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May 13, 2008

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But he's not an Angry Black Man, so he doesn't count.

He worked allot. I wish I had his money. Peace Corps deals with these dictators every day. They are the only aid allowed in countries because of US and UN sanctions. I don't mind the consulting, but would have to give up other things that I like to do.

I start at $80,000.

impressive list

but of course mccain doesn't listen to lobbyists so it's all irrelevant

Actually, a more substantive question: it's not clear to me from the post, and I haven't the time to check the links, to what degree that Black himself is implicated in the doings of the company. I'd assume that (being a partner and all) he was up to his eyebrows in it, but I'd like to make sure if possible.

Anarch: I believe he actually runs the firm, so he has that kind of responsibility. That being the case, he would presumably have veto power over clients, and could easily have decided that going to bat for Marcos (say) was a bridge too far. Given the people he seems not to have had any problem with, though, it's not clear what "a bridge too far" might possibly look like.

He was certainly involved personally with Savimbi (subject of next post.) As for the others -- did he personally manage their accounts? Don't know; suspect not. Did he sign off on the idea of representing them? He would have had to, I think. Did he e.g. make calls on their behalf? Again, I'm not sure, except in the case of Savimbi.

There's one consolation in all of this: Men like Charlie Black are rare. John McCain may be bad in some respects, but not in a Charlie Black way. The main problem with McCain isn't that he's evil, but that for all his "experience", he is so shockingly naïve about lobbyists and politics in general. I wonder what would happen if he actually got to read the file on Charlie Black (or perhaps see a nice lecture-style presentation by professor Hilzoy). Call me naïve, but I think McCain's corruption is a result of ignorance. Perhaps even he could wake up to the fact that judgement matters more than experience.

Harald: Please. McCain as innocent victim of corrupt, evil lobbyists?

It was U.S. government policy to support these vicious dictators -- because it suited our "strategic interests" or, more nakedly, the interests of our corporate ruling class. The Charlie Blacks of the world are there to sop up the extra buckets of money involved when dictators are given a blank check by our government. They're part of the permanent apparatus of Washington. (And don't kid yourself; there are Democratic Charlie Blacks, too.)

Do you honestly think the U.S. government backed Mobutu for decades because of the slick PR job Black, Manfort did for him? Did we invade and occupy Iraq because BHSK got Ahmed Chalabi so much time with reporters? No.

The PR work is essential for making the position respectable, particularly to the elite media, but the decision has already been made.

When the official position is to treat the pig as if she were a beautiful woman, Charlie Black will be there to pick up the contract for the skillful application of lipstick.

And John McCain will be there to back whatever bloodthirsty policy is required to keep the clients of Charlie Black's firm in power. (Unless, as occasionally happens, enough popular resistance and world attention to the dictatorship develops that our strategic interests are better served by ditching the suddenly disreputable character and taking our chances on a new "partner".)

This is a magisterial post by hilzoy, and I'm therefore a little reluctant to throw cold water on one of its purposes by emphasizing the fact that both parties have sleazy permanent power players who do this kind of lobbying. But it's just the way things are: A close look at the client lists of Tony Coelho, or Walter Mondale, or Clark Clifford, is not advisable before sitting down to the breakfast sausage.

However, I believe that the forthcoming part two, detailing the personal treatment Black gave to the Savimbi account, will highlight one of the actual differences between the parties.

For the most part, Democrats of the last forty years have been "containment" specialists: keep on supporting the crappy dicators we've been supporting, and keep pressing other, more democratic or less friendly governments to do things our way, but not go all out to replace independent or even hostile governments with pliant dictatorships.

Reagan and the rightists who surged into power with him in 1980 were different: they supported "rollback" -- meaning, the overthrow of unfriendly or insufficiently friendly governments by client armies, in the name of anti-communism. It's an old tradition, and it's happened under Democratic presidents as well, but the Republicans are true believers with the big plays: Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973...

"But it's just the way things are: A close look at the client lists of Tony Coelho, or Walter Mondale, or Clark Clifford, is not advisable before sitting down to the breakfast sausage."

Clifford has been dead since 1998, so I doubt he's holding onto many clients.

I'd be quite interested in a pointer as regards Mondale, and Coelho, and any sorts of equivalent clients, though, Nell, if you could be so kind as to offer them, having put that on the table. What specific clients are you referring to? Thanks.

(Mondale has been with Dorsey & Whitney, the law firm; here's a list of clients. Do they have a more secret list, or what?)

"For the most part, Democrats of the last forty years have been 'containment' specialists: keep on supporting the crappy dicators we've been supporting, and keep pressing other, more democratic or less friendly governments to do things our way, but not go all out to replace independent or even hostile governments with pliant dictatorships."

I've never seen "containment" used this way before. "Containment" was the concept George F. Kennan came up with as a policy towards the Soviet Union. Certainly the U.S. supported dictators as you say, but I've never before heard that referred to as part of "containment."

And I've read a heck of a lot on containment. Like, hundreds of books. Ditto plenty on our policies as regards every country in the world, and the many thuggish and worse regimes we've supported. Never heard that referred to as "containment." Is this usage common somewhere, and if so, may I ask where?

"hey supported "rollback" -- meaning, the overthrow of unfriendly or insufficiently friendly governments by client armies, in the name of anti-communism."

"Rollback" was always the proposal to specifically "liberate" a country in the Soviet bloc. It's never been used to refer to regimes that weren't outright part of the Soviet bloc.

And it's never happened, save for Afghanistan. Most specifically Iran and Guatamala and Chile were never ever part of Eastern Europe, nor China. Honest. This just isn't what those words mean, Nell. I'm not disagreeing with your points at all, but they're not about either "containment" or "rollback" which have quite specific meanings as regards only the Soviet bloc, and specifically Eastern Europe/China.

Actually, Walter Mondale spoke to my students when they were in the Minnesota last summer and after the meeting, I had a chance to talk to him a bit, and he mentioned that he was particularly working with the firm's Japanese clients, as well as American companies looking to do business in Japan. Dorsey and Whitney is represented Wal-mart when they tried to enter the Japanese market, though they haven't had much success. I don't like Wal-mart that much, but it's a stretch to put them with Marcos and Savimbi.

Awfulawfulawful.

Your literalism is causing the problem here, Gary. I know the traditional uses of the terms, which is why I use them in quotes here. It's in the nature of a leetle joke about the dueling foreign-lobby forces.

The Reagan crowd did themselves use the term 'rollback' with reference to Angola and Nicaragua. From their point of view, both were in the Soviet orbit already -- and the later Cuban military and logistical support to each was just confirmation. You're going to want a cite, and I've spent too many hours on the intertubes this morning already. My memory is that the Reaganites used the term in speeches before the (Moonie-supported) World Anti-Communist League. Not exactly the Council on Foreign Relations, where you'd horrify the traditionalists.

Okay, Clark Clifford when he was alive was our Charlie Black. I'm pretty sure the index of Chomsky's Washington Connection would turn up a cite or two. Counting on your book boxes to still be packed from the move...

Mondale? Maybe I'm just remembering some vile corporate thing Mondale repped, and it's not a country wanting to erase some human rights atrocity.

Wasn't it Coelho who's got the "What Armenian genocide?" brief for Turkey? Oh, wait, no, I'm thinking of Gephardt and Solzrz. Yes, found a cite. Though their $1.2 million and $165K respectively are just chump change compared with lead Turkey lobbyist Livingston, a Republican, earning another who knows how much on top of the $12 mil Turkey's already paid to his firm:

After Mr. Livingston resigned from the House in 1999 amid disclosures about an extramarital affair, Turkey retained the Livingston Group, his new bipartisan firm. It has built a large foreign practice, representing among others the governments of Azerbaijan, the Congo Republic and the Cayman Islands. More than a quarter of the firm’s income, which has totaled more than $71 million, has come from foreign clients, records show.

Uh, so maybe Dems are practically squeaky clean on the vile dictators/human rights violators front. Except for Gephardt. Who, despite years of taking the Armenian position in the House, now has ... national security concerns. One point two million of them, I'd guess. Solarz may do some more of this kind of thing (he was on, maybe chaired, the Foreign Relations committee before he retired), but this project was likely at the urging of Israeli friends.

We might see some changes if the elections bring bigger Democratic majorities in both chambers; at some point being represented by yesterday's Republicans just might not be good enough for the valued vile dictator clientele.

This Asia Times article on India's move from one bigfoot firm to another during the first Bush term is illustrative of my point that the game is played by both parties -- but no question, Republicans are way ahead on vileness points so far.

Great post.

Just one thing: Please don't call Burma by the name the brutal junta fashioned for it. James Fallows explains.

southpaw: I should probably have capitalized the G in "government of Myanmar", but I was calling the people who hired Goodyear and Davenport by the name they give themselves. Elsewhere, I've used Burma. Fwiw.

Also, I didn't mean to make any claim about Republican lobbyists vs. Democratic ones. I believe Black's lobbying firm is owned by Mark Penn's. I'm just making an argument about a specific individual whom McCain has taken on as his chief political advisor.

hilzoy: [no claim about] Republican lobbyists vs. Democratic ones. I believe Black's lobbying firm is owned by Mark Penn's.

Yes, wheels within wheels. The biggest firms are "bipartisan" enough to be ready for all contingencies -- with the same connected cats appearing over and over.

Some elected officials you could see early on in their careers would be still at the table in "retirement" (Breaux and Lott, together at last). Some seem to have grown out of the very marble of the buildings, never to have been anywhere else except for hunting trips and brief ambassadorships or charge d'affaires stints (Vernon Jordan and Robert Strauss; Brent Scowcroft, Christine Vick, Frank Carlucci).

Solarz, by the way, has a much bigger role with Turkey than just last summer's dust-up stifling the Armenian genocide resolution.

Claim: "...the fact that both parties have sleazy permanent power players who do this kind of lobbying. But it's just the way things are: A close look at the client lists of Tony Coelho, or Walter Mondale, or Clark Clifford, is not advisable before sitting down to the breakfast sausage."

Revision: "Uh, so maybe Dems are practically squeaky clean on the vile dictators/human rights violators front."

Thanks for the clarification. Mondale, still being alive, now no longer has grounds to sue you for making false and libelous statements about him. Apparently Coehlo, too. Ditto that every Democrat who was offended at the false claim can withdraw their offense.

"Just one thing: Please don't call Burma by the name the brutal junta fashioned for it. James Fallows explains."

We just went round on this only what, a a week ago today? Have you considered that some of us might know more than what you read in a blog post by James Fallows (not to mention that we might have been reading Fallows' blog since he started, and know perfectly well that he's no expert on the topic?)?

Because that might be the case.

Hilzoy: For purposes of this thread, yours is a fine summary on Marcos (and the link to Alfred McCoy, for whose work I have great respect, is particularly apt). I could add more details, but to what end?

In the ranks of comparative odiousness (odiousity?) I suspect Marcos may not rank at the very very top. E.g., he was not personally (physically) brutal, like some of the others, and most of the violence he perpetrated seems at least to have had some political point, rather than being totally random and anarchic. But this is hardly to exonerate him.

What gets to me, personally, is that the Philippines was, before he came along, so much better off than most of these other places. It *had* a functioning democracy, for twenty years already. It had a military that respected civilian authority. It had an independent judiciary. It had a pretty decent educational system for a "Third World" society. It had an extremely free press. In economic terms, it was poor, but comparable to its cohort in Asia - twice as rich (per capita) as Thailand then, and had only been passed by Taiwan and South Korea a few years before.

And Marcos, besides torturing people and stealing the country blind, threw almost all of this away.

[...] What gets to me, personally, is that the Philippines was, before he came along, so much better off than most of these other places. It *had* a functioning democracy, for twenty years already. It had a military that respected civilian authority. It had an independent judiciary. It had a pretty decent educational system for a "Third World" society. It had an extremely free press. In economic terms, it was poor, but comparable to its cohort in Asia - twice as rich (per capita) as Thailand then, and had only been passed by Taiwan and South Korea a few years before.

And Marcos, besides torturing people and stealing the country blind, threw almost all of this away.

As is almost always the case with the esteemed Dr. Ngo, I second the opinion.

And I add that this needs to be seen in the context of the U.S. moral and historical responsibility for the Philippines via our mission to civilize them through conquest.

[...] In the official war years, there were 4,196 American soldiers dead, 1,020 of which were from actual combat; the remainder died of disease, and 2,930 were wounded.[2] There were also 2,000 casualties that the Philippine Constabulary suffered during the war, over one thousand of which were fatalities. Philippine military deaths are estimated at 20,000 with 16,000 actually counted, while civilian deaths numbered between 250,000 and 1,000,000 Filipinos. These numbers take into account those killed by war, malnutrition, and a cholera epidemic that raged during the war.[63] The Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative gives an estimate of 510,000 civilian deaths, and 20,000 military deaths, excluding 100,000 deaths from the Moro Rebellion.
But, you know, it was a good war:
In 1908, Manuel Arellano Remondo, in a book entitled "General Geography of the Philippine Islands", wrote: “The population decreased due to the wars, in the five-year period from 1895 to 1900, since, at the start of the first insurrection, the population was estimated at 9,000,000, and at present (1908), the inhabitants of the Archipelago do not exceed 8,000,000 in number.”[64]

U.S. attacks into the countryside often included scorched earth campaigns where entire villages were burned and destroyed, torture (water cure) and the concentration of civilians into “protected zones” (concentration camps). Many of the civilian casualties resulted from disease and famine.

Despite all that civilizing help from the U.S., the Philippines were doing reasonably well by the time of the Commonwealth, let alone the Third Republic.

Until the later Marcos era, his second term, the New Society, and martial law.

Please to release my comment.

Thanks.

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