The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

The Israeli who helped shaped Bush’s Caspian policy

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In a 2006 Harper’s article entitled “Academics for Hire,” Ken Silverstein noted the influence of major oil companies on S. Frederick Starr, the head of Johns Hopkins University’s Central Asia Caucasus Institute (CACI). In passing, Silverstein mentioned another influential academic:

Harvard’s program is led by Brenda Shaffer, who is so eager to back regimes in the region that she makes Starr look like a dissident. A 2001 brief she wrote, “U.S. Policy toward the Caspian Region: Recommendations for the Bush Administration,” commended Bush for “intensified U.S. activity in the region, and the recognition of the importance of the area to the pursuit of U.S. national interests.” Shaffer has also called on Congress to overturn Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which was passed in 1992 and bars direct aid to the Azeri government. The law has not yet been repealed, but the Bush Administration has been waiving it since 2002, as a payoff for Azeri support in the “war on terrorism.”

Shaffer and Starr have plenty of equally compromised companions, so Caspian watchers beware: the next time you see or hear an “independent” American expert talking about how the region’s rulers are implementing bold reforms, check the expert’s credentials to see just how independent he or she truly is.

If Harper’s had done a little more checking themselves, however, they might find that it’s not only Big Oil that’s skewing U.S. policy:

Shaffer received her Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University and has worked for a number of years as a researcher and policy analyst for the Government of Israel.


Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 18, 2012 at 9:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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