January 21, 2009
Another Look at the August War
Center for Eurasian Policy, Hudson Institute
Zeyno Baran, Director, Center for Eurasian Policy, Hudson Institute
Malkhaz Mikeladze, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Georgia
Svante Cornell, Research Director and Assistant Research Professor, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Associate Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden
Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, and President of the Institute of Economic Analysis, Moscow.
Baran: This morning we are going to take another look at the August war. As we said on the invitation, depending on the angle you take, you can focus either on the couple days of the war or the longer timeframe. The angle you take, to a large degree, also determines what it means in terms of policy makers looking at US-Russia relations, US-Georgia relations, and transatlantic relations.
Unfortunately, Chairman David Bakradze is not here because his plane was delayed; he is arriving later today. His office was able to send us his prepared remarks, and I am grateful that Malkhaz Mikeladze, DCM at the Georgian Embassy, has agreed to summarize it for us. As you may have heard, Ambassador Vasil Sikharulidze is in Tbilisi now and this morning was named to be the next defense minister.
After Malkhaz Mikeladze's overview of the speech, we will turn to Dr. Svante Cornell, research director for the Central Asia Caucasus Institute and also assistant professor at Uppsala University in Sweden and one of the most astute observers of the developments in and around the Caucasus. I am delighted that he is here with us today since he is mostly in Europe or the Caucasus.
Thirdly, we are going to hear from Dr. Andrei Illarionov. He is currently a senior fellow at CATO Institute's Center for Global Peace and Prosperity and also the president of the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis. Dr. Illarionov is one of the most astute observers of Russian domestic and foreign policy developments. Although he was an economist in his previous incarnation, now his focus is much broader. Without further ado I will turn to Malkhaz.
Mikeladze: Thank you, Zeyno. I apologize on behalf of the Chairman that he could not be here today to attend such an important meeting. It is a privilege for me to elaborate on Chairman Bakradze's remarks on his behalf.
Cornell: I will say a couple of words on this war, the background to the war, and on its broader implications. I am also going to mention briefly the chronology that led to this war. But I encourage all of you to take a copy of this report that was published by our institute in late August in which there is both a chronology and brief analysis of the war, its background, and its implications.
Baran: Thank you, Svante. You put out a lot of issues and I want to come back to them. There is one issue that I will mention now since it is not specific to what we are discussing here today. In your presentation, you mentioned intelligence failure. Not just in this case, but on a whole set of issues, I believe the essence of the problem is the reluctance to make the conclusions to which the intelligence points. Information is out there and responsible parties collect and analyze relevant statements and actions, yet they stop short of arriving at the resulting conclusion. As you outlined, if you looked at or paid attention to statements coming out of both sides, it would not have come as a surprise that we ended up where we ended up in August. I will now turn to Andrei.
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