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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
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 […]

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