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Georgia Rose

One important relationship that has gone badly wrong for the United States is that with Russia. Some blame Western (i.e. IMF) mismanagement in the 1990s or misplaced optimism, others Russia's own cultural heritage or the ruling class headed by President Vladimir Putin. Most likely a combination of these factors is responsible.

Wherever the blame for the failure may lie, those of us who once held out hope for a strong America-Russia alliance have been disappointed, as the Russian government has become the primary sponsor of Iran's nuclear and conventional weapons armament, effectively nationalized the print and television media, has tolerated - some allege arranged for - the murder of political opponents and critical journalists, and has attempted to stifle democratic development in neighboring countries. One such country is the small former-Soviet republic of Georgia, which is now under siege following the "Rose Revolution" which brought a Western-leaning government to power. Having faintly criticized Germany's anti-Jewish laws in the 1930s, the free world has long since learned that how a country treats its citizens is often an indicator of its intentions in dealing with other nations. This would also be true of its small neighbors.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili makes his case in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, "Unprovoked Onslaught: Georgia Stands Up to Russia":

TBILISI, Georgia--The past week was a trying one for Georgia. Air, rail, sea, land and postal links were severed unilaterally by our largest neighbor, the Russian Federation. Immediately thereafter, Georgians living in Russia were subjected to a form of ethnic targeting not seen in Europe since the Balkans in the 1990s--and the harassment is tinged with even more sinister historical overtones. Hundreds are being deported; business owners are being harassed; schoolchildren are being forcibly registered with local police; women are being gratuitously tested for sexually transmitted diseases; and children are being torn from families.

It is easy, amid these bleak headlines, to lose sight of an even more important story: In just three short years, my country has been transformed from a gangster-run economic and political basket case into a budding democracy with one of the world's fastest-growing economies. The World Bank recently lauded Georgia as the No. 1 reformer in the world and the least corrupt transitional democracy. Just last month NATO admitted Georgia into a new stage of membership talks, recognizing our political, economic and military progress. And just last week we completed an action plan with the European Union that charts our irrevocable course toward a fully Western future...

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