A Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia, and the Future of the West Hardcover – 16 Dec 2009
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'Mr Asmus writes with authority...The book's detailed inside accounts of Georgian and Western manoeuvring before, during and after the war are gripping.' - The Economist
'This book poses tough and awkward questions that many in the West do not want to hear. Why, for example, did the U.N. and OSCE missions on the ground or the Russian-led peacekeeping forces there fail to prevent this conflict? We should listen to the author's warnings if we are to draw the right lessons from this little war and ensure that we don't make the same mistakes again.' - The Wall Street Journal Europe
'Anyone interested in international relations should read this book...failure is a good thing if we learn from it. The Obama administration has begun by abandoning unilateralism and building a better relationship with Russia. For the rest of us, reading Ronald Asmus's book is a good place to start.' - TLS
'Ronald Asmus has given us a detailed, gripping and disturbing account of the latest war on a continent that claims to be at peace. He does not disguise his sympathies, but is scrupulously fair in attempting to untangle what really happened, and to be fair to all sides. It should be a starting point for a sadly missing debate.' - Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford
"Required reading if you want to know what really happened behind the scenes in the Russo-Georgian war - and how the West let Tbilisi down in the face of Russian aggression." - Senator John McCain
'[P]rovides a very timely, historically clarifying, geopolitically illuminating analysis of the first post-Cold War East-West military conflict - - and does so with unique insider's knowledge of what actually did happen… an important statement and a very good read!' - Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor and author of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership
"Ron Asmus has been an original thinker, diplomat and the go-to expert on Central and Eastern Europe for the more than 20 years that I have known him. His writing should be required reading for those who care about Europe and its neighborhood, and his account of the August 2008 Russo-Georgia war is one that no one who cares about the region should miss." - Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001
"I can think of few individuals more qualified to judge the background to, nature of and consequences of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia than Ron Asmus. With unique access to key actors, he discribes the political background of what happened in a way no one else could have done. The book is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Caucasus, Europe, the transatlantic relations as well as the Russia of today – and tomorrow." - Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden
A provocative and compelling look at the 2008 Russia-Georgia War and its profound effect on the future of the WestSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Asmus gives a good history of the the war, Georgia's aspirations, and Russia's growling frustration with it's neighbour. There are a few things that are startling from the book. First, the true extent of the weak western response and support given to Georgia. Sarkozy's shuttle diplomacy leaves the state with an ambiguous settlement & limited security. Further, one can't but wonder what lesson's Russia's other euro-philic neighbours (Ukraine) might read from the affair. Second - the determination of Russia to start a conflict. With the world's eyes on the Beijing olympics, Georgia fell into the trap many months/years in the making. Again, one cant but wonder what the outcome would have been had the Western world taken the Russian moves more seriously and given better (stronger?) advice to the Georgian premier.
The only weakness to the tale is the lack of 'Russian' perspective. It would be interesting to have had some view from the other side of the conflict.
That said, it is a excellent read and well worth considering for anyone attempting to better understand these two nations.
Asmus is an insider and gives some potentialy interesting insights into what happened, who said what and why decisions were taken in the lead up to the war. His style aims to be accessible.
Poor editing undermines the book's value. The frequency of typos made it difficult to read with confidence. I regularly had to backtrack to check that the words on the page represented what I thought the author meant to say. Many quotes and insights are not directly referenced or attributed. So, althought there is a comprehensive list of sources at the end, I was left unsure about the validity or authority of many individual claims. Also, key points are tediously repeated.
For a much better all round, authoritative and quotable analysis I would recommend " The Guns of August 2008: Russian's War in Georgia" edited
by Svante E. Cornell.
Reviewers have correctly noted the lack of a Russian perspective. This was not for lack of trying on Asmus' part, as he makes clear in the book. To my eye, the book suffers from a single significant weakness: it largely overlooks the importance of the battle for the world media's attention and sympathy before, during and after the war. Georgia's initial media victory, secured in the days following Russia's invasion, was manifest. It helped deliver significant Western political and financial support. But it didn't last: it was eventually undone in November 2008 with a NYT piece purporting to prove that the Georgians started the battle for Tskhinvali, a view largely endorsed by the EU's Tagliavini report. It became clear later on that this seeming endorsement of the Russian position was unsupported by serious factual evidence. A key witness, OSCE observer Ryan Grist, has reportedly disavowed his NYT interview.
The perception that "Georgia started the war" has now become received wisdom. This is a clear victory of Moscow's ongoing effort to undermine the legitimacy of the Georgian leadership. But it must be understood for what it is: a propaganda victory, not a victory for the truth of what happened. To learn that, Asmus' book is the best place to turn.
The war has so far found no finer pedagogue than Ron Asmus. For anyone who wants to understand what really happened, and why, this book is crucial.
Another Munich repeated 70 years later, this time a remote control agreement without signing any document. A sad book in a way making statements about a New World Order just a hypocritical blabbering.
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