BAKU, Azerbaijan — The Bush administration plans to announce a $1 billion package of aid to help rebuild Georgia after its rout by Russian forces last month, administration officials said on Wednesday, as Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in the region to signal support for Georgia and other countries neighboring Russia.As Lord Darth Cheney would be quick to point out: a billion? Mere chump change. Not worth talking about, considering the potential benefits:
The aid — along with Mr. Cheney’s visit — is sure to increase tensions with Russia, whose leaders have accused the United States of stoking the conflict with Georgia over its two separatist regions, by providing weapons and training to the Georgians. President Dmitri A. Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin have also complained that humanitarian supplies delivered by the American Navy and Air Force since Russian forces routed Georgian forces and occupied parts of the country were a disguise for delivering new weapons.Speaking of the potential benefits, there they are: we can get our Cold War on! These newfangled "fourth-generation," low-intensity conflicts/occupations aren't working out so well. That nagging little trickle of dead and wounded just never seems to stop, and you're not creating any demand for the really sexy shoot-'em-up hardware -- the ultrastealth fighter aircraft and such -- that are fun to watch, fun to talk about, and that really fuel up the profits tank for LockMart and GenDyn and Boeing and Northrop Grumman. How excited can you get over yet another piddling contract to up-armor HMMVs? Time to go back to a Good War of the sort we know how to run, and that gets Tom Clancy warming up his word processor again!
Administration officials have dismissed those accusations as baseless.
The aid package, which is expected to include money for rebuilding Georgia’s infrastructure and its economy, is scheduled to be detailed in Washington later on Wednesday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the official said. President Bush is also expected to release a statement.Instant translation: Oh hell yes, it's "direct military support." If "officials" were vigorously denying it, we'd have to consider it only "likely;" since they're not, the rating goes clear up to "lead-pipe cinch."
It is not clear whether the package will include any direct military support, which officials have acknowledged they are considering.
The aid package reflects an intensification of the administration’s support for Georgia, though President Bush and his senior advisors have yet to settle on any punitive actions against Russia.Yeah, in much the same way as I personally have yet to settle on my exact and specific plans for spending my first trillion dollars. Russia is a net exporter of energy. Russia heats Europe, and Europe can see from the calendar on the clubhouse wall that winter's coming. What do the Russians have to fear -- they're maybe going to get kicked out of the G8? Hear that vodka-fueled laughter!
Mr. Cheney arrived on Wednesday in Azerbaijan on the first of three stops in the region the Russians consider their “near abroad” in what one of his aides last week described as an effort to bolster countries in the face of their more assertive neighbor. Mr. Cheney is scheduled to visit Georgia on Thursday, followed by Ukraine.Yes, these are places the intransigent Russians consider their "near abroad" -- that is, they are places that actually border Russia. This would be as opposed to, say, the U.S. and Iraq, which are half the world apart. Apparently, irony is dead at the New York Times.
While Mr. Cheney’s plans to visit Azerbaijan and Georgia were made before Russia’s military operation in Georgia, the trip took on added significance following the conflict, which began on the night of Aug. 7, when Georgian forces tried to seize control of South Ossetia, only to be driven back when Russian forces poured into the country.Hmmmmm ... wonder how much "international backing" Russia needs to recognize independent countries? That might not be the sort of enterprise that really requires a Coalition of the Willing.
Although a ceasefire ended the fighting, Russian forces have still not withdrawn from parts of Georgian territory near South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia. Russia last week recognized both as independent countries, a move that has failed to win any international backing.
Azerbaijan, like Georgia, is a former Soviet republic that has sought closer ties to the West and the United States, and it is considered a vital crossroads for oil and gas from the Caspian Sea.There's a couple of paragraphs that surely need no comment from me. If it's necessary for us to pick one or more wars -- direct or proxy -- with the Russians in order to secure appropriate business conditions for BP and Chevron ... well, consider it done, Darth Cheney says.
Underscoring the point, Mr. Cheney’s first meetings here in Baku were with representatives of two international oil companies: William Schrader of BP Azerbaijan and Robert Satmalchi of Chevron, according to a spokeswoman, Megan M. Mitchell. She said they discussed “their assessments of the energy situation in Azerbaijan and the broader Caspian region — especially in light of Russia’s recent military actions in Georgia.”
And by the way, Obama/Biden supporters: has the "change" ticket gone on record denouncing our idiotic "foreign policy" vis-a-vis Russia? Short answer: nope. They're fully on-board. Don't you just love our good old American democratic 1.0000001-party system?