The stalling effect of Georgian revanchism

I have recently visited yet another event in Washington, DC where the August 2008 war in Georgia was compared to the Soviets aggression against Hungary in 1956, against Czechoslovakia in 1968 and some participants even ventured to compare Georgia losing South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Germany being divided into Western Germany and Eastern Germany (DDR) after the WWII.

I especially liked the last concept, that some people really want to believe in, but the comparison is so utterly misplaced, that I can’t help commenting on it.

The authors of this concept apparently indulge in wishful thinking, when they suppose, that the populations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would like to be part of Georgia, but the evil Russians do not allow them. That was the case with the divided Germany, of course. Here, however, the Ossetians and the Abkhaz are ethnically different from Georgians, but close or identical to some peoples, living in the Russian Northern Caucasus. So it is not very likely they will strive to reunite with Georgia anytime soon, no matter what Russia does.

Those who endorse this concept apparently draw their inspiration from what happened in 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell and all of a sudden the whole Eastern Europe became free and rushed to embrace western values, institutions and so on and so forth. However, if the West instead of a set of policies, it had pursued prior to the Iron Curtain fall, pursued kind of imperialist rhetorics, the results may have been very different. Imagine, if Germany demanded not simply unification, but also the territories it lost to the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII? Or if Austria demanded it entitled to rule its lost territories once again? Would the Eastern Europeans so willingly brought down their governments and undo the dividing lines in Europe? No way, they would have stuck to their existing governments and hope for the USSR to deliver them from their western foes.

The same is true about South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Few people in these territories will be willing to bring down the dividing lines, unless and when Georgia renounces its revanchist aspirations.

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2 thoughts on “The stalling effect of Georgian revanchism

  1. I spend a good deal of time in Abkhazia and agree with your summation. It is astonishing how little critical thinking goes into the situation and how readily people accept the narrative that Russia is bad and that Georgia is being victimized by its neighbor. I have not spoken to a single citizen of Abkhazia who has expressed the desire for reintegration. On the other hand, I spoke to at least one Georgian living there who has told me that he is certain that reintegration will never happen.

    Thanks for the well written entry!

    Bruce Talley
    Twitter @brucertalley
    Weblog http://www.brucetalley.com

    • thanks, this simple idea occurred to me when I listened to the actors and witnesses of the iron curtain fall. It’s very simple, but no one seems to care. Well, it just means things won’t change much over time.

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