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During both the Bush and Clinton years, the White House argued that the United States should “engage” with governments in the Caspian region, saying that such a strategy would do far more to promote democracy than pressuring Caspian regimes about human rights. Of course, American pressure on human rights might also threaten U.S. access to energy reserves in countries like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, though that was rarely mentioned.
And guess what? The strategy was a total failure, which shouldn’t come as a great surprise since “engagement” hasn’t worked well anywhere as a force for democracy, viz Saudi Arabia and China. In 2007, a year after Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazerbayev (in power since his country was a Soviet Socialist Republic) visited with George W. Bush at the White House, lawmakers in Kazakhstan waived term limits, paving the way for “president-for-life” status. And now Azerbaijan has gone down the same path:
Election officials in Azerbaijan said Thursday that citizens had overwhelmingly voted to scrap presidential term limits in a referendum boycotted by the opposition in the oil-rich country courted by Russia and the West.
The result opens the door for indefinite rule by President Ilham Aliyev in the Caspian Sea nation that critics say is closer to a monarchy than a democracy. The Central Election Commission reported 92 percent of voters approving the referendum, with 71 percent turnout
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”