No, not the girl of that name in the dreamy song by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael. No, not that southern state of midnight trains, rainy nights, lovelorn men and betrayed women in countless C&W ballads. I mean the real Georgia that could drag us into another face-off with Russia.
I am talking about the nation of Georgia, formerly the Georgian Republic, which was the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic before that, and which was a province of Romanov Russia before that and which gave the world Josef Stalin. The Georgia that is wedged into the Black Sea side of the southern Caucasus, bordering Russia to the north and Turkey to the south and tickling the Graustarkian former Russian holdings of Armenia and Azerbaijan. I mean the Georgia that is about the size of West Virginia and with about as many people as Arizona.
This Georgia, a client state of the United States, a nation that wants to be a member of NATO, is in a war with the Russian bear over the breakaway territory of Ossetia. The problem is that the residents of Ossetia want to be part of Russia but Georgia insists on having them back. On the eve of the Olympic games opening in Beijing, the president of Georgia ordered his armed forces to attack; however, the Russians did not hesitate to respond.
Now we have a war in an already-unstable part of the world, with bombings and shelling, columns of infantry and armor streaming to the field, both sides pointing fingers and publishing reams of claims and counter-claims about who-shot-John. And of course we have the “collateral damage”, the thousands of civilians displaced, killed or wounded by the struggle for power.
We need to ask ourselves who is more important to the issue of stability – Georgia or Russia? It is bad enough that we needlessly angered the Russians by extending NATO to their western borders, but will we further and even more unnecessarily try to implant NATO into a minor country on their border and within their traditional sphere of interest – a nation of absolutely no strategic value to us and very possibly a serious strategic and political liability! There was always considerable debate as to whether or not we should be putting ourselves on the line for London, Paris and Berlin – places we are tied to by custom and language and civilization, but it should not even be a question of putting us on the line for another warring province in the heartland of imploded empires.
And we need to determine of our presidential candidates if they, too, have Georgia on their minds.
T. J. Flapsaddle