The Coming Catastrophe of Central Asia, Part I

Turkmenistan’s president, Saparmurat Niyazov, former party chairman under the Soviets – the same party continues to dominate Turkmenistan’s politics today – has changed his name to Akbar Turkmenbashy, which means “Great Father of all Turkmen.” And his megalomania is not limited to his renaming the town of Krasnovodsk after himself. His portrait appears on the country’s currency, on bottles of vodka, on packets of tea. Everywhere we went, driving across Turkmenistan, Niyazov stared down on us from statues and from posters that read: ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION, ONE TURKMENBASHY. …

Niyazov’s cult of personality was in evidence everywhere we looked. On Turkmen television, from the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, his face stared out at the viewer around the clock. It was only by way of significant pressure exerted by the international community that he was prevented from placing his face on his country’s flag. …

Entering Ashkhabad, one passes a line of twenty hotels, all of them brand new, all of them financed by money borrowed from the West, all of them empty. The country is bankrupt, the currency is collapsing, and Turkmenbashy is building monuments to the nation’s various bureaucracies, the Oil Ministry Hotel, the Agriculture Ministry Hotel…

The one good highway in the country – perfectly flat, asphalt, beautiful – is the road Turkmenbashy takes to work from one of the two palaces in which he lives. The country has a spectacular airport but little air traffic in or out, just twenty-five airplanes sitting there empty. Driving into town from the airport, one drives down a well-maintained road lined with fountains on either sided. The houses built along this route have no water when dignitaries drive by – which is when the fountains are turned on. And two blocks behind those houses, behind the faced they represent, the neighborhood is a slum, a Soviet-style disaster. …

In the middle of town, the visitir to Ashkabad comes upon a huge monument, a 246-foot arch, on top of which stands a solid gold statue of Turkmenbashy. The statue rotates, so that the great father of all Turkmen can maintain a perpetual vigil, surveying his entire domain, his arms always pointing to the sun.

Every member of the Turkmen legislature and of the Council of Ministers owns a Mercedes that was given to him by Turkmenbashy. None, however, has a Mercedes S600, which in Central Asia represents the top of the line. Only one such model has been allowed into the country: the car given by Mercedes=Benz of Germany to Turkmenbashy himself, as a kind of thank-you for all the foreign aid money the Turkmen president has funneled the company’s way. You and I provide Turkmenbashy (and by extension Mercedes) this money by way of our various taxes – all in the name of promoting democracy and in actual support of the politics of petrochemicals. This nation of five million people, under the thumb of an absolute dictator, is rich with deposits of natural gas. And we keep feeding this megalomaniac money in the hope that someday he will let us extract it.

Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers

As US Looks to Dump Iraqi Council, US Guards Kill One of Its Leaders

Occupation Officials, angered and disappointed by their own hand-picked Iraqi Governing Council, let it be known that they are looking to dump the council.

Within hours of the release of this story, it was announced that US guards shot and killed the leader of the local Baghdad US-appointed Council, Muhammed Kaabi. American and Iraqi witnesses had differing versions of the shooting.

More stories are appearing about the US looking to dump the Council, but very few details have emerged so far about the shooting.

Oh, Iraq Will Be Like Germany, Alright

Ralph Peters gulps the Ipecac of political correctness and vomits some lovely reflections on the perpetual collective guilt of Germans. For more on this phenomenon, read Paul Gottfried’s “Hating the Krauts.”

A slightly more benign version of Peters’ view holds that Germans aren’t eternally guilty of Nazi crimes, they’re just eternally responsible for them. Uh, OK. I’ll let Jeff Jarvis explain the difference (oh, wait–he can’t).

Take note, Iraqis. You can expect to spend the rest of your political/ethnic existence grovelling before the Kurds, Israelis, and Americans for the crimes of Saddam Hussein.

The Unkindest Cut/Putting the Free State Project to Use’s own Alan Bock had this to say in Sunday’s OC Register:

Dennis Kucinich, who drove Cleveland to bankruptcy before getting himself elected to Congress, is a buffoon who seems determined to use his campaign to discredit the anti-war movement.


Meanwhile, my suggestion last week of a Kucinich/Ron Paul megamicrocoalition has gotten some enthusiastic responses from readers. Continue reading “The Unkindest Cut/Putting the Free State Project to Use”