Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan Declares War-- Against The Image Borat Cursed It With... Bonanza For Far Right Beltway Lobbying Firm
Is it time for Ken Silverstein to update his incredibly thought-provoking book Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship-- with a little humor? Or maybe just an honest warning to the government of glorious nation of Kazakhstan: save your money; there's not a lobbyist alive, not even among the den of notorious scam artists who populate the crooked right-wing firm founded by Haley Barbour, who's going to be able to compete with Borat. Just go with the flow. Maybe even open a Borat-themed cultural park, if not in Astana, the capital, or Almaty, the biggest city, then perhaps in the Semipalatinsk Polygon (now called Semey), the old Soviet nuclear weapon testing site.
“People look at Borat and think this country is a backwater, that it’s unsophisticated,” said William Nixon, a former Reagan speech writer, now chairman and CEO of Policy Impact Communications, the lobbying firm that snagged the $1.5 million deal straight out of the pages of Silverstein's book.
A team of a dozen lobbyists registered for the account and is working on the country’s ascension to the World Trade Organization, removing a number of trade restrictions put in place by the United States and improving its image.
Nixon said that the impression of Kazakhstan created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who exploited ignorance of the little-known nation, was false. “Part of our job will be to change that perception,” he said.
“It has a rich history, a deep culture and is a key economic ally of the United States,” Nixon said.
Nixon's firm seems to be taking its game plan straight from Turkmeniscam and I can't help but think they're pissing in their pants when they talk with the sophisticated non-backwater Kazakhs. This is one of the silliest things I've ever read-- Nixon's plans, not Silverstein's fantastic book:
According to the contract, Policy Impact lobbyists hope to achieve several objectives for Kazakhstan in Washington over the next year.
For example, they will advocate for legislation that will repeal trade restrictions and will extend normal trade relations treatment to Kazakh products. In addition, lobbyists will work to form a Central Asia Caucus on Capitol Hill. And they will “build a positive image of Kazakhstan” through “an aggressive earned media campaign,” according to the contract.
That last objective will include placing at least four op-eds in “prestige media,” reaching out to think tanks and arranging trips to Kazakhstan for high-level U.S. government officials.
The firm also plans to monitor coverage by a list of “writers known to be critical of the nation,” which includes Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, and David Stern of the New York Times, according to the contract.
Kazakhstan will have a tough image to correct in Washington. The most recent State Department human rights report says the country has had incidents of prisoner abuse, restrictions on freedom of speech and the press as well as evidence of government corruption.
Nixon is well aware of the nation’s struggles and plans to emphasize the changes the former Soviet republic has made, including its initiative to extend religious freedoms to all of its citizens. “There is a lot of good going on. It is part of our objective to make sure people understand it is a work in progress,” Nixon said.
Maybe the Kazakhs are following the outline of Silverstein's book too. In June of 2007 their sham parliament named the brutal dictator-- and former Soviet era Communist Party boss-- Nursultan Nazarbayev, president-for-life. It has been reported that he maintains "strict control" over the country's politics, while creating a right-wing think tank-inspired predator economy for his