Sunday 10 August 2008

The shape of things to come . . . .

I read an interesting opinion piece in the Washington post written by Anne Applebaum yesterday, money quote:

For the best possible illustration of why Islamic terrorism may one day be considered the least of our problems, look no farther than the BBC's split-screen coverage of yesterday's Olympic opening ceremonies. On one side, fireworks sparkled, and thousands of exotically dressed Chinese dancers bent their bodies into the shape of doves, the cosmos and more. On the other side, gray Russian tanks were shown rolling into South Ossetia, a rebel province of Georgia. The effect was striking: Two of the world's rising powers were strutting their stuff.

Quite. In the one case, we have the rising superpower, which for the time being at least is sticking to its rule of 'not claiming leadership' and of not interfering in other countries affairs, in the other we have the Russian bear slapping down on a rebellious neighbour. The tone of the Russian news reports on channels like Russia Today was striking, with the one-word title "Genocide" being displayed at the bottom of the screen in all their reporting on the conflict. The content of the reports was also remarkable, with interviews with refugees who claimed to have been attacked by men wearing 'US emblems' and reports of the bodies of black soldiers being found touted as 'proof' of US involvement in some of the Russian media. I hardly need to say how unlikely actual direct US involvement is at this stage, but the idea .

We also have examples of how ill-equipped our leaders are to deal with this new world we are entering into - see Lord Owen (he of the Vance-Owen plan) and his comments today in an interview with the BBC where he said that Georgian membership of NATO should be put off as Georgia was geographically 'not contiguous with NATO'. Georgia, of course, shares a border more than 130 miles long with Turkey, a NATO country. Something makes me think that we are all going to have to learn a bit more about where Georgia's borders are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would caution making Russia seem as if it is really that strong. Yes, they still have a large military, but they are still recovering (often by mimicking what the Chinese government is doing), but Russia faces a far larger problem--a sharp decrease in its population.

Decreases in its population is going to be a larger concern to Russia in the long-term, well, assuming that global warming doesn't make Siberia a nice place to live.