The Proxy War: Georgia vs. Russia

By SHARON K. GILBERT
August 8, 2008

CABLE NEWS viewers woke this morning to startling news out of Georgia (the country, not the state). Apparently, overnight, and out of the clear blue sky, war had broken out between Georgia and Russia over a region called South Ossetia. What I find most startling isn’t that fighting broke out (primarily because fighting has been ongoing for years, though on a smaller scale), but that cable news ‘talking heads’ appear to have just now noticed.

Following the break-up of the former Soviet Union, satellite countries scrambled to declare borders and pick sides. In the case of Georgia, the northernmost region borders Russia. North Ossetia is not in dispute, as Russia annexed it some time ago. However, the southern half of Ossetia is claimed by Georgia (supported by NATO and the UN), despite the fact that South Ossetians consider themselves independent.

South Ossetia (formerly the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast — say that ten times fast), is an ethnic region where the locals speak Ossetian not Georgian, and are predominantly Christian.

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