23 August, 2008

The Moral Competition, Georgia and Russia

The August 8 initiated military conflict between Georgia and Russia has turned out to be a competition of what side can gain the highest Moral Ground. Russia has a history with its neighbours of being a spoiler country that gains relevance by weakening its neighbours and this undermines trust of Russia on the world stage. So when a real opportunity for Russia arises for it to truly attain the moral high ground it has a starting position of being distrusted. In press conferences Georgia has used Russia's spoiler history to Georgia's advantage. Russian reports on how Russia is being perceived internationally attests to the affect of this spoiler history - 'The West is seeing White as Black'.

Internally for Russia there must be a lot of congratulatory back slapping. There simply has to be when the history of the Russian government is to stop and close down debates that could be identifying opportunities for improvement but are deemed Critical of Government. The Russian government has replaced internal debates with its own moral version of events by stating it was preventing genocide. Well might Russia have prevented genocide in a speedy manner but when it is not trusted by its neighbours Russia should have added a few democratic elements to get to a commonly understood starting point. That is of course assuming Russia cares what its neighbours think. Bullies are usually big and don't care what neighbours think.

By moralising debates Russian leaders are saying that the perceived wisdom is sacred and anyone questioning it is a heretic. The next and executed step in this self moralising is that if anyone is in denial of the perceived wisdom then they ought to be punished for it. The word 'Punished' is exactly what the Russian President used which seems to further confirm what psychological path the Russian authorities are on - Frank Furedi 'The Politics of Fear'.

A Kangaroo Court operates in the same way where the desired outcome is manufactured largely by removing key elements that exisit in a democratic system to get a faster pre determined outcome. Russia has Economic, Political vetoes and Military tools to manipulate neighbours and when Russian leaders are blinded by these tools there is little incentive to make the extra effort to become more diplomatic. Russia banks on the many members of the EU not being able to conclude on a tough response and attempts to drive a wedge between the EU and the US.

For Russian government leaders the right to not be challenged is given more importance than the right for pubic free speech and this enables a continuation of self moralising. The cost to Russia is that it loses Foreign Direct Investment currently stated to be 28 billion a year. But most of that is the return of Russian money that should have remained in the country in the first place. Even the Russians are not so trustful of their government and this will be seen an an increased exodus of Russian capital to foreign banks. Most importantly true FDI brings with it skills and knowledge that directly contributes to the improved standard of living for all Russians - not just the privileged. There will also be a decline of EU reliance on Russian energy. There are many other supply sources that Russias blindness of incourages bypassing process.

Without a move towards a more intelligent society Russia will continue to remain the large Ogre when compared to the objectives China and India have for their image and people.

I struggle to comprehend why it is not more obvious to Russia that having pro Russian but independent satelite countries is more beneficial for Russia than attempting to keep those countries in a headlock. Small responsive countries quickly find their own economic advantages that could deliver a multitude of benefits for Russia.

Russia seems to be truly miss calculating its opportunity on the world stage and how to get there that the stated objective to protect citizens in Georgia attempts to suggest is an objective for Russia. What about independence for North Ossetia or Cechna?

As for Georgia - Why not give independence to two regions within its borders when they were incorporated in to its borders by Stalin in the 1930's so are not traditional Georgin territory. Abkazzia and South Ossetia deserved independence as much as Georgia did and Georgia should have valued its freedom enough to give freedom to Abkazzia and South Ossetia.

The conclusion seems to be that both Russia and Georgia are using people as pawns and are not genuine in their pursuits. Georgia and Russia have a long way to go to be moral governments and neither can claim to be the moral police when both can not be trusted to represent themselves truthfully on the international stage.

Latvia should not just be overall anti Russia but should detail something like above as to why Latvia is not comfortable with the Russan military invasion of Georgian territory. If Russia follows some internationally accepted processes then countries like Latvia will not be driven to create closer ties with a balancing power. Scandinavian countries and Australia provide better role models on how moral governments operate and thus create a better world.


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