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In the Middle East, many of us have Georgia on our minds. A flood of articles have tried to read various meanings into the Russian invasion of Georgia for the Middle East. It will take a while to sort the wheat from the chaff.

For Israelis, the most obvious lesson is supposedly that the US abandoned its ally, Georgia, when the going got tough, as Yoel Marcus notes. However, firstly, those who have been following my writing know that I have been warning about Israeli over-dependence on the United States for a long time (eg United States Mandate for Palestine). The folly of relying exclusively on a single foreign ally is self-evident, and does not need illustration. On the other hand, the Russians are supposedly withdrawing from Georgia (though the withdrawal is not so evident). The opera is not over until the fat lady sings. Who is to say that US and NATO pressure did not help to bring about this withdrawal, if it happens? It should also be noted that despite prior Israeli support for Georgia, Israel was not very forthcoming with military or other practical aid in the present crisis. One is reminded of the proverb about people who live in glass houses.

For Americans opposed to Barack Obama, Georgia is supposed to create a "problem" for him and for his conciliatory foreign policy. That ain't necessarily so. Beyond warning of "grave consequences," there is probably not much that Americans can do to the Russians, if the Russians are determined to maintain their influence in South Ossetia or in Georgia, without getting involved in a major land war that would almost certainly be a mistake. It is unlikely that any US president would do that. It does seem that Americans trust McCain to handle Russia better than Obama.

Another bit of Georgia fallout is the observation that competition between Russia and the US has been renewed, and that includes the Middle East. But it was foolhardy to assume that the great game, which has been played since the 19th century or before, would cease with the end of the Cold War, and in fact it never did. The rivalry has certainly sharpened in recent years, but if the United States did not perceive this, then they were the last ones to miss it. Bashar Assad, President of Syria and a Russian client certainly noticed, and so did Israel. The Israeli negotiations with Syria, after all, are based on the premise that Israel can get Assad to "do a Sadat," - that is, like Anwar as Sadat, who was President of Egypt, Assad will make peace with Israel if the US can "deliver" the Golan along with a generous aid package. Iran also certainly understands the rivalry between the US and Russia, and has exploited it rather skillfully.

What is left is an observation about what is missing following the Russian invasion of Georgia. A super-power invaded a tiny state on a very slim pretext. Georgia, after all, did not encroach on Russian sovereignty or threaten the existence of Russia in any way. Russians admit that South Ossetia is Georgian territory. In their brutal invasion, the Russians committed numerous war crimes, killed civilians indiscriminately, dropped cluster bombs on civilian targets, all to combat a country which had done them no harm. Yet the UN and the large human rights organizations have been more or less silent about these atrocities. The media are not full of op-eds by so-called "liberals" calling for the dismemberment of Russia because the state was founded based on a mistake. Nobody is branding Russia as a chronic violator of human rights. The question of proportionality is hardly even raised. This silence is in marked contrast to the hysterical condemnations of Israel that accompanied and followed the Second Lebanon War. What is more interesting, is that many of the same folks who led the bandwagon against Israel in 2006, are now busy finding every possible excuse to "justify" the Russian barbarity.

Ami Isseroff

* Original Lyrics of Georgia on my mind by Stuart Gorrell, Music by Hoagy Carmichael, 1930
First verse:
Georgia, Georgia,
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Used by Ray Charles and others. Complete original lyrics: Here. Those are copyright, say the owners. It is beyond me why 78 year old lyrics should be copyright, but they are.

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000592.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Ami, Bobby Gentry's lyrics are more appropriate ;-)

"That's the night the lights went out in Georgia, tu du du, tu du du,

That's the night they hung an innocent man,

Don't trust you soul to no local county lawyer, cause the Judge of the land's got bloodstains on hes hands.

Larry Riteman, Tuesday, August 19th

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