Remember the concept of “smart power”? That was Barack Obama’s promise, along with strengthening our friendships with allies abroad. It’s generally helpful for both approaches to get the names straight:
President Obama mistakenly referred to the nation of Georgia as “Russia” after a bilateral meeting with the Georgian president — an unfortunate slip-up, given that the president was celebrating 20 years of Georgian independence from Soviet rule.
“[O]ne of the first things that I did was express my appreciation for the institution-building that’s been taking place in Russia — in Georgia,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with Georgia’s President Saakashvili. Moments earlier, Obama had noted that it was “a wonderful occasion to have him here as we’ll be celebrating this year 20 years of independence for Georgia and the eighth anniversary of the Rose Revolution.”
That gaffe isn’t just an Austrian-language moment, either:
Georgia was conquered in 1921 when the Soviet Red Army invaded the country. Three years ago, Russia invaded Georgia as part of a territorial dispute that has simmered since Georgia regained independence after the Communist empire collapsed in 1991.
Smart power, indeed.
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