As the South Ossetian conflict is perceived in the United States today, Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, told Expert Online.
- Is Russia and only Russia still to blame for starting the war? Are there any shifts in American public opinion on this?
- It is necessary to distinguish the reaction of the American foreign policy elite and the public. As for the public, it is believed that Russia is responsible for the outbreak of war. True, society as a whole now rarely recalls the 2008 war of Georgia of the year, if it remembers at all.
If we talk about the position dominant among the elite, then, in my estimation, the point of view prevails that Georgia started the war, but Russia set a "trap" for the Georgian leaders and they foolishly got into it.
- Georgia started the war, but, nevertheless, the congress continues to adopt resolutions in which South Ossetia and Abkhazia are called “occupied territories”, and demands to withdraw Russian troops.
- The majority of the elite believe that the reaction of Russia was disproportionate, and the recognition of these territories as independent and the deployment of Russian troops here is regarded as provocative. Therefore, many commentators say what they say, and therefore individual members of Congress are able to get support for their resolutions. As in many issues of American foreign policy, an energetic and noisy minority can be very influential in this matter when the majority are not interested in the problem.
- Why is the majority not interested? And why is the media paying little attention to this topic now?
- The American public is now focused on the US economy, as well as Afghanistan and the Middle East. Therefore, the consequences of the 2008 war of the year are not the focus of media attention. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are by no means a priority problem for most Americans and even members of Congress.