Stalin was born in Georgia. It has been part of Russia or a Russian sphere of influence for centuries. Often that history and control by Russia has been tenuous and turbulent. With the recent events of the last days and the world’s eyes on that part of the world it is uselfu to recall some of the history of that region. It will help put the current struggles and events in some context. Events always have a context even though you wouldn’t know it by reading the media reports of today’s world. The modern media acts like the only thing of importance is what they have reported in the last twenty four hours.
Georgia has had a history of rebelling against Russian dominance for centuries. This goes back a long way and has much to do with the geography of the region and the religious and ethnic differences between Moscow and Georgia. As I have written before be sure you look at a map. You can see why it is both an important area and a hard one to control. To some extent it is fair to say the Georgia is somewhat akin to our own Appalachia. It is remote because of its location and the topograhpy of the area–mostly mountainous and isolated. You will also notice that it is on the Black Sea. That is of immense importance and has been going back to Biblical times. Being on the Black Sea means you are connected to the Mediterrean Sea and thus to the “World”. It was one of the earlist areas to become Christian and has always had a bit different slant on its Christian beliefs, going all the way back to the Gnostics. Its location connects it with the Muslim world and the Christian world and the oil regions of the middle east and the commercial west.
Russis has wanted a warm water port for centuries. St. Petersburg was built by Peter the Great to mitigate the lack of a warm water port for Russia. Russia and the Turks have been adversaries since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. That tension has been over Russian desires to be able to ship its goods through the Bosphorous Straits to the the Mediterrean and the countervailing wish of the Turks and Muslims to control that access for their own ends. The Turks wanted to control that narrow waterway much like a tollroad and they would be they gatekeepers. Please look at a map of the region and you can see that Turkey controls that access between Asia Minor and Istanbul as it is called now. Catherine the Great spent almost her entire reign as Tsarina either fighting the Turks, planning her next fight with them or recovering from her last fight with them. The Crimean War was fought to determine who would have control of the Black Sea outlet to the Mediterrean Sea. The British fought on the side of the Turks because they believed the Turks would act as their surrogates in the area. Remember the poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade? Our Cardigan sweater comes from the type of sweater worn by the British commander during that war. That war was fought immediately before our War Between the States.
The Georgians have been preceived by the Russians as Hillbilies for a very long time. They think of them as brutish and uneducated and clannish. All of those stereotypes do have an element of truth in them. Remember that Turkey is a member of NATO and that has rankled the Russkies for decades. When Georgia broke away in the early ’90’s Russia was enfeebled by its own domestic conflicts and disruptions. But the Russian Bear is feeling its oats these days and is weary of being pestered by a second rate country as they preceive Georgia. We must be aware that Russia has a real army and navy and air force. It is armed with thousands of nukes and can’t be arm wrestled into submission. This is a serious conflict and we must proceed with caution. It is in the national interest of Russia to seek and maintain that warm water link to the world and to have an influence these days over the flow of oil and gas to the west. Russia is the second largest exporter of oil and gas products in the world at this time. That is so often overlooked. They have a vital interest in the pertoleum markets worldwide. We can’t deny that. We might not like it but we have our national interest too to be protected. Georgia with all its faults does have a democracy of sorts and it is in our interest that it prevail and exist as a counterbalance to Russian dominance in the region; a very vital region if we are to have some peace in this world.
I think that when it is done that Russia will allow Georgia to exist but will give it this strong reminder not to tease or torment its larger neighbor. Russia would not want the headache of occupying Georgia. That would be a severe drain on them and the Georgians would see to that by rebelling and making trouble at every turn. Something that the Georgians have been good at doing for centuries. Even the Soviet Union had a hard time controlling that area during the height of the Stalinist era. Russia wants to make sure that Georgia is in its sphere of influence but not take on a constant rebellion in such a remote area. Those mountains are perfect for rebel raids and incursions.
Again a little history and geography can go a long way in understanding what is happening in today’s headlines.
There were those who believed that the lost 13th tribe of Israel had migrated to the area of Georgia and the additional area from there to the Caspian Sea. In the early centuries after the death of Christ the ruler of this area had a debating contest between the major religions and chose Judaism but it didn’t last as we all know. Some believe those early “jews” became the jews who migrated to Poland.