Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama faces first real time foreign policy crisis with Georgia-Russia conflict

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WASHINGTON -- The swelling conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia is the first major real-time foreign-policy crisis faced by Barack Obama. He could not afford to be perceived as AWOL on this just because he is vacationing in his native Hawaii.

Obama has issued three statements since Friday -- one read before cameras en route to Hawaii on Friday -- another session with cameras Monday, where he interrupted his Hawaiian vacation to call for a cease-fire and international intervention. At first he urged restraint for both nations, but that changed as Obama, President Bush and rival John McCain recognized Russia as responsible for bringing the countries to the brink of war.

Obama, despite his largely successful trip last month to Europe and the Middle East, still needs to reassure voters of his commander-in-chief credentials. In Germany, Obama discussed rising tensions between Russia and Georgia -- a U.S. friend with 2,000 soldiers in Iraq -- with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Obama's Russian working group is led by Michael McFaul, a political science professor at Stanford University and a fellow at its Hoover Institution. I'm told that a number of Russian hands have been working nonstop since the first reports of fighting.

Obama's other regional specialists -- one being Mark Brzezinski, who was President Clinton's National Security Council Southeast Europe specialist -- is also part of that team, topped by Susan Rice, a potential national security adviser or secretary of state in an Obama administration.

Meanwhile, on the political side, the Obama team picked a fight, attacking McCain senior foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann because he represented Georgia in Washington. But that gave McCain's side a chance to say what, exactly, is wrong with helping a fledgling democracy?

4 Comments

Bush faces another real time foreign policy crisis with Georgia-Russia conflict.

Why was the Bush adminstration caught so off guard? Did our military support of Georgia provoke Georgia to attack South Ossetia?

These are questions to be asked of the President.

I agree with the way Obama has responded. This article should have links to his responses.

His opponents say that he should have out
spoke out more forcefully from the start. Had he done that he would have been called a presumptuous, elitist, arrogant, political opportunist. It would not have saved one life.


Let me help you here Barack...cause I think you rock.
Simply state that there's oil under the disputed territory. Enough said my friend. Hope you're resting well.

Bush lies about Iraq's weapon of mass destruction. I can't trust him wanting Georgia to join NATO and make and Alliance. Bush should go back to college and learn History 101. I don't want WWIII with nukes. It is a small war Georgians who commits genocide which Mc Cain and Bush supported because of oil pipe line interest that fueled Europe.

Our military did NOT cause this war.....Follow the Baku oil pipeline, please? It runs through Georgia. Why do you think the European Union is so quiet about this? Why Sarkozy is in a hurry to settle things.......BTW, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the Russians did not go before the UN, the security council, and did not set a date as a last-ditch effort to head-off war. So stop blaming us.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 12, 2008 4:20 PM.

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