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Will Georgia's government pay a heavy price for a serious error of judgment?

25.09.2008
Opt Ed
 
Jeffrey K. Silverman 

In a HARD TALK interview broadcast on 18 September, Stephen Sackur of the BBC talks to Mikhail Saakashvili, the President of Georgia. Last month's conflict over South Ossetia was a defining moment in relations between Russia, Georgia and the West. Although both sides have agreed to a ceasefire, the long term prospects for stability in that corner of the Caucasus look bleak.

 “Our adversaries are obliging enough to tell us precisely what their objectives are and their plans for implementing them, yet when we share their comments with others stuporous indifference is confronted. And when the bombs start dropping it's too late to affect matters.” (Opt Ed Note)
 
Many in the international community and those in Georgia who know English were able to witness Georgian president Mikhael Saakashvili live on BBC battling it out with Steven Sackur on HARD TALK.  It was clear that this was not an even match and Sackur bloodied the Georgian president without even dirtying his hands.  It appears as if Saakashvili leaped right into every one of Sackur's debate traps; it was delicious to see the unrehearsed debate and surgical recriminations.
 
Saakashvili may indeed know 4 languages well enough but when “push comes to shove” in a verbal match he parrots all his propaganda to stall for time to think, he said over and over repetitively the same line as are written in many of the Georgian English language newspapers and US Embassy press releases, "beacon of democracy", "economic boom" of Georgia, and the president even said that Georgia was "prosperous".
 
Tell that to many socially compromised and poor people in Georgia, those who have seen inflation and price gouging in the last few years to an unprecedented level – constantly eating away at their small pensions and meager earnings. What is sad is that enough money could have been in the budget for make Georgia actually prosperous had it was not for the large chunk that the military budget gobbled up.
 
Saakashvili stepped way over the line a dozen times in half an hour during the program and came across to many as a dangerous and reckless fanatic.  Some viewers will wonder if all Georgians are so wacky, preposterous, and so very dangerous. However, we can't blame Saakashvili for his professional level of English - he was only in America about four months after all (not that they speak English there!). The trouble is, as long as Saakashvili is regarded as the legal President he will be supported, as there are no grounds for supporting anyone else. An awful lot of people all over the world would have to admit to a lot of mistakes (and worse) before they faced reality, but a Third World War (which will happen) will force everyone to start again.

It may be too early to predict that president-elect has no future – it is just a question of who he takes down with him. His fellow travelers all fancy replacing him, because they still think that they still have a future. Some would take exception and say that are all as much misguided and delusional as he is! Why should poor Georgia have to put up with this? 
 
As Aage Borchgevink, from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights shares "... the mirage of President Mikheil Saakashvili as a Western-oriented reformer, and the strategic aim of strengthening ties between Georgia and NATO, tends to result in favorable assessment of Georgian democracy by Western leaders.
 
The Georgian opposition, on the other hand, portrays Saakashvli as a telegenic Lavrentiy Beria. However, even in polarized Georgia there remain independent monitors, like the Georgian Public Defender. Their version of Georgia is a country going in an authoritarian direction. Based on what Georgia does (and not on what it says. it seems that the Western and democratic orientation of the regime is superficial.

The Georgian government has made numerous business deals with Russian and Kazakh companies, and could probably establish new strategic alliances in order to protect its interests, the principle of which seems to be maintaining power. Myopic focus of supporting Saakashvili at the expense of an honest look at Georgia’s human rights record, may lead to the Western states discrediting the concept of democracy and antagonizing the Georgian population.”
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/7623150.stm

Watch this program yourself, provided the link will not be blocked, and you be the judge. I've also seen him on the BBC's "Have Your Say" program before – which in my opinion was it was an embarrassing performance where he wouldn't shut up. It is as if think he likes the sound of his own voice - and thinks that, just because he can speak reasonably fluent English everyone will be on his side. But he just speaks like a Georgia using the English language.

I like Sackur - he's married to an Arab and bats for the right side and is not one to be politically expedient in the NEW WORLD ORDER, and one not to be pushed around.

Saakashvili made BIG MISTAKES and called Steven Sackur "a dirty Putin" and he was very angry when Sackur asked him if he will let Nino Burjanadze, former speaker of the Georgian Parliament, conduct a full investigation into the “real” events leading up to rockets being fired into Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

Georgia may never be in NATO because of Saakashvili and that he is perceived by the international community as "reckless”..... Even when he was directly asked on HARDtalk about his “enormous miscalculation” Saakashvili could only respond by saying that “I think it’s a gross misinterpretation to call it a miscalculation, bushing it off as the reaction to a full-fledged invasions on the part of the Russian Federation – and avers that Georgia has the proof to back this claim up with “incontrovertible evidence.”
However, as reported on Civil Georgia an UN and USAID support news portal, William Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs said on September 17 that a “serious [Georgian] miscalculation” was also partly to blame for the August war.
When all is said and done, however, Saakahvili as a president still handle himself in most instances. Nonetheless, he's still a reckless liability in the minds of many. Pundits in the international community consider him as being loose cannon. This begs the question; can we afford WWIII with Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations as long as Saakashvilli holds the top position as a one man show?

The US State Department sums it up best, “The causes of this conflict (s) Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are complex, with mistakes and miscalculations on all sides, and holds Russia much to blame for it having intensified the pressure and provocations against Georgia.

However, there are inconsistencies in such a presentation, and one must not forget the profit motive for the August war in the first place. This was not an ethnic war; it was not a war of defense. It was more a war that raises the question: why do people go to war with another group, especially when the decision to go to war in the first places poses a real threat to very existence of one or the other nation and can destabilize the entire region.
 
Jeffrey Silverman, Freelance American Journalist and resident of Georgia for most part of 17 years.


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Name: Sukey
2011-06-03 14:29
Real brain power on display. Thanks for that awsner!
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