The curse of Cheney

Dick Cheney in Azerbaijan 3 months ago —

And we support the people of Azerbaijan in their efforts, often in the face of great challenges, to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and to build a prosperous, modern, independent country that can serve as a pillar of moderation and stability in this critical part of the world.

Meek US State Department statement issued on a slow news day, 30 December —

We deeply regret Azerbaijan’s decision not to renew the broadcasting licenses of Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the BBC. These media organizations play a crucial role in supporting democratic debate and the free exchange of ideas and information. This decision, if carried out, will represent a serious setback to freedom of speech, and retard democratic reform in Azerbaijan.

We remain committed to working with the government of Azerbaijan to find the proper legal framework within which these radio and TV broadcasts can continue.

This came just over a week after the USA had made Azerbaijan eligible for tariff concessions on its exports to the USA — the kind of thing that can be revoked from African countries if they are judged to have regressed on political pluralism.  It’s as if there’s something special about Azerbaijan that trumps such concerns.

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