The answer might surprise you. Sanjuro, a longtime Russian reader of Jotman, writes in an email:
It looks to me as if various American leaders are straining themselves to paint Russia as the enemy of the West.* The trouble is, it remains only a theory -- one for which evidence is actually in rather short supply. Since when was Georgia an integral part of the West? In fact, Georgia is not a part of any historical conception of the West that does not also include Russia. The point being: except for some rumblings in the Caucasus, the fear mongers cannot really prove their point about Russia. So they talk about what Russia "might" do, and then pontificate.To me it appears that there was a sole winner that emerged from the current Russia-West spat: China. While west-sponsored Georgia launched a botched takeover operation provoking the Russian incursion, and the West has taken a controversial standing, and the truth in the South Ossetia incident seems to be forever lost, China staged spectacular Games, handled security issues, presented itself as a rather enlightened autocracy etc etc. In the Western eyes, in comparison with Russia, China now seems a much more benevolent regime to deal with, and after all, the West itself seems to losing its credibility as a moral authority.I read in the FT today that "Russia is warned on threat to Ukraine". Was there a threat? Or to the Baltic states? Or to Moldova or whoever is there? The threat existed largely in the imaginations I believe. Why does West need to have the last word when the battle is over? A totally irrelevant statement at this stage, when the post-war status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is a much greater concern...
We know that there's a dispute over Sevastopol naval base as Ukraine doesn't want to renew lease after 2014, and Russian populist politicians occasionally indulge in igniting nationalistic feelings in the Crimean populace - but no moves or statements were from official Kremlin in the run-up and aftermath of the Caucasian war.
What is supposed to be Kremlin's response to West's "warnings not to threaten"? Obviously, to save their face, Kremlin must do a couple of "threatening moves", causing even greater noise in Ukraine, Georgia and the West.
The West should heed Sanjuro's warning. If its leaders continue down this path, they will likely -- as by the kind of situation Sanjuro describes -- create an enemy where none had previously existed.
*Obama, for example, promised in his speech to the DNC convention to contend with "Russian aggression." McCain takes the prize, of course.
Photo: By AP / Murad Sezer. Zou Shiming of China displays his gold after winning the men's light flyweight 48 kilogram final boxing match at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing.