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Saakashvili honors Lieberman for bringing ‘Joe-mentum’ to Georgia’s cause

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is in town for the Richard Holbrooke memorial today at the Kennedy Center, honored Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on Wednesday night for his support of Georgia following their 2008 war with Russia. In a dinner and ceremony held at the Georgetown Club, Saakashvili awarded Lieberman the Saint George’s Victory Order, ...

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Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is in town for the Richard Holbrooke memorial today at the Kennedy Center, honored Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on Wednesday night for his support of Georgia following their 2008 war with Russia.

In a dinner and ceremony held at the Georgetown Club, Saakashvili awarded Lieberman the Saint George’s Victory Order, which is awarded to individuals who have significantly contributed to victorious battles. Previous American recipients include Holbrooke, President George W. Bush, and then Senator Joe Biden.

Lieberman flew to Georgia in August 2008 just a few days after the Russian-Georgian ceasefire was reached, together with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). They were both involved in the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain, who famously declared, "We are all Georgians," was awarded the Order of the National Hero of Georgia in 2008.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Lieberman spoke about the continuing bond between the U.S. and Georgia and called for a deepening defense partnership. He also emphasized the importance of continuing democratic reform in Georgia in order to advance its transatlantic future.

"Every step that Georgia takes towards greater democracy and rule of law is also a step towards greater security," he said.

Lieberman also spoke about the role Georgian troops are playing in Afghanistan, and thanked Saakashvili and his government for the service and sacrifice of Georgia’s military alongside U.S. troops.

But Lieberman didn’t receive a gold-plated revolver recovered from a Russian soldier, as McCain did.

Also in attendance at the dinner were Georgian ambassador to the U.S. Batu Kutelia, Georgian minister of economy and development Vera Kobalia, and Raphael Glucksmann, one of Saakashvili’s closest advisors and son of French philosopher Andre Glucksmann.

Lieberman brought his neighbors and their son to the dinner. Also Ken Wollack, president of National Democratic Institute, Steve Nix, regional director of Eurasia for International Republican Institute, and Orion Strategies’ Randy Scheunemann attended.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin