One year after the conflict, Georgia is back on the radar. As policymakers push for a more robust approach with Russia, they're focusing on its Caucasian neighbor. But while the U.S. attempts to cozy up with post-Soviet satellites to check Russian influence, some critics say that we should not hesitate to call out our allies' faults as well.
Demand Democratic Progress
Russia might be the elephant in the room, but according to Mark Lenzi and Lincoln Mitchell in the New York Times, the United States cannot grant Georgia a pass on violating democratic principles.
To regain the democratic initiative in the region and to help prevent future conflagrations, the United States must make clear to Tbilisi that — while it understands that Russia is a difficult neighbor — Washington has higher standards for its allies and will no longer accept empty promises of democratic advancement.
America's rhetoric for peace fails in its indiscriminate support for Georgia, say Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity in the Guardian. Bagapsh and Kokoity accuse Georgia of launching a military attack on unarmed civilians of Abhkazia and South Ossetia and insist that the United States' military assistance to Georgia is doing more harm than good in the region.
Georgia does not need more weapons; it needs more tolerance and political freedom. If the Obama administration genuinely wanted to promote peace, stability and democratic values in our region, it would insist that Georgia sign a pact of non-aggression against our countries," they write.
Give Credit Where It's Due
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, defending the choices his government has made as "mirror[ing] the steps that helped peacefully end the Cold War." Giving an example of democratic reform, he writes:
"We allowed protesters to illegally block the main avenue in Tbilisi for three months and then invited opposition leaders to begin a dialogue over reforms in our constitution, the handling of elections, the media and the judiciary."
Saakashvili ends with a promise to set an example in the region, which he claims is possible "with the support of our friends in the United States and Europe."