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  • Where is Obama on Georgia?

    Although Congress continues to move rapidly to appropriate the final portion of its billion-dollar aid pledge to Georgia (made in the aftermath of its short, but brutal war with Russia last August), the commitment of the Obama Administration toward Tbilisi remains unclear. Georgia’s Minister for defense, Vasil Sikharulidze visits Washington this week following the conclusion of NATO exercises in the Republic. The military and peacekeeping exercises, conducted under NATO’s long-running Partnership for Peace program, are just part of Georgia’s growing relationship with the transatlantic security alliance.

    The NATO-Georgia Commission, constituted in 2008, is effectively acting in place of the formal Membership Action Plan (MAP), which Georgia was denied at the Bucharest Summit under heavy Russian pressure. Although the Commission is working successfully toward reforming Georgia’s military and defense structures and increasing interoperability with NATO, the political significance of granting MAP should not be underestimated. Georgia’s aspirations to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic family are as strong as ever, and when President Obama visits Moscow next month, he must take the message that Georgia is not a bargaining chip that can be played to secure Russia’s cooperation on other matters.

    Through its foreign aid and other programs, the United States is sending the message that it wants Georgia to succeed. Therefore it needs to build momentum in favor of granting Georgia MAP status and maintain the political thrust for Tbilisi’s Westwards integration. As a U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, President Obama was a supporter of Georgia’s accelerated accession to MAP. Russia’s invasion of Georgia and its annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia should not change that.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Where is Obama on Georgia?

    1. Otto, London says:

      Very well said, I think Georgia was on America's side with Anti terrorist actions in Iraq and Afghanistan and still supports now Obama's current Afghan plan. Now is the Time for USA to support Georgia stronger then ever and request from Russians to leave Georgia's occupied territories and remind them that it is XXI century and no more cold war tactics should apply on smaller democracies.

    2. Whicket Williams Kin says:

      I thought Obama said we were out of money? I understand the U.S. government borrows 50 cents for every dollar it spends? I thought we were borrowing to pay interest on our Debt? can anybody explain to me why the United States Govenment does not HALT ALL PAYMENTS TO EVERY Alien Government? In My private business, I do not spend money I do not have. And according to the reports I read, the govenment has indebted me more than all the cash I will earn in my lifetime.

    3. Genadi Pavlovsky says:

      Bravo to the Heritage Foundation, congratulation Author Sally

      Mc Namara!

      for having such inspiration and political view on the situation in Georgia.

      Indeed Georgia needs tremendous support from its Ally the United States, Georgia must return to the euro- transantlantic family, this is the duty of the Georgian Nation.

      To become a prosperous and democratic state, partner and strong regional player in the south caucasus, all Georgias Ally have to send Moscow a clear signal that in case of Georgia, their will be no step back, rather than support.

      We encourage the Obama Administration to be firm on Georgia, this country needs the last push and the Umbrella of the free International Society! This peace loving nation is striving to become free, democratic and to live in a secure homeland, therefore it is ready to go this windy and difficult way, to achieve succsess and reunite!

    4. Iva, Georgia says:

      True. Position of Mr. Obama on Georgia will visualize the long term foreign strategy of new administration, not only in the Caucasus region but far far beyond. Strategic allies of US around the globe are looking forward to see wheather friendship can be bargained from now on. Democratic values, being the basis of the modern world rule are on the edge of dramatic change – chaos and then "jungle rules" would be the result.

    5. Zhishe Madzirapu, Vi says:

      The question is: What Obama Should Learn From the Past?

      1918

      With the help of German troops, Georgian forces occupied and subsequently annexed Abkhazia. Punishment-squads dealt harshly with those who did not support Tbilisi's position.

      Uprisings occurred amongst the Ossetians of South Ossetia in 1919 and 1920, both being bloodily suppressed; the action of 1920 reportedly caused 5,000 deaths and the flight to Russia of 20,000 Ossetians.

      An English traveller to Menshevik Georgia, Carl Eric Bechhofer, summarised his general impressions of Indpendent Georgia (1917-21) thus: '"The Free and Independent Social-Democratic State of Georgia" will always remain in my memory as a classic example of an imperialist "small nation". Both in territory-snatching outside and bureaucratic tyranny inside, its chauvinism was beyond all bounds' ('In Denikin's Russia', 1921, p.14).

      1957, 1964, 1967, 1978

      Mass-protests occur in Abkhazia against the region's subordination to Georgia, effected by Georgia's most (in)famous son, Joseph Stalin, in 1931.

      1989

      After the explosion of nationalism amongst the Georgians, accompanied by such slogans as 'Georgia for the Georgians!', which threatened the minorities resident within Soviet Georgia's borders, fatal clashes took place in the Azerbaijani-populated regions of Dmanisi and Marneuli and in Abkhazia in July. Russian Nobel Peace-Prize Winner and human rights’ activist Andrej Sakharov described Georgia as like a ‘mini-empire’ because of its treatment of ethnic minorities.

      1990

      Zviad Gamsakhurdia, leading opposition-figure, demagogue, and later 1st post-Soviet president of Georgia, started the 2-year war against the Ossetians of S. Ossetia. Major fighting ended with the ceasefire in June 1992, since when Georgian writ has not run in the region.

      1992

      Eduard Shevardnadze, invited home to Georgia to head the junta (State Council) which had overthrown Gamsakhurdia in January but, until October, without any democratic mandate, sent troops into Abkhazia on 14 August, beginning a 13-month war that was to cost the lives of 4% of the Abkhazian population (let alone thousands of deaths on the Georgian side). The war ended with the rout of the Georgian fighters and the 'de facto' independence of Abkhazia.

      1998

      Georgia again attacks Abkhazia's south-eastern province of Gal but is once more rebuffed.

      2006

      Having ousted Shevardnadze from the Georgian presidency in 2003, President Mikheil Saak’ashvili, illegally sent troops (under the guise of law-enforcement officers) into the one part of Abkhazia that was not brought under Abkhazian control in 1993, the Upper K’odor Valley. The so-called 'Abkhazian Government-in-exile' was then installed there, and large amounts of weaponry (American, Israeli, Ukrainian) were stashed in the Valley (for what purpose?); a 'NATO Information Centre' [sic] was also opened there, even though Georgia was/is not a NATO member.

      2008

      Saak’ashvili launches an assault on the S. Ossetian capital Tskhinval late on 7 August, giving rise to a massive Russian response. It had been mooted that Tbilisi had planned action military against Abkhazia in May, and, when Georgian troops abandoned the K’odor Valley before the arrival of Abkhazian ground-forces on 12 August, maps confirming these suspicions were found there by the Abkhazian troops. Just as Russian forces (correctly) neutralised the danger to S. Ossetia presented by the military base in Gori, so Abkhazian and Russian forces (correctly) neutralised the parallel threat to Abkhazia by seizing equipment from the base in Senak’i in Mingrelia; the boats which could have attacked the Abkhazian coast were also unceremoniously sunk in the Mingrelian port of Poti. On 26 August Abkhazia and S. Ossetia were recognised by Russia in a move to help pre-empt further military aggression by Tbilisi.

      Are the lessons not clear from this brief review of recent history? Repeated aggression by Georgia towards the South Ossetians and Abkhazians during the country's brief period of Menshevik independence and again since Moscow's restraining hand started to relax (in 1989) and was then removed altogether (1991) indicate that Tbilisi has lost any moral claim it might ever have possessed to dominate these regions and peoples. In terms of the usual array of economic indicators, Georgia over recent years comes top in only one: increase in military spending. It was utter folly on the part of the Bush administration (and other Western supporters of this fancifully styled 'beacon of democracy') to supply military equipment to Georgia. President Obama (with or without the support of Congress) must not make the same mistake. The more sober minds in the NATO leadership should also be questioning the wisdom of ever having entertained the idea of offering membership to Georgia (especially in light of the Georgian military performance in August 2008). What Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Abkhazia, S. Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabagh really need is not Western armaments but disarmament so that they can concentrate on building a prosperous future for themselves based on mutual respect amongst themselves and for all the ethnic groups whose ancestral homes lie in this troubled territory.

    6. Prof. George Hewitt says:

      http://circassianworld.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-

      The Heritage Foundation asks this question on its blog-page dated June 4th: Where is Obama on Georgia? In answer to the question, unsurprisingly, we see an example of the now familiar unlimited credit given to Georgia. Responding to this answer from the Heritage Foundation , CW [Circassian World] considers the question and responds by providing a question and answer of its own, namely: What should Obama learn from the past?

      1918

      With the help of German troops, Georgian forces occupied and subsequently annexed Abkhazia. Punishment-squads dealt harshly with those who did not support Tbilisi's position.

      Uprisings occurred amongst the Ossetians of South Ossetia in 1919 and 1920, both being bloodily suppressed; the action of 1920 reportedly caused 5,000 deaths and the flight to Russia of 20,000 Ossetians.

      An English traveller to Menshevik Georgia, Carl Eric Bechhofer, summarised his general impressions of Indpendent Georgia (1917-21) thus: '"The Free and Independent Social-Democratic State of Georgia" will always remain in my memory as a classic example of an imperialist "small nation". Both in territory-snatching outside and bureaucratic tyranny inside, its chauvinism was beyond all bounds' ('In Denikin's Russia', 1921, p.14).

      1957, 1964, 1967, 1978

      Mass-protests occur in Abkhazia against the region's subordination to Georgia, effected by Georgia's most (in)famous son, Joseph Stalin (Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili), in 1931.

      1989

      After the explosion of nationalism amongst the Georgians, accompanied by such slogans as 'Georgia for the Georgians!', which threatened the minorities resident within Soviet Georgia's borders, fatal clashes took place in the Azerbaijani-populated regions of Dmanisi and Marneuli and in Abkhazia in July. Russian Nobel Peace-Prize Winner and human rights’ activist Andrej Sakharov described Georgia as like a ‘mini-empire’ because of its treatment of ethnic minorities.

      1990

      Zviad Gamsakhurdia, leading opposition-figure, demagogue, and later 1st post-Soviet president of Georgia, started the 2-year war against the Ossetians of S. Ossetia. Major fighting ended with the ceasefire in June 1992, since when Georgian writ has not run in the region.

      1992

      Eduard Shevardnadze, invited home to Georgia to head the junta (State Council) which had overthrown Gamsakhurdia in January but, until October, without any democratic mandate, sent troops into Abkhazia on 14 August, beginning a 13-month war that was to cost the lives of 4% of the Abkhazian population (let alone thousands of deaths on the Georgian side). The war ended with the rout of the Georgian fighters and the 'de facto' independence of Abkhazia.

      1998

      Georgia again attacks Abkhazia's south-eastern province of Gal but is once more rebuffed.

      2006

      Having ousted Shevardnadze from the Georgian presidency in 2003, President Mikheil Saak’ashvili, illegally sent troops (under the guise of law-enforcement officers) into the one part of Abkhazia that was not brought under Abkhazian control in 1993, the Upper K’odor Valley. The so-called 'Abkhazian Government-in-exile' was then installed there, and large amounts of weaponry (American, Israeli, Ukrainian) were stashed in the Valley (for what purpose?); a 'NATO Information Centre' [sic] was also opened there, even though Georgia was/is not a NATO member.

      2008

      Saak’ashvili launches an assault on the S. Ossetian capital Tskhinval late on 7 August, giving rise to a massive Russian response. It had been mooted that Tbilisi had planned action military against Abkhazia in May, and, when Georgian troops abandoned the K’odor Valley before the arrival of Abkhazian ground-forces on 12 August, maps confirming these suspicions were found there by the Abkhazian troops. Just as Russian forces (correctly) neutralised the danger to S. Ossetia presented by the military base in Gori, so Abkhazian and Russian forces (correctly) neutralised the parallel threat to Abkhazia by seizing equipment from the base in Senak’i in Mingrelia; the boats which could have attacked the Abkhazian coast were also unceremoniously sunk in the Mingrelian port of Poti. On 26 August Abkhazia and S. Ossetia were recognised by Russia in a move to help pre-empt further military aggression by Tbilisi.

      Are the lessons not clear from this brief review of recent history? Repeated aggression by Georgia towards the South Ossetians and Abkhazians during the country's brief period of Menshevik independence and again since Moscow's restraining hand started to relax (in 1989) and was then removed altogether (1991) indicate that Tbilisi has lost any moral claim it might ever have possessed to dominate these regions and peoples.

      In terms of the usual array of economic indicators, Georgia over recent years comes top in only one: increase in military spending. It was utter folly on the part of the Bush administration (and other Western supporters of this fancifully styled 'beacon of democracy') to supply military equipment to Georgia. President Obama (with or without the support of Congress) must not make the same mistake. The more sober minds in the NATO leadership should also be questioning the wisdom of ever having entertained the idea of offering membership to Georgia (especially in light of the Georgian military performance in August 2008).

      What Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Abkhazia, S. Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabagh really need is not Western armaments but disarmament so that they can concentrate on building a prosperous future for themselves based on mutual respect amongst themselves and for all the ethnic groups whose ancestral homes lie in this troubled territory.

    7. Roy, Oklahoma says:

      To discontinue our full support for the Georgian people at this time would be an equivalent to the "Bay of Pigs". These people committed themselves to becoming a democracy and stuck their necks out to do it. We owe them the support we promised and need to carry through with our prior committments. By the way, has anyone noticed the fanatic led country that lies just south of Georgia?

    8. Tornike Turmanidze, says:

      It is hard to express how bored I am with this Russian version of Georgian history, which is presented in the comments above by George Hewitt from London – the "Ambassador" of Abkhaz separatist authorities in the UK.

      I am sure that decision-makers in the U.S. Government know well the real history of Georgia and will continue to support us.

    9. Dave Paddock says:

      Mr. Turmanidze hits the nail on the head. As a historian myself, I am frankly disapointed that "scholars" (???) such as Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Zhishe Madzirapu, Vishonas should print such conclusions based upon thier chosen and inclomplete, snippets of the continuum of history. Nice try! Did you both study in Moscow? What I think would be more interesting is you providing us with some parallels between Uncle Joe's Soviet Union and Uncle Vlad's current attempt.

      You are right Mr. Turmanidze, time to go back to sleep!

    10. Irakli, Georgia says:

      Prof.Hewitt and Mr.Madzirapu,

      Can I ask you a question? How much did Russian FSB paid you for this provocative and part of Putin's neo-fascistic criminal propaganda article? I hope you will burn in hell for lies you wrote above. Do not sell your sole for too chip. Nice try, thank god that whole world has enough knowledge of facts to realize that the words you say has nothing to do with the reality and President Obama has pretty competent and experienced advisors by his side. I know that you're doing what you guys were paid for but let me assure you that all your attempts to compromise Georgia are in vain. Putin is roofless maniac who spills blood of innocents in Caucasus he and he and his “Gazprom” gang are the great danger for peace on earth. Georgia is a victim of personal ambitions of Putin and co. Whole Georgian nation will be eliminated just like Chechen nation was when Putin invaded if world stays silent and will not help Georgia in the moment of need. God save Georgia!

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