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The Truth is Out There

Those who have been following the dueling versions of what happened in South Ossetia last August can find the latest installment of The Truth in today's Wall Street Journal.  In it, Mikheil Saakashvili attacks “misleading reports” by an OSCE observer who was in South Ossetia on August 7.  It was those reports, you may recall, that led the New York Times essentially to accept this version of reality, according to which the Georgians first attacked Russians in South Ossetia, and not the other way around.  President Saakashvili now lists a number of prior “provocations” by Russia that — he claims — left him with no other choice but to initiate a frontal assault on South Ossetia on August 7 — an assault that had disastrous consequences for Georgia.  Read for yourself and decide.
With Russian troops now withdrawn from Georgia proper (but with South Ossetia and Abkhazia now part of Russian “space”), the truth of what happened on August 7, and the days leading up to it, may be less important than the conclusions drawn by states neighboring Russia and by NATO itself.  Is NATO membership for Georgia (and Ukraine) more or less likely?  The significance of the conflict may finally come to be understood as the end of meaningful security partnership between Russia and the West.

Meantime, there are more such flashpoints waiting to erupt and, for the world, the lesson is that the longer they are left unaddressed, the greater the likelihood that they will lead to unintended consequences.

 

Author

Mark Dillen

Mark Dillen heads Dillen Associates LLC, an international public affairs consultancy based in San Francisco and Croatia. A former Senior Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department, Mark managed political, media and cultural relations for US embassies in Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Sofia and Belgrade, then moved to the private sector. He has degrees from Columbia and Michigan and was a Diplomat-in-Residence at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins. Mark has also worked for USAID as a media and political advisor and twice served as election observer and organizer for OSCE in Eastern Europe.

Areas of Focus:
US Government; Europe; Diplomacy

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