Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Washington Post Columnist: Bush Befriends Corrupt Governments

April 24, 2006

Soon President Bush will be welcoming someone who Washington Post writer Jackson Diehl dubbed in an editorial “the autocratic and corrupt but friendly ruler,” Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

Diehl called this welcome a tipping point, writing:

“At the heart of Bush's democracy doctrine was the principle that the United States would abandon its Cold War-era practice of propping up dictators -- especially in the Muslim world -- in exchange for easy access to their energy resources and military cooperation. That bargain, we now know, played a major role in the emergence of al-Qaeda and other extremist anti-Western movements.”

“To his credit, the reelected Bush made a genuine stab at a different strategy last year in Azerbaijan and another Muslim country, Kazakhstan. Both resemble Iran or Iraq half a century ago. They are rapidly modernizing, politically unsettled, and about to become very, very rich from oil and gas.”

Diehl continued:

“Both Aliyev and [Kazakhstan’s Nursultan] Nazarbayev made token efforts to please Bush. But both dismally failed to demonstrate that they were willing to liberalize their countries rather than using oil wealth to consolidate dictatorship. The State Department said of Aliyev's parliamentary elections, ‘there were major irregularities and fraud.’ Nazarbayev's election was worse. Since then, two of Nazarbayev's opponents have died or been murdered in suspicious circumstances. Three of Aliyev's foes are being tried this month on treason charges, and his biggest rival has been jailed.”
“Aliyev is nevertheless getting everything he might have hoped for from Bush. Aid is being boosted, the Pentagon is drawing up plans for extensive military cooperation -- and there is the White House visit, which the 44-year-old Azeri president has craved ever since he took over from his dad three years ago. If Nazarbayev chooses, he will be next. He has been offered not just a Washington tour but a reciprocal visit by Bush to Kazakhstan.”
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