Did Obama Fail Georgia?

By David Howaniec

The current Russo-Georgian conflict is serving as a critical test for the Presidential candidates. While John McCain has been releasing multiple statements on the conflict calling on Russia to cease fire and seek reconciliation in the region, Barack Obama was largely silent on the issue, releasing a statement only after the White House announced new diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the region, to call for the U.S. to join our European partners in direct, high-level diplomatic talks with both Georgia and Russia.

While Senator Obama is sitting in Hawaii with a map trying to figure out where in the heck Georgia is, someone should remind Obama that he’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on European Affairs. This issue would clearly fail under the jurisdiction of Obama’s committee, especially since Georgia’s desire to join NATO and play an active role in the European community exacerbated the problem. In fact, the tension has been boiling for quite some time and Obama should have already taken action in his capacity as chairman.

The SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPEAN AFFAIRS deals with all matters concerning U.S. relations with the countries on the continent of Europe (except the states of Central Asia), with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In 2002, Did Hillary Clinton have the foresight that Senator Obama appears to lack regarding Georgia? She gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, detailing her opposition to a pre-emptive attack on Iraq by citing some consequences:

"If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels. India has mentioned the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. And what if China were to perceive a threat from Taiwan? So Mr. President, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present facts is not a good option."

Realizing the potential of such a significant foreign policy event is critical when serving as President of the United States. The fact that Senator Clinton was able to see this coming six years ago is remarkable and demonstrates the superior judgment needed to be President.

Meanwhile, even though the intelligence was available and the tension had been brewing, Obama didn’t bother holding any committee hearings on this issue. Is it because he was too busy campaigning? Or because he didn’t see it coming? Either way, it doesn’t build much confidence for how he would actually handle the most difficult job in the world.