May 11, 2005


Georgia on Bush's Mind: Freedom is on the march in Eastern Europe too. (MELIK KAYLAN, May 10, 2005, Opinion Journal)

George Bush stopped by here last night and the whole country came to an expectant halt, its gaze fixed on the "great guest" from America. As Mikhail "Misha" Saakashvili, Georgia's irrepressible president and leader of the country's democratic Rose Revolution, has pointed out, "[The Bush visit] offers final proof that Georgia is an independent state with inviolable territory, that our land and freedom are indivisible." Embedded here, too, is a message to Russia and Vladimir Putin--Hands off Georgia. Stay out!

The atmosphere in Tbilisi these days--the infectious voluntarism, the collective awakening--brings to mind Dubcek's "Prague Spring," Poland's Solidarity era, and the like. On those occasions, the world watched, and prayed--hopefully if helplessly--that the fledgling experiments would endure. As always on such occasions, young faces seem to be everywhere both within the administration and without, with their idealism and sense of service. Most cabinet ministers are in their early 40s. The Columbia University-educated Mr. Saakashvili is only 37. (Apart from anything else, Tbilisi beguiles the eye with lovely young women who are both pious and modest, milling around its churches.) All too often, in the past, Russian tanks and apparatchiks rolled over all such movements of intellectuals and idealists. This time, as Georgians will tell you, the Bush visit means that the world is not simply watching. They relish the symbolism of his visit on all its levels. They love that he merely stayed the day in Russia, but chose to stay the night in Georgia.

Style points.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 11, 2005 12:00 AM
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