No one will notice how the Bush administration kisses these dictators on both cheeks except the people who live there–or near there–or around there. Only a quarter-billion or so Muslims. That’s what makes it such terribly dangerous politics.
Okay, I admit the nickname The Thumb is my own invention,
selected for the inarguable reason that Nazarbayev has the people of
Kazakhstan as ‘under’ as his thumb will allow.
Which is considerable for this blast-furnace operator turned
communist figurehead-of-the-moment in 1990. Since then, it’s been
sixteen years of clear sailing. He’s stolen and corrupted and intimidated
his way to successive ‘elections’ in the former Soviet satellite of
some 15 million. These subjects of his are all citizens of one of the
more lively ‘wild-east’ stans that make up a politically and
energy-rich group of increasing interest to Washington.
Interesting enough to rate a dinner at the White House, a pull out
the stops celebration between oil-needer and oil-producer. Heady stuff,
Rumsfeld and Cheney are among The Thumb’s
most earnest supporters. As you may have noticed, when Don and Dick
speak, George listens. Unfortunately, so do a growing number of
repressed citizens in the stans who once looked to America for support
and a hint of some level of freedom they might attain, down the road.
Way, way down the road by the look of it.
Now, lest I be charged with unfair accusations against the incumbent
Republican nutcases who are running our government, let me freely admit
that Democrats have been their equal. Washington is, if nothing else,
an equal-opportunity nutcase environment.
Rumsfeld met with the President of Turkmenistan, a guy by the unfamiliar name of Saparmurat ‘Turkmenbashi” Niyazov in 2002. The Don pumped his hand and thanked him for his strong support of humanitarian aid to neighboring Afghanistan. The President is known in his country (by decree) as “Serdar Turkmenbashi” which means “Great Leader of all Turkmen.”
Rummy noted (wink, wink) that Turkmenistan can also play a positive
role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, which will require strong
international cooperation and suitcases of unmarked bills.
Secretary Rumsfeld lauded the success of the International Military
Education and Training (IMET) program, which has sent about twenty
military officers from Turkmenistan to the U.S. There, they learn the
latest black arts necessary for Great Leader’s Democracy in similar programs from which the Shah’s (of Iran) goons graduated.
Not to leave Rummy to do all the heavy lifting, Cheney, back in May had dinner with The Thumb on his home turf in Astana, the Kazakh capital. “Me want meet Bushman,” he insisted, when the negotiating got tight. “Done,” the
Cheneyman replied. Wetting his pants over their 3 million barrel a day
oil output, Dick had this to say when asked about Kazakh attention to
“I have previously expressed my
admiration for what has transpired here in Kazakhstan over the past 15
years, both in terms of economic development as well as political
Which is interesting. The Thumb
won a third six-year term in December 2005, with 91 percent of the vote
in an election that international observers said was flawed. Two
opposition politicians have been murdered in six months, raising the
Cheney standards of admiration from questionable to “I’ll take mine with two sugars, thanks.”
Which merely goes to prove we have learned a lot about smart-bombs
and not very much about smart-diplomacy in the days since 9-11. Between
Great Leader and The Thumb, Bush will have neatly pissed-off an additional 15 million Muslims.
Citizens of the two particular ‘stans’ Dick and Don so much admire have
had driven home to them the clearest of examples, that in
American-style games of chance, oil trumps political murder.
Dick Cheney expressing his admiration for a chump-change blast-furnace operator like The Thumb is inexpressibly ignorant on the one hand and mired in pay-off and murder on
the other. Allowing (in fact, promoting) America to remain mired, is to
prevent its being admired for (no doubt) decades to come.
And that is the danger these incompetents do to the country
they claim to serve. An inept administration is something to be gotten
over and put behind us. We’ve had them before, suffered through and
regained our balance as a nation. To approve or not approve of the
domestic politics because it is insufficiently conservative or not
adequately liberal, is to join the decades and centuries of contentious
debate–essentially what America is all about. We thrive on and are at
our best during such philosophic argument.
But to honor thieves and murderers within the White House to achieve
a mere dishonest veneer of what, at best, is short-term self-interest
and to do that at the expense, sullying and corruption of American
ideals, is treason.
The Thumb visited the Bush White House in 2001
— before the Justice Department filed a case in 2003 alleging that he had taken bribes and before the president issued a 2004 proclamation banning corrupt foreign officials from visiting the United States.
A State Department official said hundreds of foreign officials have
been denied visas under Bush’s proclamation but could not explain how
it would not apply in The Thumb’s case. There must have been a signing statement.
Bush, in the company of his smiling enablers, Vice President Richard
Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has chosen to honor those who have no honor. He has chosen
to spit in the face of democracy within Turkmenistan and Kazakhistan,
while trashing the very fabric of Iraq under the rhetoric of democratic progress.
He’ll get away with it at home, where no one knows the ‘stans’ and their politics. America will pay a price and a price and a price after the men who so disingenuously flushed America’s reputation down the toilet have left office.
Other commentary from the media;