America’s top military official, Gen. John Shalikashvili, told leaders on a visit Monday to his ancestral homeland that stability in the post-Cold War world will take at least a decade to take shape.
Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Georgia’s defense minister, ate lunch with leader Eduard Shevardnadze and had an emotional audience with Orthodox religious leader Patriarch Ilya II.
“It took nearly a decade from the end of World War II to establish the security structures for the world, and it’s going to take every bit as long to build the structures necessary for the new world order,” Shalikashvili said.
But he quickly departed from politics to pay homage to his Georgian roots.
“I’m sure today my father is looking down from heaven and must feel very happy to see his two sons on Georgian soil,” said Shalikashvili, who was accompanied on the visit by his brother Othar.
Their father, Dmitri, was a wartime collaborator with the Nazis, a history that created controversy when the general faced confirmation for his current post.
Shalikashvili’s visit to the troubled former Soviet republic is billed by both Georgian and U.S. officials as “90 percent personal.”
The most important aspect of his visit, he told reporters, “is simply to be here on the land where my father was born.”
But his arrival on a large U.S. transport plane and his meetings with top officials give the visit a distinctly official flavor.
Today, he planned to visit his family’s home region of Kakhetia, and on Wednesday, he will fly to Ukraine, to oversee joint U.S.Ukrainian maneuvers.
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