Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan, feel overwhelmed but still trying to grasp big picture, thanks for staying informed with Georgia, etc

Expand full comment

I think it's a really inspired idea to sanction the current leaders in the Georgian Dream Party. Then the EU should put Georgia's membership application on hold until new democratic measures are put in place and Michael Sakashvili is released from prison and given urgent medical care. Is the US or EU ambassador to Georgia able to put any pressure on this autocratic government?

Expand full comment

something very concrete that could be done -- get Facebook to suspend the accounts of key leaders of this repressive course for 180 days. This is long enough to have an impact, but as a measure is also proportional and allows them a path back.

Those that assault Georgia's freedom would lose a core tool that they use for harassment and intimidation. That this is a kind of broad assault on the constitutional order is clear -- there are coordinated attacks and beatings of people from opposition and civil society. Individuals are called and threatened, as are their family members including children. Their houses are marked with graffiti and posters alleging they are traitors. A former Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior pointed out that from the pattern it is clear that state authorities participate in this. Afterwards, authorities use Facebook to spin a totally different story. (It is known that state employees are harrassed to "like" and promote aggressive government narratives also, and are threatened with firing if they don't.)

A 180-day suspension of key figures would have a *massive* impact in Georgia, disabling a key instrument of harassment. The authoritarians would seek to reconstitute, but it would take time and effort. Suspending various pages of the Georgian Dream Party; its actively harassing Imedi TV mouthpiece; the top 10 individuals engaging in harassment (often senior gov vilifying a single citizen by name), and possibly even the pages of all MPs voting for this repressive law -- that would be a very powerful signal. (Courts and all sorts of other institutions, incl election commission, have long been captured.)

I can already hear all the people coming with various objections. Yet "Community Standards" should be there to protect citizens, not to leave them subject to harassment and even repression. If the standards are not entirely there yet on this, they need to evolve. (The prism of the First Amendment also has limited applicability.)

If you are on the ground, it is abundantly clear that Georgian citizens are under a massive assault, as is Georgia's constitutional order. Facebook, in my view, would be well within its rights to suspend accounts that actively engage in undermining a country's democracy.

As you are at Stanford, this is something where you, Ambassador McFaul, could perhaps "help Georgia's Democrats before it's too late", by seeing whether one can reach out to Facebook in one way or another.

Expand full comment

Doesn't supplying weapons and technology to Russia = China's endorsement of Russia's war on Ukraine? Genuine question, not being argumentative. Maybe they don't verbally endorse Russia, but actions speak louder than words.

Expand full comment