Bush sends U.S. troops to Georgia to deliver humanitarian aid

(9 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The Press Association reports US plans to send troops to Georgia.

The US is to send troops to embattled Georgia in the form of a humanitarian aid exercise, President George Bush said.

Mr Bush said military planes would deliver supplies in a move which would put American forces in the heart of the region.

Bush, in a prepared statement, said:

I’ve also directed Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to begin a humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia, headed by the United States military. This mission will be vigorous and ongoing. A U.S. C-17 aircraft with humanitarian supplies is on its way. And in the days ahead we will use U.S. aircraft, as well as naval forces, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies.

The NY Times adds, Bush Sends Aid to Georgia:

Bush said Wednesday … that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would travel to France and then to Georgia to work for a settlement of the crisis…

Mr. Bush said a transport plane with medical supplies was already on its way to Georgia, and that American air and naval forces would carry out the humanitarian mission. And he said pointedly that Russia must not interfere with aid coming into Georgia by air, land or water.

The president of Georgia described this as a “turning point”.

However, minutes after Mr. Bush’s comments, the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili characterized the import of the American aid as “definitely an American military presence” and called it a “turning point.”

According to Dan Eggen reporting for the Washington Post in Bush Warns Russia to Honor Cease-Fire Agreement:

But Bush again offered little indication of a concrete threat to Russia if it does not stand down and remove troops from Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally that contributed troops to the war in Iraq and has sought membership in NATO.

Indeed, the Russian press seems more concerned with the “demand to leave Georgia” made by Bush, than the sending of humanitarian aid to assist Georgia. RIA Novosti reports (Google machine translation):

Буш потребовал, чтобы все российские войска покинули территорию Грузии

Все российские войска должны покинуть территорию Грузии, заявил президент США Джордж Буш.

“Мы ожидаем от России, что она выполнит свое обязательство по прекращению всех военных действий в Грузии, и мы ожидаем, что все российские силы, которые вошли в последние дни в Грузию, будут выведены из этой страны”, – сказал Буш, выступая в среду в Розовом саду Белого дома с заявлением по Грузии.

При этом президент США вновь, во второй раз за последние три дня, подверг критике действия России.

Bush demanded that all Russian troops left the territory of Georgia

All Russian troops must leave the territory of Georgia, said U.S. President George W. Bush.

“We expect from Russia that it will fulfil its commitment to halt all military action in Georgia, and we expect that all Russian forces that entered in recent days in Georgia, will be withdrawn from that country” – said Bush, speaking Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden, a statement on Georgia.

At the same time, U.S. President again, for the second time in the past three days, criticized the actions of Russia.

From his statement, Bush said:

We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia. And we expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.

Now I suspect the Bush administration will try to portray this as equivalent to the Berlin Airlift or other humanitarian aid gestures made by the United States more recently. Right now, I see this as only escalating the tensions between the parties involved. If anything, the direct involvement by the United States will encourage the Russians to stay put so as not to be seen as swaying to U.S. pressure.


Cross-posted at Daily Kos.


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    • ANKOSS on August 13, 2008 at 22:10

    No content with setting up the humiliation of our feckless  ally Saakasvili, Cheney and Bush now seem determined to embarrass US troops, who will be blundering around in an anarchic situation in Georgia. Testosterone “leadership” is about to face realpolitik, and the results may be much worse than what Cheney expects.

    The good news is that “Soviet expert” Condi Rice has decided to cut short her vacation to be ineffectual in the current crisis. I hope she has enough shoes to complete this difficult mission.

    • Edger on August 13, 2008 at 22:27

    From Robert Scheer, Truthdig, a few minutes ago via Truthout

       Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

       Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser.

       Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

       There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up. How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back. Scheunemann long guided McCain in these matters, even before he was officially running foreign policy for McCain’s presidential campaign.

       In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia’s membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

       Scheunemann is at the center of the neoconservative cabal that has come to dominate the Republican candidate’s foreign policy stance in a replay of the run-up to the war against Iraq. These folks are always looking for a foreign enemy on which to base a new Cold War, and with the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime it was Putin’s Russia that came increasingly to fit the bill.

    • ANKOSS on August 13, 2008 at 22:52

    The masters of unreality in the White House seem to think that they can control events in Georgia by issuing stern warnings and demands. But what are the facts on the ground?

    1. The Georgian armed forces have collapsed.

    2. Russian units have achieved their objectives and are now demolishing Georgian military facilities under their control.

    3. Russian forces can close the Tbilisi airport at will, since they have air superiority over all of Georgia.

    This is the situation in which Cheney wishes to introduce US military “aid.” Clearly Bush and Cheney still think that they run the world. We shall see.


    Right now, I see this as only escalating the tensions between the parties involved.


    • OPOL on August 14, 2008 at 03:51

    or anything.

    • Edger on August 14, 2008 at 04:57

       Moscow – With the fragile truce in Georgia on the brink of collapse Wednesday, President Bush announced that the United States had begun a humanitarian aid mission there and said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the region to work for a settlement of the conflict with Russia.

       With Mr. Bush’s announcement, the United States signaled its most active involvement in a long-simmering border conflict between Georgia and Russia that flared into open fighting last week. The conflict escalated precipitously into a cold- war-style standoff between Russia and the West.

       The United States, Mr. Bush said, “stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia and insists that its sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected.” He said a transport plane was already on its way to Georgia, carrying medical supplies and a contingent of Army and Navy forces to carry out an aid mission.

       The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, hailed the decision as a “turning point,” but also immediately cast the American presence in military terms.

       “What I expected specifically from America was to secure our airport and to secure our seaports,” he said, in a telephone interview minutes after Mr. Bush spoke. “The main thing now is that the Georgian Tbilisi airport will be permanently under control.”

    • RUKind on August 15, 2008 at 03:32

    I wonder if Putin will bite just to rub Bush’s nose in it. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

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