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Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Vanquished Moral Authority

Thank you Mr. Bush:
The United States suggested on Sunday that Russia was interested in "regime change" in Georgia after Moscow rejected Tbilisi's offer of a cease-fire in the separatist enclave of South Ossetia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili "must go," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the Security Council.

Khalilzad then looked straight at Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and asked if Moscow was looking for "regime change."

"Is the goal of the Russian Federation to change the leadership of Georgia?" he said.

Churkin did not directly address the question but said there are leaders who "become an obstacle."

"Sometimes those leaders need to contemplate how useful they have become to their people," he told reporters later.

"Regime change is purely an American invention," he said. "We're all for democracy in Georgia."...

...Khalilzad told reporters the telephone call between Rice and Lavrov was "disturbing," adding that the days of overthrowing European governments by force were over...

... Khalilzad said Russia was waging "terror" in Georgia.

"We must condemn Russia's military assault on the sovereign state of Georgia ... including the targeting of civilians and the campaign of terror against the Georgian population," he said.

Khalilzad also accused Russia of preventing the withdrawal of Georgian forces from South Ossetia to prolong the conflict and prevent Georgia from laying down its arms.

"Since Russia is impeding Georgian forces from withdrawing, rejecting a cease-fire and continuing to carry out military attacks against civilian centers, its claims of a humanitarian purpose clearly are not credible," Khalilzad said.

Churkin was furious that Khalilzad used the word "terror."

"This statement, ambassador, is completely unacceptable, particularly from the lips of the permanent representative of a country whose actions we are aware of, including with regard to the civilian populations in Iraq and Afghanistan and Serbia," Churkin told the council.

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