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Whenever states enter into the international arena of business and diplomacy you can figure there is something wrong with the plan.
The local news outlets played it pretty straight yesterday when news was received that a delegation of Idaho legislators and their spouses was safe following a terrorist blast in Ankara, Turkey. This was nothing more than a junket payed for by the Turkish government. It could be only a tourist promotion, but the Turks have been hustling public officials for several years. WHY?
Over the past 40 years the BOISE GUARDIAN has witnessed visits from officials in Taiwan to the legislature at a time when the island nation was struggling to remain independent–the USA does not recognize Taiwan today as a country, but various states have trade offices in Taipei.
We also saw farmers sucking up to a Libyan delegation claiming to be interested in Idaho wheat–they wanted hard red, but we grow soft white. A complex sale agreement was worked out, but the actual grain was not grown in Idaho. The reason for the Idaho interest turned out to be former Senator Frank Church’s opposition to selling US-made C-130 aircraft to Libya which could be used against Israel. The deal even had an “anti-Zionist” clause.
One politico appeared on Channel 7 saying he had taken the bait last year and had a most pleasant trip, noting the Turks are interested in Idaho beef. The legislature has no beef to sell. Ranchers have beef, but they didn’t get the freebie. We think there is a move to “BUY” political support for Turkey which has a lot of politics and diplomacy on its plate with the European Union, USA, Russia, and Israel at the moment.
We got a call from one local official who said he turned down the offer for a free trip to Turkey–airfare was NOT covered–because it was simply against the law. The local guy told us there was so much value in the gift that it would have clearly violated the Idaho ethics law. He was invited solely based on his official position.