Russia's Pyrrhic Victory Sets a Bad Precedent


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In response to "Independent at Last," a comment by Ludwig Chibirov on Sept. 5.

It is important to read the Russian perspective on international issues, such as the conflict with Georgia. Most Americans would tell you they are unhappy to be dragged into this conflict by Georgia. The United States genuinely supports any country that wishes to establish a legitimate, democratic society with a free market economy. But we do not condone the assault by Georgia on South Ossetia, which forced Russia to respond accordingly.
As Ludwig Chibirov pointed out, Ossetians are one people. They are not Russians or Georgians. Why not support an independent and democratic and unified North and South Ossetia?
Russia has been hurt most in this conflict in the court of world public opinion. It was horrible timing with the news breaking on the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Most of the time when the word "Russia" was mentioned during the Olympic coverage, it wasn't for winning a medal but in television footage showing their tanks and aircraft destroying Georgian villages. It was truly a sad day for Russia in the global arena, and it raised alarm in all democratic nations.
Yes, Russia won a small, five-day war against the inferior and outnumbered Georgian forces, and they liberated the South Ossetians, who more closely related to Russians than Georgians. But Russia's victory has been a Pyrrhic one. Yes, Russia gained control of South Ossetia and dealt Georgia a humbling blow. But in doing so, they have once again placed themselves in a position of making the rest of the world distrustful of them.
Whenever there is any increase in tensions between the United States and Russia, it always hurts Russia more.
Let us put this notion of a return to the Cold War to rest permanently. The Americans don't want it, the Russians cannot afford it and the rest of the world wants peace between our two great nations.
David Colister
Parma Heights, Ohio

Capitalist Wealth Allocation

In response to "Blame Capitalism, Not Medvedev," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on Sept. 4.

It is pleasing to see that Boris Kagarlitsky is prepared to point the finger at capitalism -- in particular, U.S. capitalism. The mainstream media rarely mentions that 80 percent of the Earth's wealth is owned by 15 percent of the population.
James Jones
Wanganui, New Zealand

Is Northern Cyprus Next?

Those of us who had hoped and expected the end of the Cold War to herald a time of tranquility and progress, when we would have benefited from the promised "peace dividend," have had our hopes dashed. Now, dealing with the fallout from the Georgian conflict, what is to stop Moscow from granting diplomatic recognition to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus"?
After all, there are striking similarities between what happened in Cyprus that led to the division of that island and what happened in Georgia. The ethnic minority of Turkish Cypriots were attacked and killed by members of the majority Greek community. Turkey invaded to stop the slaughter and to prevent a genocidal ethnic cleansing of Turkish men, women and children. As a result, Cyprus was divided in two.
It would be very interesting indeed to see if Russia will recognize Northern Cyprus. I am sure Turkey would welcome this development.
C. Alexander Brown

Oil Down but Not for Long

In response to "10 Reasons Why the Economy Will Falter," a column by Anders Aslund on Sept. 3.

Anders Бslund's 10 reasons are mainly based on quasi-objective facts, such as "oil and commodity prices can only go down." He seems to seriously misunderstand the difference between "economic growth" and "business cycles." The majority of empirical studies show a continuous long-run increase in the price of oil. Yes, oil prices can occasionally go down, but not in the long run.
Christos Papahristodoulou
Associate professor of economics
Malardalen University
Eskilstuna, Sweden

Making Russia the Bugaboo

In response to "Russia and the West Are a World Apart," a comment by Gyorgy Schopflin on Sept. 1.

The author mentioned that "Europe was opposed to the use of force to settle this [Yugoslav] conflict." Its so-called opposition must have been extremely quiet while U.S. and NATO aircraft were dropping bombs right in the middle of "the common European home."
I agree with the author on the issue of separatism. Unfortunately, we live in such times when international law is governed by the principles of national interests and "the strongest is always right." I admit that the secession of these two breakaway regions of Georgia is contrary to the principle of territorial integrity of sovereign states. The same applies to Kosovo's secession from Serbia.
Schopflin also mentions "ethnic cleansing of Georgians." This is a very serious accusation without any facts to support it. Why stop there? Why not say it was Russian missile artillery that shelled Tskhinvali and that Georgia had nothing to do with it?
It appears that Schopflin's argument is nothing more than, "Russia is bad because it did something that the West didn't want it to."
Alexander Vospyansky