Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nursultan “The Thumb” Nazarbayev Gets the Bush Red Carpet

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, that.
Cheneyrumsfeld_2 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.
Turkmenstatue 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.
Cheneykazakhpres 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 democracy;
"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 development."
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.
George 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;

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