Russian-Georgian Conflict via Realpolitik


An interesting article Written by S.C. Denney offering realistic aproach about Georgian-Russian conflict. He comes up with the idea that we still live in an anarchical international arena where states are individual, sovereign actors that compete with each other to maximize their power position. "Time to read up on your Morgenthau, Keohan, and Mearsheimer. Georgia is just the beginning," – says S.C. Denney. 

The recent conflict in Georgia over the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has certainly got the classical realists shifting about their chairs (as if they weren’t shifting before). If there were delusions before about the possibility of a pro-Western, cooperative Russia, the showdown in Georgia ought to clear up any misconceptions. Because, in reality, Russia isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pro-Western country. Russia is beginning, once again, to exert her influence in her respective sphere of influence. The world is witnessing a Russia pushing the pushing the scales of the balance of power, intentionally setting the balance more towards it side. Set aside the petty media politicking (especially Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s plead for Western help) and cries for “humanitarian intervention,” because this conflict, simply put, is a game of power politics. Russia’s push into Georgia confirms Russia’s intent on being a major player in the international arena, and the major power in its respective region. The fact that Georgia was backed by the West (particularly the U.S., the U.K., and Israel) makes this into more than a petty border conflict between a major and minor state; the conflict in Georgia is a proxy war between Russia and the West.

Russia is attempting to regain international prestige and recognition by invading a country that is strongly supported by the West. Regardless of the casus belli (which is indeed dubious), the fact of the matter is that Russia is making up for ground lost during the 1990s. After suffer crippling economic malaise, border and domestic strife (viz. Ukraine and Chechnya, respectively), and international humiliation in the Balkans, Russia is back on its feet thanks to an energy market boom and a relative decline in power and influence of the West. Thanks to America’s commitments in the Middle East and Europe’s ineffectiveness to exert real leverage, Russia is back on the stage again, playing another major role — this time as Mr Authoritarian, not Mr Marx.

In a recent article made book, international theorist Robert Kagan asserts that international politics is returning to a 19th Century balance of power structure. Except this time it isn’t limited just to Europe; it’s global. The West (lead by the U.S.) will vie for power and position with the emergence of two authoritarian (but individual) powers: Russia and China. The delusion given by the 1990s that somehow the world was moving toward interdependence guided by international institutions and worldwide norms will be fully exposed by the exertion of power by Russia and China. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese view power as passé, and both will seek to counterbalance the Western powers (lead by the U.S.). Both authoritarian nations believe that autocracy is better than democracy and will seek to expand their power positions at the expense of the West. The conflict in Georgia indicates Russia’s ability and willingness to exert its power and influence against a Western-backed democracy.

Francis Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War declared the “End of History.” That is, the end of states’ struggle for the right form of governance. The triumph of liberal democracy, to use Hegelian language, indicated the universal and homogeneous state (the perfect and ideal state). Fukuyama’s declaration may have been a bit premature, for the challenge posed to the West (liberal democracy) by Russia and China (authoritarianism) is, according to Kagan, the “Return of History” and a return to 19th Century-style balance of power structure.

So, sorry to all of you idealists out there who envisioned a world run by benevolent, democratic leaders who adhered to international norms established by a world-connected. The truth of the matter is that we still live in an anarchical international arena where states are individual, sovereign actors that compete with each other to maximize their power position. Time to read up on your Morgenthau, Keohan, and Mearsheimer. Georgia is just the beginning.

http://politicalcartel.com/2008/08/17/russian-georgia-conflict-via-realpolitik/
 

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