Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Remember Finland

Although I'm not a fan of using ancient history over much as an explanation for things going on today, I do think it has excellent entertainment value.  So enjoy this series of links about the time when the Bear got its snout bloodied.  

I'm talking of course about the Winter War in which a million Soviet soldiers invaded the recently independent Republic of Finland in an attempt to reassert Russian domination of that country.  The parallels to Georgia are many.  Finland had been under Russian rule for centuries (since Peter the Great).  So some might argue that Russia had an inherent right to dominate the new Republic.  But when the Bear came growling in the Finish forrest, the Finns fought back.

Tens of thousands of the Soviet invaders were encircled by quick moving Finnish volunteers in the frozen forests where they were besieged and largely left to starve.  Hundreds of thousands of Russian died or were wounded.  The outcome was ultimately a foregone conclusion (Finland lost 9% of their territory and much of their best farmland to the conquerers and still have not had it returned to them).  Bert Q. Slushbrow can tell us a lot more about it I suspect.

Sadly for the Georgians they aren't facing Stalin's purged army.  Nor are they lucky enough to have the trackless Finnish forests to fight from.  

War is always a bad thing.  But I do think it would benefit millions of people (not least the Russians themselves) if this adventure in Georgia would teach them that war cannot make Russia happy and prosperous.  The Finns did their best to teach them that in 1939.  Pitty Stalin wasn't obliged to learn.  I suspect Putin is nearly as immune to popular constraints on his ambitions.


Bert Q. Slushbrow, Sr. said...

"But I do think it would benefit millions of people (not least the Russians themselves) if this adventure in Georgia would teach them that war cannot make Russia happy and prosperous."

If only. With the current crop of Russian leaders and public sentiment being what it is (read this and prepare to suspend disbelief) I'm pretty sure Russia is convinced this will be an exercise in making Russians happy and prosperous.

Raised By Republicans said...

That Pravda article doesn't read like the product of a free press. It makes Fox News sound "fair and balanced."

The Law Talking Guy said...

The outcome in Finland was not a foregone conclusion. The USSR intended to snuff out Finnish independence, and Finland had been part of the Russian empire until 1905. Instead, Russia had to make do with modest territorial gains. It was a Russian defeat and a great Finnish victory.

But the russophobic comparison between Stalin invading Finland and this modest tiff in Georgia, is hard to grasp. It's not even as dramatic as invading the Czech republic for a few weeks in 1968. The Russian defense ministry has already announced an end to offfensive operations after less than a week. All this hysteria about ending Georgian independence or a renewed east bloc of captive nations is just way off the mark.

Bob said...

But I do think it would benefit millions of people (not least the Russians themselves) if this adventure in Georgia would teach them that war cannot make Russia happy and prosperous.

Not too overgeneralize, but surely we can have some fun with a little country substitution in this phrase. Replace "Russia" with "America" and "Georgia" with "Iraq", for example. Or keep Russia the same, and replace Georgia with Chechnya. Or Afghanistan. Or keep Afghanistan, now with America. Or how about "China" and "Tibet"? I don't think we've even scratched more arguable cases.

USwest said...

I often ask myself the following Question: 'If Al Gore had been president on 2001, and if he had said that Iraq and 9/11 were linked, would I have believed him?'

I am not sure if utlimately I would have or not, but I wouldn't have been so quick dismiss that claim as bogus because my tendancy would be to TRUST Al Gore. Since I didn't trust George Bush at all, I automatically refused to even entertain such claims.

LTG calls our concerns "hysteria". You know what, I don't TRUST Putin. I don't trust the thugs he has employed in his government. I don't think that implanting a puppet in the Kremlin is democracy. So when Putin, who didn't much like Shevardnadze , and who holds nothing but personal distain for American educated Saakashvili, tries to call his troops "peacekeepers" there is something terribly disingenous about it. And when he suddenly calls for "international" talks, I don't buy it.

I am not convinced that this is over. You don't have a peace deal YET. LTG pointed out in one of his posts that he thought the Russians would only go so far as to "capture" back South Ossetia and Abkhazia and a then go a little further to punish Georgia. I would add to that that they wanted to show the world that they could do what they wanted and no one could really stop them. They were successful at that. But I remind LTG that these regions are inside the boarders of a soverign stated called the Republic of Georgia. And the idea that Russian "Peacekeepers" were ever going to maintain a peace agreement was silly and self-defeating. There should have been a neutral, international presence there all along. That's were we in the West screwed up big time.

If Russia had it druthers, it would love to take Georgia back. Russians loved their lux hotels along the Black Sea. Georgia was their Cuba before the Revolution, a good playground. I still think they are working on a long term plan, if not to take the country back, to subjugate it to the point where it is a nothing more than a shell of a state. Having an oil pipline that skirts Russia doesn't make the Bear happy.

The U.S. and its allies are pledging to put Georgia on the route to NATO membership. Russia just ensured Georgia's place in that organization.

Now to be fair, yes, our media coverage has very much favored Georgia. Yes, there are questionable practices on both sides in these autonomous regions. Yes, Saakashvili may or may not have been elected last term in a voting rigging scheme.And yes, there was a strong opposition to him in the last elections and that opposition has not gone away. But that is a young democracy. It doesn't benefit anyone to have violence in that region.

Raised By Republicans said...

Actually, I think Russia ensured that Georgia will never join NATO.

Think of this. If Georgia had been a member of NATO when this started, NATO would have bene oblidged to attack Russia. And we would all be dead now.

Dr. Strangelove said...

If Georgia had been a member of NATO, would Russia have attacked them at all? Surely that is a significant reason why Georgia is interested in NATO membership.

USWest said...

RBR, you could argue that one way to protect Georgia from further Russian aggression is to let them in or at least put them on a long path to membership. It would poke Russia in the eye at the least.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think the NATO commitment is only as valuable as its credibility. Nobody thinks the USA is ever going to risk all-out war, including nukes, for Georgia. Germany, probably. Poland, maybe. But saying we will go to the Nth degree to protect Latvia or Georgia or the Ukraine is sort of inherently not credible, and I think it devalues the guarantees to Western and Central Europe.

Raised By Republicans said...

I agree with LTG on this one. Russia would, rightly, suspect that NATO would not go to war for Georgia the same way they would for an EU member state or Turkey.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I do not believe Georgia will be admitted to NATO unless NATO members (including the US) are prepared to defend Georgia by force. As LTG indicates, the credibility of all NATO guarantees is thrown into question when any non-credible guarantees are extended.

Admitting Georgia to NATO without such a commitment would be worse than useless and therefore, I trust, would not be permitted by current NATO members. Putting Georgia on a "long path" to membership would poke Russia in the eye but do nothing to secure Georgia's integrity--in fact, it would likely make it worse, as we have seen.

Raised By Republicans said...

The Daily Show pointed to something significant here. When confronted with this international crisis, Bush stayed in Beijing to relive his college days as a cheer leader.