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Georgia on the eve of the US elections

Tuesday, November 4
The US Presidential elections will certainly influence world politics for the coming four years. Georgia is watching attentively as its fate very much depends on the attitude of the new administration towards it. This attitude is expressed in two ways: America’s relations with Georgia as an ally in the South Caucasus region and its relations with the political spectrum in Georgia itself.

Whoever becomes the next US President will have to meet very serious challenges in their domestic economy. In trying to overcome the world economic crisis the USA is not alone. Every country is suffering from it and joint efforts are being taken to resolve the situation. But foreign policy is another major area for any US President, and here it is much more self-reliant, but choice or otherwise. The US is stuck in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and although the coalition which took its forces there still exists, the major burden of military action in these countries now rests on the US’s shoulders. This situation has allowed Russia, openly trying to reverse the collapse of the USSR, to accumulate easy dollars through exploiting the political potential of its huge oil and gas resources. In this it has been disturbingly successful. First it was able to blackmail NATO members and force them not to grant a MAP to Georgia or Ukraine, then it was able to invade almost half of Georgia, now it is challenging US positions all over the post-Soviet space, with the consequences the US itself preached about for decades seemingly just waiting to occur.

Georgian politicians and analysts are sure that whoever becomes the US President, Georgia will retain its position as a strategic interest of the USA. One of the leaders of the New Rights non Parliamentary opposition, Pikria Chikhradze, maintains that in the USA, unlike Georgia, decisions are not taken by one person, even the President, and therefore “the US attitude will not radically change towards our country.” Tbilisi in fact thinks it is the major ally of the US in this region and expects this to be acknowledged. Georgian political analysts are merely hoping that Washington will not do a deal with Moscow over Georgia, as this would not only be against Georgia’s interests but America’s as it would indicate it was finally losing it influence in this region.

In regards the Georgian political spectrum, President Saakashvili is a personal friend of John McCain, and thus the opposition suspects that McCain would likewise support Saakashvili. Predictably, the opposition is therefore leaning towards Barack Obama. One of the leaders of the Georgian Republican opposition, Levan Berdzenishvili, states that if Obama wins, the US assistance to Georgia will be oriented towards promoting democracy. Although Obama has made statements about Georgia, his attitude towards President Saakashvili and the conditions he would attach to any of his promised aid remain unclear, as he has not spoken specifically on these subjects, although McCain’s stated policy is indeed to primarily support Georgia’s economic development and its “great young President,” as McCain described him in the second live Presidential debate.

Due to various reasons the US is rather more modest than it used to be when it comes to sabre-rattling. It no longer meets threats to its allies with invasions, reminders of America’s nuclear capacity or rhetoric about ‘evil Empires.’ Economic crises and elections are what now keep the US busy. Georgia hopes this preoccupation will be only temporary. But if it proves otherwise, Georgia will need to spend more of its time, regardless of its own deeper problems, sending warnings to the world itself, and hoping that all those who take their cue from America will listen to this independent voice for a change.