How the West's Mistakes Stoked War in Georgia

Diplomatic laziness increased the likelihood of conflict
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2008 6:15 PM CDT
A Georgian woman with a child wait for transportation after fleeing Gori, Georgia northwest of capital Tbilisi, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008.    (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
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(Newser) – With the conflict between Georgia and Russia cooling and a truce in progress, it’s time for the West to appreciate its role in the conflict, writes Ronald D. Asmus for the New Republic.

  • From the early '90s, the West accepted the Russians as peacekeepers in the secession dispute. While Boris Yeltsin might have had a credible claim to neutrality, not so Putin, who blatantly favored the separatists.

  • Western support for Kosovo independence provoked the Russians to retaliate in Georgia, using our own arguments as justification.
  • In March, NATO shied away from extending its umbrella to Georgia, opting for vague assurances of future membership. Would Russia have attacked a full-fledged NATO member?