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Georgia and the War Against ISIS

Anna Nemtsova follows up on an earlier report about a Georgian offer to host a training facility for members of the Syrian opposition as part of the war against ISIS. As soon as the proposal was reported, Georgian officials were quick to disavow it for obvious reasons:

By helping out American forces in the war against both ISIS and Assad, former deputy defense minister Nodar Kharshiladze told The Daily Beast on Thursday, Georgia “automatically becomes a target for Islamist organizations” and raises the dangerous ire of the pro-Assad Kremlin.

When I first read about this proposal, I couldn’t see what Georgia could hope to gain from it. As I said at the time, it seemed like a lose-lose proposition. Georgia takes an unnecessary risk by aligning itself openly with anti-regime forces in a civil war that has nothing to do with Georgian security, thus exposing itself to possible reprisals from jihadists and interference from Russia, and it stands to receive nothing in return. Georgia has already contributed disproportionately to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the vain hope of currying favor with Washington, but this was never going to produce the results that the Georgian government wanted. It makes no sense for Georgia to repeat that mistake by joining in the latest U.S. war effort when this will just make the country more of a target.

Western governments have consistently misled Georgia to expect that their real contributions and sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan would help to advance its aspirations to join NATO, and that has encouraged the Georgian government to make commitments that make no sense for their country. Georgia keeps being led on with the false promise that someday these contributions will be rewarded with meaningful commitments from the U.S. and NATO, but that isn’t going to happen. It is long past time that Western governments started telling Georgia the truth that no matter how much it contributes to these war efforts it is not going to acquire the support that it seeks.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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