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Recommended Reading

Georgia on my Mind: A Russian Round-up:

Thomas P.M. Barnett – Putin picks his moment on Georgia  and Actually, it was Georgia’s timing … and  Answering the inevitable question on Russia

Glittering Eye – South Ossetia (Updated) and The European Decision on Georgia (Updated)

Chicago BoyzThe Children of the Mountains Are Wild…

SWJ BlogFlash Point: South Ossetia (9 -10 August)

WhirledviewNews From Places You May Never Have Heard Of – Updated 8/9/08 and 8/10/08

Danger RoomDid the U.S. prep Georgia for War with Russia? and Russia’s Full Scale Invasion of Georgia

War is BoringRussia’s Air Blitz over Georgia

tdaxpHow serious is the Russian invasion of Georgia? and McCain for Georgia, Obama for Russia

Fabius Maximus –  The Russia-Georgia war threatens one of the world’s oil arteries

Kings of War Global patterns, local anomalies

Outside the BeltwayKosovo and South Ossetia

Sic Semper Tyrannis5th Generation Warfare in Georgia?

Belgravia DispatchGeorgia On My Mind

That’s it!


Some analysis: The Bush administration and the EU should really be psychologically prepared for Russia to attempt to “pull a Chechnya” or a “Czechosolavakia” here and try to topple Saakashvili’s government either by inflicting enough serious military reverses that Saakashvili is removed by Georgian  insiders looking to make peace with Putin or perhaps by an old fashioned conquest and installation of a puppet government.  The puppet state will have a short shelf-life and no international recognition ( except Russia and Belarus) but that will be cold comfort for Saakashvili.

Saakashvili’s options are few here. No foreign country is going to ride to his rescue. He can surrender by submitting to all of Putin’s demands, in which case he’s finished politically.  If Saakashvili wishes to strike back hard at Russia his best options are hitting Russia in the pocketbook by sending  covert-ops to sabotage Russian natural gas pipelines and power grids in Moscow and St. Petersburg but ultimately he will still need to negotiate a deal afterwards.  If Saakashvili hopes to avoid being removed from power he ought to arm as many able-bodied Georgian men as possible for a guerilla campaign ( the Russians are not respecting civilians anyway, so there’s little to lose here) to supplemernt the regular army and security forces.

Forces poorly correlated for the Georgians.


Galrahn is doing an excellent job covering the war from a naval perspective


An old-time blogfriend,  New Yorker in DC merits a shout out with “Update on the Russo-Georgian crisis“. He’s spot on. Moscow has been bitten by the “mission creep” bug in Ossetia.

24 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Charles Cameron (hipbone) Says:

    Probably worth watching, blog monitoring cyber-warfare (but above my technical grade):

  2. Charles Cameron (hipbone) Says:

    This blog is probably worth watching, it is monitoring the cyber-warfare aspect:

  3. Dave Schuler Says:

    I think the second alternative that you’ve presented–that the Russians will forcibly remove the Saakashvili government–is quite unlikely especially since they can achieve all of thier objectives by the first method at very little cost.

  4. Perhaps *the* question about the Georgia - Russia conflict « Fabius Maximus Says:

    […] Zenpundit for links to some of the most valuable blognotes about the […]

  5. Eddie Says:

    And what would stop the Russians from doing the same to Georgia’s pipelines? Saakashvili’s gamble (and perhaps Washington’s, if the reports they green-lighted this nonsense have any merit) failed miserably. Now we get to deal with the aftermath, whatever it may be.

  6. zen Says:

    Hi Charles,
    Much thanks – will check it out.
    Hi Dave,
    Never said it would be wise, simply possible given a big does of nationalistic hubris. Bismarck had to talk Wilhelm of Prussia ( later Kaiser Wilhelm I) out of trying to gobble up much of Austria-Hungary when the King got carried away after winning the brief Austro-Prussian War over Schleswig-Holstein and Confederation of the Rhine issues. There’s a lot of siloviki and generals feeling their oats right now.
    Hi Eddie,
    The Russians are already targeting Georgian pipelines. A way of zinging the Europeans for supporting Saakashvili and trying to EUropeanize Georgia and detach it from the "near abroad" zone.

  7. Eddie Says:

     Any chance the EUros treat this seriously enough to consider risking good relations with the Russians by taking a stronger tack on everything from native energy development to defense budgets?

  8. zen Says:

    Not if it involves any kind of sacrifice, no. Ironic, given the EU was supporting the Georgians with as much enthusiasm as the U.S., if not more. Europe is hooked on Russian natural gas, as Reagan warned they would be ( he was much derided as a neanderthal for that by both Europeans and our clever NYT intelligentsia at the time – but he was right and they were wrong – as on most issues). Russia will do whatever it can to block a "southern route" for Central Asian gas or oil pipelines from the ‘Stans that would avoid Russian territory and dilute their leverage.
    Sarkozy will probably make some kind of a valiant effort to round up a "strong statement" but the EU member states that lack direct experience with Russia will balk at doing anything that might cause them to pay higher energy prices.

  9. Eddie Says:

    Thank you Zen. I suppose Merkel won’t have much to say and do even less. 

  10. Eddie Says:

    Then again, given the role the US has played leading up to this, as well as Russia’s decision to take it beyond the stated military objectives, the US could as well start supplying weapons and other armaments to Georgia if Russia wants to turn it into an invasion…. The potential boldness/stupidity/brilliance (sometimes all at once) of the Bush Admin can’t surely be not a factor soon enough.

  11. zen Says:

    Merkel has a solid character, but to put it in perspective,  Germany produces 600 billion cubic feet of natural gas…..but imports 3 Trillion cubic feet annually. About half of that is from Russia, making Gazprom Germany’s most important energy supplier. Nuff said there.
    Putin may go the distance with Georgia because he has the key players checkmated and is going to take special pleasure in making Saakashvili twist in the wind in order to cause vicarious squirming in Brussells and Washington, both of whom have been caught here with their pants down. This was well planned by Putin and they’ve probably been waiting for a suitable pretext for some time now.
    "The potential boldness/stupidity/brilliance (sometimes all at once) of the Bush Admin can’t surely be not a factor soon enough."
    The best "bold" move would not be to do something  to escalate the Georgian situation which should be played to salvage at this point, but to do something unexpected and unrelated that creates distraction and confusion in Moscow.

  12. lewisshepherd Says:

    Useful roundup, thanks.

  13. Josh SN Says:

    Because I am getting TV from Moscow, I’m able to get pretty rapid updates of the situation.

  14. zen Says:

    Gracias Lewis!
    Josh – like your masthead reference to Montesquieu. Everyone should read Spirit of the Laws at some point in their intellectual life.

  15. A.E. Says:

    I’ve put in my two cents <a href="http://rethinkingsecurity.typepad.com/rethinkingsecurity/2008/08/report-russia-georgia.html">here</a&gt;. 

  16. A.E. Says:

    Oops, html error. Correct link is here (for some reason HTML editor in comment box not working) http://tinyurl.com/5p3yv5

  17. Tatyana Says:

    Zen, I can’t believe you actually make this suggestion, of covert operations by Georgians on Russian territory. It’s irresponsible, at the very least. For someone who understands how foreign intelligence works you’re incredibly loose-tongued. There are already reports of <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/news/2006/intell-060929-voa01.htm">arrests of so-called Georgian spies</a> – do you have any idea how serious it is? The scenario you suggest so lightly inevitably starts a witchhunt in Russia, in the manner of 1930’s. Do youi understand that lives of real peopleare at risk?
    Do you want to take that responsibility on you?

    I can’t believe you could do such a stupid thing

  18. zen Says:

    Do you really believe that I have suggested something here unknown to intelligence and military professionals in Russia or Georgia?  Or to anyone even fairly well versed in the literature of military strategy or history ? These things have already been considered and most likely wargamed multiple times prior to the onset of hostilities by more countries than just Russia and Georgia.  The question for the Georgians in terms of systems disruption are their capabilities and the costs of their very limited set of options. It’s not going to be a picnic if the Russians believe that there is no deterrent against their marching into Georgia proper ( aside from a bloody guerilla war).
    Go read Brave New War. I haven’t mentioned a bare fraction of the possible angles here.

  19. Tatyana Says:

    Do you want to take a chance? They are not very well organized, not as well as CIA, f.ex – and we all saw in recent years what a mess that agency is.
    Wargamed or not, now’s not the time to open your mouth on public blog ,  when Russian intelligence actively harvest blogosphere.
    You have no experience in dealing with them, you never lived under the net – but you’re not the one who’s going to suffer, other people might.

    I will go read what I want to read, definitely not some spy games literature. But I know enough not to say thing that might hurt somebody during open military operations.
    This is not a game, Zen. People die.

  20. zen Says:

    " will go read what I want to read, definitely not some spy games literature"
    Ouch! Sorry John!
    Heh.  If John Robb wrote spy literature he’d probably have made a lot more money on his book and gotten a big movie deal by now. I’ll just leave things at that.

  21. A.E. Says:

    I frankly doubt that Putin cares about any of our opinions about what the Georgians should or shouldn’t have done. If he takes any of our scribblings on the Internets seriously, the guy has much bigger problems to deal with than Georgia.

    BTW, William Gibson novels kind of approximate John Robb’s writings in a fictional sense, although they lack the gritty touch that would be needed to do justice to stories of insurgent warfare and criminal netwar.

  22. Tatyana Says:

    A.E. – the fact that there are miriads of Russian trolls descended all of a sudden  – and in all the right places (blogs that people read, points of public discussion and opinion exchange), sowing disinformation should tell you something about level of interest and methods of propaganda employed by the Russian side. There are other purposes they plough the waves for, though. In any case – would you rather guess or think that irresponsible rambling from the armchair might hurt someone on active duty? Are you prepared to take that chance?
    Can’t help but remark – oh gods, there is no bigger fool than an encyclopedically-educated fool.

  23. Charles Cameron Says:

    Please ignore this post…  I am using this year-old post and comment space for a test, to find out:
    does a single period cause a paragraph break in these comments?
    or can I use an HTML "p" in carrets?
    and will an HTML "blockquote" macro work? <blockquote>Eh?</blockquote>We’ll see…

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