Well, the last few days have been quite wake-up for the world – an indication that the “Russian Bear” has come out of it’s decade-long hibernation. Back in my graduate school days, one of my professors, Dr. Angela Hawken, a South-African citizen who has served as an intermediary and advisor on behalf of the United States to the Georgian government consistently warned that the situation with Abkhazia was a problem and how the region is still quite unstable. So when I was sitting in a coffee shop in Gamla Stan last week while in Stockholm and heard of the Russian invasion of Georgia, I knew that the reasoning that Russia would use as justification for this conflict would center around South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia, for all its ills, is still one of the most prosperous and pro-Western democracies of the group of countries formerly part of the USSR. With the pro-West, democratically elected president that the Russian government tried to take out in the last election, Mikheil Saakashvili has shown courage under fire while his country was being invaded.
Thankfully, Senator John McCain, a frequent visitor to the region and the country of Georgia, has a full knowledge and understanding of the situation, and even more important, a decidedly realistic opinion of the current political situation in Russia. Russia, now fully funded due to skyrocketing oil and natural gas prices – two of their largest and untapped natural resources – has put the world on notice that it plans to reassert its former glory and dominance on the world stage and an alternative to the western control. This time, the conflict is not over political ideology like the first Cold War was, but over the control of the next growing economy in the world – the Eastern Europe/Middle Eastern regions and the control over natural resources that will fuel the rest of the world.
Yes folks – this is it – oil, gas, timber, iron, minerals – all materials that will be in huge demand as China and India continue their development. Russia knows it risks losing influence in its former sphere if it does not thwart the efforts of the United States and Europe. The next “Cold War” will decide if free markets prevail, or a bunch of global “thugs” will control the global economy.