U.S. looks at rebuilding Georgia's military



September 9, 2008 at 6:58 PM EDT

WASHINGTON The United States said on Tuesday it would look at rebuilding Georgia's military after Tbilisi's devastating war with Russia, but some U.S. lawmakers berated the Bush administration for its pro-Georgia policy and questioned its costs.

On Capitol Hill, Pentagon officials acknowledged Kremlin anger over their pre-war military aid to Georgia, but insisted there was no question Georgia was entitled to have it resume.

"The Department of Defense is sending an assessment team to Tbilisi later this week to help us begin to consider carefully Georgia's legitimate needs and our response," Eric Edelman, the Pentagon's undersecretary for policy, told lawmakers.

"After assessment of these needs, we will review how the United States will be able to support the reconstruction of Georgia's economy, infrastructure and armed forces," he told the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee.

The conflict began last month when Georgia tried to retake the separatist pro-Moscow region of South Ossetia. Russia responded with an overwhelming counterattack and then sent troops deep into Georgia proper. Russia has not yet withdrawn despite a French-brokered ceasefire.

Until now Washington has focused its post-war aid to Georgia on humanitarian needs, and denied Russian charges that it might be sneaking in weapons with relief supplies.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has criticized Washington's role in helping Georgia's military before the conflict with Russia. Moscow has suggested the White House could have planned Tbilisi's war with Russia to help Republicans win the coming U.S. presidential election.

Before the war erupted, the United States provided training and equipment to Georgia's armed forces, much of it focused on preparing Georgian troops to deploy to Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition there.

The Bush administration has also pledged $1 billion to help rebuild the ex-Soviet republic's economy and infrastructure.

Sympathy for Russia

In a separate hearing on Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, several lawmakers from both parties criticized the Bush administration approach as anti-Russian and to the detriment of U.S. interests.

"Our friends in Russia are as important as our friends in Georgia. We must find a balance," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat. She said $1 billion dollars in aid for Georgia was "over the top" and hoped Congress would cut it.

"The Russians are right! We're wrong! Georgia started it, the Russians ended it," Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, a California Republican, told Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried, who testified on administration policy to both the Senate panel and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Rohrbacher said the situation with Georgia's breakaway regions was clearly analogous to Kosovo, which was part of Serbia until it declared independence in February with U.S. support. For U.S. officials to keep saying there was no correlation "undermines our credibility," he said.

The government in Georgia, home to pipelines carrying oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to world markets, is staunchly pro-American and wants to join NATO. Russia opposes NATO expansion so close to its borders.

Other lawmakers said events in Georgia had placed a question mark over Washington's ability to protect its allies. "Administration policy toward Russia seems to be: 'Speak loudly, carry a small stick,'" said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a California Democrat.

Both Mr. Edelman and Mr. Fried said that to their knowledge, U.S. military intervention in the conflict was never discussed. They also stressed that high-ranking U.S. officials Fried said he was one of them had warned Georgia's leaders before the conflict broke out that military action would be a mistake.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: Lana Kapiniak, Thanks for the perspective.

Washington's propaganda looks paranoid and hysterical compared to the logical and factual statements coming out of the Kremlin.

Dana Rohrbacher is a lone voice of sanity in a sea of cold war paranoia that contradicts all the facts and very obviously, all those very clear warnings that Bush received from security experts prior to Mad Misha's invasion of Sth Ossetia.

It begs the question, did those security experts predict just how Russia would end up with a winning checkmate for the foreseeable future?




Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: Another Bay of Pigs? Now "high-ranking U.S. officials" including Fried, warned Georgia "leaders", (notice how Misha's name and any other name of "high ranking U.S. officials" is left out?)

Fried claims, that "U.S. military intervention in the conflict was never discussed".
How do you interpret this "language", its double talk and plays on the what they have as written records rather than what was said in most probably unrecorded phone calls made by lower level officials to translators on behalf of "unnamed high-ranking U.S. officials", that's double speak for George Bush who we know received a direct appeal personally from Putin at the opening of the Olympic Games.

Now, if Mad Misha aka "Georgian leaders" did not listen to many months of appeals to Georgia not to invade South Ossettia, that means, that "high ranking U.S. officials" aka George Bush knew what was going to happen and did not issue any ultimatum or repercussions to Misha aka "Georgian leaders" if the invasion went ahead.
If no repercussions were promised, it appears that mad Misha, aka 'Georgian leaders' were "led to believe" that the U.S. would become "involved".
Lets look at the massive reactions that stopped short of actually putting American troops facing Russian troops, or did they? There is one U.S. Passport found where Georgia special forces occupied a Sth. Ossetian building, no US denials came forth.

The facts are, over 1000, US troops were withdrawn from Georgia and Rice left Georgia exactly one month before the invasion.
Several hundred US and Israeli military and intelligence advisers, plus hundreds of "contractors" were in Georgia "huddled over laptops" close to the Georgian leader, Mad Misha.

The facts, the events, give every appearance that Georgia, Mad Misha believed that they could drag NATO and the United States into a conflict with Russia.