Kazakhstan’s “Glorious” Neighbor Kyrgyzstan

In his movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays a fictional television journalist from Kazakhstan touring and reporting from America.

Borat has a crush on actress Pamela Anderson. In the movie Borat drives to California to meet his “love.” Near the end of the movie, Borat tries to kidnap Anderson by throwing her in a “traditional Kazakhstan wedding sack.”

If only this was just a silly story. Unfortunately, it is more than that. Kazakhstan is in an area of the world that Richard Maybury has called Chaostan. Maybury explains that because of their lack of respect for basic human and economic rights, the area is a source of conflict and strife.

One of the countries that borders Kazakhstan is Kyrgyzstan. Each year, in a scene right from Borat, more than half of Kyrgyzstan’s new brides are kidnapped on the street by their husbands in a custom known as ala kachuu. Roughly translated, this means “grab and run.”

According to the New York Times, Kyrgyz men “say they snatch women because it is easier than courtship and cheaper than paying the standard ‘bride price,’ which can be as much as $800 plus a cow.”

The custom, according to the Times, is respected, encouraged, and perceived as practical. “Every good marriage begins in tears,” a Kyrgyz saying goes.

The interesting thing about this custom is that it is widely practiced and accepted. The men who engage in it are looked upon as fulfilling their manly obligations.

If you told the average citizen of Kyrgyzstan that they were violating human rights in a primitive and barbaric way, they would be insulted and puzzled.

Of course, the people of Kyrgyzstan want the same things we do; they want a happy and prosperous life for themselves and their children. They just have no idea of the principles that help a people realize a peaceful and prosperous society.

Kyrgz customs are centuries old. Ala kachuu is illegal, but the law is not enforced because there is no societal will that the law be enforced. The culture of a nation takes generations to change.

Private commercial transactions between American and Kyrgz citizens expose Kyrgyzstan to another way of living and help to end repression. In contrast, political alliances help to support repressive regimes. The United States, for strategic reasons, keeps a military base in Kyrgyzstan and lends political support to a regime that violates basic stated values of our own country.

As for the future; we can see it all too well. The CIA has a name for the consequences of our foreign policies that prop up repressive regimes—they call it blowback. Blowback occurs when the citizens of a country perceive, either correctly or incorrectly, that one of the sources of their repression is the United States.

There is no cure for blowback. There is only a prescription for prevention: Stay away from alliances with countries that do not share our values.


48 Responses to Kazakhstan’s “Glorious” Neighbor Kyrgyzstan

  1. Sam says:

    Interesting discussion. During the early part of the 1950s, the United States, with the help of the CIA, thought it would be wise to displace Prime Minister Mossadegh from power in Iran, propping up the Shah in the process. This was done because the Prime Minister was opposed to foreign intervention and British control of the Iranian petroleum industry (BP). Some of his policies may have been questionable at the time, however, they would hardly justify covert operations (Operation Ajax) in order to remove him from office. As we know, we tend to get a bit aggressive when we hear someone who controls a strategic resource, ie. oil is becoming adversarial, according to our interpretation. Hindsight is 20/20 and this course of events set the stage for oppression by the Shah, eventual overthrow, and replacement with a theocratic, extremist regime that enjoys giving the U.S. headaches on a daily basis. “Blowback” on an exponential level.

  2. Sam,

    Thank you for your timely reminder of an all too real example of “blowback.” One wonders how many examples it will take until we learn.

  3. Velvet says:

    Living in the very liberal D.C., I often hear criticism of the G.W. statement, “They hate us for our freedom.” I never understood why the libs jump on this statement just to “prove” their hatred of G.W. What he said, to me, is probably a very true statement. If it didn’t bother other countries, they would go about their business, wouldn’t they?

  4. Velvet,

    Chalmers Johnson has written a trilogy: The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic; Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. In these books he takes an eye opening and critical look at American foreign policy.

    No doubt many don’t share our values, but others do desire freedom. Johnson and other authors such as Richard Maybury explain how we increase the numbers who don’t share our values by acting at odds with those values.

  5. salobrena says:

    Why doesn’t America just stay home and take care of it’s own problems instead of trying to teach the world how to solve theirs. Your ways don’t work all that well any way, so why bother.

  6. bgraef says:

    I think what you are saying is “what is American must be good for the entire world, so we must show them how to live”.This is why American is hated so much, that it thinks it is morally and culturaly superior and that it must impose that on the rest of the world by any means possible.
    I have met a wonderful lady from Kazakhstan who has a Myspace page. For from Borat’s silly hogwash lampooning Kazakh culture she is an amazing beautiful woman, living in a gorgeous country of mountains and lakes and rivers , is very happy and content, and one of the most delightful and talented people I have ever met.
    I have come away with a totally different viewpoint abd respect for other cultures because of her.

  7. […] Kazakhstan’s “Glorious” Neighbor Kyrgyzstan « Giving Up Control Kazakhstan’s “Glorious” Neighbor Kyrgyzstan « Giving Up Control […]

  8. verticalx says:

    I immediately considered how this post might be connected to Borat. It was great to be informed of the reality behind the humor, and it’s pretty fascinating to think that such “primitive” (for lack of a better word) customs are common. Keep up the good writing!

  9. imcompletelylost says:


  10. Almaz Tchoroev says:

    I read the article and was quite amazed on the barbaric portrayal of the so called culture. I am Kyrgyz myself and I disagree with most of the statements made by Mr. Brownstein, mainly because they are not true. Yes the “ala kachuu” custom does exist and has been existing not for centuries but for decades. One could say it is a new custom that begun during the early 19th century because depression during those times. Second, one does not just grab a woman from the street, it might happen (it does happen) but not as often that the author seems to believe. Third, custom is not encouraged at all, quite opposite among the new generation the custom is very much frowned upon and instead of fulfilling their “manly obligation” many believe their showing how unmanly they are. Fourth, it is illegal and people do get arrested for it, what the author forgets to mention is that the police do not arrest the people from remote villages, mainly because nobody reports the kidnapping of the bride. Finally, I do not understand why the author claims that America is ending repression in Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan is known to be the most democratic and liberal nation in the region, as compared to its neighbours Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Therefore, there is no point trying to end repression because it does not exist. Basic Human Rights are violated in every country including USA, arguably it is violated more in the States than in Kyrgyzstan. One has to understand is that the world does not want the American values because we have our own beautiful culture, that we held for centuries (that does not include ala kachuu), one has to visit and understand that these nations are actually cultured and do not need USA dictating their way because a nation like Kyrgyzstan is still very young and needs time and wishes its own way.

  11. Almaz,

    Thanks for your comments. I based my post on a New York Times article among other sources. Here is the link http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/30/international/asia/30brides.html . No doubt that Kyrgyzstan has many wonderful traditions, ala kachuu is not one of them.

    You are clearly well-educated and your view of the culture might be skewed. For example if a Harvard professor claimed that since he had never personally purchased or heard rap music it was uncommon, this would hardly be proof.

    I did not claim the U.S, was ending repression in Kyrgyzstan, in fact I said the exact opposite.

  12. Almaz Tchoroev says:

    Thank you for the link, interesting principle: “blowback”, sorry for the misunderstanding.

  13. Bas says:

    Time for some cultural relativism. I think calling a difference in values ‘primitive’ is probably more primitive than the values talked about. They simply developed in a different way and we see ourselves as superior because we are economically superior. But I’m willing to bet there’s more depression and suicide in the US than in Kyrgyzstan.

    Cultural superiority is not a good thing. We should teach others how to live peacefully and respectfully, not tell them to obey to “human rights”. Not through the political, but through the personal.

    Besides that, I thought this was a very interesting article and I might keep my eyes on this blog. Stumbled this post, so who knows, maybe you’ll receiving quite some traffic on it.

    Thanks for the read.


  14. Bas,

    Thanks for your interesting comments and the “stumble.”

    I agree with you that feeling superior is not useful. We can also agree that living “peacefully and respectfully” is an important goal.

  15. Bas says:

    Oh, and congrats on making the frontpage 🙂

  16. […] Kazakhstan’s “Glorious” Neighbour Kyrgyzstan […]

  17. David says:

    An interesting look at a custom.. when does a custom become ‘illegal’ is it seen as wrong or demeening or what?

  18. David,

    As my post points out it is not enough for a “custom” to be illegal if many still believe it is a good idea. The practice will only end when a different belief replaces “ala kachuu.”

  19. revmanny says:

    great post…. the trouble with ‘blowback” is that it’s hard to trac, both in origin and in outcome… a 10 minute conversation with most american college students will leave you HORRIFIED at their lack of historical perspective…. most americans DON’T know the US propped up the oppressive shah….. most american’s STILL don’t know that the US raised and financed the mujahadeen, or that the US gave chemical weapons of mass destruction to both Iran and Iraq….

    and now, just look at this nonsense in kurdistan…. the pesh merga make the mujahadeen look like a sleepaway camp for preteen fatties…. they are superhardcore…. they make our marines and our seals look like sunday school teachers…. after supporting them for 15 years, the US is about to flip, and support Turkey in its invasion of kurdistan….

    away from all moral judgments, you have to stand in awe at how many times our leadership can commit the same fatal errors over and over…. our current mistake in Iraq is costing over $2 billion a week….

    the wealthiest, most idealistic country is shamed by the cowardice, ignorance and sloven laziness of its populace….

    yet again, i’m embarassed to be an American…

    is that “domestic blowback”?

    –rev m

  20. Rev. Manny,

    Thank you for your sobering observations. The situation is Kurdistan is indeed another brewing disaster.

  21. jvol says:

    In any current discussion of blowback -especially when Iran is mentioned- the word Pakistan should be shouted! Broad current trends in Pakistan are too much like Iran in the 70s. Islamic fundamentalists and democracy activists both adamantly opposing a US-backed military dictatorship. If they are driven together in a marriage of convenience in Pakistan the way they were in Iran, its going to be a *very* big problem.

    The good news is US action in Pakistan hasn’t had as long to accumulate resentment, and Iran had no Benazir Bhutto.

    The bad news is the consequences of disaster – in a country with both nukes and currently the world’s strongest Taliban/Quaeda movement (with some sympathy in the military) – are orders of magnitude worse than Iran in the 70s. These factors make Pakistan the most important place in the world at present.

  22. Indeed! Thank you for your astute observations.

  23. Ed Bradburn says:


    Interesting that you should contrast K with the US as if the cultural flow is all one way.

    But maybe Kyrghzstan should be re-considering their alliance with a country (the US) that clearly does not share their values.

    Or is the US going to suspend the death penalty any time soon (as Kyrghyzstan has done since 2005)?

    I think US citizens should be reminded often and in deadly earnest that their country’s insistence on retaining the death penalty very seriously damages their image abroad. I think it is perhaps not something that is sufficiently appreciated.

    One may point the finger at bride kidnapping in rural parts of a very poor (yet breathtakingly beautiful) country, and yet the person doing the finger-pointing (here, yourself, Mr. Brownstein), lives in a country where they executed 53 people last year.

    Somehow the finger-pointing doesn’t work too well for those outside the US.



    (Disclaimer on the above post: I have myself actually been to Kyrghyzstan. And no, I didn’t kidnap my wide, who is also from that country.)

  24. Ed,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I am not an advocate of the death penalty, but the death penalty and “ala kachuu” are hardly analogous. The death penalty is applied to criminals who have violated the rights of others while “ala kachuu” violates the innocent.

  25. Fari says:

    I heard someone saying “Americans learn geography by going to war”.

    If American were a model nation I would support it’s curbing of terror and what seems to be here a war on backwardness. Even though I’m glad they deposed Saddam, there is not enough introspection in this country’s government for it to be the ‘world leader’ it seems to consider itself.

  26. Fari,

    Thank you for your comments. If America was a “model nation” we would follow the advice given by George Washington. See my recent post.

    As we are sadly seeing, Saddam was a symptom of something deeper and the not the true cause of Iraq’s problems.

  27. radu-test-fb says:

    In sfarsit testare TRACKBACK #1

    Aceasta insemnare permite trackback si este folosita pentru testarea acestuia. 

  28. Esenkul Momunkulov says:

    Dear Barry, I do not have too much time today to read the article that you are referring to from NYT. For now I can say only this. Please do not judge a book by its cover.

    Of course it is naive (to put it mildly) to say that 50 percent of marriages in Kyrgyzstan are consummated this way. I can assure you that the tradition ala kachuu is extinct and hardly used in Kyrgyzstan where the literacy rate and level of education is much higher than you might expect it to be.

    I am not sure if you have been to Kyrgyzstan but I’ll tell you this much. Kyrgyzstan is a country that is known for Manas (the largest epic in the world), Chingiz Aitmatov, hospitality, open-mindedness and inclusiveness. If you go to Kyrgyzstan, you will see that there is no racism, nationalism or any other ideology, ways or means of suppression or exclusion of people that come from different backgrounds. It has been like this for centuries. And do you genuienly believe that ala kachuu could be a feature of a cosmopolitan thinking Kyrgyz society? Here I would like to make my stance on ala kachuu clear; it is barbaric and totally unacceptable unless the bride agrees to it for “less bureaucracy” between two families.

    Let me give you my explanation of where ala kachuu comes from? Kyrgyz women were (and still are I believe) SHY (the virtue which is still highly esteemed in our culture) back in the days.
    In Kyrgyz society historically women were very much respected. Pick up any epic (the oral literary tradition was very sophisticated) and you will see a role of a woman in a Kyrgyz society. The Kyrgyz elite would not practice this tradition, even if they did practice; it would be limited to their priviledged circle.

    The guy after he kidnaps the girl does not merely bring the bride home and “sleeps with her”. It is totally not true to say that ala kachuu is a kind of “abduction that involves rape and forceful marriage). Until the wedding, the groom was and still is not allowed to sleep with the girl because it is against religion and Kyrgyz people’s tradition.

    It is not up to a groom and a bride only to decide if the girl can become a member of his family.

    If the family wants that girl as their daughter-in-law, then they send their relatives to the girl’s parents (which involves bringing valuables to the girl’s relatives such as clothing, foodstuff, horses, cows, sheep depending on economic situation of the family) to tell them that their girl is fine and that they came to talk about the wedding if they agree. (Why horses, cows and sheep? Very simple; because Kyrgyz people were engaged in animal husbandry and those were what they had to offer.) As a prerequisite before answering yes or no the girl’s parents would send their relatives to see if the girl is fine and if she really agreed to marry the groom. Who wants their daughter to live in a forced marriage? Kyrgyz people are very humane to be fine with that. If it happened that a girl was forced to marriage, the relatives of the girl would simply bring the girl home. The outcome of this scenario is the following: the family of the guy is ridiculed by their relatives and neighbors because the girl did not like the family. That would mean there is something wrong about that family. As you see, the families actually would discourage their sons to do something like this if the girl does not agree to avoid that kind of reputation.

    If it happened that the girl is fine, the girl’s relatives after being served food and given gifts, would go back and tell the girl’s parents to prepare for the wedding. Before the wedding, parents meet to discuss the technicalities of the wedding. As you see everything is happening in a civilized way.

    The worst times for the Kyrgyz people were during Soviet colonialism in terms of loosing cultural values. Values and traditions are different things. Values give meaning to traditions. Without values, traditions are just like corpses without souls. Due to different kinds of historical reasons, the values of Kyrgyz people throughout history were neglected (frequent invasions by different forces, to name a few Mongols, Soviet, etc.) whereas traditions survived. People would as a resistance to foreign forces and maybe in an attempt to preserve their national identity would be ready to embrace any tradition be it good or not. In times of upheavals people have practiced ala kachuu So it was not a systematic thing but rather despised in a sense. Besides tribes (Kyrgyz people lived in tribes) would go into war with each other if ala kachuu would be practiced against the girl’s will. I do not reject a possibility of misuse and abuse of this practice among uneducated mob from time to time.

    Kyrgyzstan is one of the most democratic countries in Central Asia and we do have laws too maybe to much of your surprise. Ala kachuu is a criminal and punishable act according to criminal code of Kyrgyzstan. As I had mentioned in the beginning, I am among the majority Kyrgyz people (99 %) against ala kachuu in the sense that you or NYT might have described it. As I told before, by fake ala kachuu people avoid a long process of negotiation between families. This way, families do not have to negotiate over dowries and stuff. So, it is basically a voluntary act that goes back to history.

    Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country and people who live in the mountains tend to be very liberal and democratic in their way of thinking. I do not know how NYT, a prominent magazine, can write such a BS without really looking what lies behind a cultural tradition. It is true though that Kyrgyz people like to entertain foreigners with stories about ala kachuu knowing that it is very shocking to people who are not aware of the real deal. And I must say, Kyrgyz people do possess a wonderful sense of humor and they can laugh at themselves as well. I believe that if somebody abuses ala kachuu the society will step up against this.

    Having said all the things above, I must say that if ala kachuu is being misused somewhere in the sense that NYT had used, Kyrgyz people must make sure to ban even the fake ala kachuu despite the fact that it may seem to connect us to our historical roots. And I am sure Kyrgyz people will not tolerate any practice that is against basic human rights. Kyrgyz people by nature are democratic people who rebelled against any kind of oppression and injustice. Please read history of Kyrgyz people if you like to find out for yourself.

  29. Esenkul,

    I greatly appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts, experiences and feelings. You are obviously highly educated and your experiences may not be shared. You are clearly sincere but I find it hard to believe that the N.Y. Times as well as others would have the story so wrong.

  30. januaries says:

    Dear Barry,

    I read through your post with great interest and quickly sent a link to a friend who is Kyrgyz. I found this to be a unique chance to actually find out — that is validate or debunk — the generalizations that writing by an outsider inevitably implies.

    Your post is an example of folk anthropology. I don’t mean this in any denigrating sense. This is what we all do when we try to make sense of phenomena that are culturally distant and do not clearly relate to our own cultural values. But the words “civilized” and “barbaric” crop up all too easily in such discussions. And random data too easily assume authority. (Let us not forget that statistics is the most perfect kind of lie.)

    I was truly appalled to read one of the comments, which stated: “It was great to be informed of the reality behind the humor [meaning ‘Borat’], and it’s pretty fascinating to think that such ‘primitive’ [sic!] (for lack of a better word) [DO look for a better word in the future!] customs are common.”

    First of all, “Borat” is NOT a documentary on Kazakhstani life and culture. Even linguistically it’s a big joke. Cohen uses a mixture of languages (including Polish, Hungarian, and who knows what else) to conjure an image of a distant, exotic country.
    PLEASE take it as BLACK HUMOR, NOT as a source of knowledge about either Kazakhstan or post-Soviet reality!

    For that read REAL anthropologists and cultural studies scholars, “The National Geographic” for lack of a more academic source, and use the internet or personal contacts to talk to the actual natives of a place you are interested in.

    A final warning to “NY Times” readers (and I am one of them) — it is NOT the gospel truth, just one of the myriad sources of information and entertainment. The articles have to be interesting style-wise, have to be somewhat sensationalist, and have to rely on generalizations to some extent — all to reach a broad readership of people mostly unacquainted with the subjects under investigation.

    Please don’t give in to generalizing and guessing, but rather to asking and being ready to listen.
    This is to us all.

  31. […] brought me to this conclusion was a post about Kyrgyzstan on one of the wordpress blogs. I sent the link to a friend who is Kyrgyz (the HCA people all know […]

  32. Esenkul Momunkulov says:


    concise and very well argumented comment.

    Dear Barry, I can’t believe you still insist on taking NYT’s words for granted. If you like I can take you to Kyrgyzstan (be my guest) and I can assure you things are not that “barbaric” as you made up in your imagination. First of all, ala kachuu comes from pagan tradition. Islam changed a lot of things in the society of Kyrgyz people although some practices contradicting Islam have still remained. These days, people are more inclined to Islamic practices rather than pagan Kyrgyz traditions. Education plus Islam have really transformed Kyrgyz society. Kyrgyz folklore is very rich and open for new things, which really enriched our culture. Maybe next time I will send you a link where you can find unbiased information about Kyrgyz culture. Learning Kyrgyz culture may even help understand your own culture (may even help you to appreciate your own culture who knows?). Usually I pass such comments about culture by narrow-minded people saying it is their own problem, but this time I just felt like why not to help people to understand certain things outside their boxes.

  33. Esenkul Momunkulov says:

    By the way, I “kidnapped” my wife too. But it was a little different. Our parents did not agree on our marriage so we had to elope. We were like Romeo and Juliette who fought for their love. We ran away and everybody was saying that I “kidnapped” her. Anyways, everybody is entitled to his wrong opinion in NYT’s case.

  34. almaz asker says:

    I watched a program about the tribes living in Africa. And by their traditions when young man becomes 16 years old they draw some pictures on his body by cutting his skin. Only after such ritual the young man becomes a real man. At first I couldn’t understand, why they are continuing this tradition nowadays. Right now I have a little bit information in this case. Cutting young men’s skins is like an exam for them. They are proving their restraint and courage in this way. But it is not enough to say that current tradition is cruelty, ruthlessness, inhumanely.
    The point is that, every nation has its own culture, and to understand it we have to deeply investigate, penetrate and at least think like one of them. Otherwise, discussing about unknown things like playing “Russian Roulette” – very simple, but dangerous.
    I agree with Esenkul’s description about ala kachuu. And I also think, all details are considered so precisely what not too difficultly to understand, especially to discuss.

  35. Ruslan Asker says:

    Сompletely I agree with Almaz Asker, to discuss other nation, it very much is not ethic. Once Kyrgyz have won an extensive part of the world, but today nobody recollects it. The reason is a position of simple Americans to other nations. They know only the history of US and practically do not know history, culture of other people and nations.

  36. mrhoke says:

    Just a quick note from someone who lived in Kyrgyzstan from 1999 – 2001. First, there is no way that the 50% number on kidnappings can be accurate, as ethnically Kyrgyz people themselves make up about 65% of the total population. Uzbeks and Russians do not kidnap brides in my experience and in fact use it as a basis for ethnic division of the sort that is alleged not to exist in earlier comments. Often, the practice is used as mentioned above as a mutually decided upon way around an arranged marriage, but is more often used as away to arrange a marriage to which a woman refuses to consent. The post is an interesting one, but I take issue with the idea that all American foreign policy props up regimes that are oppressive (although this is often the case). A great deal of real work happens on the ground that does not cause blowback and this has not been mentioned in the original post. A bit of a simplistic take on foreign aid/policy, imo.

  37. santosh says:

    Economics and politics change fast with time. Where as culture will take just too long to change, Sometimes change only happens when there is a real demand in people living in that particular place. If you ask Indians to change their age old way of doing farming or even their way of arranged marriages may be Indians just think Americans have nothing to do with their marriage or agriculture system. I think American must look into its own problems rather than controlling all the world. The time may some day seriously reverse and end a half century domination. These army bases they put for strategic reasons in Asia and middle east seriously hurt the sentiment of people. Even al-kaida was born because of Russian and American Indirect wars. I honestly believe that it is high time for America to not only think about the economics but also to think about social causes and their impact in long term American relations with World.

  38. gwendolynn says:

    I’m born in Kyrgyztan and it was quite normal and very west-oriented when I lived there…weird text..

  39. oceallaigh says:

    In this thread, I haven’t seen any consideration of the foreign policy decisions of the USA except to damn their stupidity. As if we or anyone else lead entirely saintly, pure lives. Or entirely depraved, demonic ones, for that matter.

    The actual process of conducting foreign policy, as I understand the matter, is an unending series of Hobson’s choices in which each player studiously ignores the stink of the other’s unwashed body in order to effect the trade that will keep his own people from affixing cement shoes to his feet and tossing him in the East River. We focus on the odor of those trades that turn out badly for us, and conveniently forget the similar olfactory characteristics of those that turn out well.

    I’ve lived in enough places outside the USA to appreciate how well the government of the USA reflects the will of its people. Yes it does. I find that the American government better mirrors its people’s will than anybody else’s. Not the will as expressed by Gallup, but the will as expressed by retail sales. The will that will cause a politician’s phone to ring a few times if he cuts a deal with an unsavory nation that sits on millions of barrels of oil, but will cause the career of that same politician a quick and messy death if American drivers have to wait in line because that oil’s not available.

  40. Charles,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I have found it astonishing how many sincere ala kachuu deniers have posted comments. Some but not all of those comments then find it important, as you write, to be critical of the U.S. Some of this criticism may be justified, but if a country can’t look cleanly at their own failed principles (such as ala kachuu) there is no possibility of progress.

    But so I don’t end on a note of, as some comments have said, of pointing a finger; allow me to also comment on your foreign policy thoughts. You may well be correct given our foreign policy, but it seems to me that a foreign policy as George Washington recommended of commercial relations but no alliances would minimize the “Hobson’s choices” that you refer to.

  41. loopyloo350 says:

    This, in a way, reminds me of the story in the news lately of the British teacher who was convicted of insulting Islam because she named a teddy bear with the prophets name. it was unintentional on her part but it is interesting to hear the outrage from people about her conviction and how she could have got 40 lashes. If we are going to take par in global affairs, at the very least we owe it to ourselves and all the others we deal with to 1)understand the culture and laws, 2)respect both, 3)not try to impose our values on others, and 4)understand that all Americans don’t agree on policy and our understanding is just as important to the future as the policy itself is.

  42. oceallaigh says:

    Barry –

    a foreign policy as George Washington recommended of commercial relations but no alliances would minimize the “Hobson’s choices”

    I’m not so sure. My impression is that an isolationist strategy is fine for a place that has an excess of resources relative to population, and is too far away to be raided cost-effectively. Those conditions, I think, applied to the United States of George Washington, but do not apply to the United States of George Bush.

    Even in the 1930s, I think, American resources were becoming limiting, and this in part drove American interventionism. Franklin Roosevelt bolstered his political standing in the 1930s by pledging to stay out of what became WWII, but he also saw that the Axis, if allowed to proceed on its chosen course unimpeded, would soon strangle American markets – and would, sooner or later, conjure up an Amerika bomber. Both or either of which would cost him his next election. So, some historians argue, he goaded the Japanese into attacking a deliberately-defenseless Pearl Harbor. Thereby adding 8 December 1941 to 13 April 1861 (the day after the fall of Fort Sumter) and 12 September 2001 as top recruiting days for American armed forces.

    Of course, selecting between isolationist atherosclerosis and interventionist exhaustion is itself a Hobson’s choice.

  43. Charles,

    To clarify my point–Washington was not an isolationist, he advocated commercial relationships but no political alliances.

    In other words when I order a book from Amazon this is a pure commercial relationship. I have no alliance with Amazon to always choose them over Buy.com or BN.com.

    Commercial relationships promote peace, political alliances promote war.

  44. That’s just it- so many times it’s our perceptions that support or defy our actions. Tradition is hard to break, even when it’s extremely reasonable and very well needed. Most people are comfortable with the lifestyle of their fathers, at least to an extent.

  45. turvyc says:

    Has anyone else noticed that this post has been featured in the News department at wordpress.com for like, two months??? holy crap it’s like nobody else blogs about the “world.”

  46. I chuckled a bit at your observation that you couldn’t believe the NYT story could be so far wrong. Wasn’t there a bit of a scandal, not too long ago, about the verisimilitude of NYT reporters?

    I think that all affiliated journalism is propaganda. Completely unbiased investigative reporting is rare in this country; I think it is well-nigh impossible to come across “news” that is written without an agenda or bias.

  47. I meant the verisimilitude of NYT “news,” not “reporters.” Sorry; I’m not quite awake over here.

  48. Kuba Kyrgyz says:

    Esenkul, Almaz. Cut this BS. We do not need those racist wackos discussing our cultural values. I and my wife are married via ala cachuu (aka eloping), and we are happy as one ever could be. I’m no college man, I’m working class, and I talk straight.

    YES, Racist wackos, ALA KACHUU is more correctly described as ELOPING in most cases. The ones like you murdered Romeo and Juliette, out of jealosy and envy.

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