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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 8 - Explaining Differences in Persuasiveness


This chapter focuses on the case of the Georgian-Russian War of 2008. It concentrates on the question of which warnings were communicated by whom within the European Union system and how were they perceived in terms of notice, acceptance and mobilisation to act by the EU’s member states as the key decision-makers. It considers not only warnings in relation to South Ossetia, but also those from a few months earlier related to Georgia’s other separatist region of Abkhazia that were in fact to some extent successful. Rather than a classic case of warning failure, the analysis shows considerable variation in impact among member states and between the cases of Abkhazia as compared with South Ossetia. It is argued that these differences are due to the relatively low level of diagnostic difficulty in making knowledge claims, differences in receptivity among member states due to threat perceptions and policy preferences, and source credibility given warners’ respective track records as well as suspicions of national biases. The case confirms that many factors work interdependently in producing different outcomes for warnings over time and highlights that warnings should be considered an integral part of evolving and historically contingent discourses on foreign policy.