Bad Guys at Ground Zero

This oily business of dealing with evil foreign leaders.

Cold War, warm feelings: Reagan chats with the Taliban in the White House in 1983.

New York's tabloids and assorted pols came unglued yesterday about the very idea of Iran's crackpot hardliner Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wanting to visit Ground Zero.

Where were they when Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, whose regime boils people to death, was courted by George W. Bush and Mayor Mike Bloomberg?

Don't let your own blood boil at the thought of a bad guy visiting our sacralized 9/11 site. Condemn it, if you want, but Ahmedinejad was just trying to score political points, as our own pols do all the time at Ground Zero. He got what he wanted: The angry U.S. reaction will play well back home in Tehran, especially with the radical mullahs who really run Iran and like to stir up hatred for the "Great Satan."

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Do we even have to say that in international politics, enemies today are pals tomorrow, and vice versa, and that the reasons almost always have to do with greed for money and natural resources?

On the other hand, it would be nice if our press at least reported these events. The Uzbek despot Karimov laid a wreath at Ground Zero in 2002, and there was literally not one word in the U.S. press about it at the time — I'm not talking about criticism or praise but any words at all. Nothing.

So Karimov is not a bad enough guy to get you worked up? Saddam Hussein was brown-nosed by Don Rumsfeld in December 1983. There's no reason to condemn Rumsfeld for that; it was just oil politics — just like the oil politics that Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney played when they seized upon the 9/11 attacks to justify invading Iraq.

After all, when Texas oil execs questioned Cheney in 1998, when he was still at Halliburton, about the physical dangers of pursuing oil in turbulent parts of Asia, the future vice president and de facto commander in chief told them:

"You've got to go where the oil is. I don't worry about it a lot."

Saddam is gone, but we still don't really have Iraq's oil. We do, however, have such evil people as the Taliban to deal with, right? Well, the Taliban were hailed as Afghan freedom fighters by Ronald Reagan during their triumphant visit to the White House on March 21, 1983. Reagan said at the time:

"To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom. Their courage teaches us a great lesson - that there are things in this world worth defending.

"To the Afghan people, I say on behalf of all Americans that we admire your heroism, your devotion to freedom, and your relentless struggle against your oppressors."

That's ancient history, huh? In fact, they were still our pals 14 years later. In late 1997, the Taliban were wined and dined at the homes of Bush's pals, the Houston oil execs, during Dubya's reign as the hangingest governor in U.S. history.

The oil schnooks were buttering up the Taliban for pipelines and other bidness, of course. See Wayne Madsen's "Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the Bush Oil Team" for details.

At least that courting of the Taliban less than 10 years ago was reported at the time. Of the many words in the mainstream press, my favorites are from a December 14, 1997, story by Caroline Lees in the Telegraph (U.K.), in which she describes the Taliban officials' visit to Unocal vice president Martin Miller's palatial Houston home:

After a meal of specially prepared halal meat, rice and Coca-Cola, the hardline fundamentalists — who have banned women from working and girls from going to school — asked Mr Miller about his Christmas tree.

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