Georgians find it tough to deal with Democrats

by Andy on 8/24/2005 · 4 comments

Derek Chollet at Democracy Arsenal ponders why the Georgians have a far better relationship with Republicans in the United States than with Democrats. The perceived wisdom seems to be that Georgians want to talk to Republicans most because… well, because they’re in charge of America right now.

So, it follows that it’s the Georgians who don’t want to talk to the Democrats, because they have nothing to offer them. Right? Well, maybe not…

When the Georgians look for support in the U.S., they look primarily to Republicans. Now part of this is understandable – after all, right now the Republicans control all three branches of government. But what was striking (and disturbing) is that, according to a wide spectrum of Georgian political leaders, almost all of their country’s champions here in Washington come from the right.

For example, I was told that when Georgian leaders visit Washington and try to set up meetings with members of Congress, they usually have a line of Republicans waiting to see them (McCain, Hagel, Lugar, Allen, Voinovich, Brownback), but have a very hard time getting through the door to see anyone from the other side of the aisle. I know that many left-leaning policy wonks and NGOs (Open Society, NDI, etc) are deeply involved in promoting democratic reforms worldwide, but progressive political leaders seem to be increasingly checked out. Is the Democratic Party in danger of ceasing to be the champion of democrats?

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Brian August 24, 2005 at 9:52 am

Hmmm… yeah on that note remember it was 3 Republican senators (John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Browenback? I think?) who first visited Uzbekistan after Anjidan and denounced the Uzbek govt actions. Democrats better get their asses out there!

qadinbakida August 25, 2005 at 4:14 am

I don’t think this trend is limited to only Georgians. Azeris tend to have better relationships with congressional Reps too. Comittment to democracy is probably not the ONLY explanation for GOP’s interest in Azerbaijan. Is John Sununu known for his committment to democratic development in the South Caucasus?

Don’t discount, either, the inability of former communists to understand that people in a minority party can, theoretically, wield political influence. Maybe not this particular minority party….

Tim Russo August 25, 2005 at 6:34 am

When Clinton was president, Democrats were in favor in these places, and traipsing their asses all over the damn place. this is basic real politik, nothing more.

Nathan August 25, 2005 at 10:29 am

I’m inclined to agree to a point Tim. Putting aside the Caucasus for a second, I’ve noticed that Republican Congressmen are much more active in regards to Central Asia. Maybe I’m just not noticing Dems being active and this very well could be just an outgrowth of being the majority party in Congress for so long now. And with Chris Smith, I’m pretty sure his interest grew out of looking out for one of his constituents (Gulnora Karimova’s ex).

So, I don’t think it’s anything fundamental. I certainly could see it changing.

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