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An analysis of the August War: A constructivist perspective

Sürek, Çağrı
The objective of the thesis is to present an alternative analytical framework on the reasons for the 2008 Russia-Georgia War. Throughout the scholarly literature, the conflict has been construed through extensive reference to the great power politics reminiscent of the Cold War. Instead, the research utilized a methodological framework designed through the guideline of constructivism to provide an analysis cognizant of the dimensions and actors, mostly overlooked in the contemporary literature or analyzed in a scattered and disassociated manner. In line with the constructivist emphasis on identity, the research focuses on the interaction among actors in both the international and domestic realm to discover the ideational determinants of conflict. For this purpose, the thesis conducted an ‘agent-structure debate’ to underline the mutually constitutive nature of human agents and system structures. Moreover, the debate is pursued to justify the intentional disregard for the ‘level of analysis problem’. The international aspect of the interaction is explored through the historical narrative to establish the causes of the mutual distrust between Georgia and Russia, as well as Georgia and her minority communities, i.e., South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In order to discover the domestic determinants, the research analyzed the ways the leaders construct and utilize the ideational discourses within the domestic structural limitations. In that sense, the beliefs and personalities of the national elites and domestic structural constraints they faced established analytical focus. The examination of the domestic dynamics focuses on their evolving perspectives towards the West as a shared but conflicting aspect of the relations between Russia and Georgia