Republic of Georgia Lobbies Democrats

A little known side of my professional life is that I used to cover foreign policy. This was back in the days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal when nobody cared about what I was writing — the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, terrorism, Osama bin Laden. I got to use those muscles when I uncovered the intense effort being undertaken by the former Soviet Republic of Georgia to make their cause bipartisan. Because of their government’s association with President Bush and contribution to the war in Iraq progressive enthusiasm for their plight has been tepid. Read the piece here.

The chairman of Georgia’s Parliament, “David¬†Bakradze called on liberals to back his cause. ‘We have a case of a small democratic nation, attacked by a large autocratic neighbor,’ he said. ‘I think the case speaks for itself. What Georgia is guilty for is … that we don’t want to be part of this autocratic system and we want to have a right to choose, to choose our democratic system, to choose values, and to choose our security arrangements like NATO. It’s about values, democracy, and protection of human rights. It should be very important to liberals.’

Mr. Bakradze, who is the head of a Georgian delegation attending the NDI program and meeting with American officials, is using his visit to strengthen support for his country among Democrats. Members of his group have spoken to a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama, Susan Rice; an informal adviser to Mr. Obama and the director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Graham Allison; Mrs. Albright; a former ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.

Mr. Engel told the Sun that he spoke with Mr. Bakradze as they were entering the Pepsi Center on Monday night. ‘I’m glad they’re here to explain this to people who are not as aware of the situation as I am,’ Mr. Engel, who favors speeding up the entry of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, said. ‘I told them I for one was very sympathetic to the cause of Georgian freedom. We should not allow the Russians to operate with impunity there.’

Mr. Obama’s selection of Senator Biden as his running mate drew praise from Mr. Bakradze, who noted that the Delaware senator visited his country earlier this month and backed a $1 billion aid package for Georgia. Mr. Bakradze also seemed eager to dispel the perception that his country’s cause was only a Republican cause.

‘I think what we very much appreciate is that Georgia is a bipartisan issue in American politics, and we very much appreciate that we hear very good statements from Senator Obama, very good statements from Senator McCain,’ he said. ‘This should be a bipartisan issue, and we very much value the support of the Democratic Party on this.’

The Georgian official specifically rebutted the argument prevalent in the left-leaning blogosphere that Russia’s invasion of Georgia was made possible by the American war in Iraq. ‘In Iraq, the situation was very different. It was an internationally recognized crisis. Saddam Hussein was recognized as a person who conducted ethnic cleansing against his own population,’ Mr. Bakradze said. He suggested that better precedents for the situation today in Georgia included the Soviet Union’s military entries into Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Finland.”

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