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August 20th, 2008 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Vladimir Putin

Georgia on our mind

     
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The overwhelming stench of a Rogue amid the distant and confusing conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia prompted the Rogue Desk to break format this week.

With the help of David Meyer, a George Fox University poli-sci prof whose doctoral dissertation covered Georgia and South Ossetia, we’re bestowing Rogue dis-honors on a non-local.

Meyer helped us sort through candidates we identified as potential Rogues. Among them: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for blustering into the conflict; Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who replaced Vladimir Putin this year as president when Putin became prime minister; and President Bush, who flushed away any capacity for moral outrage over invasions with the Iraq War.

But with Meyer’s expertise, we’re blaming Putin. Here’s why.

In the 1990s, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both within Georgia, declared their independence. While Georgia and the rest of the world never formally recognized that declaration, Russian forces were “locked, loaded and waiting at the border” when hostilities broke out Aug. 8 (so much for peace and goodwill during the Olympics) between Georgia and South Ossetia’s separatists, Meyer says.

Russia had distributed Russian passports to South Ossetians and then claimed intervention was necessary to save Russian minorities in the region.

“This was a well-planned invasion,” Meyer says.

And there’s more at stake than whether 70,000 South Ossetians can pledge allegiance to Russia, Meyer says.

The bulk of European oil comes from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and it flows through a Georgia pipeline to the country’s West Coast port, Poti. Russian “peacekeepers” have occupied Poti, showing the world that “Putin wants to restore Russian pride, and he is starting with Georgia,” Meyer says.

 
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