Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Un-Splendid Little War

John Milton Hay was appointed Secretary of State by President William McKinley. Years later when Theodore Roosevelt occupied the White House, Hay wrote the President about the Spanish American War. In that letter he summarized the conflict with a quote that came to be linked with the first war of American expansion beyond her borders. He called it:
"A Splendid Little War"
In the Kremlin this weekend, one wonders if Putin's advisors would be speaking in the same terms, more importantly is how the governments of nations on Russia's borders and in the core states will react to this war. Without desending into choosing sides the links below lay out a brief look back at the war between Russia and Georgia and try and create a historical timeline to study the course of the war. The opinion of what this all means are colored by the political lenses of the observer. Some see this as a return to the "Cold War" and others, that this is Russia's version of America's Grenada war in 1984. Still others, with a more horizontal vision look beyond to see the events as the growing pains of a paranoid nation trying to find it's way.

Russia has searched for a post-Soviet identity since that empire's stunningly sudden collapse two decades ago. For now, Moscow is nothing more than an immature energy conglomerate masquerading as a government. Learning what he did from the Bush administration's lengthy - and now exhausted - bout of unilateralism, Putin confuses the power of supply with the power of demand, thinking he holds all the cards.

Thomas PM Barnett, 2008

We begin our look back at the last week with.

A Two-Sided Descent Into Full-Scale War - Peter Finn, Washington Post

Georgia and Russia were on a collision course.

In three hours, full-scale war would begin.

With a huge air, land and sea campaign, Russian forces routed the Georgians in the following days and advanced far into Georgian territory, overrunning major cities and military bases. An ensuing uproar in the West, accusing Russia of using excessive force, has clouded details of how the war began.
Interviews with Georgian leaders, Russian officials, Western diplomats and Bush administration officials, together with briefings by the Russian military in Moscow, show that a series of escalating military moves by each side convinced the other that war was imminent.

Georgia - CIA World Factbook

Russia - CIA World Factbook

What follows is a backward look at the war as it unfolded. the BBC travels backward day by day to the beinning.

And as the guns fall silent, the anger persists as it has for a thousand years.

After Battle, Anger Follows Ethnic Lines - Tavernese and Siegel, New York Times

Sunday Readings:

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