Hostility, Chance, and Reason: Clausewitz and Russian Foreign Policy in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War
Bryan Thomas Jones
No v8g7t, Thesis Commons from Center for Open Science
In 2008, the world stood in shock as Russian troops crossed over into the Republic of Georgia and seemingly annexed the sovereign lands of another nation. This five-day war directly resulted in varying levels of success and the achievement of political and military objectives for the Russian Federation. Several studies and analyses have sought to explain the actions of the Russian military and its leaders in an attempt to discern the primary influences on its current foreign policy and military strategy. However, these studies have devoted little attention towards arguably the most renowned and influential of all military theorists – Carl von Clausewitz. His tenets of philosophical and strategic thought, paired with his development of critical analysis towards the study of war, offer a remarkably relevant lens from which to view the 2008 war and more recent conflicts involving the Russian military. By utilizing Clausewitz’s own methodology of critical analysis in connection with an empirical case study on one of Russia’s recent military actions, this paper will attempt to establish an understanding of Russian foreign policy and military strategy. The research and analysis presented reveals that, contrary to modern arguments, the writings and principles of Carl von Clausewitz are anything but obsolete; when applied to the Russo-Georgian War, various principles of Clausewitzian thought aid in characterizing and explaining the actions and decisions of the armed forces and government of the Russian Federation.
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