10 August, 2008

Not the Greek Olympics

So far, the 2008 Beijing Olympics have witnessed

  1. the murder of an American in China;
  2. a terrorist attack in western China after the Chinese stepped up security following an attack last week; and
  3. the outbreak of a "minor" war between two former members of the Soviet Union.
The Greeks stopped fighting wars when they played their Olympics; three thousand years later, we moderns start them. There's progress for you.

Today the news is reporting that the Russian military bombed the Georgian city of Gori. Western media is broadcasting images of old Georgian women covered in blood, or dying in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Russian websites are wondering why the BBC has no images of old Ossetian women covered in blood, or dying in the rubble of collapsed buildings.* My wife was looking at a number of Russian websites this evening and kindly translated a few for me. It was a little tense, thanks entirely to me.

Three last, random thoughts.
  • Were South Ossetia named Chechnya, would Russian public opinion still support its secession from Georgia?
  • Were South Ossetia named Kosovo, would Western public opinion still oppose its secession from Georgia?
  • Gori is the birthplace of Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, whom you might know better by the name of Joseph Stalin. A great irony of history is that many Russians today (according to Wikipedia, one survey indicates 37%) wish that they could have that Georgian mass murderer as their ruler rather than the comparatively civilized Russians who have ruled them the last fifteen-odd years. Recent Russian textbooks refer to Stalin's purges as a necessary evil in nation-building.
What a strange time for Solzhenitsyn to die.

*I don't think that's a fair complaint, considering the Russian government's usual treatment of the press, but the complaint is there.

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