Bush’s farewell gift for Obama
After eight years in power as arguably the least liked U.S. president ever, George W. Bush refuses to go down quietly. In a flurry of activity, Bush and his administration are doggedly pushing through what are known as «11th hour regulations». 11th hour regulations are thus called because the outgoing U.S. president can sign them into law with immediate effect – while the incoming administration will need months, if not years, to overrule and cancel them.
Bush's 11th hour regulations lifting protection of endangered wildlife and allowing doctors to refuse medical care that they find to be “morally objectionable” are already causing an outcry.
Not content with just having his way at home, the “lame duck” president also wants to leave his last mark on the global arena.
Sources are telling RT that the Bush administration is now putting its foot on the gas to effectively get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO through the back door.
After other members of the alliance resisted Washington's call to give Tbilisi and Kiev the Membership Action Plan, several U.S. officials announced they are looking at other ways to get their allies into the military block.
RT's political commentator Peter Lavelle says, “This is not to get them into NATO, per se, but to give them extra security guarantees, which the United States is going to intermingle probably with its other NATO obligations. So, not only is it really something different, it's even more complicated. And I'm sure NATO members are going to be very upset with this – again going behind their back, doing it in a unilateral way.”
It is not clear how far the outgoing administration is prepared to go in its plans to keep both countries in its sphere of influence, but a planned significant increase in military aid to Georgia in particular did not go unnoticed in Moscow.
The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made it crystal clear: “We need to prevent any support for attempts to re-militarize Georgia. We can see such attempts taking place now and this has been mentioned by Mikhail Saakashvili himself. Unfortunately we hear of Washington promising to re-arm Georgia and restore its military potential.”
Both Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko are facing a slump in approval ratings in their respective countries, and both were among the staunchest supporters of the occupation of Iraq, sending their military contingents at the request of the U.S.
Moreover, both Saakashvili and Yushchenko like to flaunt their “personal rapport” with George W. Bush, with the former going as far as to name one of the capital Tbilisi's main avenues after his American friend and mentor.
“George Bush is doing a lot for the development of democracy in the world”, Saakashvili famously opined at the time.
With the world decisively refusing to appreciate Bush's input on democracy building, and Obama inheriting the fruits of his eight year rule, relations with the U.S. are not likely to be as chummy as Saakashvili and Yushchenko are used to. So they are counting on a midnight gift in the form of an 11th hour regulation.
An Obama spokesman remarked recently that his boss “will review all 11th hour regulations and will address them once he is president.”