Friday, November 30, 2012

The burst tyre rediscovered

(Nov 2012) Four years ago I wrote about the idea that on se retrouve toujours, that is one always comes across somebody, or something, again, except in the case of  the incident of the burst tyre just before the conflict between Georgia and Russia that started 7-8 August 2008, I didn't.

But here it is, in a book called A Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia, and the Future of the West (p33). Temuri Yakobashvili, special envoy and minister for reintegration, a key aide to President Mikheil Saakashvili was dispatched to the region. 
The South Ossetian authorities flat out refused to meet with him. His Russian Foreign Ministry counterpart, Yuri Popov, had initially agreed to meet him in Tskhinvali, But when he called to finalize a meeting place, Popov told him he was stranded in nearby Gori with a flat tire and unable to come. When Yakobashvili asked whether he had a spare, he was told that was flat, too. The Russian hardly seemed in a hurry or keen to discuss ways to de-escalate the crisis. 
To quote from a couple more paragraphs:
The reality is that Russia unilaterally changed the borders of a sovereign member of the OSCE by force, allowed the ethnic cleansing of Georgian citizens from parts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to create ethnically more homogenous entities, has not fully complied with the terms of a ceasefire bearing the name of its president - and has gotten away with it.

To this day, Russian forces hold swaths of territory that were previously under control of the Georgian government in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Those same forces show no intention of going back - in the words of the Sarkozy-Medvedev ceasefire - "to the line where they were stationed prior to the beginning of hostilities." (p214)
Update, 17 March 2014: of course, in the last 2 weeks, the Georgian 'precedent' has been much on the minds of people in Kiev, for example, Crimea tensions echo Georgia of 2008 (restricted) ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Barack Obama: into the 2nd term

 A great art of politics is to insist on a particular demand that, while thoroughly realist, feasible and legitimate, disturbs the core of the hegemonic ideology. The healthcare reforms were a step in this direction – how else to explain the panic and fury they triggered in the Republican camp? They touched a nerve at the core of America's ideological edifice: freedom of choice.
Slavoj Žižek on Obama