More on Uzbekistan

by John Q on May 23, 2005

The NYT has survivors’ accounts of the massacre in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, on last night’s ABC News[1], I saw the commander of the US base in Uzbekistan interviewed. He said something like “The host country military are doing a wonderful job protecting the base and we have had no trouble from the disturbances”. That’s the same host country military that was murdering hundreds of its own people a few days earlier. I can’t find a link to this on Google news, so I’d be grateful to anyone who can point me to a transcript.

Bush’s friendly relations with the Uzbek dictator Karimov have been unshaken by this, and any stated opposition to Karimov’s use of torture and murder is meaningless: it’s an open secret that a good deal of it is being done on behalf of the Administration, as part of the policy of extraordinary rendition.

The blogospheric right has mostly been either silent or supportive, along with much of the pro-war left. But some cracks are emerging. Here’s a piece by Stephen Schwartz and William Kristol from the Weekly Standard. And on the pro-war left, there are some good pieces from Eric the Unread and Harry’s Place.

fn1. That’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American network of the same acronym, but I assume they got the clip from one of the big international networks.



Barry 05.23.05 at 8:26 am

John, you have been found guilty by a court of warbloggers of premature anti-Karimovism. You are expected to recant your anti-americanism immediately.

As a condition of parole, when Jenna decides to invade Uzbekistan, you will be expected to loudly dennounce Karimov, and to support anything done by the US to Uzbekistan, up to and including killing as many ‘terrorists’ as are found lying around dead.


JayAnne 05.23.05 at 9:23 am

Well what do you expect? Karimov is our sonofa(sexistword). Meanwhile (via WAPO’s *very disappointed* with those Orange Ukrainians, who want to nationalise stuff:

The official justification for these populist policies is that they are meant to boost Tymoshenko’s popularity for the parliamentary elections next March. Both Ukrainians and Ukraine’s foreign friends need an explanation of what is going on.
(The author is director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.)


Brendan 05.23.05 at 9:45 am

To their credit, an increasing amount of pro-war bloggers are realising that something is rotten in the state of Texas.

Everywhere the pressure is building. For example: bet you thought things were sorted in Azerbaijan, didn’t you? Think again.

‘Anyone waiting to see just how committed George W. Bush is to his democracy doctrine need focus on one place in the coming weeks and months, perhaps even days…Azerbaijan.

A major opposition protest is planned for Saturday in the capital Baku. Azerbaijan’s ruling thugs, arguably the most violent and repressive regime in the former soviet bloc, are not waiting for Saturday to start killing.

Ehtiram Jalilov, 35, deputy head of Azerbaijan’s National Democratic Party, became the second opposition activist to die in unexplained circumstances this year, an allied opposition party, Musavat (Equality), said. Jalilov was sipping tea with a colleague on Wednesday when he slumped dead at the table, according to Qabil Huseynli, deputy head of Musavat, one of the former Soviet republic’s best known opposition parties. In February, a 21-year-old Musavat activist died under similar circumstances.

Azerbaijan’s parliamentary election is scheduled for November, and will no doubt provide more than enough electoral fraud to fuel upheaval and opposition rallies. But it appears that opposition parties are anxious to get on with revolution…the protest will go ahead Saturday, despite the arrest of dozens of its organizers in the past few days.

The Bush administration and the neo-con movement are peppered with oil interests linked to Azerbaijan. This is not conspiracy theory nonsense. It is a well documented fact, which has helped keep geopolitics in the region frozen in stalemate while democracy continues to decay. In addition, there is no real Islamist movement in Azerbaijan that could be blamed if protests turn into blood stained streets, as in Uzbekistan. In short, Azerbaijan is the perfect storm in which the democracy doctrine will either be shown as real policy, or merely neo-con happy talk.

So, Mr. Bush…here you go. Time to put up or shut up.’ (From Tim Russo, ‘Democracy Guy’).

Same in Uzbekistan. Same in Saudi Arabia.

‘Three Saudi liberal democrats– exactly the sort of people Western governments should be supporting in a country ruled by such a benighted regime– have been sentenced to lengthy prison stays after circulating a petition calling for a peaceful transition to constitutional democracy. They were tried after they bravely refused to sign pledges not to make further public statements or talk to the foreign press.’ (From Harry’s Place).

Brian Whitaker in the Guardian has a similar piece on democratic pressures building up in Egypt.

The fact is that revolution is coming to the middle east: and either genuine reform takes place in the next one or two years, or in 10-15 years the middle east will be burning, as all the corrupt American backed dictatorships (UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi, Egypt, Pakistan…the horrible list goes on and on) are overthrown.

It is highly unlikely that these new governments will be friendly to ‘us’.

It’s piss or get off the pot time mr Bush.


jet 05.23.05 at 9:55 am

Does anyone really know what happened at the massacre? Because it appears that Rice will end up cutting all foreign aid and continue to apply as much pressure as possible (hard to do with Russia picks up any US slack).


David T. Beito 05.23.05 at 10:07 am

Schwartz’s sudden road to Damascus conversion should be taken with a grain of salt. He has played a leading role over the past few years as a cheerleader for U.S. aid to this dicatorship:


Brendan 05.23.05 at 10:20 am


Rice’s threat to ‘cut aid’ should be taken with an extremely large pinch of salt, considering what happened the last time the US ‘cut aid’ in response to ‘human rights violations’ in the region.

‘In July, the U.S. State Department determined that Uzbekistan had failed to make sufficient progress on its human rights commitments as outlined in the U.S.-Uzbek Bilateral Agreement and therefore did not qualify for direct government assistance, cutting U.S. $18 million in aid. However, in August, the Department of Defense undermined the principled message this decision sent by pledging U.S. $21 million in new military aid. The U.S. continues to regard Uzbekistan as an important partner in the war on terror’.

Fine words are not enough.


Darren 05.23.05 at 11:04 am

Enemies bought friends sold This Guardian commentary may be of interest?


jet 05.23.05 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for the link, fascinating read. Certainly seems to paint a more truthful picture of the situation rather than the one being fronted here at CT.

Those abuses would happen whether the US was there or not. At least with the US there, we are able to excert some sort of morderation. And simply because of the US presence there is magnified international attention on all the regional events.

And if Bush and Rice are screwing up here, how so? What are they doing wrong? What could they do to resolve this? Invade? Sanctions? Beg?


Uncle Kvetch 05.23.05 at 1:04 pm

As a condition of parole, when Jenna decides to invade Uzbekistan, you will be expected to loudly dennounce Karimov, and to support anything done by the US to Uzbekistan, up to and including killing as many ‘terrorists’ as are found lying around dead.

“But of course we had to invade! Sure, there are other dictators around the world that we don’t have a problem with, but Karimov is different! He had rape rooms! RAAAAPE ROOOOOOMS!”


David All 05.23.05 at 2:53 pm

RE: Barry & Uncle Kvetch: The really nasty atrocity that Karimov is ALLEGED to have done is to have some dissidents BOILED ALIVE! Remember that all you folks at the Ministry of Truth in case the USA falls out with Saddam, er Karimov!


David T. Beito 05.23.05 at 3:09 pm


You ask what Rice and Bush did wrong?!!

The U.S. has given nearly one billion in aid to this dictator since 1992! This pace of aid increased after 9-11 even though it has long been known that this is a bloodthirsty dictator who is so much a commie that he has banned private gardens.


neil 05.23.05 at 3:32 pm

John, if you are going to accuse “much” of the pro-war left of being silent or even being supportive of Bush on this issue then provide some evidence. Otherwise you are just indulging in gratuitous insults.


Brendan 05.23.05 at 6:00 pm

‘Those abuses would happen whether the US was there or not.’

And you know this, how?


jet 05.23.05 at 7:13 pm

David t. Beito,
By that same vein of logic, I suppose you were against the billions in aid given to N. Korea? Cuddly Uncle Kim is hands down a larger monster than Karimov could ever hope to be, yet no one complained when the US sent gazillions to prop up his tin pot dictatorship (by feeding the people starving to death, and as a side effect feeding his armies).

So when you come out against the Clinton N. Korea aid I’ll listen to your criticisms of Bush.


John Quiggin 05.23.05 at 8:41 pm

Neil, one of the problems with silence is that you can’t reasonably point to individual instances. If, say, Hitchens, is more concerned about George Galloway than about Uzbekistan, that’s fair enough. No one person can be expected to write on any particular topic.

But taking the pro-war left as a whole, I would have expected more discussion of this than I’ve seen, since it casts a fair bit of doubt on the morality of supporting Bush on Iraq.

In any case, the main point of this sentence was to lead into links to pro-war leftists who have taken a stand on this.


Kevin Donoghue 05.24.05 at 5:33 am

…I would have expected more discussion of this than I’ve seen, since it casts a fair bit of doubt on the morality of supporting Bush on Iraq.

Oddly enough, many of those who supported Bush on Iraq did so despite having little or no confidence in Bush’s motives. The argument was along the lines: Yes, the decision to invade may be driven by imperial ambitions or even greed, but anyone getting rid of Saddam, for whatever reason, deserves support. I always found this line of argument unsatisfactory, but the best response I could come up was: If Bush has no particular concern for Iraq’s welfare, we can’t have any confidence in his handling of the aftermath.

But the idea that nothing could be worse than Saddam has proven very resistent to evidence.


jet 05.24.05 at 7:38 am

Perhaps it is resistant to evidence because the evidence isn’t that convincing. If England and France would not have declared war on Germany, magnitudes fewer would have ended up dieing in the 40’s. So was WWII not worth it? I would argue that even though WII caused far more deaths than it saved, it was worth it. And thus could follow the same logic for Iraq.


dai 05.24.05 at 11:06 am

I would argue that even though WII caused far more deaths than it saved, it was worth it. And thus could follow the same logic for Iraq.

So long as it’s someone else’s life, of course.


jet 05.25.05 at 7:44 am

So WWII was not worth it? I’d be interested in hearing your arguement on why it wasn’t. And last I heard, the US is spending vast amounts of treasure in Iraq, and US lives are still being lost in Iraq.

Or were you saying that I personally would change my mind if I were in Iraq in the firing line? Well, that would be an odd situation, cause I’d probably be killed by my neighbors for speaking out against the crazy mullahs, and saying that capitilism and democracy are great things. American bombs would be my last worry.

Or perhaps you meant as a soldier? Well if I were a soldier, statistically I’d be much more likely to support Bush’s war in Iraq, even though I’d be much more likely to lose my life in support of Bush’s decisions.

So don’t get all esoteric on me, tell me what you mean, other than a cheap piece of rhetoric trying to take away my right to have an opinion.

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