The World Has Turned
by Thomas Goltz
"The world has turned, friends. Get used to it."
On-going series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan
Tbilisi, Georgia. August 20/21, 2008.
I shall try and keep this as short as possible, because I need to sleep. It has been an exhausting and strangely invigorating last day or two or five or ten. It is difficult to keep track in this sustained crisis environment, a major international one that I am starting to believe the world does not want to believe in. The Georgian crisis, that is. Or "catastrophe," which is a better way to describe the current situation coupled with the coming fall-out, which almost no one in the disaster-zone parachute hack-pack seems to be aware of. The world has turned, friends. Get used to it.
"The-recently-arrived-and-now-gone-hack pack" would be a much more accurate way to describe the media feeding-frenzy around here. I guess there was a plane crash in Madrid today, so most of the teams covering the Georgia story had to up and out, and somehow get to the next tale of death and destruction (or those not traveling to Pakistan to cover the impact of Musharef's resignation or get back to Denver to cover Obama) because that is the next news point.
At least I am not among their number. Indeed, I am very specific about pointing out that I am "Professor" Goltz, expert on (etc etc etc), and NOT "war correspondent Goltz," although that is how many apparently want to see me. Rather, my self-assumed position is that of "explainer" of the difference between an Abkhaz and an Osset and an Adjar, should any one need or want to know.
The saddest thing is that most do not want to know anything about nuance, and I am starting to suspect that some of the over-expensive Marriott bar crew (where the hack-pack gathers after a day of chase) think that I am a spin-doctor working for the Georgian government. This issue has become almost moot by dint of the fact that most of the hack-pack has now moved out of their $200 per night rooms and on to the next crisis. The details of the Russian/Georgia war have become boring, at least for the high-end beer & burger crowd...
I just got interrupted by a standard reality that the B & B crowd never understood but a reality that I will share with you. It is now 3:30 AM, and I/we/they just got buzzed by a fighter-bomber, over the center of Tbilisi, with lights on, daring Georgian defense systems to actually DO SOMETHING, such as violate the cease-fire by firing at a war object that is in such absolute violation of the same.
I am staying at a joint, a restored residence on the cusp of the cliff overlooking the city with a commanding view of all, and right next to the sparkling TV tower, which is an obvious target if push comes to shove (as if push has not already come to shove here). This is called "provocation," and the idea is to get the Georgians to do something incredibly stupid - like defend themselves - and thus allow the Russians to declare things like "violation of cease fire terms," etc, and then smash the hammer down.
AH, here they come again!
The jet-bombers, that is.
And you cannot do anything about this abrupt, complete, illegal violation of your airspace (and, thus, of course, security) aside from vaguely complain to a world that does not want to hear, lest it lead to WW III?
The dogs are going berserk, so let me get back on message.
Let there be no mistake about it. The ancient, delightful and exaggeratedly pro-Western post-Soviet state of Georgia has been raped and pillaged, albeit in a post-modern manner, and 'The West' (whatever that means anymore) has done nothing aside from finger-wag, again, in a very post-modern way.
This is incredibly sad for anybody who knows anything about this place, and I am not sure what to recommend about "what the West should do." Over the next six or 12 months, all of the extraordinary social, political and economic gain achieved by this extraordinary little state in the former USSR will be trashed into dust, which it arguably has already been subjected to. You do not rebuild dual highways or export-oriented wine factories overnight.
Ah, here come the jets again!
No cluster bombs on Tbilisi - yet. But a complete domination of air-space, ground-space and naval space, with the concomitant sense and real-world meaning that this is an "occupied" land, even if in a "post modern" sense.
What else? I just put myself in a weird-risk zone with the guys with guns in Russian-occupied Georgia some six hours ago, in order to check out who was who and thus doing the rapine and pillaging.
The point of the idiot's exercise is to get a much closer look at the two characters in half-civies wearing beards. I know who they are now. They are my Chechen friends, killing my Georgian friends, at the behest of my Russian friends, creating blood feuds that will spin out over generations, destroy my non-Montana life almost forever, possibly lead to World War III through idiocy (because even dwarfs started small) - and, despite these efforts, no one in the world seems to really give a damn.