Ron Asmus, executive director of the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels-based Transatlantic Center, supports the call for an independent commission of investigate in to the causes of the recent Russo-Georgian conflict. But he is clear about which narrative he finds most credible:
Georgia was a potential threat to today’s rulers of Russia precisely because of its efforts to become a liberal democracy on Russia’s borders threatened to undercut the position and legitimacy of a Russian ruling elite that has pinned its legitimacy to the reestablishment of Russian power and glory.
In short, there was and is a link between growing autocracy at home in Moscow and neo-imperialism abroad -or what President Medvedev now cutely called Russia’s sphere of privileged interest. So-called frozen conflicts were manipulated by Moscow for wider geopolitical purposes.
Our mistake in Georgia was not being too supportive of Georgia but not doing enough to deter Moscow or to engage sufficiently in solving these conflicts before they exploded. So it is time to become more, not less, involved. The West must move quickly to save the Rose Revolution from collapse and reassure endangered countries like Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, itinerant journalist Michael Totten has an insightful article on the environmental devastation caused by Russia’s deliberate scorching of Georgia‘s ancient forests.