Perusing the latest news on the Russo-Georgian War via the always excellent SWJ Blog, I fear some of my analysis from the other day will come to pass, simply because the only restraint on Putin’s disposition to use force against Georgia thus far is Putin’s self-restraint. Of which I’m not seeing much. If something constructive in terms of statesmanship is to be done to end the crisis, we ought to move toward doing it while the Georgian Army is still intact.
Western bluster is not going to help Saakashvili as much as would quietly putting the squeeze on the far-flung economic interests of the siloviki clique in Putin’s inner circle, or of the Russian state itself. That would be a practical and proportionately useful response to signal displeasure with Moscow’s actions. Far moreso than invoking comparisons with Hitler or Saddam Hussein or other rhetorical nonsense by folks who know better. But doing that would require that the Europeans – the nations that wanted the BTC pipeline, after all – rapidly act as a diplomatic united front with Washington and accept some risk of retaliation – say, a 100 % increase of gas prices by Gazprom.
Kudos to President Sarkozy ‘s efforts but I’m not holding my breath on that one.
Adam Elkus suggested that we may be seeing an example of military theorist Frank Hoffman’s hybrid war in action. Possibly. Or we may see a combined arms version of an EBO attack by Moscow against the Georgian state. The critical variable will be if the Russians try for an occupation of Georgia proper, which will likely result in an open-source insurgency, or if they are engaged in what used to be called a “punitive expedition” and intend a prompt departure while they are still ahead.
In addition to linking to me ( gracias!) Galrahn is chasing down some very interesting rumors regarding Israelis and also of threatened executions of POWs.
Discussion at Small Wars Council rises to the occasion.
“We don’t look very good,” said a former Pentagon official long involved in Georgia. “We’ve been working on [Georgia] for four years and we’ve failed. Everyone’s guilty. But Putin is playing his cards brilliantly. He knows exactly what he’s doing and the consequences are all negative.”
That kind of truth telling is good. The fact is that if you look at Georgia and the U.S. backed Ethiopian intervention, there seems to be a systemic failure to anticipate and plan a response for the likely eventualities when carrying out proxy operations. It’s almost as if there’s a rule somewhere forbidding the raising of “What if ” questions during the interagency process.