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Prickly Thorns

This weekend, the Bush administration dispatched an envoy to Tbilisi to probe Georgia’s use of tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and truncheons to disperse demonstrators Nov. 7, its shutdown of two television stations and its imposition of a state of emergency that put troops on the streets of the Georgian capital. ~The Chicago Tribune

The cynic in me would say that the administration was looking for tips on how to handle the protests and media coverage at next year’s national convention. 

There was also this:

“I don’t feel any improvement; things have just gotten worse,” says Irina Khurashvili, a mother of two who makes about $300 a month selling clothes at a Tbilisi market. “Corruption is worse now than it was during Shevardnadze’s time. We weren’t satisfied with Shevardnadze, and Saakashvili has proved to be no better.”

As I have said before, Saakashvili and Putin share many things in common.  They seek to eliminate independent media, marginalise or jail opponents, cultivate nostalgia for the Soviet and pre-revolutionary past and generally govern in an authoritarian fashion. One difference is that hardly anyone in the West cared that Saakashvili was doing this until it became so blatant that no one could afford to ignore it, while Putin was supposed to be Stalin reincarnated, and another is that Saakashvili has been able so far to stay in the West’s good graces by adopting a “pro-Western” and explicitly anti-Russian stance.  All of this employs the logic of Cold War geopolitics, but without the overriding rationale of containing an actual threat.

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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