Now there are many Americans at this point wondering why President Bush and the world are concerned about events in Georgia. After all, there is no real reason the Russians should be invading Atlanta. Savannah is not blockaded, and refugees are not fleeing to Tallahassee. However, there is another Georgia on the other side of the world.
Located on the western shores of the Black Sea, Georgia used to be part of the old Soviet Union, Russia still considers Georgia a part of the country. They are thinking its inevitable that it gets reabsorbed into Russia proper. The South Ossetia dispute goes back to the disolution of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia contains a lot of ethnic Russians and the dispute was the subject of a UN mission. Unfortunately, the only way to get a consensus of the issue, which is the only way that disputes seem to get solved lately, resulted in the deployment of RUSSIAN peacekeepers in the disputed areas. There is another area around an old Soviet-era army depot in the Northwest of the country which is also part of this as well. Abkhazia is a separate, so-called "Autonomous Region" which Georgia has no control except for a small valley which has been overrun by Russians. The Russian forces have moved beyond the disputed areas and are threatening to cut Georgia in half and cut off its access to the sea.
The problem with this and the reason we need to be concerned is that Georgia is a major exporter of Oil and Natural Gas and its the access to that and the pipelines that carry it to the Black Sea from not only Georgian sources, but from Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Iran. Again, this is another war for oil and the access to it. Georgia is a major exporter of oil to Israel and there is a threat to those sources as well. Israel has major investments in Georgia.
Today, President Bush promised a major US commitment to the region for "humanitarian" reasons. Unfortunately, such missions can get tangled in hostilities, especially when tempers are high. This can end up being bad. I can only hope that wiser and cooler heads will prevail in whatever happens. But, history has shown that its usually not the case. An already overstretched US military may have to resort to the nuclear option in a conflict that should remain local and contained.
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