Back by popular demand, it's "That's so Jane's!" where we apply the snarky Valley Girl charm of our beloved dead magazine 'Jane' to questions pondered by the types of people who read 'Jane's', the "defence" publication that basically to the military industrial complex what WWD is to the celebrity sartorial complex. Your interviewer is Wonkette's Anonymous Lobbyist, and her subject is Joshua Foust, editor of Registan.net, a blog devoted to all things Central Asia and holder of a day job somewhere in the MIC. He's kind of squirrelly like that, and he refused to get too trashed with Anonymous on account of "security clearance" or something, but she wheedled out the truth on subjects ranging from Borat to plutonium by applying a dollop of something the pros call the "Mystery Method"...They should maybe look into it at Guantanamo!
Anonymous Lobbyist:So like, the drinking thing. Central Asia is Muslim, but it's also sort of like, Russian. What's their stance on drinking?
Foust: They do it. Some even eat pork. They're Muslim the way we're Catholic.
Anonymous Lobbyist: Yeah, like even Jenna Jameson is Catholic, did you know that?
Anonymous Lobbyist: Ok, anyway, do you ever get jokes about being part of the Military Industrial Complex, you know, because of your name?
Foust: You mean the Goethe play?
Anonymous Lobbyist: No I mean the "bargain" thing.
Anonymous Lobbyist: Just playing! But seriously, what does Central Asia have going for it that the average Jezebel reader couldn't learn from Borat?
Foust: Borat is kind of like a cockroach- he winds up everywhere, but he's really unwelcome. One of the only realistic things in that movie was when he tried to abduct Pamela Anderson. Bride-napping is actually a serious problem in Kyrgyzstan, and, to a lesser extent, is Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Anonymous Lobbyist: Wow. That sucks. Probably most of those kidnappers aren't wealthy Oxford-educated Jews, either.
Foust: That's a safe bet!
But, seriously, Central Asia is one of the last frontiers in energy. It's run by power-hungry psychopaths. Many of the countries that we as a nation worry about - Russia, China and Iran - are building good relationships there that are perhaps not in America's best interests.
Anonymous Lobbyist: Ooooh, tell me about the power hungry psychopaths!
Foust: Well, Turkmenistan used to be ruled by a egomaniac who named months of the year after himself, and constructed a series of enormous golden statues of himself, one of which would always rotate to face the sun. Uzbekistan is ruled by a man now known for boiling dissidents in oil while they're alive; he also made a few headlines in 2005 when his troops murdered several hundred people in the city of Andijon who had come to protest his rule and economic policies. His term actually ended in January, but he still hasn't hasn't scheduled an election.
Anonymous Lobbyist: But they keep a lid on terrorism that way!
Foust: Well yes. As long as you aren't a journalist you can live a mostly normal life in Kazakhstan (Almaty, with a population pushing close to 2 million, actually has a thriving gay scene), Kyrgyzstan, and the big cities of Tajikistan. It is just desperately poor and still isolated — that is the real challenge, in addition to not being tortured and murdered.
Anonymous Lobbyist: So tell me about the oil. As a wise sixteen year old once said, "Oil is money, daddy." How much do they have?
Foust: Central Asia will produce somewhere around 1/10 of the energy OPEC produces (4 million barrels per day versus OPEC's 45). There are rumors that Kazakhstan is sitting on almost as much oil as Kuwait, but much of it is still unexplored thanks to the politics of foreign companies (an Italian firm, Eni, just had its lease on the Kashagan field revoked for "environmental violations," but most likely there were political shenanigans behind it). In the grand scheme of things, Central Asia doesn't have all that much oil or natural gas, but it isn't Arab, and finding non-Arab sources, even when controlled by guys like Hugo Chavez, is considered preferable.
Anonymous: Wait, which reminds me: I keep hearing nukes are hot again.
Foust: Well, take Iran. Their oil infrastructure is so dilapidated they will become net importers by about 2015 or so — and they realized it is cheaper to build nuclear reactors than to upgrade their entire pumping, distribution, and refinery network. And coming back to Central Asia, Kazakhstan has uranium.
Anonymous: And butt sex! So like, what's the difference between uranium and plutonium?
Foust: 2 protons.
Anonymous: Are they both on the periodic table?
Foust: Yes, Plutonium 94. Uranium is 92
Anonymous: So they're two spots apart, just like they're two protons apart! Is that a coincidence?
Anonymous:Are there any other differences?
Foust: Functionally, plutonium is only useful for weapons, while uranium can also be used for power generation. And refined uranium, into an isotope called 235 (if I recall right) is also really only used for weapons.
Anonymous: Okay, so who has plutonium. Like North Korea and who else?
Foust: Well, we don't really know. North Korea does operate centrifuges, but those are for separating weaponizable Uranium out of regular uranium. Iran also has a centrifuge system set up, but it's of dubious quality.
Anonymous:Wait, centrifuge. Am I right to say that is like the amusement park ride where you spin around and stick to the walls and throw up on yourself?
Foust: Yes, they spin around uranium gas until the heavier atoms sink to the bottom and the top can be siphoned off.
Anonymous: Okay, so uranium alone, without centrifuges, is like Chanel, without Lagerfeld. Tinkerbell without Paris. Nicole without Rachel Zoe.
Anonymous:Okay, an Kazakhstan made all their old centrifuges into gravitron rides or something.