The bickering, backstabbing and pseudo-intellectual debate of student socialism.

Friday, August 15, 2008

NUS to support a new war in Georgia?

In an internal debate Tom Stubbs and Dave Lewis of the NUS National executive are arguing for NUS to call for NATO troops to occupy South Ossetia. Yes NUS really seems to want to call for a war between NATO and Russia - what a good idea. Obviously I can't post their internal emails so here is my response:

Their position flys in the face of the facts as everyone bar George Bush and david Milliband understands them (what do they teach in schools these days...) No one is denying Russia was and is an imperialist force that occupyied what was refered to rather grotesquely as the "USSR" or that it repressed both Georgia and South Ossetia. Unfortunately Georgia is so bad to its national minorites they were one of the only groups to vote to try and stay in the USSR as an alternative to georgian nationalism in 1991.

To finish your analysis here however is to pretend the following 15 years have not happened. The Caucasus (a bit like the Balkans but to a lesser degree) is made of many minorites but with a much less bitter history of conflict between them. South Ossetia is one such area and has always tryed to have a degree of autonomy (as is pointed out by some more shrewed commentators its economy is not strong enough to become truely independant. Georgian governments over the last few years have pursued two interlinked stratergies 1) attempt to enter NATO to increase its own power in the region (and be sure of military support in any conflict with Russia), it is no secret that Georgia is viewed as the most pro western country in the region, the 3 most important oil pipelines run through it (and on a side point the main road from its airport is named George Bush avenue.) 2) repressing the rights of minorities within its borders.

For this reason the majorty of people in South Ossetia have in recent years not simply overwhelmingly supported some form of independance but have repreated expressed a desire to more closer to Russia. South Ossetia has been effectively autonomous from Tbilisi since the easly 90's and Abkhazia actually voted to remain in the USSR in 91 because they knew they would get less autonomy under a "historic Georgia." This is the "historical" context of the on going border clash but does not explain why it has split into a hot war in recent years. Why did Georgia decide now to launch a military attack on it's minority risking escalation it could not match from Russia? It can't be simply read as the government continuing its stated project of recreating a historic Georgia...

The answer is the Georgian government miscalculated. It read the escalation of US aggression in the middle east and its bullish stance against Russia and China as an oppotunity. It thought it was as good as in Nato and it thought Russian imperialism would not risk challenging a US ally. In other words NATO expansion gave the Georgian government the confidence to militarily repress a seperatist minority movement on it Russian border (military repression is a bad thing Tom.) The Georgian Government had been given the greenlight to test how far NATO could push into the Caucasus and the US helped the Georgian army in trying to destroy the autonomy of South Ossetia to see if they could risk trying it in the more significant area of Abkhazia. This was a conflict driven by the compertition between NATO (lead by the US super power) seeing how far it could spread its influence to hem in Russia as a lesser (but still 'great' power.) What started the current conflict was The expansion of the NORTH ATLANTIC treaty orgainsation into the Caucasus. If Georgia had been in NATO formally the US and UK would have been bound by treaty to declare war on Russia.

If we call for Nato intervention we will be both siding against minority rights in Georgia (for the sole reason that Georgia is a Nato ally) and more inportantly calling for our government to escalate conflict with Russia. Does NUS want to call for a new cold war between Russia and NATO? Because that is what your position would amount to. Oh and what right do we have to talk about not invading a soverign nation? I wonder where Russia got its justification from...

All troops out of South Ossetia
No to NATO expansion