Observations on The Bear Slayer and The Georgia-Russia Conflict
Published 28 Jul 2017
The articles The Bear Slayer, by David Quammen, and The Georgia-Russia Conflict: Lost Territory, Found Nation, by Donald Rayfield, present themselves as good subjects in the study of East Europe with goals of further understanding the socio-political foundations that constitute one of the more important aspects of their cultures. The topics herein primarily involve three nations: Georgia, Russia, and Romania; and a glimpse of a period of their oftentimes tumultuous histories.
Observations on these articles, based on its importance on the entire East European sphere such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and other nations included in this geography are as follows:
The first observation worth noting is in the article in The Atlantic, written by David Quammen, in the seventh paragraph, which goes:
Nicolae Ceausescu ruled Romania for twenty-five years, with ever-increasing harshness and megalomania, eventually treating it as his personal kingdom. Like some other tyrants, he was an inherently uninteresting man whose life story ascended to drama only by way of woeful consequentiality and evil…described him to a reporter as a man of “native intelligence, phenomenal memory, and iron will,” although other portraits are less flattering. (1)
Revelations on a tyrant/dictator such as these, even if repeated throughout history, as personified in Hitler, Hussein, Mussolini, Marcos, Kim Jong-il, and other national leaders of the same mold, come as an astonishment. Their seeming uncontested grip on their national economic and military powers along with the evident, as least during the first years of their leadership, idol-worship of the masses are undoubtedly perplexing for the Western democracy standpoint.
What is most mystifying of these leaders is that they had not exemplified characteristics expecting of a dictator. Mostly, these leaders had been average, if not failures, during their younger careers, and had only gotten power by their deft in manipulating the situation as well as the more influential people in their society, into their bidding. Although perhaps as a compliment, dictators throughout history had displayed characteristics of unparalleled charisma in their dealings with their respective nation. We had been witnesses to their public speeches, from the onset of the modern media, which were always greeted by wild/hysterical approval by the masses.
The second observation worth noting is in the article by Donald Rayfield, particularly the tenth paragraph in the Open Democracy News Analysis, which states:
In itself, Ossetia has little attraction for Russian acquisition: nobody builds villas there, and there are no tourist resorts or prospects of building facilities or visitors. More than 20,000 Georgians-who would not wish to be Russian citizens-also live there among a total population of 70,000…if not to rejoin Georgia, then to live as if they were a part of it, and not a part of Russia. (1)
A depressing reality surrounding every war, other than the numerous instances of human deaths, is the realization that some wars, such as the Georgia-Russia war of August 8-12, 2008, should not have happened at all (Rayfield 1). This failure of realization on the part of the leaders, or perhaps on mankind as well, had been the case with all the wars in history.
The major reasons for the two World Wars have been petty ones, as history would reveal, and could have been avoided if greed and egotism were not to have prevailed among the leaders. Ancient issues regarding territories, racial supremacy and religious inclinations, often the main reasons for such wars, have also been the reasons for the occurrence of the Georgia-Russia War.
Since the term Eastern Europe was coined during the Soviet era, and since most of the countries belonging to the region were once a part of the U.S.S.R., the Western World sees them to this day as being backward, or developing. However, this is not what reality is, economically at least, as it is a fact that some of the countries in the region have attained economic superiority to be included in the world’s thirty richest nations.
On the other end, since most of East European nations once belonged to the Soviets, and had adapted administrative systems similar to those of the USSR, the region had been beset by tyrant rulers and dictators. Even Russia itself, after making democratic reforms, possesses some traits similar to those practiced by the Soviets.
It may be because for these reasons that the entirety of East Europe, without exception to any member-nation, may be susceptible of falling prey to totalitarianism, with the aid of the Russian government and other existing Soviet-style hardliner leaders.
- Quammen, David. The Bear Slayer. The Atlantic.com August 2003. 28 July 2009 http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200307/quammen
- Rayfield, Donald. The Georgia-Russia conflict: lost territory, found nation. Open Democracy.net 18 August 2008. 28 July 2009 https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-georgia-russia-conflict-lost-territory-found-nation