Obama On Weapons To Georgia: Not So Fast
President Obama has said he will treat as non-binding a law calling on him to "normalize" defense relations with Georgia, including selling defensive weapons to Tbilisi. In a presidential signing statement* first reported by Civil.ge, Obama said that Section 1242 of the defense authorization bill, the part dealing with Georgia, would interfere with his authority to carry out foreign policy:
Sections 1231, 1240, 1241, and 1242 could be read to require the disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications and national security secrets; and sections 1235, 1242, and 1245 would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with foreign governments. Like section 1244, should any application of these provisions conflict with my constitutional authorities, I will treat the provisions as non-binding.
When the bill was passed by Congress, it was a bit of a mystery why Moscow wasn't going ballistic (metaphorically) over it and Tbilisi wasn't gloating. This may be the answer. U.S. diplomats probably were telling their interlocutors: "We don't intend to actually do this." So, it looks like Georgia, in its effort to get a hold of some new American weapons, is back to square one.
*If you're not familiar with signing statements, they're basically an extra-legal way for the president to tell Congress "Thanks for the advice, but no."