Understanding your activism

Whenever there is a global crisis, the world can count on facebook to raise awareness. Anyone who is a member of the popular world-wide-friend-network has found themselves enlisting in more causes than they can count. It is amazing that with such a spike in activism the U.N. peacekeepers have not already doubled their numbers.

The global facebook group “STOP the Russian aggression against Georgia” is over twenty thousand members strong and growing. The group claims that “Georgia is now a victim of a brutal aggression initiated by Russia and its cronies in the Caucasus.”

It would be all too easy to believe that Russia attacked simply out of some desire to recreate the Soviet Union and reclaim the territory lost in the early 1990s, especially if you only listened to Western news broadcasts.

But for the sake of argument, let’s examine the facts.

South Ossetia is the region under fire within Georgia. South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union (although this independence has not been recognized globally). Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group originally from the Russian plains, whose majority wishes to join North Ossetia, “an autonomous republic with the Russian Federation” as reported by the BBC.

The conflict was not triggered by Russia.

Georgia and South Ossetia had been clashing with one another throughout June and July. Georgia escalated the violence on August 7 when they began aerial and ground assaults, effectively taking over the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

“We were bombed for three days and nights. If Russia had not helped, we would have disappeared,” Lusya, a native South Ossetian said to one of the BBC’s world news correspondents.

Russia had already maintained six hundred peace keepers within the area before the summer attack began. And so, when the violence escalated, Russia stepped in with a larger force.

I do not mean to defend either side. War crimes have been committed by both. I simply wish to exercise our critical thinking skills before we start painting banners and putting up posters to stop the Red Army and liberate our Georgian brothers. So before you join that facebook group, or any for that matter, do the research first and avoid the uncomfortable feeling when you realize there is in fact no “right” side in war.

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