Thursday, 2 September 2010

Don't let facts stand in the way of a Russophobe rant.

“It’s real basic irony, but still you can get a hoot”.  The quote from the comedian, Bill Hicks, came to mind reading this month’s Standpoint.

Former BBC correspondent William Horsley has decided that the problem with Europe is that it isn’t sufficiently Russophobe (I paraphrase).

Anyway, hark at these gems.
“Russian leaders were emboldened to break new bounds in August 2008 when they sent some 30,000 troops into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the would-be breakaway parts of Georgia.”
Setting aside the obvious omission of any context to this statement for the time being (there’s more), ’would-be breakaway parts of Georgia’?  Two regions which have never, NOT AT ANY TIME, been successfully administered from Tbilisi as part of a post-Soviet, unitary, independent Georgia.  I’d say that puts them squarely in the ’breakaway’ category without any qualification.
“In what independent analysts have shown to have been a premeditated use of overwhelming military force.”
By Georgia!  Given that the subject under discussion here is the EU’s response to the South Ossetia crisis, it’s fairly significant that the EU’s own ‘independent analysis’ found that Georgia struck the first blow and there was no premeditation on Russia’s part.

Now to the really fun part:
“[An] aspect of that "August war" [which] especially cast[s] shame on the EU: that it failed to act on many urgent pleas from the Georgians to internationalise the dispute and prevent war  Russia sent in its army, as Tbilisi had warned it would.”
Back to that EU report again.  Russia sent in its army .......... when was it again .... oh yes, after Georgian shells began to rain down on Tskhinvali and Georgian tanks began to roll into South Ossetia!.  The chronology is no longer even in serious dispute.

The EU’s shame, according to Horsely, is therefore that it didn’t write Mikheil Saakashvili a blank cheque for his military adventurism in order to draw Europe directly into the dispute with Russia!

Apart from anything else, even if every EU government had signed up to this sabre rattling madness, how would it have enforced its will on Russia in the teeth of a genuine shooting war?  With its non-existent army?

There’s more predictable nonsense castigating Moscow for expecting to be paid for its gas.  The article’s argument, in general, is an incoherent mess, on one hand calling for an expanded EU and more influence for Eastern Europe, on the other deploring the lack of a single voice in Union foreign policy.      

It’s by turns anti-federalist and pro more powers to Brussels.

But at its heart is the fairly common Russophobe fantasy that the chief purpose of any unitary EU foreign policy would be to lambaste Russia.

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