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Obama and Saakashvili on the backdrop of US state interests10.02.2009 | 16:12
I carefully read Valery Kadzhaya's article "Obama - McCain - Saakshvili on the back of the bloody August events", and it provoked mixed feelings in me. The author's theory about the reason for the armed invasion of Tskhinvali by Georgian troops is quite original, but is highly flawed.
Let us remember that Nino Burjanadze, who was one of the triumvirate behind the Rose Revolution, and after the death of Zurab Zhvania - the second in this triumvirate, became Mikheil Saakashvili's right hand woman, but in April last year she unexpectedly resigned from her post as speaker. And only after Saakashvili's August escapade did Nino Anzorovna play her hand: it turns out that the reason for her resignation was disagreements on the Ossetian question. Whilst Saakashvili was bursting to storm into action, Burjanadze was categorically against a military solution to the problem. I reiterate that this happened in April, six months before the Republican Party Congress in the USA.
We have no objective confirmation that what Burjanadze confessed after the August events is true. But there is something else. For example, some two years earlier the former defence minister Irakli Okurashvili declared publicly that he would see in the 2007 New Year in Tskhinvali. Clearly he was not meaning a holiday gathering with his old friends in the city where he was born. Furthermore, a year after victory in the Rose Revolution the president sent troops to the border with South Ossetia, and only the then prime minister Zurab Zhvania managed to prevent bloodshed.
So I think that the "machinations" by the US Republican party are grossly exaggerated. It's probably the case that Saakashvili is a good tactician, but a poor strategist, and just simply overestimated his abilities. Moreover, the moral support of John McCain and Condoleezza Rice added to his hot-headedness. But it was only moral support. It wouldn't even have entered McCain or Rice's minds in their worst nightmare to enter into an open confrontation with Russia for the sake of some dubious gains (I mean, just how many votes would a US presidential candidate have won on a wave of pro-Georgian support?!..)
And so here is the main question: is Saakashvili's Americanism of no importance to Obama? And on the other hand, how can anyone say that Barack, either in his words or by some other means, supported Russia in its "annexation" of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Quite the opposite: he was no less ardently critical of Russia's actions than was McCain. And the Charter on US Partnership with Georgia, signed two weeks before Obama's inauguration, could not have taken place entirely behind his back. The Charter offers the most active aid to its most loyal ally in the South Caucasus, both in economic terms and in the field of military construction.
But here Obama set aside his disrespect for, and perhaps even hostility towards, Saakashvili: the elections are over, let's forget it! Yes, Saakashvili had zealously spoken out in support of McCain. But so what? Obama forgot about the unpleasant attacks that Hillary Clinton inflicted on him during the primaries, and offered her the third most important post in the American governmental hierarchy.
So in spite of all his high-spirited charisma, the new US president is an extremely cold pragmatist, and he doesn't care whose side Saakashvili was on during the election campaign; it's incomparably more important to him whose side he will speak out on today: America's or Russia's. And on this question Saakashvili's position is unequivocal. He is ready to do anything to satisfy America's main interest in Georgia: the transportation of oil from Azerbaijan to the West, bypassing Russian territory. And naturally he would hardly object - if such a need arises - to the stationing of American military bases in Georgia.
But Saakashvili now has extremely low approval ratings in his country, therefore Obama would prefer to see a more well-balanced politician who enjoys greater authority in his country as its president. It is no coincidence that it wasn't a representative of the ruling party that was invited to Obama's inauguration, but one of the leaders of the opposition.
Each of the leaders of the opposition parties (and there are more than a dozen of them) considers themselves the most worthy of being president. Is there a way out of this deadlock over deciding upon a realistic candidate whom the most influential political forces in the country (and also beyond), not even to mention the electorate, of course, would support? I'm going to be brave enough to make a proposal: to carry out primaries.
What does the Georgian opposition offer at the moment? Their situation reminds one of the US Democratic Party at the start of the last election campaign. They had one opponent - the Republicans, and of their own candidates for the post of president, in the end only Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remained. And at the start Clinton's chances were even thought to be greater. However, the mixed-race candidate gradually overtook the white lady, and Clinton immediately went over to the side of her one-time rival, calling on her supporters to do the same. With this support, Obama won. But let's imagine for a moment that Hillary Clinton had called upon her supporters to refrain from voting? Who would have become US President then?