Editor's comment
Named after Bush
03 December, 2015
Any time I am on my way to Tbilisi Airport together with another guest of mine, and pass the huge mural portrait of George Walker Bush, the visitor is usually asking me why there is such a big picture of America’s 43rd president at the beginning of the road, taking us to our destination. My American friends happen to be especially surprised – they cannot simply perceive why there should be a giant photo of their not very popular former
chief executive in the streets of Georgia’s capital city when there are none(?) in America itself. They probably think that Georgians are trying to be more Catholic than the Pope himself. The junior Bush’s portrait should be a rare thing even in his native state of Texas, where he used to be governor for quite a while. The question I am faced with is not easy to answer, and as a result, I am usually mumbling something justifying the weird fact under my breath. Well, Bush visited Georgia in 2005 as a special guest of then-Georgian president. Expressing our complete benevolence and gratitude towards America for the much-needed strategic partnership and timely economic assistance, the Georgian authorities of that time made a diplomatic decision to name one of the biggest roads of Tbilisi after President Bush, Jr. He was bestowed a royal reception in Georgia with cheering crowds in the streets and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the visit. People then understood correctly and tolerantly the agreeable governmental gesture of giving Bush’s name to one of the most traffic-rich highways in Tbilisi. After all, we have always been used to naming streets after politicians – this was one of the characteristic features of Soviet-style life. Later, things developed in a little different way. They say George W. Bush was instrumental in helping Georgia in the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, in consequence of which Russia had recognized the two secessionist autonomous republics of Georgia. This was a real territorial catastrophe, which might not have any favorable solution for Georgia for a very long time to come or maybe never, for that matter. Whether Bush used to be helpful or not, the final result was destructive for Georgia – we lost our last hope to snatch our lands back from Russia’s hard and painful grip. Bush’s significance faded away, especially after the end of his presidential term, but his toponymic presence in Georgia has received a firm perpetuity. Deservedly, not deservedly – who knows! At that time it was thought that the idea was good enough to have been put to practice, but currently, it sounds bizarre as a minimum. Some might ask, why not Washington or Lincoln, or Roosevelt? We also have Reagan’s bust in town. I don’t really know how relevant this is, but he is right there, in the city’s rather conspicuous spot. And again, why not other American presidents – those whose names are more internationally and historically recognized? I am myself an American citizen and I am also a registered member of the American Republican Party, but President Carter’s statue would have been more in place in Georgia – he is Georgian after all, American Georgian though, and in his time, the two Georgias were exceptionally friendly via Tbilisi-Atlanta sister city interactions. Just for information, hundreds if not thousands of mutual family visits took place between the two Georgias. As part of the project, I have even worked for one of Atlanta’s TV stations. My family and I had a special invitation to President Carter’s house where we spent the entire day, and I have to say that Jimmy was extremely loyal to Georgia and its future economic development, based on intensive family-to-familygeotv.ge exchanges, and business relationships on the go. You see, Jimmy Carter was very helpful in considering Georgia as America’s friend, but his images are nowhere to be found in Tbilisi. Unfair! Unfair! Now what should we do with the Bush portrait and the highway named after him? We will probably have to leave them as they are because taking them out would not be appreciated by most observers. So we are stuck with it forever, me thinks! We are at least luckier than Russians who are forever stuck with Lenin’s remains (!) in the Moscow’s Red Square mausoleum. Why do they need the poor man there? Seriously! Why does this make sense to Russians? This is the question of the century. I am married to a Russian lady – a pure Muscovite – and in an attempt to answer my question she only shrugs her shoulders in bewilderment. Some decisions that we the regular humans are making, especially the politicians, are becoming awfully difficult – and delicate – to digest and make sense of them in the long run. It is awful that we often have to take pains to alter the consequences of our previous decisions. And it is awful because those changes make us expend a lot of resources, time and energy which we need for doing other, more useful things. Because of those inevitable alterations, we are getting distracted from attending to other exigencies that are sitting at our doorstep. So why can’t we be more thoughtful and farsighted so that we could avoid those unnecessary inconveniences? I know that it takes some smarts to use, but I would rather appertain this to our disability of thinking better. Thinking!