But war could ignite further disputes in the region.
Following a series of provocative attacks in its secessionist region of South Ossetia late last week, Georgia launched an all-out attempt to reestablish control in the tiny enclave. Russia then intervened by dropping bombs on Georgia to protect the South Ossetians, halt the growing tide of refugees flooding into southern Russia, and aid its own peacekeepers there.
Now, the story goes, Russia has at last found a way of undermining Georgia's Western aspirations, nipping the country's budding democracy, and countering American influence across Eurasia. But this view of events is simplistic.
American and European diplomats, who have rushed to the region to try to stop the conflict, would do well to consider the broader effects of this latest round of Caucasus bloodletting – and to seek perspectives on the conflict beyond the story of embattled democracy and cynical comparisons with the Prague Spring of 1968.
Russia illegally attacked Georgia and imperiled a small and feeble neighbor. But by dispatching his own ill-prepared military to resolve a secessionist dispute by force, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has managed to lead his country down the path of a disastrous and ultimately self-defeating war.
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