Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

August 13, 2008, 8:55, 9:35 a.m.

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Georgia on My Mind

In Iowa, when you mention "Washington," the response is often, "Do you mean Washington state, or Washington, Iowa?" (a town to the south of Iowa City). On the east coast the assumption is you mean Washington, D.C.

Similarly, until this past week, any American's reference to "Georgia" would be either to the State of Georgia or the state song, "Georgia on My Mind" ("Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind").

But the Georgia on my mind this morning is the country far away, the country with Tbilisi as its capital, recently involved in a struggle with the Russian Army, that hopefully will soon be ended with a cease fire that will hold. See, e.g., Ellen Barry, "Georgia Says Russian Attack Continues in Spite of Accord," New York Times, August 13, 2008.

I'm always a little put off by those who, after a two-day, or two-week, visit to a place (whether in the U.S. or abroad) radiate the impression of deep understanding of the people, place and its problems. So I'm not about to suggest that. (For as good a general background as any, see CIA, "The World Factbook," Georgia.)

But I did spend a very full week or more there ten years ago, attempting to assist the Georgian people's struggle for freedom and democracy insofar as it involved their efforts to rethink their mass media policies.

Today's issues -- Russia's hostility, its enclaves in
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the oil pipeline -- were present then.

So many foreign relations issues -- for all countries -- seem to come back to oil.

But in this case, even more significant are potential future natural gas pipelines. Oil can be put in ocean tankers, rail cars, trucks or barrels. Pipelines, however efficient, aren't the only means of moving it around. The natural gas Europe needs, on the other hand, is usually dependent on pipelines. Which puts Georgia back in the middle of an East-West tug-of-war once again.

No people more deserve to live out their democracy in peace, to see the benefits of their labors, than the Georgians. So my heart goes out to them, and the, what, 15,000, who are now displaced as a result of the recent war.

But as my thoughts drifted back this morning to that earlier time, the friendly, hopeful, courageous and well-educated people with whom I was dealing, their rich cultural traditions, their sense of fun and humor (see "tg013.jpg," below) -- and the short supplies of electricity, with gasoline generators lining the sidewalks outside local businesses, and blood in the street from what was then the most recent assassination attempt -- I set off in search of what I recalled once uploading to some Internet site upon my return.

How I wrote so much in such a short time is beyond both my imagination and ability now, but because it may be of interest to someone reading this blog at this time it is linked below -- along with reference material from others.

Nicholas Johnson, "Georgia's Media Future: Options and Opportunities for the Third Millennium," Chapter 17 in Laura Lengel, ed., Culture @nd Technology in the New Europe: Civic Discourse in Transformation in Post-Communist Nations (Stamford: Ablex Publishing 2000) (posted August 22, 2000).

Nicholas Johnson, " Georgia's Media Future: A Personal View of Options and Opportunities," March 12, 2008.

Nicholas Johnson, "A Hasty History of U.S. Broadcast Regulation," Transcript of extemporaneous remarks delivered at the Seminar on Proposed Broadcast Legislation
Organized by the American Bar Association, Internews, National Democratic Institute and Open Society Georgia Foundation, Republican Hearing Room, Parliament of Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia, February 27, 1998.

"Comments of Nicholas Johnson on The Law of Georgia on Broadcasting: Proposed Law of the Parliament of Georgia, March 23, 1998."

"Comments of Nicholas Johnson on the Freedom of Information Proposed Law of the Parliament of Georgia, As translated from Georgian to English by the National Democratic Institute, February 24, 1998,"
March 17, 1998.

"Comments of Nicholas Johnson on The Proposed Creation of a Public Broadcasting System for Georgia," March 24, 1998.

"Transcript of Lynn Grantz' Interview of Nicholas Johnson on 'Weekly News in English,'" TV7, Tbilisi, Georgia, March 1, 1998, 8:00 p.m. (rebroadcast March 2, 1998, 9:00 a.m.).

Nicholas Johnson and Virtual Someone, "Anticipating the Issues in Georgia's Broadcast Legislation," March 30, 1998.

"List of Participants: Seminar on Proposed Broadcast Legislation," Organized by the American Bar Association, Internews, National Democratic Institute and Open Society Georgia Foundation, Republican Hearing Room, Parliament of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia
February 27, 1998.

Photos (13) at plus "tg001.jpg," "tg002.jpg," etc., through "tg013.jpg" (subjects unidentified). (Georgian soldiers resting on an armored vehicle in downtown Tbilisi are pictured in "tg004.jpg.")

Giga Bokeria, Givi Targamadze, Levan Ramishvili, "Georgian Media in the 90s: A Step to Liberty," Tbilisi, 1997.

"Georgia 'On Freedom of Information,'"
(draft legislation), February 24, 1998.

Marta Cullberg Weston, et al, "Georgia On Our Minds: Report of a Fact-Finding Mission to the Republic of Georgia," July 1994 .

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