03 September 2008
Cheney in Baku: Kindred Spirits?
The Vice-President is visiting Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Republic in the strategic Caspian region. While there, he'll meet with oil executives and the nation's president, Ilham Aliev. I'd like to see the Bushies gild this turd; Aliev basically inherited the country from his dad, a KGB goon on the Putin model who ended up on top when the USSR fell. Yes, there was an election, but critics call it rigged, and since then Aliev has hardly been a champion of civil liberties. But in American eyes he'll probably become a flaming freedom-lover compared to Putin, because to the extent that he dares define Russia, he upholds American freedom of action in the region, while Russia is self-evidently an enemy of freedom because they challenge our freedom there. Most likely there'll be pressure exerted on Aliev to at least act more democratic, to say the right words the way Saakashvili does, so that Americans can swallow him being on our side, i.e. the side the pipeline will run on. Some Americans are honest enough to admit that the new Cold War in the Caspian-Caucasus region is exactly about oil, but the real cynics are bound to appeal to American idealism like they always do. So don't be surprised to learn all about Aliev's hard, slow struggle to build a post-Soviet civil society with a commitment to liberty. My guess is that the better they make him look, the greater the danger for us if we believe them.