Today, a bomb destroyed an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi, injuring at least two people, and another bomb was defused after being discovered on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in Tbilisi. Israel is blaming Iran for both of the attacks. How common are attacks on diplomats—and what form do they usually take? One of the most comprehensive studies of this question comes from a 1982 RAND paper. The number of attacks on diplomats tends to rise along with conflict and war: Attacks rose sharply in the early ’80s, driven by attacks connected to the Iran-Iraq War and violence in Central America.
It seems eccentric, to say the least, that the FIFA selection committee chose Russia as the World Cup’s home in 2018, and all the more so as it meant overlooking perfectly serviceable countries such as Britain. (They also chose Qatar over the U.S. for 2022, but that's another counterintuitive story altogether.) Why not Russia, you might ask. After all, the country is home to numerous top-drawer soccer teams and has a solid pedigree for hosting international club games at their stadiums.
During the brief war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, one of the earliest targets was Gori, a nondescript industrial town near the border of South Ossetia, one of the two separatist provinces over which the conflict was fought. Russian jets bombed the city, hitting apartment buildings and a school. A missile thudded onto the grounds of the city’s hospital; cluster bombs exploded in the square. According to the Georgian government, at least 60 people died. It was curious, therefore, that two local landmarks escaped the bombardment entirely.
After the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008, the European Union found itself in a difficult position. Moscow had not only invaded a neighbor for the first time since the Soviet assault on Afghanistan in 1979. In recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, it had also broken the cardinal rule of post-cold war European security: that borders in Europe would never again be changed by force of arms. Yet Georgia, too, had clearly made mistakes, not the least in embroiling itself in a military conflict with Russia that Georgia's own allies had repeatedly warned against.
August 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian-Georgian War. The conflict began when Georgian troops entered South Ossetia, a region that regards itself as independent but is not recognized by Tbilisi and most of the international community. The war began as a local conflict but rapidly escalated when Russia intervened to defend South Ossetia and invaded Georgia. The conflict displayed Russia’s willingness to assert itself militarily in the region. And the actions of Georgian President Saakashvili's government cast doubt on the country's future in NATO.
The future of Russia's excursion in Georgia remains to be determined. But some conclusions can already be drawn: 1. Russian power is extraordinarily brutal in the post-Soviet era, as we have already seen in Chechnya. This brutality has been confirmed -- although on a smaller scale -- in the spectacle of the Russian army occupying a sovereign country, moving through it as it pleases, advancing and retreating at will, and casually destroying the military and civilian infrastructures of a young democracy as an astonished world watches. Today it is Georgia. Tomorrow will it be Ukraine?
While a few foreign policy watchers were sounding the alarm about the Caucasus months in advance, Russia's invasion of Georgia sent most of the public and the commentariat running to their world maps. To avoid a repeat, we should probably keep an eye on the next likely flashpoint: Ukraine. The IHT has an update on developments there, which turn on the status of Russia's naval base in Crimea: Ukraine, bigger than France and traditionally seen by Russians as integral to their heritage and dominion, has been conspicuously quiet over the past week.
The guns around Tbilisi have now fallen silent. Efforts are underway to finalize a truce between Russia and Georgia to end Moscow’s bloody invasion. It is time for the West to look in the mirror and ask: What went wrong? How did this disaster happen? Make no mistake. While this is first and foremost a disaster for the people and government of Georgia, it is also a disaster for the West--and for the U.S. in particular. After all, Georgia was, in a fairly basic sense, our project. The Rose Revolution was inspired by American ideals--and prodding.
On August 8, Russia sent troops into Georgia, spurring violence that has spread beyond two disputed breakaway regions and resulted in the deaths of thousands. The conflict was not unexpected; relations between the two countries have been seething for years. Here is a summary of the conflict's history, major actors, core issues, and consequences. WHAT HAPPENED -- Georgia, a small state that sits just north of Turkey, wedged between the Black and Caspian Seas, became independent in 1991 with the fall of the USSR.