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Now Hillary Clinton is offering precisely the same service. Just yesterday she met with the president of Turkmenistan, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the Stalinist dictator and former personal dentist to the country’s last Stalinist dictator. Check out this section from the State Department’s most recent report on human rights in Turkmenistan:
Human rights problems included citizens’ inability to change their government; torture and mistreatment of detainees; incommunicado and prolonged detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; house arrest; denial of due process and fair trial; arbitrary interference with privacy, home, and correspondence; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association.
Other than those minor issues, the place is a thriving democracy.
When asked by a reporter if human rights had come up in the discussions between Clinton and the Turkmen dictator, assistant secretary of state Robert Blake, Jr. replied: “It does come up. It’s just in these [bilateral talks], we’ve got kind of – we’ve only got a certain amount of time, and so we touch on the most important things. And human rights is not as big an issue in Turkmenistan as it is in some of the other Central Asian countries.”
The important things, Blake left clear, were energy cooperation and Turkmen support for the U.S. in Afghanistan, including overflight rights. When the Bush administration welcomed dictators, it at least pretended that human rights were an issue of concern. The Obama administration appears to have thrown out the pretense.
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
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature