Aug 222008

Mark Ames at The Exiled sets himself up as a target of The Reticulator with his article, “South Ossetia: The War We Don’t Know.”

Five days after Georgia invaded and seized the breakaway separatist region of South Ossetia, sparking a larger-scale Russian invasion to drive Georgian forces back and punish their leaders, Russia surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country’s offensive. After all, the mainstream media, egged on by hawkish neocon pundits and their candidate John McCain, had everyone believing that Russia was hellbent on the full-scale annihilation and annexation of democratic Georgia.

Actually, this is not true. There is nothing surprising at all about this. When Russia has accomplished its objective, why wouldn’t it halt the military offensive? And I suppose you could find some “hawkish neocon” who believed Russia was going for annihlation and annexation, but most of the alarmist articles I read were more nuanced. The word “finlandization” was used a lot.

Up until now, this war was framed as a simple tale of Good Helpless Democratic Guy Georgia versus Bad Savage Fascist Guy Russia. In fact, it is far more complex than this, morally and historically. Then there are two concentric David and Goliath narratives here.

Er, no, this war was not framed as such a simple tale by most people. Most of the people who are alarmed about Russia’s action also realized that Georgia started off with a big mistake.

If Mr. Ames wants people to understand the subtleties and shades of gray with which the historical origins of this war should be understood, he needs to show some understanding of the subtleties and shades of gray with which it has been discussed in the American press, too.