You’re going to have to read a lot of independents and between a lot of lines to get a handle on this one. Even the UN Security Council can’t agree three lines of text.
While it might not be world war on the ground, international media is locked in ‘moral’ combat while foreign ministers on different sides denounce their opposite numbers.
Argumentation is on the ‘well they started it’ playground level, rhetoric devoid of reality. But then, one set of peacekeepers attacking another is rather absurd to begin with.
Blatant propaganda is quickly making a case for one side or the other. But it looks like public relations struggling for rationale. Igniting this conflict isn’t to anyone’s advantage.
Would ‘NATO wannabe‘ Saakashvili have been so reckless as to poke the bear? As with the wine embargo, Russia can impose crippling sanctions on Georgia. Also at risk is a huge chunk of national revenue which comes from Georgians working in Russia sending money home. And if Saakashvili wants a United Georgia, is sacking Ossetia’s capital any way to go about it? In a recent referendum, 99% of Ossetians voted for separation from Georgia.
For the same reasons, Russia doesn’t need the force of arms, or to force the will of pro-Russian separatists and it hardly needs the bad press. Both the rouble and Russia’s stock market took a hammering. A conspiracy theory would make more sense.
The emerging analysis is that Saakashvili gambled and got it wrong. Or maybe - like Saddam invading Kuwait - he was tipped the wrong wink. But most Western media doesn’t see it that way and that seems more important than what’s actually happening.
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The operation to take back South Ossetia was clearly a planned military offensive by Georgia, which mobilised 26,000. Georgian artillery and missiles shelled the capital Tskhinvali for 15 hours. In the Wall Street Journal, American Senator Biden promptly praised the Georgian president for his restraint, while the UK’s Daily Mail screams, ‘Russia Blitzes Rebel State’. That pretty much sums up the general objectivity.
At this time, it’s interesting to read blogger Wu Wei, who is actually in Georgia. She paints a good picture of why reporting is often unreliable. There are news blackouts, mobile networks are down and foreign Ambassadors are too busy evacuating themselves to be helpful, let alone informative.
It all reminds me of the Evelyn Waugh novel, ‘Scoop‘, where a London paper’s gardening correspondent is sent to cover a war in Africa. No one is quite sure who are the ‘rebels’ and who are the ‘patriots’, so the journos sit around in a hotel drinking making stuff up to order. Appropriately, Waugh’s satire of foreign correspondents was based on his own experiences of working for the Daily Mail.
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