Posted by jfb on August 13th, 2008 | 0 comments
There’s long been a dynamic in the Middle East where Arab leaders gain credibility by fighting Israel (and by extension, the US and the West), even though they get clobbered in the process. It’s widely considered, for instance, that Sadat took part in the 1973 war in order to gain the political capital he needed to pursue peace.
(Politics is a strange world, isn’t it? You have to fight a war in order to create peace. Don’t look at me- I didn’t make it that way.)
I wonder if Saakashvili will be inaugurating the same dynamic along the former Soviet periphery. After fighting a disastrous war, one for which he bears full responsibility, he seems to be in a pretty solid position. Georgia has unified behind him, with the opposition falling into line. All mentions of corruption and repression are gone. Countries like Poland and the Baltics are lining up to support him, and a substantial chunk of the US foreign policy establishment is treating him like a hero.
No telling how long this will last- Serbia united behind Milosevic during the Kosovo war, but still turned on him a year or so later. These circumstances are very different, of course, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on things. If taunting the bear and getting smacked down turns out to be a road to influence, we can expect the fringes of the Russian empire to get a whole lot more unstable.
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