Cultural Revolutions

A Desirable Transit Point

The Republic of Georgia’s desirability as an oil and natural-gas transit point has made her a pawn in a game that involves Washington, Moscow, Caspian Sea oil, and the fate of Iraq.  And this game is, in turn, part of the great game going on in Central Asia.

Since September 11, 2001, American policymakers have used the “war on terrorism” as an excuse to step up intervention in Georgian affairs, sending military personnel to Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region to “train and equip” Georgian military forces to combat terrorists allegedly connected to Osama bin Ladin.  The American presence also appears aimed at propping up the shaky regime of ex-Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.  The Kremlin did not object—at first, anyway.  How could it, when President Vladimir Putin himself had claimed that Afghanistan-trained terrorists were using Georgian territory as a base for operations in Chechnya, a charge Moscow used effectively to end Western attempts to interfere in its war on the Chechen insurgents?  And the United States could simply state that its stepped-up presence in Georgia—a country whose government controls little outside her capital and is faced with Russian-backed independence movements in Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia—is merely one more aspect of the “war on terrorism.”

The Bush administration’s decision to mount a...

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