Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

In a letter to the editor published Jan. 21, John C. Kornblum faults the Fletcher School for hiring former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as the school’s first Senior Statesman. Kornblum’s letter contained some surprising contradictions.

First, Kornblum accuses Saakashvili of engaging in a neo-Soviet style crackdown against his political opponents, but then he admits that an election went forward and ousted Saakashvili from power. Russians would be lucky to live under such a crackdown! If so, Vladimir Putin would be long gone. Instead, he’s president for life.

Second, while faulting the Fletcher School for failing to acknowledge that Saakashvili wasn’t a perfect leader, Kornblum offers readers an entirely one-sided depiction of Saakashvili’s rival Bidzina Ivanishvili, Kornblum’s former employer. But a Google search will readily reveal a dark side at least the equal of Saakashvili’s. For instance, a November 2012 Washington Post editorial said that Ivanishvili should, “not be welcome in Washington” because of the Stalin-like wave of arrests he engaged in after winning power. The Economist expressed similar sentiments.

Finally, Kornblum doesn’t even try to acknowledge any of Saakashvili’s virtues. Under his leadership, Georgia has outscored Russia on a number of key international evaluations for democracy and economics, and it has seen the kind of political transition that Russia has never experienced. Facing incredible pressure and opposition from his giant neighbor, which included the lawless annexation of big chunks of Georgian territory in 2008, Saakashvili kept Georgia on track towards democracy, and any student would be lucky to spend time hearing his thrilling insights about his time in power.



Kim Zigfeld

Columnist for the American Thinker and PJ Media websites