Georgia - Le Peau de Chagrin


How come the United States of America and the Disunited State of Georgia became friends, and not just friends?! The entire world knows that they are firmly established strategic partners, cooperating with each other on every possible level: economic, political cultural and military. In the very recent past, they were bitter adversaries, Georgia having been part of the Soviet Union, America’s sworn enemy, although in its heart of hearts Georgia might have been in love with America, which is no big surprise because America has always been pictured in the typical socialist Georgian mind as a free and blissful place, picturesquely reflected in the world-renowned Hollywood productions, intermittently accessible by our population of that time. Moreover, like the rest of the world, Georgia was infatuated with jazz and blues, and most of its populace was clad in jeans and T-shirts, which used to be a direct influence of the popular American mass culture.

Worldly matters are strange full of funny surprises, and packed with the most unexpected vicissitudes of life. Who could’ve thought a little over thirty years ago, even in the wildest of imaginations, that America would someday consider a strategic partnership with Georgia? But things happen, don’t they? Continuing the theme, the direst result of this partnership was and is the unrestrained ferocity of Russia, who has vehemently reacted to Georgia’s unprecedented change of geopolitical vector. Just imagine what would happen if one tough man snatched away the lovely fiancée of another brawny lad. There would definitely follow a scuffle. Fictionally speaking, this is one of the causes of the occasional Russian-American brawl.

It might be fun to make a couple of comparisons between the two, the minuscule Sakartvelo and the gigantic America, tongue-in-cheek, of course: about two and a half centuries ago, America came around as a much smaller nation than it is today: just 13 states on the Atlantic coast of the continent in a long narrow line from north to south. Conversely, in early medieval times, Georgia was a much bigger territory than it is today: between the Caspian to Black seas, and from the Caucasus Mountains down to the boundaries of the former Ottoman Empire, and beyond. The United States grew in size until it became what we have today: from ocean to ocean and from Canada to Mexico, while since its medieval territorial greatness and imperial glory, Georgia has been shrinking like ‘le peau de chagrin’, (a famous French belletristic opus, translated into English as ‘the wild ass’s skin’). The USA grew into one of the strongest determiners of the world’s fates, whereas Georgia became one of those whose will should inevitably be adapted and subordinated to the whims and quirks of global decision-makers.

What makes those funny comparisons even cuter is the rhetorical presumption that Georgia’s strategic partnership with the western colossus can reverse the notorious chagrin skin shriveling process. Asking ‘What if not?’ might upset the good things around, so let’s drop the unsavory question! But the ass’s skin continues shrinking with some diabolic geopolitical rash and brash, and there is nobody to curb the damned onslaught on Georgia’s territorial, moral and political integrity. The sense of feebleness and inability to reverse the unacceptable should be among the worst feelings anybody whose patriotic pride is still alive could feel. The remaining piece of the chagrin skin might completely disappear someday, and that’s dreadful!

This kind of a historical drama has definitely happened to nations and languages in the past, and the world has continued living in their absence. Some of us appear and others disappear, which is not a big deal on a cosmic level, but how fair would it be for the rest of the world today to witness a nature’s darling like Georgia vanish from the surface of the earth?! This may surely happen, and with this sad prospect in mind, a conclusion is asking to be made that those chagrin problems and strategic partnerships must be in a certain logical interaction. If one wants to admit that, of course!

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

15 October 2020 19:08