Our Bizarro World
Foreign Policy

That the world is “a carnival of buncombe,” as H. L. Mencken put it, is an idea that is proved every day – nay, every hour – as the news of our leaders’ cluelessness unfolds, but this past week must have had the old iconoclast shaking the earth over his coffin with waves of seismic laughter. It was all pretty much summed up at the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, where the speaker preceding Condoleezza Rice revealed that, besides being a fourth-rate “Russian studies” scholar who never wrote anything of interest and an avid presidential yes-woman, our newly appointed secretary of state has lots of other qualifications for the job:

“Perhaps the most surprising news came from the editor who introduced Rice, saying the secretary of state once held the title of ‘Disco Queen of South Bend, Indiana.’

“‘You’ve got quite a research department,’ Rice responded in the opening sentences of her address. ‘I want to assure everybody, it’s actually not that hard to be the disco queen of South Bend, Indiana,’ Rice said. ‘There’s not that much competition in South Bend, Indiana.'”

This latest twist to the narrative of Condi, Woman Warrior and World-Saver, is not all that surprising. After all, how else could she have managed, in her speech to the assembled editors, to dance around the abject failure of America’s policy of aggression, hailing the administration’s efforts to promote “liberty” abroad even as we install a Shi’ite theocracy in Iraq, and defending the worst interventionist excesses of the Clinton years:

“One of the important levers that we have in the Balkans is that we want to look to a day when the Balkans are integrated into European structures. Now, that means that you have to have further democratization in Serbia; it means that you have to have a solution for Kosovo; it means that Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is moving fairly effectively in this way, has to continue that progress; it means we have to wrap up the war criminals that the international tribunal is trying to try. And if we can get that done alongside economic development, I think with the window of Europe out there, or the opportunity for integration into Europe out there, we could see the Balkans finally resolve in a very positive way. But what started 10 years ago has not just [ended?] the violence, I think there has actually been significant progress on all of those fronts.”

What has made “significant progress” in Kosovo and environs is the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs, who have been mercilessly hounded out of the former Yugoslav province by the narco-thugs of the Kosovo “Liberation” Army. Again, it’s no surprise that this administration is defending Clinton’s policy: after all, he did exactly what the U.S. is now doing in Iraq – attacked a country that had never attacked us and represented no threat to our territory or legitimate interests. As is almost never noted by partisan critics of Bush’s foreign policy, both bypassed the UN.

Clinton’s policy led to the rise of the emerging gangster state of Kosovo, which is now pushing relentlessly for formal independence, further roiling a famously volatile region. A parallel disaster is now unfolding in the Middle East, where the Bushian invasion and occupation of Iraq is culminating in the creation of a “democratic” theocracy modeled – in principle, if not in all details – on the Iranian system. In both cases, the result of American military intervention was to create a safe haven and training camp for al-Qaeda: in the Balkans, this amounted to outright collaboration with the local chapter of the Osama bin Laden Fan Club. In Iraq, our government’s complicity with al-Qaeda is less direct, albeit no less effective.

The Disco Diva of Foggy Bottom also spoke out on the hot-button question of the day, the controversy over the nomination of John Bolton as America’s UN representative. This has become the focal point of the Democratic Party’s fightback, the issue around which the supposedly revivified party of Howard Dean and Air America is taking off the gloves, for once, and letting the War Party have it right between the eyes. They home in on Bolton’s critique of the UN, which conservatives have always resented for its presumptions of global suzerainty. What the “progressives” in the Democratic Party don’t get, however, is that most Americans share Bolton’s perspective on that no-longer-revered institution. In light of the recent “oil for food” scandals involving Kofi Annan’s son – and a politically diverse cast of characters – it’s fair to say that most Americans have the same opinion of the UN as Lenin did of the League of Nations: he called it a “den of thieves.”

The real reasons for opposing Bolton have nothing to do with his skeptical approach to an institution that has China, Cuba, and – [guffaw!] – Zimbabwe on its “human rights” commission. The unusual delay in his confirmation process is due to other factors, which are opening up rifts in Republican ranks, and the rumors are flying fast. Steve Clemons, whose site is the place to go for the real story on the Bolton brouhaha, is predicting a show-stopping revelation:

“This fight is long from over. And I can tell everyone that more is coming down the pike – and it’s explosive.” [Emphasis in original.]

Sounds interesting. But what I don’t get is why this letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signed by Melody Townsel, a former USAID subcontractor who worked with Bolton in Kyrgyzstan, isn’t reason enough to disqualify him without any further discussion:

“In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a USAID project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to Republican leader Charlie Black.

“After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime contractor, I was forced to make USAID officials aware of the prime contractor’s poor performance.

“I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees who were leading or subcontracted to other USAID projects. While there, I met with USAID officials and expressed my concerns about the project – chief among them, the prime contractor’s inability to keep enough cash in country to allow us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors to me and my staff.

“Within hours of sending a letter to USAID officials outlining my concerns, I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent them to USAID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.

“Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel – throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from USAID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.”

Townsel goes on to record Bolton’s campaign of lies, insults, and intimidation, and writes:

“I’ve learned firsthand the lengths Mr. Bolton will go to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. Truth flew out the window. Decency flew out the window. In his bid to smear me and promote the interests of his client, he went straight for the low road and stayed there. John Bolton put me through hell – and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn’t just unforgivable, it was pathological.”

“He went straight for the low road and stayed there” – Townsel’s description of Bolton’s behavior succinctly summarizes the strategy and tactics of the War Party. She adds:

“I cannot believe that this is a man being seriously considered for any diplomatic position, let alone such a critical posting to the UN.”

Get used to it, Melody: it’s life in our post-9/11 Bizarro World, where no one would be shocked at the sight of America’s official representative to the international community chasing the Syrian, Iranian, and North Korean ambassadors through the halls of the UN building, shouting threats and throwing things.

Speaking of Kyrgyzstan, go here for the skinny on the Rasputin of that country’s made-in-Washington “revolution,” as amusingly recounted by the London-based Spectator magazine:

“In a white room in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a tattooed man from Georgia is trembling violently. His eyes are rolled back to the whites, his spine is arched, his arms flail in front of him as if he is being electrocuted. Behind him stands another man, Asiatic, completely bald, with dark piercing eyes. He shouts, almost raps, into the convulsing Georgian’s ears, ‘Drive out the filth! You are a strong man, charged with energy! Help yourself out of this!’ He repeats this over and over until the Georgian has a spasm and collapses in a trance. He is put on to a stretcher, carried out of the room and laid in a bed with high metal sides.

“The man with the dark piercing eyes is Jenishbek Nazaraliev, the ‘miracle worker’ of Bishkek, who claims to have cured more than 15,000 drug addicts from all over the world in his medical center, using his unique hypnotic method. He also claims to have caused the revolution which last month swept President Askar Akayev and his family from power in Kyrgyzstan. ‘I screwed Akayev, and I made this revolution,’ the doctor told me proudly in Bishkek, a few days after the fall of the government.”

Nazaraliev, who sees himself as a shamanic healer, declares “Just my touch is worth one month in a clinic,” and his hands, it seems, are all over Kyrgyzstan’s color-coded “revolution,” which plunged the country into a chaos from which it has yet to recover. Nazaraliev poured his considerable resources into the movement to oust Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, and, as the Spectator points out:

“The day before the White House fell, Nazaraliev’s Radio Max broadcast more than 100 announcements by the doctor, telling the people to ‘get up, stand up’ and join a protest the following day, outside his clinic. More than 3,000 people turned up on Thursday 24 March, in the first major demonstration in Bishkek.”

That America’s campaign for “democracy” in Kyrgyzstan is spearheaded by a well-known local witch doctor ought to come as no surprise. The very idea of somehow transforming distant countries into living petri dishes, where we can experiment on the local population in our continuing effort to build “democracies” abroad, is not science but an alchemist’s fantasy. What’s weird, however, is how closely Nazaraliev’s hypnotic technique, as described by the Spectator, approximates the means employed by U.S. policymakers:

“The patient is given a dose of atropine, a drug derived from deadly nightshade that speeds up the heart rate and can cause hallucinations. The patient is then put through various disorientating measures until he begins to tremble and convulse. At this point, when the patient is at his most suggestive, Nazaraliev himself strides into the room. He circles the patient, chanting rhythmically, urging the patient to abandon his old bad habits and discover his inner strength. The patient falls into a swoon, and when he wakes up a few hours later, he feels like a new person.”

Here, just drink this stuff – don’t worry, it’s only Kool-Aid. That’s just what the Americans have been telling their would-be revolutionary vanguards all over Eastern and Central Europe, and throughout the former Soviet Union. No wonder post-“revolutionary” Kyrgyzstan is “volatile.” So is Iraq, and so is Lebanon. The symptoms are universal. The patient begins to tremble and convulse: that’s the new ruling elite purging their authoritarian opponents, and shedding the last remnants of national sovereignty before entering the American version of the old Warsaw Pact.

In Ukraine, the new regime is experiencing convulsions of its own on account of the news that President Viktor Yushchenko, the shining orange light of Ukraine, is directly linked to Ukrainian arms sales to China and Iran. Yushchenko was prime minister when the transactions took place, and had to have some knowledge of what went on – maybe his brother, Petro Yushchenko, could fill him in on some of the details.

Yes, you know the “reformers” have won when the new prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, has to cancel her trip to Moscow – because she is still wanted on charges of bribing Russian defense officials.

A carnival of buncombe? More like one of de Sade’s plays as performed by the inmates of Charenton – a saturnalia of madness.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].