A friend pointed me to this Wikileaks disclosure – an e-mail from a former US ambassador to ¬†Tajikistan. ¬†It reminds me how much I miss Central Asia…

“The Ambassador lost track of the toasts after the tenth. His shot-glass held vodka. The minister’s high-ball glass was kept filled with un-cut Scotch. Late into the lunch, the minister was slurring badly and was not walking a straight line. Nevertheless, as the Ambassador kept attempting a gracious retreat, the Minister insisted on showing him “secret rooms” in the ministry. Each “secret room” was merely another public conference room with a large fresh flower display and – again and again – another round of toasts set out. This bizarre event was curious, because U.S.-Tajik military relations have incrementally been improving, especially with the National Guard, but also with the Russia-centric Ministry of Defense. Khairulloyev continues to make clear he serves at the pleasure of President Rahmonov and may be replaced after the November presidential election. Although this drunk-fest is how many old-guard former Soviets do mutual business, it was most unusual for an American guest. It was, to a degree, a mark of respect. We would not be surprised if President Rahmonov had ordered Khairulloyev to “do something for the departing Ambassador,” and we rather wonder if this may have been a sort of valedictory by an old-guard security minister who suspects his days of service are numbered. Whatever, we were pleased to have drunk Khairulloyev well under the table.”