After Signing New Lobbying Contract, Scheunemann Riles Georgians With Tough Talk

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August 14, 2008 1:20 p.m.

For those you wondering how Georgia came to believe that the U.S. might come to their rescue in case of war with the Russians, we found something pretty interesting.

Here’s an interview that Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy advisor, gave to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty back in April, which is posted on a Georgia government Web site.

And note the date — April 28, 2008. That’s less than two weeks after Scheunemann’s lobbying firm, Orion Strategies, had signed a new $200,000 lobbying contract with Georgia’s National Security Council.

At no point in the interview does Sheunemann mention that he was Georgia’s primary lobbyist in Washington for several years.

I think what is most important, first and foremost, is to have Western unity in the face of the latest Russian undermining of Georgian sovereignty. Traditionally, we have seen that the Russians will push and push until they meet opposition. And what they need to understand is that all European countries and the United States are united in opposing the latest Russian moves, which is really the culmination of years of what they’ve been doing, undermining Georgian sovereignty.

The reason, I think, that there’s been such support for years on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Congress, as well as support through successive administrations, for Georgia is not because Georgia has resources — as you point out, Georgia is relatively resource poor — it is because, in particular since the Rose Revolution, that the Georgian example has inspired Americans and American leaders in their dedication to democracy, their willingness to take risks for democracy, the tremendous reforms that the Saakashvili government has put in place.

It’s really about shared values, and it’s something that Senator McCain feels particularly deeply. He’s been to Georgia, I think, three or four times and witnessed the legendary Georgian hospitality on those occasions, and it had a deep and lasting impact on him that will continue.

Obviously, the government of Georgia thought these sentiments would play well to its domestic audience, or else the transcript would not be on the government Web site. And whatever message was relayed from Washington to Tbilisi over the past few years, Sheunemann was a primary messenger.

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