1. Dave Osler: the left doesn't have to take sides on South Ossetia. Final words:
The only solution to the underlying problem is a political settlement based on the freely expressed wishes of those living in the territories concerned. That includes the right to affiliate to the Russian Federation if that is what the people wish. But vicarious cheerleading for the Red Army will not get us there any faster.I completely sympathise with Dave's sentiments, but the problem with the argument is how you define "the people": how small a unit of people do you pick? What if the people at the end of one road vote to become an indendent republic? Do you let them? With "national self-determination" there is never unanimity; there is always a minority. And, as Aamir Mufti has written, once the minority has been identified, they become moveable or eliminatable, in order to achieve unanimity. Hence the population transfers (ethnic cleansing) that always accompany these sorts of conflict: the Partition, the Nakba, the massive population transfers that made Greece Greece and Turkey Turkey...
2. Francis Sedgemore: Black poison and hubris in the Caucasus. Closing words:
For now, however, a volatile combination of the black stuff, nationalism and hubris is tearing the heart out of the Caucasus.3. History is Made at Night: War in Georgia. Introduces a musical dimension to the coverage. Final words:
Must admit I am not particularly interested in various leftists/ex-leftists trying to decide whether to support 'plucky little Georgia' or 'anti-imperialist Russia', both states are implicated in this war and both seem to have targeted civilians.4. Terry Glavin: The Land Democracy Forgot. This is from back in July, and is about Putin's Russia. Final words:
Like us [Canadians], Russians are a northern people, in a vast country, immensely rich in cultural diversity. Their democrats and reformers would very much like to hear from us. We should not let them down.5. IWT: Autocracy and Orthodox Chauvinism. A polemic against the vicarious Russian social patriotism at "Stalinist Unity". H/t: Terry. Final words:
If the feeble-minded really must draw facile comparisons, they should look to the example of a powerful well-armed state (Serbia/Russia) threatening a much smaller state (Kosova/Georgia) using the pretext of a very small minority (Kosova 5%, Georgia 2%) and blood-curdling rhetoric emanating from far-right pan-Slavic nationalists.