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  • Morning Bell: Turning the Tide in Georgia

    Despite promises to withdraw their troops, Russian forces are still manning checkpoints in undisputed Georgian territory and demanding advance notification of all travel through the central Georgian city of Gori. Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utishvili commented: “This is ridiculous. If they ask you to get a Russian visa if you want to travel from Washington to Baltimore, that’s what it looks like.” How did we get here?

    For the first time since the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was created in 2002, President Vladimir Putin attended the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest. His primary reason to attend was to pressure European Union countries into denying Ukrainian and Georgian accession to a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to join NATO. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose predecessor Gerhard Schroder is now an employee of Russia’s state oil company Gazprom, led a Franco-German coalition to defer a decision on Georgia’s MAP status until December 2008. This effort not to provoke Russia was a reverse of a previously long held German position supporting an open-door policy for NATO.

    After Russia’s invasion of Georgia, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, as the current president of the European Council, negotiated a six-point cease-fire agreement. However, the agreement had extremely vague terms. It also allowed Russia to keep an unspecified number of soldiers in sovereign Georgian territory for peacekeeping purposes in an undefined “buffer zone” outside of the disputed South Ossetia region. The agreement contained no enforcement mechanisms to ensure and end to Russian violence. Russia has since cited the terms of the agreement as justification for their own U.N. resolution that would allow their troops to stay in Georgia.

    But there have been some positive signs from EU nations. Despite the fact that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has shown no interest in foreign affairs and has made no significant contribution to the crisis, Conservative Party leader David Cameron has been strong. He pulled his MPs out of their alliance with Putin-aligned parliamentarians in the Council of Europe and flew to Tblisi before the British foreign secretary. He has called for Russia to be expelled from the G-8 and suggested that the EU defer partnership agreements with Russia. Central and Eastern European powers have also been forceful in response. Poland and the Baltic nations issued an unequivocal Joint Presidential Declaration condemning Russia’s actions immediately after the outbreak of the crisis.

    The EU still has some leverage if it can summon the will to use it. EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said, “We can’t send stormtroopers, but we have a trade and economic policy we can discuss. We are an economic force.” Heritage senior policy analyst Sally McNamara argues the West must take the following additional measures:

    • A new, international peacekeeping force must be created to preside over South Ossetia, probably under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
    • Russian troops must not be allowed on sovereign Georgian territory.
    • The West must collectively offer resources and aid to Georgia as it rebuilds its damaged infrastructure.

    Michal Totten reports from Georgia that refugees fleeing to Tblisis from Russian occupied Gori are being asked by Russian troops: “Are you going to the American side?” Totten then asked one victim:

    “So the Russians view you as the American side, even though there are no Americans here.”
    “Yes,” she said. “Because our way is for democracy.”

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Morning Bell: Turning the Tide in Georgia

    1. James Harris, Jr. says:

      If were not for Americans countering the rout of Georgian troops by Russians with the tactical diplomatic moves made instantaneously, if we had gone to the Security Counsel like Barrack Obama had recommended, there would be no Georgia. Georgia must accept some responsibility in this loss and be grateful that the United States has maintained their sovereignty.

      There is a power to that American Flag which flew with Georgia's behind Condoleeza Rice and it is important that we continue to use that power with appropriate administration and not forfeit our power to bring about a positive correct result. In the case of Georgia, the best possible result was achieved to the situation that arrose out of a mutually inappropriate military action, which tends to be the only type.

      Our support of the people should extend beyond an impetuous failure of leadership. This is true of Georgia and Russia.

    2. Jack Kyle, Lubbock,T says:

      The strangle hold Russia has over Europe is Europe’s need for oil, but don’t forget Russia also has a need to sell oil. The United States should learn from what is happening in Georgia as one more example of why we should become energy independent. Drill Here, Drill Now ,Pay less

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    6. Barbara Bohne Saint says:

      I believe we need a man like John Mc Cain in the White House especially now with Russia trying to play tough in Georgia.

      He clearly has the most political war experience our future leader must have.

    7. Tomas, Virginia says:

      I believe that it was Ms. McNamara who also previously argued, "Sarkozy's tenures in many elected and appointed political offices hint at his manifesto for the presidency, and his victory looks to be a win for U.S. strategic interests."

      I guess her analysis is subject to revision.

      On her points:

      1.) There will not be an international peacekeeping force in SO because Russia will not allow it. It only makes the United States weak to push for things it clearly cannot get.

      2.) Russian troops may eventually leave Georgia, but it will be on their time, not ours. Again, her counsel makes the United States look weak when it is not prepared to ensure this result.

      3.) One hopes that for all of the aid that we will give to Georgia, that they will not ignore our (and NATOs) advice and give Russia another casus belli to invade their country and destroy the hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment that we have given them. Perhaps that should be specifically outlined in the future?

    8. James, Buffalo says:

      Russians are what we expect them to be. As usual, someone out there will try to vindicate them for "diplomatic reasons." After fifty years of Sovietesk totalitarianism it is the KGB that seems to want to rear its "bear" at our Capitalist Free Market Economy.

      There should be no trust. Vigilence is what made the United States preservere and it will again.

    9. Brenda, Naples, Fl says:

      As a newspaper editor I have to tell you your sans serif type is incredibly more difficult to read, especially for general audiences. You will have greater attention span and more effectiveness, if you use a standard typestyle such as Times/Times Roman, 12 pt.

    10. John Rhodes, Bellvil says:

      Hello, I have sent in my request for the pocket Constitution, three times. I have not recieved it and was looking forward to having it. I sent in my first request a month ago.

      Thank you for your consideration.

      John Rhodes

    11. Bob, Wisconsin says:

      Georgia's hostile actions towards the provinces that were loyal to Russia is what caused Russia's military action. I think the U.S. would have done the same thing. Very stupid move on Georgia's part and on any U.S. politician's (McCain) suggestion to Georgia that we would defend them no matter what.

      And why does every issue end up having someone suggesting we need to drill for oil in the U.S.? It is not going to lower the gas prices. Go buy a hybrid or a Vibe or some other high mpg American car. Or you could buy a foreign car and spur their economy. Either way, you get a lower gas bill.

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