The Cyprus Model

Good down the road analysis on Russia and South Ossetia from A Fistful of Euro’s Douglas Muir. A propos my point that South Ossetia’s dependence on Russia undermines the initial claims for autonomy that justified the whole intervention, Muir calls that a feature, not a bug.
He cites a EurasiaNet articlewhich predicts the “Cyprus model” for the two provinces, withinternational isolation leading to dependence on Russian aid and thedevelopment of the illicit market (drug trafficking, smuggling andmoney laundering), but points out:

Russia has no interest in Abkhazia and South Ossetia being prosperousdeveloping liberal economies with access to World Bank technicalassistance and IMF loans. Russia likes having economicallyshaky gangster states for clients. Look at the last ten years in theNorth Caucasus. Or, for that matter, 1945-89 in Eastern Europe.

There’s also this:

What’s interesting — and sort of depressing — is that the war seems tohave damaged the prospects for liberal democracy for all four parties.Not that those prospects were bright in Russia or South Ossetia anyhow,but still: all the participants are seeing a tightening of presscontrols, a strengthening of the nationalist line, and a general boostto the authoritarian pretensions of the current ruling class. And thisis likely to get worse before it gets better… if it ever does getbetter.

That’s a point that can be generalized: War and democracies really don’t get along very well. Whenever one gets prevalent, the other tends to recede.