Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Bill Kristol and Stephen Schwartz take on U.S. policy toward Uzbekistan in an excellent op-ed in the upcoming Weekly Standard. The authors note the reasons why we are allied with the Karimov regime at this point and dismiss such reasoning as out of date.

An ongoing hazard of the fight against terrorists has been that tyrants would exploit the threat of terror to win indulgence or even support from the United States. From the Saudi royals, to Vladimir Putin, to Putin's Uzbek friend Karimov, strongmen hope to gain acceptance by Washington of their violent habits of governance. Of course, it is true that the United States does (mostly) have to deal with the governments it finds in place in the world. But we don't need to wink at their bad acts. To the contrary, a more or less coherent strategy for the spread of freedom will often require pressuring and criticizing these governments. And, incidentally, it is political, civil, and economic freedom to which most Central Asian Muslims aspire. Just like Ukrainians, Georgians, and Iraqis.
So, toleration of Karimov's brutality threatens to undercut this administration's impressive and successful foreign policy. Previous administrations have unfortunately allowed dictators to learn the lesson that repression works.

Exactly. As has been expressed here in an earlier post, the lack of reaction from the Bush administration to the massacre in Andijon is appalling.

President Bush should lead the international pressure on Karimov to allow journalists, legitimate relief workers, and trustworthy investigators to travel to Andijon and render a verdict on the events there.
Read the whole thing.

Despite what some may think of Bush's foreign policy, it is difficult to deny that we have men of Karimov's ilk on their heels around the world. A double standard in this case would be unwise. At this juncture, independent relief groups, NATO and various western countries have supported an investigation along the lines of what Kristol and Schwartz mention above. Nearly two weeks after the violent crackdown on political dissidents, it is past the time for Bush to directly address what is happening there.

And in the "as if the news couldn't get any worse, now this" department, there are two new developments today. First, China is now openly supporting Karimov's indefensible use of force, strengthening the comparisons drawn between Andijon and Tiananmen. Also, there are now reports of political activists 'disappearing' throughout Uzbekistan in the wake of the May 13th events.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has been following this story well from the beginning and has more on Karimov's visit to China here.

Azerbaijan Update: As noted here yesterday, Secretary Rice was expected in Baku today for the opening of the BTC Oil Pipeline. Exit145 has learned that contrary to these reports, the Secretary will not be attending. All we can do at this point is speculate, but one has to wonder if the Bush administration is sending a signal to the Aliev government by pulling the plug on Rice's trip. An Op-Ed in the Washington Times today is quite giddy over today's opening of the BTC and makes a strong argument for continuing ties to Azerbaijan.


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