now finished: Dirty Diplomacy by Craig Murray (aka my new hero)
now reading: The Life of Andrew Jackson by Robert Remini
And to think that I almost had no idea who Craig Murray even is! It was in seeking out information about Tajikistan* that I stumbled upon his Dirty Diplomacy, or Murder in Samarkand as it was called in Britain before being published in the U.S. I'm not sure why the name changed for the U.S. edition: perhaps they thought we needed a more salacious, scantily clad title? Because god forbid we pick up something that sounds so worldly and international-affairs-like? We're burned out about all that, right? So they tell me. Books and movies about the wars we are waging don't go over well. Now, gee, why is that do you suppose?
Well, this book reminds you that United Statesians' "burned out" attitude may be exactly where Dubya and friends want you. Craig Murray shows up in Tashkent in 2002 as the British ambassador to Uzbekistan and is promptly horrified by the way the U.S. runs the show. To wit, the "Americans" have set up a military base, declared Uzbek president Karimov an ally in their war on terror, and proceeded to ignore his insidious, corrupt regime as it routinely totures, imprisons, and executes hundreds of its innocent citizens. Not to mention the squelching not only of dissidents but pretty much any flow of information.
You one of those anti-Commies? Well, the Uzbeks tell Ambassador Murray over and over they long for Soviet times -- that's how corrupt this regime is. When Craig Murray confronts the U.S. ambassador about all the Uzbeks in jail for their religious beliefs, the American replies, "Oh, well they're mostly Muslim."
It's surely no spoiler to tell you how this story ends: with Craig Murray pushed out of his job for daring to tell the truth, and the U.S. still merrily slaughtering people and turning the other cheek when our allies slaughter people as we all "fight terror" together.
I can't think of anything better you could be doing with your time right now than reading Dirty Diplomacy, with the possible exception of watching the documentary The Good Soldier. As for bonus fun times, Dirty Diplomacy will take you on a whirlwind tour of Uzbekistan. It features everything from bureaucrats sleeping on the job to secret-entrance strip clubs, from gigantic mining operations to the logistics of throwing a party for the Uzbek rich and famous. Plus, I learned about the Battlefield Band, a Scottish group who happened to be playing here in Chicago last Friday; Brian and I attended their fabulous concert. I wouldn't have known who they are either, but for this book. See how eye-opening learning about the world can be?
*For those who haven't heard why I've been seeking out information about Tajikistan, please click here to help Habitat provide homes in Tajikistan!