From foreign policy to private banking, Georgian officials are straining to accommodate America's agenda without putting their country in harm's way.
Georgia is clearly the closest US ally in the South Caucasus, moving in lockstep with American interests on just about every foreign policy issue - except one: Iran. Not wanting to become embroiled in a potential regional conflict, officials in Tbilisi are trying to finesse relations with Tehran, while staying in Washington's good graces.
All the saber-rattling surrounding Iran's secretive nuclear program has Georgians on edge. If the United States, European Union and/or Israel try for a forceful solution of the problem, geography suggests that Tbilisi could easily get dragged into a conflict.
"They [Georgian leaders] want to avoid conflict if possible, but they don't feel in control of the situation," said Thomas de Waal, a longtime Caucasus observer and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.
A series of arrests this year related to alleged Iranian plans for terrorist attacks in neighboring Azerbaijan against US and Israeli targets, and a recent bomb incident near the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, have heightened the Georgian government's sensitivities. And not without cause, noted de Waal. "Georgia and Azerbaijan are ... the closest thing that Israel has to allies in the area around Iran, so that makes them vulnerable to the covert war between Iran and Israel," he said.