For Europe-watchers in this country, there has been a question that increasingly is asked as the Georgia crisis evolves and plays out: why is the United States increasingly turning to the 27-nation European Union for leadership in settling the clash between Russia and Georgia, instead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in which the U.S. plays a major role.
Yesterday, one day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced she was headed to Paris to discuss with French President (and current EU President) Nicolas Sarkozy his plan for a Georgia ceasefire, that’s precisely what I asked the President’s top spokeswoman.
“We are talking to NATO as well,” Press Secretary Dana Perino told me at the gaggle (early morning briefing for White House reporters) on Thursday. “There’s a lot of overlap there.”
Along those lines, Perino pointed out that the President had a telephone call in the morning with Lithuanian President Valdus Adamkus, whose country is a member of both the EU and NATO (which has 26 members). But she also insisted that is was “proper” to go to Sarkozy, the current president of the EU. Perino did not explain why this was the proper procedure rather than to begin instead with NATO Secretary General Joop de Haap Scheffer of the Netherlands.
When I asked if the Administration was keeping the NATO head “in the loop” on its dealings with Georgia, Perino said “We’ll get back to you on that.” As we went to press, I had not heard back from the press secretary.