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Georgia on their minds

August 15, 2008

Re "Message from Moscow," editorial, Aug. 12

The United States rightly pushed for the independence of Kosovo because the vast majority of the population wanted it. If we believe in democracy, surely we should also push for a referendum under which the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia can decide whether they wish to remain part of Georgia, become part of Russia or possibly become independent nations. We should then support the people's wishes.

I know little about this part of the world, but it appears that the majority of the population of these two regions do not want to be part of Georgia. If so, we should not support Georgia's desire to retain these areas just because Georgia is an ally.

Robert Ronus

Los Angeles

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Was this editorial written by a committee composed of opposing factions?

One faction seems to see the Russian invasion as a blatant act of aggression. It writes that Russia's action is "an all-out invasion, and perhaps even the start of a Russian drive to begin rebuilding the old, dismantled Soviet empire." The other sees the conflict as a Russian defensive action against menacing moves by the West. It says: "Russia's leaders feel deeply threatened by the newly independent, pro-Western regimes such as Georgia and Ukraine on its borders. ... [The West] has largely ignored Moscow's warnings against building a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe or expanding NATO."

So is Russia attacking its neighbors or protecting itself? Will the real editorial board please stand up?

Jack Rothman

Los Angeles

The writer is professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Public Affairs.

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I am struck by the parallels between Russia's attack on Georgia and Saddam Hussein's attack on the Kurds.

In both cases, a Bush has encouraged defiance of the local power by a minor player, and in both cases the minor player has not been supported when it is crushed.

All our talk of freedom evaporates in the face of Russian tanks. Russia has played this particular game for two centuries and may welcome a chance to recapture Georgia, traditionally a part of the Russian empire.

Have President Bush and Europe blown it? Was this always meant to happen in a cynical plan to drain resurgent Russia of gold and blood in a messy little war? Is this meant to be Russia's next Afghanistan or our next Hungary?

Does anyone care, as long as the flow of oil and gold medals remains steady?

Doug Wichert

Los Angeles

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