Thursday, December 31, 2015

Managing Conflict in the Former Soviet Union: Russian and American Perspectives

"The international bestseller soon to be made into a major motion picture ..."

Well that was my joke while reading my latest book. It was hard not to feel like a nerd lugging this one around, but believe it or not I was very excited to start reading it.

As one can imagine, Managing Conflict in the Former Soviet Union: Russian and American Perspectives edited by Arbatov, Chayes, Chayes and Olson is a bit "wonkish" and by no means intended for a general audience. The book introduces the conflicts; follows with multiple chapters written by differing scholars covering conflicts and near conflicts in the former Soviet Union followed by a short commentary on each; and concludes with chapters covering multiple policy recommendations. The wars and near-wars covered are North Ossetia/Ingushetia; The Crimean Republic; Moldova and Transnistria; Latvia; Kazakhstan; and Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I didn't read the entire book as some of the near-conflicts don't interest me too much (at leaest right now) and most of the conclusion seemed very dated to me (the volume is copyrighted 1997). I read the parts covering North Ossetia/Ingushetia; Moldova and Georgia. The first two were particularly interesting as the extent of my knowledge wasn't much beyond Wikipedia. I learned a lot of good background information about both and and developed an understanding of the peace process for them (such as it is considering both are still simmering situations). I also enjoying reading about the Georgia/South Ossetia conflict of the early 1990's. The coverage of the war in Abkhazia wasn't too interesting - I've read better elsewhere. Unfortunately, none of the chapters covers the military situation of these conflicts at all. That's not the intent of the book so I can't slight it, but I'm still looking for better coverage of these lesser known wars - I've been spoiled by the copious number of books about the Chechen Wars. Until I find something else stuffy books like this will have to do.

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