Leading expert Tomoyuki Hashimoto, who is affiliated with World Association of International Studies at Stanford, especially for Trend
Recent incidents in South Ossetia gathered much attention world-wide: Ukraine analyzes the peacekeeping mechanism in the region "ineffective," and Estonia calls for the EU action. Surely, many international sources point out the probable Russian military support to the secessionists, and thus Russian troops seems to destabilize the region. Yet, the European powers, such as Germany, France, and the UK, are reluctant to be involved in the situation instead of Russia, as the governments would have a hard time to obtain rather isolationist domestic support.Particularly, as the US presidential election comes up in November, the new US administration (whoever the president would be) is likely to ask Europeans for the reinforcement in the mission in Afghanistan. If Europe takes military action at this time in South Ossetia, it becomes harder to reject the Afghan mission.Moreover, last month (July 2008), France assumed six-month presidency of the European Union. As the leading nation of Europe, France will prioritize the issue regarding the Irish rejection of Lisbon Treaty. Out-of-area peacekeeping missions, unfortunately, will be secondary in the European agenda.If the EU cannot replace Russia in the Ossetian peacekeeping mission, who else can be? The US is a clear candidate because of her economic and military capacity. However, dramatic change in the American foreign policy won't take place until 2009 due to the unknown effects on the presidential election. China would be another candidate. Yet, recent earthquake and the upcoming Olympic games will keep the administration rather busy domestically.To conclude, immediate aid from foreign countries other than Russia at this point is unlikely. However, the Georgian government must be in close contact with the two US presidential candidates, so that it can act as soon as the US domestic politics settles down. In the meantime, the Georgian government should propose (rather than accuse) a new peacekeeping mechanism in which Russia may take a part. Massive accusation against Russian foreign policy will simply harden the Russian attitude. Rather, Tbilisi can show some benefits for Moscow (such as economic initiative) in return with Moscow's cooperation. Also by implying possible cooperation with China or Turkey, Georgia could increase Moscow's support to Tbilisi rather than to the secessionists within the global competition among Russia, China, the US and Europe.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of Trend