Friday, May 13, 2005

"Our Relatives Started To Disappear"

There's trouble in Uzbekistan, one of our steadfast allies. From Reuters:

At least nine people were killed on Friday when rebels in the eastern Uzbek town of Andizhan broke comrades out of jail and seized a key government building, taking 10 police officers hostage. Around 2,000 protesters gathered in the center of town and there was no sign of police on the streets. The violence, the worst in the authoritarian ex-Soviet state since bombings in the capital, Tashkent, last year, hit the densely populated Ferghana Valley, one of the poorest and most volatile Muslim regions in Central Asia. The Andizhan rebels, some of whom broke out of jail where they were being held during a trial on religious extremism, demanded Russian mediation to avert further bloodshed. "This is the limit. Our relatives started to disappear," one rebel leader, who declined to give his name, told Reuters inside Andizhan's administration building.

Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's dictator, has been waging an increasingly brutal war against "religious extremists" as well as others in his crosshairs. And what's a religious extremist in Uzbekistan? Someone who does not practice the state's version of religion. Several years ago, hailing a new law that imposed sweeping restrictions on religion, Karimov said, ""Such people must be shot in the forehead. If necessary, I'll shoot them myself."

This is a Soviet-era tyrant to whom we send millions in cash and material. He's received the red carpet treatment at the White House, and almost every senior Administration has paid him a visit to kowtow in person. Some shameful photos that betray our ultimate priorities--along with some tidbits about this madman's human rights record--appear here. Does the photo of Rumsfeld remind you of another one of him shaking hands with a different torturing tyrant?

As I've said in the past--including in this recent post--this sort of hypocrisy is what we're really fighting, because it defines us in the eyes of those to whom we're trying to "export democracy." Read the above Reuters dispatch again. Key quote: "The Andizhan rebels, some of whom broke out of jail where they were being held during a trial on religious extremism, demanded Russian mediation to avert further bloodshed." Since we've made our priorities clear, these people are turning to Russia to intervene against an ally of ours even though we have a major military and diplomatic presence there. That says it all, doesn't it?

Last weekend in Latvia, President Bush said:

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability."

Could he possibly think that the rest of the world does not see this hypocrisy? Or, at this point, does he simply not care?


Blogger DrDave said...

"Could he possibly think that the rest
of the world does not see this hypocrisy? Or, at this point, does he simply not care?"

As you yourself have pointed out (The Riga Shuffle, 5/7; Every Picture Tells a Story, 4/26; Our Man in Islamabad, 4/16), we went to war in Iraq at the same time we coddled and protected dictatorial regimes in Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc.

What makes you think Bush EVER cared???

5/13/2005 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/13/2005 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability."

Its obvious that he added the word "not" by mistake.

5/13/2005 8:37 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

Of course, coddling a brutal regime now will give us a perfect excuse to invade in a few years when oil is discovered in the area.

5/13/2005 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid some of us see this all too clearly, which is precisely why Bush's moralising sticks in the craw.

I'm no utopian - I understand the need for realpolitik, and you don't always get to choose your friends.

But the uzbek regime is very very nasty indeed. Suppose it was a radical islamic regime doing what they do? Would the administration be so friendly?

I suspect not.

It's decent and honest of you to point to this hypocrisy. I wish more people on both the left and right put integrity amongst their core values.

5/13/2005 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's either too ignorant to know or too much of a scumbag to care.

I don;t know which is worse...or more frightening.

5/13/2005 11:24 AM  
Blogger Spider said...


My name is Spider and I really enjoy your blog. I am very much a liberal and I have argued with many a Republican that at a some core principles true liberals and conservatives agree. And that my main beef with the Bush Administration is that he is not a true conservative (nowhere near), nor a Christian (nothing this administration does is Christ-like). It irks me that he uses both identifications.

You post today illustrates the point perfectly. It is pure hypocrisy to invade one country to take a dictator who murders his people and then at the same time support another in a different country. (I also thought it was pure hypocisy to take out Saddam for those reasons, but not mention anything that it was Rumsfield and Reagan who sold him his weapons of destruction in the first place.)

Keep up the good work! And I think you will have both true Conservatives and Liberals thanking you.

5/13/2005 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE this blog thanks!

5/13/2005 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Bush is the man in charge. He's more of the pitchman. Cheney is more likely in charge and I'm certain he doesn't care. His motives and ethics are aligned with Halliburton.

It bothers me when Bush pitched his speech last week for political gain, that criticized and second-guessed Roosevelt and Churchill actions at the end of WWII (as if Bush got it all right with Iraq). "Know They Allies: What Bush got wrong about Yalta"

I wish more people pointed out the hypocrisy regardless of party.

5/13/2005 1:42 PM  
Blogger Miss Bliss said...

What the current Administration has proven quite clearly is that if they just keep saying what people want to hear then eventually the American people will believe it to be true regardless of what is really going on.

It truly makes me wonder if we as a society will wake up even after he says, "Let them eat cake".

5/13/2005 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or that he realizes that throwing away our lifeline to civil society groups for the sake of soul-satisfying scoldings would probably be a net harm to Uzbeks.

The fact of the matter is that the world largely ignores that the Bush administration is fairly critical of the Uzbek government when the opportunity presents itself (and it often does).

Bone up on the State Dept. reports from the past few years and can dimestore-bought analysis. Our relationship is not at all what you think it is (ie. direct monetary allocations to Gov of Uz for 2005=$0, USCIRF recommends them listed as a CPC), what Uzbeks think of us is not at all what you seem to think it is, and the situation is much grayer than you paint it.

5/13/2005 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might be worth a peek inside Chimpy's 'Blind Trust'

5/13/2005 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agree, good piece and good blog.

5/14/2005 9:24 AM  
Blogger Scraps of Moscow said...

Good discussion here. There is an interesting comparison to be drawn between the situation in Uzbekistan and a hypothetical similar situation in, for example, Belarus. Check out my post on this, you may find it, uh, interesting.

I do understand Nathan's point and think it has some validity, but at some point we (the US) have to cut Karimov off, either that or make an affirmative decision to back him if he decides to use more severe force (more severe than what was used in Andijan, which is not out of the question) to stay in power. If a democratic revolution with a hint (or more) of Islamic influence is going to sweep Uzbekistan, wouldn't it be nice for the US to start seeming to side with it at an early stage rather than backing Karimov to the very end? That's all very speculative, I know, but I'm just thinking out loud here.

5/14/2005 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget Rumsfeld, how about
Bush meeting with Uzbekistan's Ambassador to help Enron. Perhaps there are other economic interests, and pals to please, at work; perhaps oil, gas, and pipelines are the reason.

5/22/2005 2:49 PM  
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