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Georgia’s Bid: Western Values for Western Security

Georgia’s president published a plea for continued western support in the Washington Post titled, “Answering Russian Aggression”.   In it, President Mikheil Saakashvili promises an increase in Georgian transparency in exchange for continued support from and integration into the West.

Perhaps most significant to the West will be Saakashvili’s promise to increase transparency and openness of the Georgian state itself, to include reforms aimed at strengthening the opposition and liberalizing the media. Of course all good things come with a price, and for Georgia to continue its Western embrace, Saakashvili is asking for some help in return:
But the West also must respond to Russia with conviction. We cannot allow Russia's annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to stand. Nor can Moscow be permitted to continuously flout the cease-fire to which it has repeatedly agreed.

My government welcomed the European Union's decision to accelerate Georgia's integration into European institutions. Last week, we were heartened by the first official visit to Georgia by the North Atlantic Council, and we hope that NATO will move forward with our membership application.

By making the bid of, “we will join you, if you protect us,” Saakashvili is playing academically into the Western psyche.  One of the most impressive outcomes of both the EU and NATO have been their ability to act as catalysts for liberalization in nations who aspire for membership, and core members have continuously saught to capitalize on this influence.  The transatlantic bubble of peace and prosperity has expanded over the past half century as formerly closed regimes underwent significant reforms in order to “join the club”. 

While some Allies have tried to walk the line between supporting Georgia and not angering Moscow (Germany has been particularly shy in tussling the bear), the United States has been Georgia’s staunchest supporter, with president Bush outright accusing Russia of violating the United Nations Charter at last week's UN Summit, and also calling for sanctions against Russia’s military incursion into Georgia.  Bush declared to a hall packed full of the world’s leaders:
The United Nations charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small. Russia's invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words.
According to the BBC:
Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, looked up startled to hear his country named alongside Syria and North Korea as another violator of the UN’s core values when it invaded Georgia last month
Of course shaming Russia like this comes with costs.  The BBC article continues to report that, in a blow to transatlantic efforts to pressure Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, Russia has “scuppered plans for talks on new sanctions on Iran in retaliation for US calls for sanctions over its military adventure in Georgia.” 

“Scuppering” talks on sanctions against Iran is not the only card Russia has to play; both the US and Europe need to ask themselves if the costs are worth protecting the young democracy in Georgia.

In considering this complex question, perhaps we should frame Georgia in the context of the larger push to spread democracy globally. Currently, over 35 countries are shedding blood, gold and lollipops by the barrel to support the development of a democratic process in Afghanistan (or at least far more democratic than what would be the case without Western troops taking bullets). 

Can Georgia be considered another front in the same global struggle to spread democracy and human rights values?  If we are willing to go to war in Afghanistan, then why can we not manage the costs that come in supporting Georgia?  Especially when it is very likely that they will be less both financially and in the number of lives lost than the ongoing war in Afghanistan.


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Seraphiel on :

Saakashvili is digging his own grave here. If he shows the world what he really has done all these years in Georgia he will never be a member of EU and NATO. For years he has been pumping money into its US trained army, leaving the poor Georgian citizens in the cold. He has lied to and licked the European and US asses for years. He is a manipulator a psychopath. "The United Nations charter sets forth the equal rights of nations large and small. Russia's invasion of Georgia was a violation of those words." Nice words mister Bush. Remember that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia never were a part of Georgia before Stalin. In fact South Ossetia did not even exist it was then Ossetia. Stalin broke Ossetia into to halves and gave administrive control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia to the Georgians. Remind you that Stalin said administrative control. This means that Stalin never stated that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are a part of Georgia. Georgia claimed these regions in 1990 when they separated from Russia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia rather wanted to stay within Russia for obvious reasons. The Georgian government wanted Georgia for Georgians only and being a part of Georgia meant that both the Abkhaz and Ossetian people were not welcome without giving up their culture. So a war brake out were Georgians used genocide on the Abkhaz and Ossetian people. Russia stepped in to calm things down in 1992. Now a few weeks ago Georgia made a second attempt to wipe the Ossetian and Abkhazian people of the map. Under full support of the western world. Now mister Bush. Reading the history behind the problems in this region maybe makes you want to change your statement on Russia braking the Rules. It was rather Georgia with US recourses that violated international rules. But off course these rules don't count for the US. Just like the tribunal in The Hague is not for the US.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Wow. Citing the mass murderer Stalin as some kind of authority, and then complaining about alleged Georgian genocide, takes a special kind of crazy. I'm not much of a fan of Freud, but there are some times when his theory of Projection seems to fit quite well.

Clear Thinker on :

During the Soviet era, Russians were sent all over the map and remained in post Soviet newly independent countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgystan and other former Republics. They are in most cases minorities but they retain their Russian citizenship. In the cases of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it is not a question of what Stalin said when but rather who the people are who live there today. Are they the Russians who remained after the collapse of the Soviet Union or are they truly Georgians or Ukrainians? Many of these people had no financial abilities to relocate back to Russia in the early to mid-1990's and in many ways they preferred to stay where they raised their children and grandchildren. If you remain open to all sides of this story and look at the overall picture you need to ask yourselves, what is so important about US-Georgian relations that make it more important that US-Russian relations? If you think the continuation of negativism towards Moscow by Biden, Obama, and other sitting politicos then you obviously no little or perhaps nothing about what we are actually doing. Our biggest failure in foreign policy is our lack of knowledge "on the ground".

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