August 26, 2008
Cheney to Visit Georgia Next Week
By GRAHAM BOWLEY
Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Georgia next week, the White House announced Monday, in the highest level diplomatic visit by the United States to the region since Russia’s military operations began.
President Bush asked Mr. Cheney to visit the region from Sept. 2, the White House said. He will stop in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Italy as well as Georgia to discuss the crisis.
Meanwhile, both houses of Russia’s Parliament voted unanimously on Monday to ask President Dmitri A. Medvedev to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two separatist enclaves that sparked the crisis. But the measure, which requires the president’s approval to take effect, was seen as symbolic.
France called an emergency summit meeting of the European Union for next Monday to discuss “the future of relations with Russia” and aid to Georgia, according to a statement on Sunday from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The meeting was framed as a response to Russia’s failure to meet the terms of the cease-fire agreement that Mr. Sarkozy had negotiated between Moscow and Tbilisi. Mr. Sarkozy, in a statement, said he was responding to the demands of “several states” for the summit meeting, which will deal with “the crisis in Georgia” and take place in Brussels.
According to senior French officials who helped negotiate the cease-fire agreement, the Russians must pull all their troops back to positions before the crisis began on Aug. 7.
Or not. Certainly the best thing Dick Cheney could bring to the table would be to stay the hell home from the table. Not likely he will have much of an answer when Mikheil Saakashvili asks, "How come you guys never came to the rescue with the American cavalry?"
The answer to that one is as easy as A and B; A) We no longer have a cavalry, now that Iraq ate them for lunch, and B) Sorry we didn't make clear that 'we support you" and "we are all Georgians" is a long, long way from getting in a pissing match with Russia.
Hard to say if Dick will have French fries with that confession or not. But without Sarkozy stepping up to defuse what Dick and George had wrought, there wouldn't even be an airport allowing Air Force Two to land.
The rest of the tour is interesting as well. Azerbaijan and Ukraine have got to be wondering if this is really the guy they want to shake hands with on his way out the door. Berlusconi, in Italy, is just back after being chased from office for his too-close support of Dick and George.
All in all, it's not exactly a victory lap for Dickey. But then those have been singularly missing for the past eight years.