25 August 2008

The Russians will leave Georgia when, and only when, they accomplish their objectives

Russian forces blocked access to the city’s naval and commercial ports… and towed the missile boat Dioskuria, seen as the flagship of the Georgian navy, out of sight of observers. A loud explosion was heard minutes later. (Entire article here.)
Actions like this have kept people wondering if and when Russia will leave Georgia. Speculation continues that this is an aggressive move to annex Georgia to Russia. It may be.

But this is war; and war is prosecuted for political objectives. War is prosecuted to make one’s adversary submit to one’s will, normally by destroying either his means of conducting war or by destroying his will to conduct war – if not both. Russia may very well have set for itself the limited objective of ensuring Georgia’s inability to conduct war, by destroying her military and her will to fight.

I doubt we’ll see Russia leave Georgia, if ever, before they satisfy themselves that Georgia will be conducting no further military engagements against her. More than likely, Russia's ultimate goal is to keep Georgia and others out of NATO.

While people still seek and clamor for a "political" resolution they should bear this in mind. The Russians know something that many would do well to consider: War is not something distinguished from politics, but something pursued for political ends; like diplomacy war is part of politics. It is, as von Clausewitz observed, a continuation of “political intercourse” by different means. War is about making the enemy submit to your will. The continuing violence in Iraq, for example, suggests that we have not yet destroyed terrorists means or will to conduct their operations. For you see, it has been their goal to us to submit to their will, not by destroying our means of conducting warfare against them, but rather by destroying our will to fight, mostly by tiring us out. And Democrats have ever been their closest ally.

You don’t stop a war by ceasing to shoot at those who are shooting at you; you lose a war by ceasing to shoot at those who are shooting at you. Remember: war, even when it is defensive, is conducted to make the enemy submit to your will, especially (in defense) by frustrating his intentions.

Unlike some us, the Russians seem to have no intention of going anywhere until they are satisfied that Georgia will be unable, unwilling (or both) to prosecute combat operations. They will not leave until Georgia submits to Russia's will.

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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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