T180. Peace Workers in Georgia

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Project Save the World Podcast / Talk Show Episode Number: 180
Panelists: Irakli Kakabadze, Julie Christensen, and Shorena Lortkipanitze
Host: Metta Spencer

Date Aired: 5 February 2021
Date Transcribed: 16 February 2021
Transcription: Otter.ai
Transcription Review and Edits: David Millar

Metta Spencer

Hi, I’m Metta Spencer. Today we’re going to go to Tbilisi, Georgia, which I’ve never been visited, but people tell me that Georgia is just paradise, a beautiful place, especially Russians like to go there. So, I want to meet some friends. My old friend Irakli Kakabadze is in Tbilisi, Georgia in a studio someplace. And he has two friends. He’s just introduced me to Julie Christensen, whom he met in the United States when they were both I think students at George Mason University. Is that right?

Irakli Kakabadze

You were my mentor

Julie Christensen

I was a professor already. I

Metta Spencer

We got that straightened out… be sure we know the pecking order around here, who knows what. Right? Absolutely. And their friend Shorena Lortkipanitze – Irakli Kakabadze, Julie Christensen, Shorena Lortkipanitze…close enough? No, I’m not really very practiced with Georgian dialect and names. But I know they always have two or three different endings. And like you everybody in Georgia has either an -itze or a -badze… Alright, anyway, we will not explore names here. But we will know that I’ve already had a little bit of a conversation with Shorena, who is a peace worker. So, all of these folks are, you might say professional peace workers. And there is no more holy … mission in this world, then to be a peace worker, in my opinion. So hello, everybody, it’s nice to meet you. Well, let’s sort of pretend that I am the guest and Irakli is the host, because you have some topics that you would like for us to cover. And, and therefore, I think you should be in charge of deciding what you want us to talk about. And I’ll do my best. Okay, exactly. What would you like for this conversation to be all about today? Yes,

Irakli Kakabadze

there are a number of very interesting topics for war and peace times — from Georgia, and in Georgia, and to Georgia — because right now, war and peace times are around the world. And yesterday was very interesting speech by President Joe Biden, who made a number of points about US foreign policy. And of course, the whole Caucasus and whole world was looking towards this speech. And BBC was having it in live and lots of other stations, and it’s broadcast everywhere. And he talked a bit about Russia. And he talked about spreading the power of democracy, which the whole world is waiting. And he said, America is back, which is a very interesting statement. And in South Caucasus, we do have a need of America being back — because lots of Georgians, lots of Armenians and maybe Azerbaijanis and maybe other ethnicities in South Caucasus feel that America needs to be back in the Caucasus because it has been absent for four years during the Trump administration. And during that time, we already had a number of incidents and last one happened in the last months of the Trump administration when the Karabakh conflict took place and Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan took leadership in that conflict, even though the formal fight was between Azerbaijan and Armenia. But Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan proclaimed both of them that they kind of peacefully solve the conflict, which is unfortunately not true. And lots of people have died in this very, very horrible conflict. And right now, we have a new division by which Georgia is kind of surrounded by neighboring empires. And it’s almost 100 years since the Kars treaty between Soviet Russia (basically Soviet republics of Caucasus), but it was Russia and Turkey. It was done in September and October of 1921, which basically divided Caucasus in two halves between Turkish Empire and Russian Empire. Now, lots of people are afraid there’s going to be a new division between Turkey and Russia which seem to be in alliance against the West. And because of that lots of people, lots of ordinary people are very concerned that Georgia is going to be facing another number of occupations — since we do have number of territories that are occupied already, but with the pronouncement of Mr. Erdogan several months ago in Baku, which made that… six-nations Caucasus union, he proclaimed that Russia and Turkey will… lead a new alliance with Russia to Iran, and then three South Caucasian republics… Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, which lots of people didn’t like. And that initiative by Mr. Erdogan, who is… not very well known… as a democrat, as much as his friend, Mr. Putin. They’ve made some interesting and very, very unusual, I would say, first time in… history, maybe with few exceptions… like Lenin and Ataturk in 1921, that Turkey and Russia made a deal, how to divide South Caucasus, and now America is back after being absent for four years.

Metta Spencer

Wait a minute now. They, Russia and Turkey have made a deal of how to divide the South Caucasus. That’s a big statement. I never, I don’t think that made any public statement. But how do you think they have agreed to divide the South Caucasus? That is a remark, remarkable claim? Do they acknowledge that as surely, they haven’t admitted that that’s what they’re going to do?

Irakli Kakabadze

No, the pronouncement here this year was — last year actually — was by Mr. Erdogan that he’s created, Russia and Turkey, are creating a six-nation Union of the Caucasus, of which the members are Turkey, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and if Armenia desires they could join… that was the pronouncement… and it is easy to check this, how they divided the Caucasus in 1921 in the famous Kars treaty, that a number of Georgian provinces went to Turkey, number of Georgian provinces went to Russia… Saingilo province went to Azerbaijan, and there were some other Georgian provinces that were divided between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. So it’s the new division — which set up the whole Karabakh situation and all other things — happened in the city of Kars in 1921, and on 100th anniversary, it could be revised, according to that treaty. So Mr. Erdogan was basically saying that now Caucasus would revise this treaty and those big countries who were always deciding the fate of small nations (like Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) would make a new deal, to make a new beginning… make a new day.

Metta Spencer

I would like to hear Shorena and Julie, react to what you said, because I heard you say something similar last time, we had a talk show, but I didn’t, I kind of let it fly past me. Because I think what you’re saying is such an extraordinary assertion, if it’s clear that this is true, and why don’t — I mean, it’s, it’s an epoch-making development, and everybody in the world should be talking about it. But I haven’t heard anybody else say it. And I wonder how much other people would agree with your assumption, and I’m assuming that it’s really just your guess, that they made some sort of deal. Because, you know, we would hear about it. Shorena and Julie, please, what do you think of what he’s just said? Do you agree with him?

Julie Christensen

I’m going to go you know, I’m, I’m the American here. I’m going to listen to Shorena first, then I will respond.

Shorena Lortkipanitze

So, I would differently — I mean, this is one of the assumptions. But I would… not say that… there is deal or there is conspiracy or they have divided and —

Irakli Kakabadze

Announcement of six nations.

Shorena Lortkipanitze

Yes, yes, absolutely. But I would To draw attention and focus more on the situation, now in the Caucasus. So, remarkable thing happens. You know, in the Caucasus we were, I was growing up and when I was student, lecturing, and we we used to have this frozen conflict here in the Caucasus — and even thinking about that, what should be the kind of resolution or how it will develop? I mean, it was so difficult to think… how this frozen conflict would melt. So, what will happen? How… would it happen? It would be military, it would be peaceful, how? I mean, what are in the minds of big states, active in the region regarding that? So, and actually, every time as especially Azerbaijani-Armenian tension grew up… I was thinking that… they will stop, because — yes, is it beneficial for countries? how long this tension will last? All these violent conflicts, and what happened last year, from 27th of September until 10th of November… the period of war. I mean, that was something again, with this deal, and with this, changing the status in the region itself, the status quo. This is something very, very remarkable. It gives a lot of —

Irakli Kakabadze

All these people dying, “remarkable”?

Shorena Lortkipanitze

At lot of people died… from both sides, and lots of civilians, and new IDPs, different emotions and attitudes towards the developments in the region, and frustration for peace workers, because we couldn’t do anything. I mean, not me, but also me as a part of that process… it happened because last year, this time, we were organizing a peace march with… the Gandhi Foundation, and we were so excited about Armenia meeting peace-marchers and these people, and then we were waiting for them in Georgia. We wanted somehow to connect this peace march with Azerbaijan, and then this war… pandemic and then war. I mean, this is something we would have to, I mean, how, what does the we have to ask questions: are wars still… are these conflicts still won by wars? I mean, is military still so much important in international relations in, in, in today’s world — if you have big army… For me, this is the question first of all…, to understand because if we see the forces’ military balance in the region, in… among South Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan has the biggest army, better equipment, technology, and Turkey… supporting and backing — and then Armenia also quite big military power, Georgia very small. And what we see is… that if you have big military and you have good technologies, and you have drones, you can win wars? And then what? I mean, this is something what’s really very frustrating.

Metta Spencer

Let me ask broaden the question a little bit, because you talked about the frozen conflict in the Caucasus. I of course, the first thing I would be thinking… was Armenia and Azerbaijan, but there are other frozen conflicts, you know, the South Ossetia and all these parts of Georgia that are in question, you know, what, what’s the status and

Irakli Kakabadze

occupied by Russians.

Metta Spencer

Yeah. Okay. You’re looking for a new solution that presumably would reduce the frozen conflict solve, settle the frozen conflict in all of those places, but not, not one big move. There’s no one initiative, is there, to try to reorganize who’s in control of what territory in the Caucasus? I mean, what I think Irakli is suggesting is that there’s a plan underway to Make a grand…rejigging of the Caucasus, you know, the map, in the Caucasus… between Russia and Turkey.

Julie Christensen

So I’d like to jump in here as somebody who has worked on the Soviet Union and Russia for a long time. So, I would say this that, you know, it has always been clear that there were two empires, the Russian Empire, and the Ottomans. And the question was… where was the boundary between the Russians and the Ottomans? And that’s, I think, what were we thinking about a little bit here… because these are the big powers. And then we have the smaller powers in the middle. And… for somebody who’s worked on the Soviet Union, or Russia, I mean, I worked on Russia for a long time, I do think that: Russia has in mind and has always had in mind the fact that the Russian Empire, it’s just like, you know, Ivan the Terrible or whatever, you know, he said, all the rivers in Russia, you know, he will take the Russian Empire, to the end where all the Russian rivers flow into the ocean. You know, the Russians have always wanted to take the Russian Empire to the Ottomans. They stop there. The Russians stop, when the Turks begin. That has been historically, the boundary between those two powers, historically, for a very long time. So, what is really curious here is we have Erdogan suggesting that it’s going to be like, this little friendly little neighbourhood in which it’s going to be Turkey, Russia, Iran —

Irakli Kakabadze

IK Exactly, yeah.

Julie Christensen

— and Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan clearly may be okay with that. Armenia has a lot of friends. And I just feel like Georgia is going to be feeling a little bit worried. Because it’s going to, it’s going to put… it’s throwing Georgia back into, into Russia, as you know, another “Orthodox” (give me a break!) country. I mean, this, this worries me a lot, too. As as an American who’s very far away, it’s not my problem. I’m a Scandinavian, you know — but I would like the Scandinavians right here right now. And I think this is a serious problem.

Metta Spencer

I know I’d like to Norwegians here right now. No, I —

Irakli Kakabadze

On the next show —

Julie Christensen

Know, I’m very worried about this too. Maybe. On the other hand, I love what Shorena was saying at our last meeting, which was that Turkey nevertheless is a member of NATO, right? And maybe we could cut this a different way. Maybe we could do a different… cookie cutter thing. Maybe it doesn’t have to be, you know, the Russian Empire verse versus the Ottomans. But and, you know, and then I have to say that I was just listening to you Metta… we have a lot of problems that are global. Here, that are like a higher-level problem… no matter where we are, and I think, you know, this is like on a lower-level problem. And I know there this is this new book I haven’t read recently by some woman who wrote this is, is it an inevitable that we have to be at war all the time — are wars, you know, just in our nature? and so, I’m sort of sitting here in Tbilisi in quarantine forever. Ugh! And, you know, just wondering how it’s gonna play out with the Ottomans, the Russians, these two empires, and, you know, NATO and, you know, and where we’re going globally. So that’s where we are.

Metta Spencer

If you wanted it, let’s say you’re trying to think of an alternative to having two big empires, again, bumper to bumper. Then the third option… would be to figure out how the EU would be related to that. And I don’t see that much connection. I don’t even see that much interest in the EU in trying to establish a foothold or something in the Caucasus. I mean, it would be nice if we could say yes — certainly I don’t think you can count on Biden. I don’t think the US has any — you know, they’re not in the game —

Irakli Kakabadze

Can I make some explanation here because I think when I made this speech about the Kars Treaty, which is a historic fact — basically, Russia and Turkey have divided the caucuses in a new way? I mean, before that, you know, the towns of Artvin and Kars and all these places belonged to Russian Empire. And then they belong to independent republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, lots of the territories — and then they were taken, and kind of divided by the Soviet empire and Ottomans… Ataturk… but to Empire, but the whole thing is there right now. Why do people desire Americans here, why people desire Europeans, also president Macron’s… involvement?

Metta Spencer

I’m not hearing too well. Back up. Why something Americans there? Would you say?

Irakli Kakabadze

Why people desire America? And why people desire French? why people desire British? they’re not talking about NATO.

Metta Spencer

Why… Georgians want relationship, with the US with was the French with the Britain. Right?… if they don’t want Putin or Erdogan, what else have you got?

Irakli Kakabadze

They see — the lots of Georgians have lots of historical memories from those two empires, which are very painful, and are in lots of ways are afraid of those two empires conquering Georgia again, which is very close to reality… that union of six starts to function. Throughout Georgian history of 25 centuries, barely what we will say that with the newest history of Georgia, today has been conquered number of times by Ottoman Empire as well as by Persians. But then, of course, last 200 years were under the Russian Empire. So, it’s very understandable that people not just Georgians but other peoples in the Caucasus too have those fears. Different types of fears, see that Russia and Turkey are together to make a new order. And they already made it because Russian troops are right now in Karabakh and South Azerbaijan. Turkish troops were there on the parade in Baku and northern Azerbaijan. There’s a long history of the involvement of these empires in the Caucasus, and right now to defend a democratic state and democratic civilization, the democratic system, or let’s say, a liberal democratic system — right now, lots of people feel that connection. And basically, a partnership treaty. A partnership treaty with the United States of America and European Union will be the only solution to save the sovereignty of those small countries, especially in Georgia.

Metta Spencer

Well, it sounds reasonable. I would, I would say that if most Russia and Turkey have reached any kind of agreement, then indeed, the only option that you might have is hope that —

Irakli Kakabadze

There is no agreement yet. I’m sorry to interrupt, but there is no agreement yet. But the pronouncement was made very clearly by Mr. Erdogan. And he knows how to do it. And Mr. Putin agreed. So, this is very concerning.

Metta Spencer

Okay, then the name of the game is how to get Europe interested. I don’t think that the US is going to be at all engaged there. I don’t see how you could expect the US to help much at all. But Europe maybe, France maybe.

Julie Christensen

Yeah…

Irakli Kakabadze

The United States has military bases right now, from Turkey to Greece. Some military bases there. There’s a talk about this. And, of course, the Georgian civil hope that President Biden he mentioned the situation around Russia. And he’s, I understand, (of course, that that could be a not very good sign for some peace builders with Russia), but … he is much more principled with the Russian imperialists in lots of ways. So, he said the infringing on… sovereignty of the independent nations of Georgia and Ukraine is unacceptable for the United States. And I would add, this is true because… certain territories in Georgia are occupied by Russian forces as well as certain territories in Ukraine. And in this situation, sovereignty is absolutely breached by the Russian forces. And right now, the union of Russia, Turkey, Iran and three other nations, small nations who won’t have any power over them. This is very, very — and we need to look for some ways to do it without armed intervention, of course, I’m not advocating an intervention, I’m advocating a peaceful solution to this problem, but it’s a very dangerous precedent.

Metta Spencer

Okay.

Julie Christensen

Can I add something about, you know, please, um, but I want to say something about the United States and what they’ve done in terms of supporting Georgia and supporting this region. One of the things I was most impressed by was the United States has put their third most important hospitals for wounded veterans in the entire planet, here in Tbilisi. So, there are three places: Walter Reed out of DC, somewhere in Germany… and the third is in Tbilisi, and the army, the United States Army has put them here. And another thing is, I have a lot of my students who are here doing this, I am so proud of them. But anyway, they are working on this and Tbilisi has the best equipment because it’s German. So, Tbilisi, and for prosthetics and things here, they’re here in Tbilisi, and they’re in Germany, and less in Walter Reed. But the thing is, of course, we don’t want this. I mean, this is not a desired outcome is to be — giving wounded warriors who’ve been blown up in various wars here, you know, prosthetics — but I think that they This is a sign that the United States trust the Georgians… in this region, and that is what’s so concerning here. It is so concerning here, because the United States if they’re far away, it seems like I do think I mean, I agree with Irakli, I think the United States is the best support for Georgia in a certain sense, because I think they respect the Georgians the most, although, maybe the French, the Germans, you know, maybe — I am not undermining the Europeans. But you know, the Armenians have a lot of support the Azeris have their own support. And so, we’re thinking a lot about the Georgians here. And I… I hear that concern, and I don’t know, and Shorena’s a political scientist, which I’m not I, you know, I’m, I’m really a specialist in film culture. So, I’m speaking, but I’m speaking also from the, you know, perspective of the United States and a lot of my students for many years.

Shorena Lortkipanitze

Yeah. A few comments about this six-country dialogue, right, in a partnership in the region, it’s very asymmetric I mean, of course, there is danger of — three big powerful countries, and three small, less powerful countries. And for Georgia, of course, this is very dangerous union, because you have this Russia… occupy… Georgian territory and the struggle continues, and — of course, without US participation, EU participation, that should not be happen… because we would be in a very, very weak position in that discussion… As for public discourse… if we see all these polling, sociological researches and poll links, US is [the] number one partner for Georgia, strategic partner and this is perception among public… for NATO integration and EU integration. It’s also very interesting because it’s permanent for the last few years: 80% for EU integration. Georgian population supports EU integration and partnership and friendship, let’s say with the EU, and 75% of Georgian population… support NATO membership. So and in all these pollings, Russia is always some kind of enemy it’s perceived as an enemy and occupier… it’s around 20% thinking that it’s still possible to do something to be friends with Russia. So, I mean, this is already a very good indicator of where we are … so what works for us for Georgians, we are far from US, we are far from even Europe, because even Ukraine is closer with Europe. So, we are too far. And geography still matters. And we are here like in a small part of the land between two seas, and between three big powers, let’s say because Iran is also here with… its historic, let’s say, aspirations in the region. So, it was not only Turkey, of course, it was also Iran.

Metta Spencer

When talking about that, about the Iranian aspirations, is it really that Iran wants in on this deal, or was he just fantasizing? Or were, you know, Erdogan and Putin just trying to be as inclusive as possible? How important is Iran’s influence? And how much interest is there in Georgia? In, in being in such a thing? I mean, the idea of organizing a six-nation thing, there’s nothing inherently saying that that couldn’t be in-, you know, a democratic and pretty independent region. I don’t think it’s likely but it could be, but with Iran in the deal, I don’t know. Yeah. How do people feel about Iran there? And, and about the idea of being somehow a partner with Iran?

Shorena Lortkipanitze

Yeah, it’s very interesting. Iran was and is under sanctions. And of course, Georgia is also part of that regime. So economic relations, trade relations were quite restricted for last years because of the sanctions. And Georgia was very strict. But there were some — yeah, so this, the sanctions component in this relation is very important, because it didn’t, it does not give countries opportunity to cooperate, to trade to exchange. So that’s why this decade of this process, somehow affected very much on the economy. There is not much discussions about Iran at all. But what is what’s interesting, there was quite a big inflow of Iranians in Georgia, in 2013, and 2015, because we have very light restrictions on this entrance and permissions and so on. And a lot of Iranians were coming in Georgia, some of them were settling here, and trying to get some more permanent or some temporary… longer permits. And, and you see, in even before … pandemics, but I am speaking about beginning of second decade of 21st century, it was fair, people were coming here to have this freedom, to enjoy some kind of freedom. And even Iranian singers and musicians were coming from Europe or US, Canada and having some performances here for those coming here from Iran. So, this is that was very common. So, for Iranian people let’s say certain… travelling, Georgia was perceived as a kind of paradise of freedom, and so on and so on. And but after these restrictions, again were into force… and now, of course, pandemics. We have less people now, people from Iran, but still some businesses operate. We have Iranian Chamber of Commerce here are three, four years ago, they were certain — I was kind of writing about debts, and that’s why I’m quite informed — trade, a conference, and the Iranian minister or Deputy Minister… of trade and commerce, and all these Iranian businesses and Georgia’s. But I don’t think that it’s it went into kind of some intensive relations, but there were some attempts. And I think this was Iranian government’s attempts, somehow… the lightening of the sanctions regime and have this connection with Georgia. For many Iranians, Georgia was seen as a kind of transit country to Europe, because they were coming here to go to Europe, to US, from here. So, I mean, this is the land of opportunity… for Iranian people, and of course, in these bilateral relations, there were some attempts — but Georgians, we’re with America, I mean, all Georgian policies towards Iran. And these bilateral relations, they were very much driven by Georgian/US relations, and what is negotiated… when Julie was telling us about that Americans trust Georgians, or they like Georgians, let’s say this is because we try to adhere to the bilateral rules… what we what Georgia and US… have agreed. So, I think that this is — to tell the truth… there is no any essential discussions, Iran is not –. Yes, there are discussions about Turkey, and [t]hat’s interesting. But government have always tried to be very, very nice to Turkey, never to.. bring anything on the public discussion to surface, because we know that there were some trade-related, not very good conditions for Georgia in these bilateral trade agreements, and Georgia wanted to negotiate them or still wants, but this this is never taken… for… public discussions, and what’s interesting for Georgia/Turkey relations, before elections, one of the political parties they wanted to, they even had this big poster in Adjara Autonomous Republic, indicating that not only Russia is the enemy, but Turkey’s also enemy. And actually, there was a very, very strong public kind of protest against that, that poster, and it was very, it was kind of election, pre-election campaign, part of campaign, but it didn’t work. And this party also didn’t get as many votes as they got during previous elections in 2016. So, I mean, it’s because, yeah, I mean, this is generally how it looks like, what’s interesting. What I see as a problem is Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the relations between these countries, the level of partnership between these countries on bilateral level… trilateral… does not work because of Azerbaijan.

Metta Spencer

I’m sorry, you’re referring to — you make it sound as if there’s some positive relationship among Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Really.

Shorena Lortkipanitze

There was, of course,

Metta Spencer

was during the Soviet

Irakli Kakabadze

Soviet Union, of course there was.

Julie Christensen

I mean, that may sound like Pollyanna. But, but that did happen. You know, and we talk about that, in terms of the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, that now, there is no sympathy between Azeris and… Armenians — where even in the previous war which was the Armenians… nevertheless, under the Soviet state, there was a sense of, you know, commonality. And, you know, and I, that sounds, maybe I’m being naive to say that, but that it was, there was there was a sense of the Caucasus under the Soviets, and that’s not here now… It’s falling apart. And part of it has to do probably with the external things which we’re talking about, which is Turkey, Russia, and everybody, you know, breaking it up. So, we have a big problem here. I mean, I also think that Iran might be interesting for here, but we also have a problem of the church, which is that the Georgian Orthodox Church… will put up with Iran. But… they won’t, and, and it’s so… tragic.

Metta Spencer

So true. Look, what is your best option, if you had this whole situation solved? What would it look like? What kind of game plan do you have in mind and or maybe you have two or three different things you’re considering? But what would you like to have come out of all of this?

Irakli Kakabadze

Metta, can I add one thing to what was described as our coexistence, because this is a very important matter, for understanding the future, how the how the future will be. So we remember times of peace and we remember it very well in 1960s 70s, or 80s. And until 1988, we… had a peaceful time where there were almost no borders between Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. So, in the Caucasus, you need some sort of a lingua franca, as they say, today, for the peaceful coexistence of three old cultures and a number of really, really old civilizations, what, to what really worked during the Soviet Union was that Russian served as a lingua franca until our national liberation movement, and I did participate myself in that movement and Russian Empire right now is seen as an enemy, as, by majority of people. I’m not happy about that. But that’s the fact. But the problem is right now, if we don’t have a lingua franca, we need one language, Metta, we need a lingua franca to interact with each other. Because our cultures are very different, very distinct, and very old, and lingua franca, which was Russian earlier, but it cannot be Russian anymore. We need a new actually lingo franca, and all the people —

Metta Spencer

What would you like?

Irakli Kakabadze

You would like we would like to get I mean, Scandinavian will be great, as Julie has suggested.

Metta Spencer

Everybody should learn Swedish is that the solution live? Icelandic.

Irakli Kakabadze

But right now, lots of people in Georgia see United States as the strategic partner, and Georgia has contributed to the wars that the United States had in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have contributed with the soldiers and everything. And now lots of Georgians feel that we need guarantees of our security from our closest partners, basically, by peaceful means. We are not meaning that by any kind of military interaction and intervention, [but] by peaceful means. This is the United States of America, Great Britain, and maybe France. Maybe Germany, too.

Metta Spencer

I don’t think you’re gonna get it. I don’t think I’m sure. I don’t think I you know; I don’t even know whether I want it to happen. I don’t like it. I mean, but the US is not going to guarantee the national security of Georgia.

Irakli Kakabadze

But how does it go on to the national security of Afghanistan or Iraq? or Syria or in lots of other countries?

Metta Spencer

Look what happened when they did! Do you want that? No,

Irakli Kakabadze

I don’t, I don’t want Russians. I mean, the alternative to American forces is these six unions six nation union and majority of Georgian are against it. They don’t accept the Empires, the Russian and Ottoman and Iranian… it’s totally unacceptable for Georgia, to be slaves to the Russians, or Turkish or Iranians.

Metta Spencer

— if you —

Irakli Kakabadze

will never accept a life, Georgia, like that.

Metta Spencer

If you, it’s nice of you, it’s very flattering. That you’re pleading with me to give you American support for national, Georgian

Julie Christensen

 from a Canadian . Are you kidding?

Metta Spencer

Yes, I promise you we Canadians will protect you. Yeah. Yes, Canada.

Julie Christensen

Us Canada. But, you know, Dr. Ronald Suny (Chicago University), you know, back in the old days, and I don’t really like I think Ronald Suny — had, you know, was really unfair with this history. But, but, you know, his idea was, nevertheless we should have regional elections. And I think that would help because there are so many layers here you know, and when I was talking to our friends, Susan Allen (George Mason University) and stuff and she was saying, you know, not everybody hear me with all these nationalities and all these people, but I want to say one thing, that when I was in you know in Virginia, and some of the Georgians who were there, were saying, they said, you know, Americans, Americans or Europeans spend millions of dollars to protect some sort of rare species of birds or something like that, but you have ancient cultures around the world who are close to extinction. And this is what we’re talking about here. And these are really deep, you know, cultural, historical things. And it’s so worth preserving them, it is so worth preserving them. On the other hand, it’s not worth, you know, blowing up the damn planet. on these issues, you know, if we’re going to just like destroy ourselves in our planet, then who gives a flying -, say, you know, my Californian, you know, who cares? Who cares, you know, this, let it all — but if we care at all, these are ancient cultures. And it’s not just the Georgians, you know, I think that there’s others. And they are, I mean, they are so rich in culture, and in deep historical value. That, you know, the United States is like a baby, but a very big baby, and a strong baby, and Canada. And so, what are we going to do? I mean, how are we going to deal with this? And how are we going to try to survive as a, as a planet? And as a world, and at the same time preserve some of these? Absolutely, you know, wonderful things? And then why do we have to fight about it? I mean, why can’t we respect what is valuable in these old cultures?

Irakli Kakabadze

I think the world order should be about respecting small nations’ rights to exist and not to be conquered by the big empires. And that I think, could be Joe Biden’s one of the main achievements. And I really hope that he will do that, because he started like this.

Metta Spencer

Here’s where I would join you Irakli? I absolutely think that if you want to solve the problem, we’re, we’re coming at it from the wrong end. It sounds like we’re talking about how to make deals among various nation states, and try to come up with something that’s reasonable for, for the freedom and wellbeing of people in all these countries. And there, and I don’t see that happening, even with the US — leadership in the US can no longer impose its will on other countries very much. And that Biden’s not going to be able to recover that I think the angle, the approach to all of these things has to be at a global level, I think the United Nations should have some sort of new initiative to rethink some of the general rules about relations between states and the rights of – guarantee, have a guarantee from the level of the whole world providing some sort of international peace service or something like that which would come in and an offer assistance, and support in in times of crisis or conflict, and in defend human rights wherever they are, and defend civil liberties, wherever they are. And approaching it as a global thing is, I think, the only way we’re going to solve all these multiple problems. Because if you’re looking for one country, the US to defend you against another country, Russia, or even against Turkey. And if you’re looking for even the EU, EU to do that, I don’t think any of them are going to work. But a bigger solution is sometimes easier than trying a whole bunch of piecemeal.

Irakli Kakabadze

What about Metta, my question…? what about Woodrow Wilson’s great vision? great vision for 14 points of peace, where the weak should be defended and the strong should be fair, and there I agree with you, should be done throughout the through the United Nations organization. That’s absolutely the point. The point is that the small nations should not be slaughtered and genocide should not be made of the small nations because the bigger Empires are stronger. And we have number of genocides that happened in this area. And all these people have suffered because they’re small, just because they’re small. And now, the United Nation, United Nations needs to get stronger. And I would like to ask you this. Once we do this — we’ve never heard of United Nations, and the United States and France and Great Britain and other security council members contribute to this anti-imperialist stance, which establishes the right for small nations to exist, and not national Darwinism.

Metta Spencer

Okay, we could go off on a whole different program here, where we talk about national sovereignty, and Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination, etc., which I think is the only thing that he did wrong. I mean, maybe he did other things wrong, but that was a blooper. I think the whole notion of self-determination for nations, and the emphasis on protecting nations, is exactly what has led us into this rabbit hole. So, I don’t want to get into that right now. Because I think we need a whole different conversation about that. But I’m looking at transnational guarantees that the world protects the rights of any, any people who are being threatened, or her rights are being deprived. And that would have to be a global effort. But we’d have to stop thinking in terms of the importance of guaranteeing nations. I know, frankly… nationalism is the worst enemy.

Julie Christensen

But you know, so there’s a question of their nationalism on one hand, and there’s also cultural history on the other. And what we need to do we need to do is, perhaps it isn’t a nation, doesn’t have to be a nation, but we have to somehow protect that part, which is the history of, you know, culture, and humanity that has come and maybe it’s been associated with nations. But, and maybe we could sort of decouple that and say, let’s, you know, so there’s also this great value of human intelligence and culture. And we can’t lose that either, as we survive. So how do we combine those two, and they don’t have to be by nation, even language, you know, we don’t want to lose all these languages of the world of humanity. We don’t want to you know, do we really want to all speak one language? I mean, maybe we’d be happier. But, I mean, there are so gorgeous — I mean, it’s like, it’s like nature, nature is not like one animal.

Metta Spencer

I think, you know, it’s a beautiful question. And obviously, we have less than one minute to answer it. I didn’t think we’re gonna answer it today. But I think we have an agenda already established right there for another conversation; don’t you think? Exactly, no, and it is. So

Julie Christensen

it’s such an important con- you know, it’s that it’s very, very important.

Metta Spencer

Right? Well, we’ve had a good start for what I think is a very important discussion.

Irakli Kakabadze

Thank you and I’ll go for it. Next discussion.

Metta Spencer

Thank you all. It’s been fun.

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