Breaking news: Shelling is imprecise!

It’s hard to know what to make of Tom’s great praise for a recent article in the New York Times, “Accounts undercut claims by Georgia on Russia war.” I wonder if C.J. Chivers is Tom’s secret source whose material was being censored by the western media that Tom had mentioned a bit ago.

Tom’s take is short and heart felt…

About time.

Read it and learn some truth amidst all the BS fed us.

… though I can’t imagine why, as the piece does a pretty good job reinforcing the consensus that has existed since August.

The point at which you assume that who “wins” an argument depends on whether or not anyone takes claims of “precision shelling” seriously is the point you should realize you are stuck in Cold War thinking.

I’m not kidding about the precision shelling bit, by the way. Here’s the third paragraph from the article:

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.

In related news, recently unearthed documents from the Peloponnesian, Punic, Hundred Years, French-Indian, and Revolutionary Wars raise questiona about the accuracy and honesty of America’s claim that it’s soldiers in Operation: Just Cause were the most disciplined and brave fighting force in human history.

Sites like The Duck of Minerva were outlining the imprecision of the Georgian Operation all the way back on 8/8/08. Open-source intel about the escalation of the fighting in Georgia is also quite old. Catholicgauze was providing maps back on August 11. No need to get worked up by a takedown of an irrelevant red herring three months after the fact.

2 thoughts on “Breaking news: Shelling is imprecise!”

  1. Dan,

    I think you may be missing the point in all this. While indiscriminate shelling or collateral damage are common occurences in warfare, whoever is perceived to be the perpetrator of such actions is presumed to be guilty of aggression, and using force for something other than self-defense. This use of violence is thus perceived to be criminal, and in need of regress, justifying a second strike.

    I’m not trying to justify the Russian invasion of Georgia. But, I think it’s true that Shakasvili(sp?) fell into a trap here, and his response gave the Russians a sublime pretext to invade Georgia. It was our fault (US and NATO) for not signaliing to Georgia that it shouldn’t take the bait. Putin played his hand well, and while it may have been immoral or dishonest, he still used Georgia’s response against it, allowing him to indict Shakasvili as the aggressor, thus destroying his moral claim to the use of violence against S. Ossetia.

    Both sides committed what the West would describe as war crimes, only the Russians were more successful in using these actions to justify a military intervention. Their victory is more political than military, as they were able to frame their intervention in humanitarian terms in response to Georgian aggression.

    Shellling is imprecise, and because it gives a
    (stronger) adversary a pretext to respond violently, it serves no utility as a method of retaliation. [1]

    [1]See Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force, Penguin, London, 2006.

  2. Stephen,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I think you may be missing the point in all this.

    What point am I missing?

    While indiscriminate shelling or collateral damage are common occurences in warfare, whoever is perceived to be the perpetrator of such actions is presumed to be guilty of aggression, and using force for something other than self-defense. This use of violence is thus perceived to be criminal, and in need of regress, justifying a second strike.

    If we’re making up what we’re saying as we go along, sure, why not.

    If we’re sticking to the propaganda level, maybe.

    If we’re talking about international law, the customs of state sovereignty, etc, of course not.

    Agreed. While violence had been escalating upward in the week before 8/8, Georgia’s attack actions show signs of being ad hoc while Russia’s invasion was clearly precise and methodological.
    Putin played his hand well, and while it may have been immoral or dishonest, he still used Georgia’s response against it, allowing him to indict Shakasvili as the aggressor, thus destroying his moral claim to the use of violence against S. Ossetia.

    I don’t know what you mean by “destroying his moral claim” — the only way it seems to be true would be if you make the statement vague enough to mean anything, or redefine it in some unexpected way.

    That said, Putin’s army clearly performed much better than Georgia’s.

    Shellling is imprecise, and because it gives a (stronger) adversary a pretext to respond violently, it serves no utility as a method of retaliation. [1]

    Interesting observation. Not relevant to the current situation (as Georgia was using shelling in an attempt to regain the South Ossetian capital), but interesting.

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