With all my support and condolences to the victims and families affected by the Spanair plane crash, I find that the worst international news of the summer were those coming from South Ossetia; for their long-term implications.
As Alan Moir reminds us with a sharp cartoon, the episode made us quickly forget the naive Olimpic spirit, predominant during the month of August, and confronted us with the bitter feeling that, despite the World’s ongoing progress, International Relations are still a game of big fishes eating smaller ones.
The Stanley Foundation -a US centrist think tank– recently launched a website to raise awareness regarding the new international order: Rising Powers: The New Global Reality. As they explain, its aim is:
[…] to discuss several of the countries challenging the global order,
major issues which cut across national boundaries, and how all of this
will impact American lives.
The Stanley Foundation examines 16 countries, paying special attention to eight of them (plus the European Union): Brazil, China, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, Japan, Turkey, and India. Each state makes a compelling case that old ways of World organization become irrelevant today because of the appearance of new nonstate actors and transborder threats such as nuclear proliferation, energy shortcomings or transnational terrorism.
But, as Moisés Naím askes himself in “¿A usted le importa Abjazia?”, are transnational threats more dangerous that classic military conflicts? Is the current international society so different to that described by Otto von Bismarck in 19th century? Or are we still playing the same game of chess, with countries competing against each other for territories and resources? Russian attitude seems an example of the last.
The invasion of South Ossetia leads us back to old TV war footages as misty as only Caucasus wars (and maybe Balkan’s) can be. Foreign correspondents being violenty rejected at the borders; elders and children flowing out; anguish, women in head scarfs. I do not know what causes the fog, whether it is an effect of the cameras’ lenses or the cameramen’s rush, a condition of the morning light in Eastern countries or a permanent characteristic of the local weather. But it gives an even more pessimistic tone to the reports. Chechnya. Ricardo Ortega. Ethnic cleansing. Combat boots. All of them are memories coming back through Ossetian haze.