Friday, September 12, 2008

If They Want Security They Should Ask Klaus

A friend who saw my last blog (School of Lies) said this was ethnic humour that could not reach the masses. I told him that my blog page is not written for the masses. I don't care about the masses. The idea of the masses stands and falls with the assumption that stupidity is a contagious disease.

So what’s with Klaus anyhow; the guy is a twit. He worships Milton Friedman. He is a smokers’ rights advocate even though he never smoked himself. He went to the UN to argue that global warming is a loony-left conspiracy. He comes across like a regular David Warren(a local pundit who holds similar views, but advocated in the past – half-jokingly - also the levelling of Fallujah, and rebuilding it as a giant parking lot to a Wal-Mart). Well, yeah, I said, but I was not talking about the guy’s passions; les goĆ»ts et les coulers on ne discute pas.

So what was I talking about ?

Well, for all his colourful provocations (the Czech president) Vaclav Klaus, happens to have had a fairly decent record as a prime minister, actually some would say a stellar record, compared with what followed after him. But above all, and what relates to his dislike of Saakashvili directly, Klaus happens to be the architect of the Velvet Divorce. He let the Slovaks go ! He conceived a plan for the breakup of Czechoslovakia and negotiated it with the Slovak former heavyweight boxer (Meciar). If memory serves, it is still the only template available for a bloodless, civilized breakup of a country.


it should come as no surprise that Klaus sees the Georgian president as a bully of Abdul Nasser's shoe-size, and his actions on par with the follies of the Pan-arabic fanatic in 1956 and 1967 that started both times with closing the Straits of Tiran to Israel. Klaus does not concern himself much with who fired the first shot in the night of 8/8/8. He understands the problem, and knows instinctively what it is about. The posturing of Georgia toward the two enclaves is all too familiar to a president of a nation which, but for a few intellectuals, would have been itself extinct two hundred years ago. By the early 19.century, the Czech language had no literature. It was a patois of peasants. The towns had very few Czech speakers and even fewer who had any education. There was nothing to read. The co-founder of modern Czech linguistics, Josef Jungmann, wrote his History of the Czech Language in German, the language of the oppressor.

The Western media are mostly clueless about the plight of the Abkhaz and the Ossetians.

There is no such thing as South Ossetia for the Georgian integrists. To them, the Ossetians (a tribe of the ancient Alans) were pushed south to Caucasus from the nothern plains and eventually wandered into the medieval district of Samachablo in the region of Shida Kartli. Georgian propaganda does not even acknowledge there is a distinct ethnic group of Ossetians who are a large majority in the “Tskhinvali region” . The offical line is that the land was taken over by Kokoity separatists. One of the first acts of Zviadist Georgia in 1991 was to make Georgian the only official language in the Thskhinvali administration offices. As that was not ok with the locals who for the most part either did not speak Georgian or knew it only as a third language (after Ossetian and Russian), Zviadist paramilitaries were dispatched to restore order. The shooting began. It is a matter of some irony that those who, like Christopher Hitchens, disclaim any resemblance to Kosovo, overlook that Georgians claim Samachablo as part of the historical kernel of the Georgian state.

Abkhazia, on the other hand, was never a part of the ancient Kartli kingdom, but it is the view of patriotic Georgian historians that it always belonged to Georgia anyways, whatever Georgia actually was at the time. The Georgians were there first. The Abkhaz wandered in afterwards. (Actually, in case you did not know, the Georgians were the first homo erectus human prototype to walk out of Africa. I kid you not !) It is true that the Abkhaz from time to time in the past were dominated by the Mingrelian west-Georgian kingdom of Imereti, but a sober second look would see the land as a Caucasian region very distinct from Georgia, historically and demographically. Its integration into the Czarist Russia followed a different path than Georgia’s and came later. But no sober looks will be forthcoming and the reason is simple. As professor Hobsbawm once put it aptly, “historians are to nationalism, what poppy is to heroin addicts”. Even the human rights people in Georgia, who are asking forgiveness from the Abkhaz, do not find it prudent to mention the causes of their contrition. It is just one of those things you don’t say in Tbilisi: many of the Georgians expelled from Abkhazia (and some who were brutally murdered after Sukhumi was retaken by the Abkhaz forces from Shevardandze in 1993) were the grandsons and granddaughters of the immigrants into Abkhazia brought there by Lavrentii Beria. Beria (a Mingrelian by birth) was Stalin’s most prolific killer and his first lieutenant in the region after it was assigned to Tbilisi in 1931, as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR. He was a notorious madman, and I mean notorious. The 1984 Soviet film classic by the Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze, “Monanienba” (Repentance), is known to every Georgian who finished high school. Abuladze could only hint at Beria, because one could not make a historical movie about Beria in the Soviet Union. Not even in the eighties.

The denial of the two peoples’ existence, and oppression which in both regions outlawed the native scripts, and replaced them with Georgian alphabet, would be enough for me, a Czech by birth. I would say to Saakashvili, bud, you will have to live in a smaller Georgia. You have no idea how to run a federation, and after fifteen years of these people seeing an unstable, immature, violent Georgia, it is time to let them go. There has been enough bloodshed and rancour and it is sound and fury about nothing. Let the Abkhazians and Ossetians go ! Let them go ! In the name of decency, let them go, and find a different role to play than a U.S-financed resurrection of Queen Tamar! Of course, I am a blogging nobody. So please refer to the sitting Czech President, if you want your people to live in a smaller Georgia but one way more comfortable with its neighbours, with Russia, and ultimately - with itself.

Yes, we are all Georgians, and we are all Caucasians out of Africa, just like senator McCain and the archaeologists say. So what's the big deal letting the Georgian separatists in Sukhum and Tkshinvali govern themselves as once the Georgian separatists in the American colonies demanded as their God-given right to liberty ?

Oh Say Can You See ?

But I have no illusions about how far anyone would get with Mikheil. He argues even with the sane half of himself. Take a look at a most revealing interview of him. It comes at the end of Kira Kay’s excellent report made for the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting. Watch how he answers the question whether Georgia would use force to retake Abkhazia the night before he launched the assault on South Ossetia. Then ask yourself: If I was Putin or Medvedev, would I want to be dealing with Saakashvili ?

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