The soft power of hard states
Arvamus 23 Mar 2010  EWR
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Daniel Korski,

Two years ago, in the heat of the war over South Ossetia, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he wanted to hang Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili from a Tbilisi lamppost. Although Russia's military finished its job and defeated Georgia's forces, Mr Putin failed to finish his. President Saakashvili not only escaped the lamppost - he remains well-ensconced in the presidential palace in Tbilisi.

So what was it that stopped Russia from ousting President Saakashvili and installing a pro-Kremlin government? It certainly was not a lack of military power - Russian tanks were only miles away from Georgia's capital. Nor could it have been a lack of will; Russia's Vladimir Putin is not one for making idle threats. Could it have been a lack of "soft" power, an inability by the Kremlin to portray its actions as being at the service of something greater than simply Russian domination?

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