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Quid Pro Quo

Does it get any sleazier?

    Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan…. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.
    Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.
    Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. […]
    Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom. […]
    Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month.

Something for Americans to think about as we decide who to put in the White House next year. Since there are only two choices left on the Democratic side, this is the sort of thing that is pushing me closer to supporting Barack Obama, despite my doubts.

Comments

Comment from leblase
Time: January 31, 2008, 15:58

Fascinating story..
I wander about Kazakh cuisine.
I also wander if the reasons behind the dumbness of the West over the strategic interests represented by this country lie in such lavishing grants…
Kazakhstan, like Serbia, Georgia, Tchetchnia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, etc are part of the oil’s overground transit routes: there have been war in all of them.
But not in Kazakhtsan.

Eatbee, I’m aware your intent was to attract our attention toward where the money goes (and where it comes from) – and you know I share some of your doubts- in the US primaries, but even though the world is paying much attention to these elections, it still has a life of its own;-), independent of America’s tribulations.

Comment from Rebecca
Time: January 31, 2008, 22:32

I’m torn about the elections- I definitely don’t want another Republican to win (even though the end of the war in Iraq is imminent regardless of who controls the WH) but I keep going back and forth about who has a better chance of winning. I’m still leaning towards the man having a better chance. It’s a crap shoot.

Comment from eatbees
Time: February 1, 2008, 16:32

@leblase — I’ve tried to find enthusiasm for the American elections among some of my Moroccan friends, but so far, very little. Most seem to feel that even if some of the candidates are nicer than others, there will be little change to the agenda no matter who is elected.

I understand this view, but this year, excitement among young people and people who have never voted before is real. Most of this new excitement seems to be for Obama. I have to respect it—it is contagious. Maybe this time, things will be different!

I put this story on my blog not as a comment on the elections, but because I’m ashamed of Bill Clinton. When he was president, I always thought he was a friend of global democracy. He admired Nelson Mandela, a man who Reagan considered a terrorist. He broke the taboo against meeting with Yasser Arafat. Even today, he is widely respected in Morocco. I think he understands who is democratic and who is not. So to see him call Nurbayev a friend of democracy—in exchange for money!—makes me ashamed.

@Rebecca — I’m undecided about the elections too. Each time I move toward Hillary, somthing new happens to pull me back. On the other hand, I haven’t caught the Obama fever yet. Concerning electability, I think that either Democrat can beat McCain. It seems that many conservative leaders hate McCain. That will make it hard for him to go into the election with unified support. McCain will pick up independent voters who care about national security and have doubts about Clinton or Obama for whatever reason, but I think the division within his party will hurt him worse. So my advice is, vote for the candidate who inspires you, because they both can win!

Comment from Rebecca
Time: February 1, 2008, 20:41

If either do win (a woman or minority) it with definitely restore some of my faith in the American people. Not that I love either one but at least they are not rich white men.

Comment from leblase
Time: February 2, 2008, 10:26

eatbees,
About Bill Clinton being such a nice guy:
I was working for the defense of the Nubian people, a (then) 2,5 million tribe persecuted in Sudan in the 90s. The Darfur wasn’t as trendy and dramatic as it is now. The Nubian were threatened with elimination, so there I was with people trying to do some stuff.
It so happened that at one point AlQaeda blasted The US embassy in Kenya and a Navy ship in Yemen.
Bill Clinton immediately answered by bombing a few targets. One was in sudan, labeled a chemical warfare factory. The factory was destroyed, but it turns out that it was the only pharmaceutical processing plant in the whole of Sudan.
Okay, so why do I tell you that?
It so happened that at the time, Clinton needed to turn people’s attention away from his Monica problems.
So as far as I’m concerned, he used the Weapons of Mass Destruction phony argument years before Bush, and had absolutely no regard for what was happening in this forlorn, torn country.

Comment from eatbees
Time: February 2, 2008, 17:51

@leblase — I know all about this story, and it certainly isn’t the only messed-up thing Clinton did as president. Another was force single mothers to find jobs at $5.00 an hour as part of “welfare reform.” Another was ask the Kurds to fight Saddam, then abandon them to be massacred. There are other examples—I won’t list them all. So I’m not praising Clinton. I’m just saying he was a better president than most of the others in my lifetime—Nixon, Ford, Reagan and the two Bushes.

Bill Clinton is an opportunist who left his party in a shambles, dispirited and unable to win what should have been an easy victory in 2000 (though of course Gore did win). But consider the political reality of those days. The Reagan Revolution was only half over, and was being led by Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. The “angry white man” won the 1994 Congressional election. Clinton fought them off for eight years, and as a result, things were a lot less bad than they would have been. He encouraged Americans to see global prosperity as good for them, not a threat. For all his obvious flaws, I think he was the best President we could have expected in those conditions.

I guess you’re saying I shouldn’t feel ashamed of his praise of Nurbayev, because he did worse things when he was still president. I guess you’re right, but it still makes me mad. This time there is no apology to make—he seems to have been motivated by nothing but greed.

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