Sunday, September 7, 2008


Ellen Barry writes a must-read piece in today's The New York Times on life in South Ossetia. Bush and especially Cheney keep saying that Russia must respect the "territorial integrity" of Georgia, but what if the people there don't want to belong to Georgia? Cheney totally ignores the will of the people when he professes support for Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's neo-con American-leaning prime minister. Instead of backing a plebiscite or referendum to let the people there decide, all he does is to foolishly repeat, respect the sovereignty of Georgia.

But the NYTimes article reveals the depth of the animus of South Ossetians towards Georgians, and vice versa. Writes Ellen Barry:

"Over the next three years, Tskhinvali became something like Belfast in Northern Ireland.
The government in Tbilisi established Georgian as the country’s principal language, enraging the Ossetians, whose first two languages were Russian and Ossetian. A few months later, more than 10,000 Georgian demonstrators were transported to Tskhinvali in buses and encircled the city, until they were repelled by Ossetian irregulars and Soviet troops. A true war began in 1991, when thousands of Georgian soldiers entered Tskhinvali. The city was shelled almost nightly from the Georgian-held highlands, and Medeya Alborova recalls holding pillows over her teenage daughters’ heads, as if that could protect them."

No wonder the Ossetians want nothing to do with Saakashvili or the Georgians. Georgians have always looked down upon the people of Ossetia and they even sent in troops back in 1991. It was the Georgian army attacking South Ossetia.

Continues Ellen Barry:

"Even after a cease-fire in 1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory around it, and accounts of atrocities against Ossetians — rapes and grisly killings — circulated endlessly."

Now place Cheney's support for Georgia's "territorial sovereignty" against this background of discrimination, atrocities and ethnic hatred between the Georgians and the Ossetians. Cheney seems pretty small, doesn't he?

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