Congressman Steve King has just returned from an overseas trip that took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, and briefly to the war-torn country of Georgia. “Georgia is the first square on the chess game of potentially — and what I’m afraid is — the beginning of Cold World War II,” King says.
King, a Republican from Kiron in western Iowa, spent about 12 hours in the country, in the capital city. “We went into T’bilisi and we were essentially confined there,” King says. “But I met with the minister of defense. I met with the minister of finance and I had dinner with the president and the speaker and, so we got a lot of high level briefs and we got a lot of that sense of their conviction and determination and a fair level of emotion that comes through that.”
King was part of a congressional delegation visiting Georgia. Russia invaded Georgia in early August, initially targeting its largest port on the Black Sea. King says he found Georgians unbowed by Russian aggression. “These people love freedom and the streets of T’bilisi were full of people. The entire country of Georgia went to the streets and they did that to demonstrate their solidarity, to demonstrate their resistance to Russia, the Russian invasion,” King says. “There were Georgian flags every place. About every 20th flag you’d see an American flag there. No other country flag there that I saw.”
Georgia is a former Soviet state and Georgia was cracking down on separatists who want either independence from Georgia, or unification with Russia when Russian troops moved in. “This is a tough place for freedom to hold its ground. They told me that they always knew the Russians would do this. It was not a surprise,” King says. “The idea that the Russians were reacting to an action on the part of the Georgians is pretty much a settled case that they were provoking and, at some point, they were going to find a pretense.”
King supports naming Georgia and the Ukraine as members of NATO immediately. King also favors building another oil pipeline through Georgia. “And let’s get the western world invested in that pipeline so they have to protect their energy because Russia is holding western Europe hostage on energy. They’ve also built a pipeline from Russia, Transiberian Pipeline, over to China. There’s at least two now that run out of central, western Asia over into China. The other one comes out of Kaziastan ,” King says. “So where this oil goes in the world and who’s positioning themselves in this global chess game is really what’s at play here.”
King is in the Twin Cities today, attending the Republican National Convention. King says Georgia’s prime minister is there, too, and King plans to meet with him later today. Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, speaking this morning to the Iowans who’re attending the convention, suggests G.O.P. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — the Alaska Governor — might be the best person to face down Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia.
“You know she has been a hunter all her life. Her father taught her and she ontinues to hunt with her family today. Some of you may have seen the pictures coming out of Russia of what the Russians at least say was Prime Minister Putin shooting a tiger with a tranquilizer gun, this tiger supposedly threatening Putin’s hunting party, and they gave Putin credit for bringing the tiger down,” Bolton said. “Putin is now number two in Russia, you know, he’s not president anymore. He’s only the prime minister. Well, think after Governor Palin becomes our number two, our vice president, maybe she and Prime Minister Putin could have a hunting contest and we’ll just see who wins that.”
The Iowans cheered, whistled and got to the feet to applaud.