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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/14/11

Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts

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In mid-September NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and its North Atlantic Council (the permanent representatives - ambassadors - of all its 26 member states at the time) visited Georgia and, guided by the host country's defense minister, inspected air force and infantry bases.

During the trip, the U.S.-controlled military bloc signed a framework agreement on creating the NATO-Georgia Commission, out of which developed an Annual National Program to further Georgia's integration into the Alliance, an exceptional measure to circumvent the standard stages through which a candidate nation passes to achieve full NATO accession.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by issuing a statement that said in part:

"Instead of drawing serious conclusions about the failed attempt by Saakashvili to forcefully resolve the many-year-old conflict [with South Ossetia], NATO has again demonstrated its support towards his [Saakashvili's] campaign of disinformation, and has promised to rebuild the military infrastructure of this country." [2] 

Washington followed suit in December when then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza announced a framework agreement on a U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, which was formalized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze in Washington on January 9, 2009.
 
In October of 2008 Washington deployed the destroyer USS Mason to Georgia for training exercises and in the same month the Georgian defense minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the sidelines of a NATO defense chiefs meeting in Hungary, after which it was announced that "U.S. military assistance will be aimed at strengthening Georgian air defenses." [3]

At the same time the Pentagon sent "an assessment team to Georgia to determine what role the US should play in rebuilding that country's military after its military conflict with Russia last August.

"After the assessment, Pentagon officials will review how the United States will be able to support the reconstruction of Georgia, including armed forces aid." [4]

Toward the end of the month a delegation headed by Frank Boland, head of Force Planning for the NATO Defense Policy and Planning Directorate, visited Georgia to meet with the country's top defense and military officials and prepare the nation for the next stage of NATO integration.

The month before, only weeks after the war had ended, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Georgia, like any sovereign country, should have the ability to defend itself and deter renewed aggression, and there should be not be any question about whether Georgia is entitled to military assistance from the United States or, indeed, from NATO or any of the NATO allies."

President George Bush supported Biden's call for $1 billion worth of non-military aid to Georgia, which at the time was remarked would "dwarf the 63 million dollars that Washington provided to Georgia last year. Excluding Iraq, the infusion would make Georgia one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid after Israel and Egypt." [5] Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, Egypt of 80 million.

Until now, however, the U.S. has been cautious about rebuilding and upgrading Georgia's military arsenal or at least acknowledging that it is doing so. If recent reports prove true, Georgia is to receive a large quantity of high-tech weapons from the U.S., including surface-to-air missile complexes, Stinger and other portable surface-to-air missiles, Javelin third generation guided missiles and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, the latter two designed for penetrating armor.

Three weeks ago South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity warned that "Georgia only pays lip service to peace, continues to rearm and refuses to sign non-aggression pacts that can avert another South Caucasus war." [6]

According to Russian military expert Victor Baranets, "Georgia is buying anti-missile and anti-tank weapons because the 2008 war showed that these are weak points of the Georgian army." [7]

In short, the U.S. will provide precisely the weapons Tbilisi needs for a new assault against South Ossetia and a new war with Russia.

Saakashvili is now in Washington, where "the purchase of weapons will be the main topic of his talks with American leaders." His trip is centered on attending a memorial to the late White House Afghanistan-Pakistan special representative Richard Holbrooke in Washington, D.C. on December 14 at which President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pay tribute to the deceased.

On January 12 Saakashvili became the first foreign leader to meet with the new speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. The latter released a statement after the meeting which said:

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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