Clinton Pledges Increased Military Assistance to Georgia for New Conflicts
In the middle of her three-nation tour of the South Caucasus, on June 5 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with fellow short-term New Yorker Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. The latter is a premiere, a greatly favored, a nonpareil American satrap, for whom the doors of the White House and the op-ed pages of the major U.S. dailies are always open. For eight and a half years he has been president of his nation after winning 96 percent of the vote on January 6, 2004 in a spurious election following standing head of state Eduard Shevardnadze being manhandled and deposed in the so-called Rose Revolution of the preceding November. The sort of election the State Department is always willing to endorse if the result advances American geostrategic interests.
Clinton was in the country both to meet with Saakashvili and to attend the third annual plenary session of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, which was created five months after the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008.
During a joint press conference in Batumi, the capital of Adjara, subjugated by the Saakashvili regime shortly after it came to power, the Georgian head of state greeted Clinton with these words:
"Madam Secretary, I will speak in English. They have heard me already speak in Georgian many times." Columbia University graduate Saakashvili and former carpetbagging senator from New York Clinton speak a common language in more than one sense.
Never one to shy away from fawning on his American financial and military sponsors, from George W. Bush and Barack Obama to Condoleezza Rice and the current secretary of state, the erratic Georgian strongman laid on his characteristic cloying praise particularly thick in regard to last month's North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in the town Clinton was born in:
"I want to thank you, Madam Secretary, for your Administration's leadership and your personal leadership of the decided question of our integration into Euro-Atlantic alliance. The last summit in Chicago was an important step forward toward that process for Georgia. The language of the communique', the meeting of the 28 allies with the four aspirant countries that put Georgia in the same group as the three Balkan states, and the words you pronounced during the meetings on enlargement perspectives and talking to them at length about Georgia's continued reform and progress and success showed to everybody that Georgia was closer than ever to fulfill its Euro-Atlantic aspirations."
In the earlier meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission, Clinton was accompanied by Joseph McMillan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in which capacity he is described by the Pentagon as "oversee[ing] the formulation, coordination, and implementation of strategy and policy involving Africa, Europe and NATO, the Middle East, and most of the former Soviet Union." The two met with a Georgian contingent headed by Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia.
During the event with Saakashvili, Clinton thanked the American client regime for committing 1,700 troops to NATO's ten-and-half-year armed conflict in Afghanistan. Georgian troop strength will increase notwithstanding claims that NATO is "drawing down" forces from the war-plagued South Asian nation. In Clinton's words, "Georgia is already the largest per capita contributor of troops to our efforts in Afghanistan, and we thank you for sending a second battalion which will make you the largest non-NATO contributor."
She also pledged U.S. support for several new military assistance initiatives, including training and material aid for Georgia's armed forces "to better monitor your coasts and your skies", upgrading its helicopter fleet and "helping Georgia give its officers the 21st century training they need for today's changing missions."
With increased assistance from the Pentagon, Clinton added, "Georgia will be a stronger international partner with an improved capacity for self-defense."
"Self-defense" is a reference to Russia, which will defend South Ossetia and Abkhazia against any new acts of aggression perpetrated by Georgia.
To make the above point patently unambiguous, America's top diplomat regurgitated claims that Russia is "occupying" the two new nations and reiterated the U.S. demand that Russian troops leave Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where they were reinforced after Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia four years ago, affirming that "the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders."
Fielding questions from the local media, Clinton was even more explicit:
"As we stated at the Chicago NATO summit, the United States and all NATO allies support Georgia's aspirations for NATO membership, and we reaffirmed the Bucharest decision and all subsequent decisions. We continue to work closely with Georgia both bilaterally and through the NATO-Georgia Commission to support the goals that Georgia has set for itself in its annual national program. And we remain committed to supporting Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The NATO-Georgia Commission is an initiative established the month after the Georgian-Russian war of 2008 and the Annual National Program was launched two months later under its auspices to promote Georgia's full integration into NATO by circumventing the traditional Membership Action Plan.