He’ll never admit it, of course. The pretext will be that time was scarce and he needed to reserve face-to-face meetings for more critical players in the “loose nukes” game, like the Kremlin crony who’s in charge in Ukraine. The only problem: Georgia’s announcement yesterday that they’d foiled a plot to sell weapons-grade uranium was arguably the most dramatic of the summit, and under other circumstances would have made for a natural photo op between The One and Saakashvili. Instead, he got a phone call last week. Jackson Diehl:
Saakashvili’s exclusion from the bilateral schedule is striking considering his strong support for U.S. interests, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Georgia sent as many as 2,000 troops from its tiny army to Iraq. It will soon have nearly 1,000 in Afghanistan; 750 are being sent to fight under U.S. command. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke noted last month that Georgia’s per capita troop contribution would be the highest of any country in the world.
Obama thanked Saakashvili for that help in their phone call last week. But according to a Georgian account of the call, Obama didn’t say anything about Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, or about Georgia’s interest in buying defensive weapons from the United States, in order to deter a repeat of the 2008 Russian invasion. “It’s a work in progress,” Saakashvili said of his defense talks with the administration during a meeting with Post editors and reporters Monday. “It’s a step-by-step approach. It takes time.”
Here’s Cavuto making Saakashvili squirm over the obvious snub; it’s a testament to how desperate Georgia is for U.S. support against Moscow that Saakashvili would attend the summit in person anyway instead of sending an envoy a la Netanyahu and Gordon Brown. Exit question: Didn’t we just make nice with Russia last week when we signed the START treaty? Surely that burst of goodwill could have endured a meeting with Georgia’s president, especially with Medvedev and Putin angling to push the U.S. out of its base in Kyrgyzstan.