Very good article. Here is a short analysis of some key issues it addresses:
The counterattack was carefully planned and competently executed, and over the next forty-eight hours the Russians succeeded in defeating the main
Georgian force and compelling a retreat. By Sunday, August 10, they had consolidated their position in South Ossetia.
While this Russian victory in 2 days is a common belief now, relying on some Russian military sources I would say that the public does not know the
whole story. Based on information I gather, the Russians were not able to uproot the the Georgians from Tskhinvalli for over 3 days, and they were
beat back several times. This indicates that there were many more Georgians troops there than innitially thought (as much as 15,000). The fighting
around Tskhinvali actually continued untill August 12, not 10.
How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the deployments of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed
the possibility that Russia had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?
The common answer by Russian analysts to this question, is that the U.S. and Saakashvili made a bet that Russians would not intervene as fast as they
did, and that by the time Russians woke up, Georgian troops would have occupied all of S. Ossetia - possibly as soon as August 9th. Right after that
they would have fortified their defensive positions, destroyed the Roki tunnel (only road from Russia to S. Ossetia), and received military help from
The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s and 1980s. The Russians had
systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that they would not risk the consequences of an invasion.
I don't necessarily agree with this. While U.S./Saakashvili may have bet that Russians would not intervene, they must have had a plan B in case
Russia did intervene. You just don't go to war without first recognizing all possible risks and outcomes, and certainly Georgia/U.S. had to keep
Russia in mind. My belief is that Georgia hoped to blitzkrieg the area with the surprise factor. The lapse in planning was that U.S. and Georgia
didn't realize how quick Russia was able to mobilize. This war is all about speed.
US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had promised the Russians that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet empire.
The second and lesser event was the decision by Europe and the United States to back Kosovo's separation from Serbia.
There are a key issue here. Many people fail to realize that U.S. betrayed Russia's trust during the Bush administration, and that most of Russia's
moves are reactionary rather than organic. You can't simply view Russia's invasion of Georgia as an event all by itself. You have to view it in a
wider context, which will provide an understanding of Russia's actions and responses.
From the Ukrainian experience, the Russians became convinced that the United States was engaged in a plan of strategic encirclement and strangulation
of Russia. From the Kosovo experience, they concluded that the United States and Europe were not prepared to consider Russian wishes even in fairly
minor affairs. That was the breaking point.
This is also the key to understanding the whole conflict. The article summarizes it very clearly and to the point. Again the point is - that Russia
is reacting to actions of the U.S. U.S. is the leading problem in all of these events, and U.S. has created the conflicts we are seeing today in
Georgia and Ukraine.
People must realize that Russia is not the problem. Certainly it is not the solution, but virtually all of Russia's actions until now were responses
to U.S.-backed provocations.
Putin did not want to reestablish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re- establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet region.
No matter how often this statement is repeated, there will always be the ignorant hordes that bark about Putin being communist and resurecting the
Soviet Union. It is sad that rather than taking time to understand what is happening, people's first instinct is to revert to their prejudicial
While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value.
I don't really think this has to do with U.S.' wars in the ME. U.S. still has plenty of military resources at its disposal around the world. That
is why we saw NATO ships in the Black Sea. The thing is - even will all of its military capability freed up, U.S. would still be rightly hesitant
about any engagement with Russia. There are some things that are simply beyond the realm of U.S. foreign policy - and Russia is one of them.
The more vocal senior US leaders are, the greater the contrast with their inaction, and the Russians wanted to drive home the idea that American
guarantees are empty talk.
I did notice this. Bush has made a ton of threats directed at Russia since the war started, and so far has not done anything meanful as far as
punishing Russia. The lesson is - that U.S. can't really hurt Russia all that much at this point. Russia on the other hand can hurt U.S. interests
to a far greater extent. The further U.S. wishes to take this idiocy, the more Russia will push back.
Americans must seriously reevaluate their foreign policy, or they will face a rapidly changing world where they may find themselves outmatched and
outvoiced. If U.S. wants to encircle Russia further then be it - but when Russia starts to push back hard, don't expect the majority of the world to
stand behind your actions. Europe is already questioning U.S. motives, while the rest of the world has been questioning them for years now. Where
the U.S. takes this from here is up to Americans.
The Russians are in a position to pose serious problems for the United States not only in Iran, but also with weapons sales to other countries, like
Yes but the problem is the U.S. wants its have its cake and eat it too. U.S. has been on a power/influence-grab campaign through much of the Bush
administration. It has grabbed way more than it can hold (Iraq, Ukraine, Georgia, Afganistan, Azerbaijan). This is the time to set priorities if
U.S. wants any of its tasks accomplished. The alternative is that none of the tasks will see completion.
Whether the US and its allies can mount a coherent response has now become a central question of Western foreign policy.
U.S. foreign policy is what caused this. What coherent response would be appropriate? The only one I can think of - is to back off from encircling
Russia. U.S. cannot afford any other response - especially not a military one. The U.S. has all of Middle East to play in - let it play there. But
treading around Russia and continuing to do so cannot possibly yield any positive net effect. U.S. may succeed in insuring access to some resources
or have control over some puppets in the short term, but in the long term it cannot possibly prevail.
This has been the problem of the U.S. foreign policy since WWII (and even before it to an extent) - U.S. is concerned primarily with short term
goals in its foreign policy, while ignoring the long term issues (which the active leaders will likely not have to face). Look at how much antagonism
the U.S. has created in Latin America because of its actions there in the 60's-80's. There is a new neo-socialist alliance there composed of many
nations. Look at the antagonism America's actions have created in the Middle East (with 9/11 being the climax of it). Look at Afganistan - U.S.
stepped in during the 80's, and then left the work unfinished - and Taliban is the result. Look at the trouble brewing in Pakistan.
Americans must realize that every actions they undertake around the world will lead to some reaction (maybe decades later). Think of how many future
terrorists will be created as a direct result of U.S. actions in Iraq. Think of how mad Georgians will be when they find out that U.S. used them.
The U.S. simply has the wrong outlook on the world and on its actions around the world. The current approach will eventually result in only one thing
- a throng of new enemies.