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.