battered around by others, were quite clear. The sent official to Georgia as the only sort of meaningful human shield there ever was, and demonstrated their desire to deny the Russians their prize of intimidating them. Ukraine reaffirmed its’ desire to join NATO, and Poland signed a missile deal. Even the BBC which was fond of being imprecise about who and how many in Poland supported the effort, said this morning that there was a longstanding majority for it.

It’s funny how statistics can change.

Back to Sarkozy and Kouchner, and what was actually a noble attempt to use what their power and office could let them – it was a classical diplomatic move that was actually quite effective at keeping the issue alive – give the aggressor a way to back off. Knowing that there are forces against a back-off, let them show themselves for who they are to clarify for the rest of the stakeholders what’s going on. Out of this, one historically found alliances and agreements of opinion if not some agreement on a course of actions.

The mystery with Europe is what it is they think a course of action is, and whether or not it’s just intended to prevent domestic criticism in the form of a nagging criticism over Scerbenica or Rwanda.

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