01.12.2019 Author: Henry Kamens

Does Trump’s Choice of New Ambassador to Georgia Mean Anything?


I consider that Kelly Dengan, the pending US Ambassador appointment to Georgia covers lots of territory, as I wrote to the daughter of a journalist who is helping her mother writing an article on Georgian-Ukrainian relations and he asked for some insight—from the perspective of an outsider and English speaker.

I told how her mother should be aware of any upcoming meetings under the usual guise of US support for Georgia’s integration into Europe Atlantic Institutions, doublespeak for NATO and NATO-Georgia Public Diplomacy, and how any high level meetings were connected with larger issues, and how such “get together-s” – official or unofficial include the wider region.

Such as for Trump and diplomats on the sidelines during a UN summit to give instructions to Georgia as to what position it needs to take on various recent news—especially over Ukraine and the latest tit-for tat over Joe Biden and his son Hunter. That is a dirty deal, and we will be hearing more and more about that in the nearest future.

For those brave enter to enter in the Divine Comedy, this is a story very close to what all goes on in Georgia, especially in the wake of upcoming US presidential elections and the phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

We have witnessed it before with Hillary and and her brother, trying to get involved in the nut business with Aslan Abahadze, the former head of the fiefdom of Adjaria. There are always ways for those in the family to make some side business, in spite of the embarrassment it may cause to relatives with political ambitions.

Here is also concern by some in Georgia, especially those who want to maintain adversary positions with Russia over the meetings between Georgian and Russian foreign ministry, as that can be too productive—so much so that they upset the current agenda. Moreover, we are seeing a repeat of 2016 in the US where the Democratic nomination is considered a shoe in – and there are no conflicts of interests or substances to the mountain of allegations of corruption of the Biden family, whistleblowers, a possible CIA agent, private policy makers, etc.

Now that John Bolton is gone, the US, can at least officially carry on a normal foreign policy, one that appears less confrontational—at least on the face of it. But that is just the calm before the storm.

Nothing Really Changes in BIG Picture

But in terms of US policy in the region nothing is really changing in America towards Georgia, a country that few know anything about and fewer really want to know anything about it. The only mention it gets is [at times] when Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina mentions it as a way to bash Russia—shouting off something about the August 2008 war in passing.

Most Americans refuse to learn that a country called Georgia exists. If a story about the Republic of Georgia comes up, they will turn the channel or take a break to go get something to eat. At best, in some articles, it is mentioned as place that is good for money laundering and has a highly corrupt banking system—need I say more. For those who really know, nothing good, and even the reputation of its wine and tourism industry has lost reputation in recent years.

So what is the story?

However, the potential “new” Ambassador is interesting news, and not only for Georgians. There have been so many delays in appointing a person to fill the slot that many thought this was by plan. The slot has been vacant since March 2018. Ian Kelly who came before proved to have been no friend of Georgia or the American people, those who actually wanted change. He had no future, as he had been personally selected by Obama.

Efforts to fill it have previously run into troubled waters, as this writer, and the view is shared by other media sources, that the Georgian side had rejected Bridget Brink’s candidacy because of her cozy relations, and sympathies for Georgian ex-president, fugitive from justice, Mikhail Saakashvili, who escaped to Ukraine.

It is interesting to see what comes next, with the new Ambassador being appointed to Georgia, Kelly C. Degnan.

I am personally very concerned, even worried, as to her history with the US Navy and having worked in Kosova—an illegal state. Already there is also too-close-for-comfort connection between the US Navy and various biological projects in Georgia that are purportedly “not-what-they-are being-advertised-as.”

The facts of the history of this latest candidate for the post of US Ambassador is clear, throughout her 25 year diplomatic career. Kelly Dengan has at different times worked as deputy head of the US diplomatic mission in Italy and Kosovo. She also served as a political advisor with the US mission in NATO and in the capacity of political advisor in the US Embassy in Turkey.

Also Worrying!

Her bio describes her as having been a civilian representative of the US military brigade in Afghanistan, which also raised many flags. Kelly has also been a special assistant to the Secretary of State for political affairs. She coming with too many qualification makes her highly suspect as what can happen next in Georgia and the region, and not only Ukraine but Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

Kelly Dengan has a doctor’s degree in philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  In short she comes far too qualified for the job, and based on the lessor of Ambassadors who have come before her, with few exceptions, perhaps one, Richard Miles, whose claim to fame is Color Revolutions, first in Serbia and then in Georgia.

Georgians should not forget (or learn in the first place) that the US by creating and recognizing an artificial state in the heart and soul of Serbia is what gave Russia the moral high ground to recognize South Ossetia (Samchablo) and Abkhazia as nations in the war of the 2008 Georgian-Russian conflict. The US wanted to play double standards with international law, and in this instance, Georgia was the victim of the game—it backfired.

Nonetheless, the program that the US has set for Georgia is already set. It does not matter who is US president or the US Ambassador, as Georgia is perceived as a forward operating base for US policy in the region, and even a staging area for actions against Iran and other designated enemies.

On the heels of the announcement of the appointment was a September 25th meeting between Georgian president Salome Zurabishvili and Donald Trump at Diplomatic reception in NY; this has been barely covered by the mainstream media—even in Tbilisi Georgia.

The timing and level of coverage is highly suspect, especially in light of the recent fanfare, the fall out and calls for Trump’s impeachment, over the president having a chat with his Ukrainian counterpart when the topic of corruption, Joe Biden and his son came up. Corruption in Ukraine runs very deep, and there is a great nexus to Georgian policy. And let’s not forget arms shipments to and from that country, which ended up Syria, naturally supporting US “Freedom Fighters,” and other hot spots around the world.

But what really will this meeting bring to Georgia?

Salome is only a carrier pigeon for US, perhaps sending a message to those who put her in power, with the possible short list of others that the French Embassy, and other intelligence services want to be the real decision makers in Georgia.

Let’s not forget that the Georgian president has no real power and is only a symbolic figure. I personally, however, suspect that part of the message that the US, at least Donald Trump, is sending to such powers, is not to meddle in Ukraine or the US election.

Georgia has tried to take sides there too many times already, its involvement not so hidden involved in in the killings during Maiden. Georgian mercenaries (the Georgian Brigade) and US trained and sponsored snipers having been paid to fuel the unrest in that fledging democracy.

I hope that Trump will tell Georgia and the others as mentioned, “stay out of Ukraine, especially since this is an election year in the US. Basically, you don’t really understand what‘s going on there – and the more your distance yourself the better. “

We will try to forget what damage done by Georgians [already], including Saakashvili and his fan club. You have your own problems, too many, and better to deal with them instead of trying to put your nose into the problems of others. “

The program of the US is already set for Georgia—so you can sit back for the ride. It does not matter who is president, in Georgia or in the US, as Georgia is perceived as a forward operating base for US policy in the region, and even a staging area for direct actions against Iran and other countries in the region. You should already know this from the American war game that was conducted in in 2008, the Georgian Russian war over South Ossetia.

Did not you learn anything from that?

She the Georgian president will do her time as president, acting as important as possible in a Parliamentary system with no power allocated for the president, other than giving out some pardons and making some speeches. Then someone else, another “sock puppet”, will come with the next round of changes in Georgia.

Remember she is not really Georgian, her soul, and let’s not forget the history of those closest to the first Georgian government, “Mensheviks, and not only her—other grandchildren who are no better than were there grandparents who escaped to France with their pockets full.

Georgians don’t know their history of the last 100 years very well, and what they would really get in return should they join NATO, an outdated Treaty Organization that should have been made redundant with the breakup of the Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin Wall.

It has been redundant for a long time and is maintained only as an instrument of US foreign policy. Georgia lacks on paper what is necessary to be a NATO country, level of democracy, human rights and territorial integrity, and in any event, Article 5, mutual defense would not apply to Georgia if it is attacked by another country, as not the US or any member country that I know of would be willing to go to war to protect Georgia.

The west only wants to sell NATO standard weapons to Georgia, and that is a motivation for this fledgling democracy to become some kind of second class member. That is a definite possibility; already Georgia is spending 2 percent of its GNP on its military, and that is more than the vast majority of NATO countries.

The US is rushed for time, and the closer it gets to Georgia being part of NATO, at least on paper, will be responded to in equal measure, with easier visa requirements for Georgians to work and visit in Russia, better trade and closer relations. Russia will counter the West with more “soft power” and send more and more tourists to Georgia. Already Georgia is a preferred tourist designation for those from the Russian Federation and other former Soviet Republics who remember Georgia from their childhoods.

Russia has learned well how the West operates in Georgia and Ukraine will start using the same play book, e.g. “soft power” should it be pushed in this region. And in response Georgia and will move closer to whichever country will provide the best financial incentives and other opportunities.

It is all about who can make the best deal and provide the most pocket money.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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