Tuesday, September 09, 2008

George Friedman on Georgia

This article in the NYRB caught my attention and is strongly recommended

Georgia and the Balance of Power

By George Friedman

The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It has simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery. This has opened an opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that on August 8.

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vlad said...

Friedman is too generous: the present Russian leadership's bandit operation in Georgia doesn't make Russia a great power, merely one to be loathed and despised. The advent of a "new cold war" is precisely the message that the leadership wants to project to the outside world, as can be seen from numerous recent interviews with ideologues of the Dugin-Prokhanov brand - and the West shouldn't fall for it. In fact, Russia's armed forces are rather far from having established any kind of positive reputation, even a "competent" one. In the recent conflict Georgia's weaponry far outclassed the Russian hardware, and even on the third day of the war Russian forces were taking heavy casualties. While the Su-25s could fly at night, the Russian jets couldn't, and this gave Georgia a significant advantage. In the end, the balance was tipped in Russia's favour by sheer force of numbers on the ground - hardly a great victory. Moscow didn't even have the political will to finish the job properly by bombing Tbilisi and overthrowing Saakashvili, much to the disgust of Russia's generals.

Colleen said...

Vlad, reports I've seen show that Georgia's armed forces outnumbered Russia's invading force.

So if "shear numbers" wasn't the X-factor and, like you say, it wasn't weaponry maybe it was just bravery.

Accounts from the first three days of the conflict described Georgian forces running away "disorganized like cowards" .

globus said...

Colleen said: "Vlad, reports I've seen show that Georgia's armed forces outnumbered Russia's invading force."

Which reports are those, could you point to them? Because it's certainly not true: Georgian armed forces (even all of them) do not outnumber the Russians.

"Accounts from the first three days of the conflict..." - which accounts? Have you got a link?

I think the Georgians had some upgraded hardware, but nothing dramatic; fundamentally both sides are armed with the similar, if not identical weaponry, which is old Soviet stuff (some of on the Georgian side, spiffed up by radios, night-vision, and so on).

Giustino said...

Hey Colleen, this is for you.