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David vs. Goliath -- Caucasus Edition

4:50 PM, Aug 8, 2008 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Earlier this year, President Bush strongly advocated Georgian assimilation into the NATO alliance. European diplomats, fearing--well, exactly what's going down in the Caucasus right now--voted down the fiercely pro-American nation's request to join the Western powers.

Let this be another lesson in how Chamberlain-esqe conflict aversion turns minor squabbles into all out war. Had NATO followed President Bush's advice and brought Georgia on board, this whole affair may have been avoided. Now, like so many other Russian dissidents that have felt Putin's wrath, Georgia is paying the price for its pro-western ambitions.

Russia's numerical and technological advantages aside, this is an odd play for Ivan. The Georgian Armed Forces, though small, are competent and skilled in the art of war. Although Georgian ground forces are a measly 18,000, that hasn't stopped the South Carolina sized nation from sending a full 2,000 troops to Iraq, making them the third largest Coalition partner in theater (that number will shrink over the next few days, for obvious reasons).

So not only are the Georgians fierce fighters, they're fighting on their home turf against a Russian enemy that is restricted to a single supply line over the Caucasus mountains--one that will be closed within months as winter weather sets in. Unless Russia manages to capture a major Georgian port or secure enough airfields to keep their logistics lines open, Georgia has an excellent chance of isolating and decimating the (growing) Russian forces in South Ossetia.