The foreign leader's commitment to representative democracy, civil and political liberties, and free enterprise is neither here nor there, except insofar as departures from these American shibboleths can be used as an excuse for military or economic confrontation. The book would then juxtapose similar leaders, asking why one has been demonized and the other left to do as he pleases, within the bounds established by the collective bottom lines of Wall Street. Eduard Shevardnadze, the Georgian president recently ousted by a US-backed putsch, would be compared to the Aliyev dynasty in neighboring Azerbaijan, whose commitment to free and fair elections has been no stronger than Sheverdnadze's.
James Baker III, former Secretary of State, travelled to Georgia to warn Shevardnadze to hold free and fair elections, in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, last month. Baker, mover-and-shaker, and Bush family go-to-guy, is head of his family law firm, Baker Botts which "has been and continues to be the leading international law firm involved in the re-emergence of the oil, gas and related hydrocarbon transportation industries in the Caspian region," according to the firm's Web site.
The oil, gas and hydrocarbons of the Caspian are slated to travel by pipeline through Azerbaijan and Georgia, skirting Russia, bound for Turkey and Western Europe, adding to the prestige, power and profits of Baker Botts and its corporate clients. But then Aliyev was doing his part to help out the re-emergence of the oil, gas and related hydrocarbon transportation industries in the Caspian region. So too was Shevernadze, up until shortly after he had been award the Averill Harriman Democracy Award by the US National Democratic Institute for having "taken to democracy with the zeal of a convert.
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These days, members of the Bush cabinet have been insisting on Georgia's territorial integrity, another way of saying Washington won't tolerate South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Adzharia, three separatist regions of Georgia, exercising self-determination, a much different attitude to self-determination than it expressed when it was encouraging the republics of the former Yugoslavia to secede.
Of course, it's in the interests of Baker Bott and the US energy companies it represents for Georgia -- a vital link in its pipeline plans -- to remain intact. A fractured Yugoslavia has been kinder to American business interests. We might also want to compare the leaders of Saudi Arabia, to Saddam Hussein. Much has been made of Saddam's brutality and Iraq's lamentable record on civil and political liberties, but Saudi Arabia, a human rights monstrosity which is only now taking its first tentative steps toward a limited, wimpy democracy, gets a pass.
Washington and the rich members of the British Commonwealth - Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada - like Obasanjo, despite the Nigerian president's involvement in widespread vote rigging. Human Rights Watch complains of "persistent violence, corruption and poverty" and "extrajudicial killings.
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Sounds like the complaints made against Mugabe. Except Obasanjo hasn't told the IMF to get stuffed, and nor has he tried to cut the Gordian knot of land reform by violating that most sacrosanct of principles: private property even if the property was stolen in the first place. Plus, Nigeria has a lot of oil, which Obasanjo seems perfectly willing to let US firms exploit for the greater good of shareholder value, while ordinary Nigerians slip deeper into poverty.
One thing's for sure.
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Pressman Vitamins and Minerals Ask Dr. Watson Aronia. Wording Edition. What is MDS?
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