Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Way to Treat Our Friends

Two professors in the Harriman Institute faculty in Columbia’s School of International Affairs, Prof. Alexander Cooley of Barnard College and Prof. Lincoln Mitchell of SIPA, recently published an article in The Washington Quarterly, “No Way to Treat Our Friends,” on the need to depersonalize and restructure U.S.-Georgian relations.

The two write:

Two unequivocal, but ultimately flawed, principles guided recent U.S. policy towards Georgia. First, the United States supported the Saakashvili government, rather than promoting broader Georgian democratic development. Second, the United States backed reuniting Georgia’s territorial integrity, rather than acting as an honest broker to resolve the frozen conflicts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The strong personalized ties that developed between Washington and Tbilisi prevented the United States from using its power and influence to credibly restrain the Saakashvili government from adopting a military solution. U.S. reluctance to encourage Georgia to consider alternative sovereign formulas to resolve the frozen conflicts further emboldened Georgian hardliners. Over time, the Georgian regime’s domestic policies and priorities themselves became official U.S. policies and goals, leading to an unhealthy capture of U.S. foreign policy by Tbilisi.

Personalized relations mean love?

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