Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia 2.0?

Excellent Article from the Christian Science Monitor:

US blocked NATO call for probe of Uzbek 'massacre'?

A report that US defense officials helped block a NATO demand for an international probe into last month's killing of protesters in Uzbekistan is proving an air base there to be one of the more diplomatically costly "lily pads" in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's new lean, mean restructuring of the US global military presence.


The Uzbek government has admitted that 173 people were killed on May 13 in Andijan but independent witnesses and human rights organizations put the number of victims at between 500 and 1,000. Human Rights Watch, for instance, has called the incident a "massacre." Karimov has portrayed the killings as a necessary response to a revolt by Islamic extremists.

Comments: Freedom is on the march, right?

There are, of course, no easy solutions to these problems. We need Uzbekistan to fight the GWOT. It's key to our current operations in the region. However, are we sacrificing long term gains in order to achieve short-term goals?

One of the biggest complaints that the Muslims have against us is that we prop up the Saudi regime without demanding much reform. And any actual reforms that have been implemented have moved at glacial speeds. And now we are supporting another repressive regime--Saudi 2.0.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but it seems to me that the Uzbek government needs us as much as we need them. We're there on the ground in a good position to influence things. Are we doing enough to ratchet up the pressure on them? Or do we have blinders on? The Cold War was a multi-generational effort. The GWOT will be the same. Are we laying the groundwork for victory 10 and 20 years from now. Or did the next UBL watch his brother or father die in the massacre while the US stood idly by?


At June 15, 2005, Blogger J. said...

Didn't we do the same thing with the Phillipines in the 1980s? Marcos had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted with US funds as long as we were allowed to keep the air and sea bases there. The ends justify the means and all that. Which just makes Bush's inaugural speech that much more ridiculous.

At June 15, 2005, Anonymous Bobby said...

Well, in fairness, the Administration is doing a lot behind the scenes to pressure Karimov into opening up his political system (you just won't see it if you don't know where to look because Central Asia is not covered by mainstream pundits). That pressure, in turn, has caused Karimov to resist agreeing to a permanent American presence until we agree not to let him go "under" like Georgia's Shevardnadze in the so-called Rose Revolution. The Administration won't do that, and that has caused Karimov to seek support from, of all places, those well-known supporters of fair, democratic and liberal regimes in Beijing.

Stratfor explained March 4, 2005, that "The West has not pushed for a "velvet revolution" in Uzbekistan, nor is it going to, given the lack of a viable opposition and the U.S. desire for
stability at the heart of Central Asia. But the United States did contribute to opposition parties in the run-up to the Feb. 27 parliamentary elections in Kyrygzstan and is engaging in similar activities in Kazakhstan. For Uzbekistan, that is enough of a threat", and predicted January 7, 2005, that "Uzbekistan's Karimov regime likely will collapse under its own weight as a decade of mismanagement gives way to chaos."

Will this one take a little longer than others? Sure. But for those who criticize the Administration for not acting everywhere, immediately, and simultaneously, I would say, don't worry, his time will come much sooner than if any of the last sixteen Presidents were still in the White House, that's for sure.

At June 15, 2005, Blogger Kris Alexander said...

My only counter to Bobby's "behind the scenes" comments are that I don't think they answer the mail in the battle of perceptions. If we are percieved as supporting a despotic regime and turning a blind eye, or worse tacitly approving, a massacre like this then we loose some ground.

Of course, we can't act everywhere. But, we should focus on acting in locations where we actually have boots on the ground.

Thanks for the comments! Well done as usual.

At June 25, 2005, Anonymous Bobby said...

I meant to post this a few days ago, but have been consumed with other targets.

Interestingly, while we were debating the relative merits of the US "behind the scenes" pressure against the Karimov regime, Russian news was reporting: "Uzbekistan restricts U.S. flights over its territory in response to White House's embargo threats"

It doesn't necessarily mean that the average Uzbeki understands the role that the US is playing supporting regime change in his country, but it's just further evidence that the Administration is pursuing regime change behind-the-scenes and that you won't read about it in the American media.


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