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The entire Caucasus history is one of aggression. Technically, there was the brief attack on Japan at the end of WWII, too. A hundred years ago, there was also the failed naval invasion of Japan.

But you missed that the article refers to a speciality of Soviet invasions: they always used the invitation of some local communists as excuse for moves with wider motivations. (Well, all Western imperiums since Rome needed excuses: there was bringing civilisation to the barbarians, then bringing Christianity to the pagans, then civilisation again, then Enlightement, then liberty and democracy.) In 1956, it was Kádár's 'invitation', in 1968, it was an anonymous reference to a confidential letter sent by some (in truth lower-ranked) Czechoslovak party members.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 03:18:44 PM EST
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The difference today is that I don't see any convincing motivation for Russian expansion. Black Sea ports would be useful strategically, but after that - what? What would the point of annexing the Ukraine and threatening Poland?

Imperial cultures are inherently aggressive because territorial gains are needed to prop up the self image of the emperor. (Unless that emperor is George Bush, in which case nothing at all can prop up his self image.)

The Soviets were aggressive because Stalin was a paranoid drunken psychopath and there was always shreds of a nominal ideology explicitly interested in bringing the workers' paradise to the rest of the world.

Maybe I'm being staggeringly naive, but I can't see Putin in the same mould. He looks to me more like a spook-trained CEO and mafioso and a wannabe Tsar. Georgia is about making the point that Russia is back in the game again - but it's a single sentence statement, not a threat to invade Europe.

Threatening Russia with exclusion from the G8 is - of course - the worst possible course of action, because it undermines that sense of Russian participation, and will only increase Russian paranoia.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:50:24 PM EST
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