The trend of blaming the victim was there before Russia invaded Georgia; this current conflict was just the latest and most obvious example. Yes, it may seem absurd, but in the case of the Caucasus war, some are indeed blaming the victim — and anyone who supports the victim.
Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, does an excellent job of demonstrating the morally backwards thinking :
Regardless of what happens next, it is worth asking what the Bush people were thinking when they egged on Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s young, Western-educated president, to apply for NATO membership, send 2,000 of his troops to Iraq as a full-fledged U.S. ally, and receive tactical training and weapons from our military. Did they really think Putin would sit by and see another border state (and former province of the Russian empire) slip away to the West? If they thought that Putin might not, what did they plan to do about it, and how firmly did they warn Saakashvili not to get too brash or provoke an outburst?
Let me see if I understand here. An independent country such as Georgia, such as Tibet, such as say, Taiwan, has no right to autonomy. Because of their proximity to abusive bullies intent on owning them, they must shun freedom, shun democracy, and be a virtual puppet.
It’s as if these small countries are a woman married to an abusive jerk of a husband. She can’t leave. Finally, when the chance presents itself, she gets a divorce. She does what she can to change her life, but she can’t move. She has kids together with the jerk, but she is stuck by his side.
Perhaps one of the kids even prefers abusive dad and he uses the kid to manipulate her. She know what’s best for them, but what can she do? She tries to assert herself. This pisses her ex off — how dare she take a stand and defend herself? He brings his gun over and attempts to kill her, for having the nerve to defy him.
And oh, by the way, he will show her friends and allies where it’s at, too. He’s above the law, because he’s crazy and everyone is afraid of him.
Most are openly outraged at this jerk’s actions. He’s wrong. He’s abusive. He’s vicious. But some go after the woman for daring to believe she could be independent and assert herself. She should have known better. She should never have provoked him. Stupid woman. She deserves what she got. And furthermore, she’s a complete idiot for listening to anyone who believed she could be independent.
The left in particular seems to repeatedly take the side of the abusive spouse. While they should be protecting the rights of the woman to wear what she wants, work at what she wants, and date who she wants, they always blame the victim when it comes to freedom and side with the aggressive, oppressive, dictatorial jerk.
The responses to the Georgian crisis have been telling. Matthew Yglesias wonders, “What was Saakashvili thinking?” and goes on to say this:
“One assumes that Saakashvili thought the U.S. would back him strongly enough to scare Russia off. That, however, is again a major miscalculation. The basic reality about Georgia is that Russia cares much, much, much more about what happens there than does the United States of America. One wonders whether Saakashvili just didn’t understand this somehow, or else if there were specific contacts of his inside the United States who gave him bad information of some kind.”
America cares less about Georgia than Russia. The implication is that America made secret promises. Georgia was the dumb blond who believed the lies. Some in the Netroots are even more open about their contempt:
If Bush, Cheney and their oil buddies (they only seem to get really excited these days when there’s a bunch of oil or pipelines at stake) have been making promises the US can’t keep, it only serves to create a sort of martyr cause for them to use down the road. In fact, it’s possible that’s the whole point. Push for NATO, push for military involvement, push for permanent presence. That seems to be the neoconservative longterm energy plan —- rule the world. Same as it ever was.
That’s right! It’s another Bush conspiracy. Bush is the Machiavellian genius who plays with Georgia so he can “rule the world.” Bush — and by extension America — doesn’t really love freedom, democracy and, oh, by the way, keeping Europe free (because Russia’s aggression has serious consequences for Europe should Russia control all oil pipelines to the continent). No, callow America is using poor Georgia for the cheap sex — AKA cheap oil.
Well, that and world domination. America is the alpha male after all.
America was the boyfriend on the side, fooling around with Georgia in nothing more than a reckless ploy and Georgia got played when she should have just loved the one she was with.
Russia will really take care of her, if Georgia would only let him. Doesn’t every woman love a big teddy bear?
The big teddy bear will take care of Georgia all right.
And then he will take care of Europe. And Russia will care for all the other former Soviet satellites, too. Russia is a much better, caring, more reliable partner than America. Russia is reliable, alright. Russia can be relied on to dominate anyone they perceive as weak.
In the middle of this fight over Georgia, there is a purpose. It’s not that these little slivers of real estate are so lovely that entrances Russia, after all. Kaplan at least notes this:
In the long term, the best way to take Russia down a notch (along with Iran, Venezuela, and other hostile powers overflowing with oil money) is to pursue policies and fund technologies that slash the demand for oil. The Georgia crisis should make clear, if it isn’t already, that this is a matter of hard-headed national security.
How about blaming Clinton for vetoing the drilling ten years ago? Oil dependence has given these world thugs power they don’t deserve. Slash demand? How about increase our supply? Wait. Wait. America is wrong. Always. Wrong. Everything is America’s fault.
This kind of identification with the abuser never ceases to amaze me. In this skewed perspective, any country that allies themselves with America gets what it deserves.
They ignore the suffering these former Soviet satellites endured and instead blame them for wanting something different now. They throw scorn on them for fighting with America in Iraq. They dismiss their sacrifices for freedom. It is distressing and absolutely backwards.
The principles are simple: Georgia is an independent nation and deserves the right to self-determination, no matter her neighbor.
Russia does not have the right to invade a sovereign nation because it desires power and control in the region. American policy toward Russia and Europe should flow from these truths. And no amount of bullying should change that policy.