Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All politics is local

Tip O'Neill's most famous saying was "All politics is local." Richard Cheney has taken that counsel to heart by attacking Russia for being non-democratic. Naturally, because he wouldn't be our own Dick Cheney if he didn't also throw in a little Darth Vader cha-cha dance step, he visited Kazakstan on the very same trip. Although the injustice and irrationality of these attacks on Russia completely flummoxes the Russian specialists, this is a primarily a U.S. domestic political maneuver. The GOPs need some enemies, and they need them fast. The immigrant issues hasn't worked out so well, and people have started not to care so much about the dread homosexual menace. So, let's bring out the stuffed Russkie bear and start to fling darts at it.

Kazakstan is not the worst place in the world, as far as semi-tyrannical states go. Political parties and the press are tightly controlled. However, it's much better than its neighbor, Uzbekistan, where political opponents are boiled alive instead of just jailed. But Kazakstan is absolutely no worse than Russia, and its only virtue is that not one American in a thousand could find it on a map, nor do most Americans care one little bit that the U.S. and Britain are allied with it or the monstrous regime in Uzbekistan.

Mentioning Russia stirs primal memories in many Americans, however. They remember Ronald Reagan telling the Gorbachov to "tear down this wall!" Cheney hopes to tap into that feeling. It will probably work -- it's not hard to pull fast ones with countries where Americans are both ignorant and indifferent.

In addition, note that Kazakstan is the last oil-producing nation that is probably able to increase its production capacity, so this visit could certainly be indicative of continuing plans for military action against Iran. It's not hard to imagine Cheney requesting that Kazakstan be willing to step up production in the event that we attack Iran, and Iran responds by mining the Straits of Hormuz., thereby constricting the international oil supply.

(Photo courtesy of Ibiblio's Yiddish-Hebrew-English-German-Russian-French Picture Dictionary.
No, I'm not kidding.)


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