Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Too Late, but Maybe Just Enough

Can't find this story on any of the Western newswires, but according to Lenta.ru, the Secretary General of NATO has expressed certainty that Georgia will one day become a member of NATO.

Five days after the start of the war, it seems to have run its course - let's hope - and my prevailing feeling is not one I am especially proud of: At least it happened over there, not here. At least maybe, since we're NATO and EU members, and the first strike that shook the West happened thousands of miles away, we will be spared. Maybe in what Edward Lucas was the first one to publically call the New Cold War, Estonia will be like Finland in the old one: having played Russia to a mutually unsatisfactory stalemate in the propaganda war, we can remain out of reach, the line that the Kremlin will not cross. Maybe.

The West did not come to Georgia's aid when she needed it, and perhaps, in hindsight, it couldn't have. But let's make sure the conscience of Western leaders resonates. This is a test of Europe's feasibility far more important than any treaty referendum. There is still so much we can do in Georgia. Recognize that the Russian forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are occupiers. Flood Georgia proper with international peacekeepers, to make the Kremlin's bullshit just that little bit less aerodynamic.

Andres asked me if I had anything to say about Estonia's Russians and their reaction to the war. It's pretty much what you would expect: at best, apathy and wholesale condemnation of everyone involved, at worst, blind support of anything Russia does without the slightest hint of a clue about the history of the region or the conflict.

After the April riots, it was maybe six months until I started talking to my Russian friends again; it took that long for people to learn to mask their true opinions. Like then, today I have to pick a side to stand on - and it's not really any sort of choice. But if I lose my friends, so be it.

Today, I am Georgian.

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