Freedom Spells B-A-K-U

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

One of our favorite targets for 1998, and for all years, is the conservative”human rights” group Freedom House. Last year, we reported onhow Freedom House was lauding the supposed gains for human rights in theUkraine at just about the same time that a major Freedom House executive,Mark Palmer, was entering into lucrative business deals in that country.

Now, it seems a similar charade is taking place in Azerbaijan, whereU.S. oil companies are slavering over vast oil and gas reserves. A wholehost of former government officials are helping the oil companies get afoot in the door in Azerbaijan, including former national security adviserZbigniew Brzezinski. Zbig is on the payroll of Amoco, the largest US investorin Azerbaijan’s oil fields, which could produce 3 million barrels per dayby 2010.

One of Brzezinski’s tasks for Amoco is to improve the image of Azerbaijanand its president, Geidar Aliyev. This is no easy feat as Aliyev’s regimeis guilty of terrible human rights violations. Furthermore, Congress hasbeen much more sympathetic to Armenia, with which Azerbaijan fought a bloodywar a few years back.

But Brzezinski has fallen to his task with relish. The New York Timesinterviewed him last year when it was preparing a major story on Azerbaijanand he told the newspaper that Aliyev is “a real cool cat”. LastJuly, Brzezinski testified before Congress that Azerbaijan and other formerSoviet republics had lived under communist rule for seven decades and shouldnot be expected to establish democracies in a short period of time. (Brzezinskiexpressed far less understanding about the need to transition to democracyafter the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in Nicaragua.)

Zbig also sits on the board of Freedom House, which has become one ofAliyev’s most fervent supporters. Last year, Azerbaijan was one of onlytwo countries that Freedom House elevated from the category of “notfree” to “partly free”, an improvement which Azerbaijan andthe oil companies have been using on Capitol Hill to win support for Aliyev.Freedom House claims that it moved Azerbaijan up due to “the emergenceof a more vibrant civic life” in the country. Meanwhile, Freedom Housepresident Adrian “Sticky Fingers” Karatnycky money from the USAgency for International Development to travel to the capital of Baku ona fact-finding mission.

Here’s another coincidence: after resigning from his post as nationalsecurity adviser, Anthony Lake also took a position on the board of FreedomHouse. There’s only one mystery that remains. What oil company payroll isLake on? CP

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal