US out of Uzbekistan.

By Moe Lane Posted in Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

And about blipping time, too:

The US has flown its last plane out of an air base in Uzbekistan that has been an important staging point for US military operations in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan in July gave the US six months to leave the base, after it joined international condemnation of the suppression of a May uprising.

In a ceremony, troops lowered the US flag and handed to Uzbek officials the keys to the Karshi-Khanabad base.

(Via Registan)

Read on.

I approve of this with the full understanding that K2 was very useful for US forces operating in Afghanistan, and that losing the base complicates our logistics. So noted. But I've disliked this particular regime from the start of the GWOT, have made no secret of it, and am now downright delighted that we stopped tolerating (however reluctantly) the Uzbek regime's human rights abuses. The - let us be blunt; massacre - at Andijan was a point beyond which I could not go, and I take some comfort in the fact that in the end the Bush Administration could not, either.

We will now pause while the Loyal Opposition engages in a shout or two about pre-Adijan Uzbek human rights crimes; a topic sadly neglected in the past few months, once it became clear that said crimes could no longer be effectively used as a club with which to flail at this adminstration.

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that the Administration did finally put principle over practicality.

I'm not sure that this completely discharges their implicit culpability though.  Some people, notably residents of the Middle East/Central Asia, probably viewed Uzbekistan as giving the lie to the Administration's "Freedom and Liberty" motto.

I think anyone who looks at our foreign policy options dispassionately realizes that sometimes you have to dance with the devil.  But that dance does have a cost.

I'm glad we're out of there.  That is a seriously screwed-up regime.  The story of how they boiled that guy and put his mother in jail for complaining about it was completely beyond belief.  

I think that Caspian pipeline will start pumping oil any day now, that base was right near it.

I can think of a whole host of folks that would want to disrupt 1 million bpd.

"I think anyone who looks at our foreign policy options dispassionately realizes that sometimes you have to dance with the devil.  But that dance does have a cost."

My argument before Andijan, and I was never happy about it.  The crackdown pretty much convinced me that our presence there wasn't going to be the check on the regime that I had hoped for; and supporting it without even a minor protest would indeed hurt the administration's pro-democracy initiatives in the area.

As to implicit culpability... during WWII we survived working with Stalin's regime, which was Uzbekistan writ unholily large; we'll survive this.  I'd also note that I would describe the pre-liberation of Iraq period as being 'principle over necessity': we needed that airbase badly for Afghanistan.  Once the situation got downgraded to 'principle over practicality' scenario we started up the pressure.

Thanks for your thoughts.

that our support of Uzbeksitan is not threatening the Republican.  But it most likely had a political cost.  Of course quantifying that cost isn't all that easy.

I also agree that once our need for a base there dissipated we were more willing to follow our princples.

Never heard of this... only news junkies, those following Amnesia International and military activities of the US probably have. I'd express the opinion that this has not been 'dragged thru mainstreet'... probably because it wasn't near Iraq and one of the only persons idiotically stating their opposition to our operations in Afganistan is 'peace x-chromosome donor' Sheehan. In addition, have we met someone from far left that doesn't like a Soviet style dictator?

You really couldn't care less about Uzbekistan.  Is that the crux of it?

Never mind that Islam Karimov stepped to the plate when we needed Karshi-Khanabad to liberate Afghanistan.  Never mind that there was evidence that the "democratic opposition" in Uzbekistan, th eIslamic Renaissance Party, was Talibanesque in nature.

So, in essence, we dumped on a dictator who was an ally becuase he was kicking the butts of would-be dictators who were more akin to the Taliban.  This just doesn't make sense, and it's going to come back and bite us one of these days.  Having a reputation as a loyal ally who sticks by those who help us out (even if they aren't exactly angels) is in this country's interest.

has made K2 redundant

No by Troll

I just think its low on the Totem pole. I'm not even sure I'm happy we are out of there. If we stayed there we might have been able to inspire some regime change there by osmosis or better...

You never heard about it because the MSM never really covered it. Nor did talk radio. Cable news covered it for about a day.

Americans don't care about Uzbekistan, much less know where it is on a map. So it was not a compelling media story for the media to deliver to its consumers.

But more importantly it really underscores the difficulty in laying down a blanket philosophical principle that we, as a nation, care deeply about defending and liberating an oppressed people, that are thrown into secret prisons, and lose their lives at the hands of their government.

We, as a nation, barely even noticed, let alone cared, when this happened to people directly to the north of Iraq. But we care very much when it happens to people IN Iraq.

A similar rationale was used in the 80s when the US armed and supported a then small-time dictator who was at war with the "Talibanesque," Islamic Revolution in Iran, and was keeping at bay would-be dictators in his own country who were "more akin to the Taliban."

That dictator was Saddam Hussein.

He was at war with Iran, he was ruling in a secular fashion and holding down the more fervent Shia Islamic majority in Iraq that was alligned with Iran.

Those mass graves we hear so much about in Iraq? Many of them were created in the late 80s and early 90s. Before the US ever considered Iraq a mortal enemy, and long before Saddam invaded Kuwait.

Saddam was our boy out of political expediencey even though we knew he was a bad guy and doing bad things to his people.

And many of the same arguments you just made in support of the Uzbeki president, were made for Saddam then.

Dance with the devil, and you inevitably get burned - whether he be in Iraq or Uzbekistan.

A similar rationale was used in the 80s when the US armed and supported a then small-time dictator

If you call 10 2-man Bell helicopter "armed" otherwise no. Saddams was 90%+ supplied by the Soviets, a trend which continues today. Tanks, APCs, small arms, artillery, trucks, all were Soviet. Most of the air force was Soviet with a small number of Dessault Mirage attack aircraft. The Battle of the Cities was fought with Soviet SCUD missiles. Beginning around 1985/86 when he was in real danger of losing the Faw Peninsula and Basra to the Iranians he was given US satellite imagery.

holding down the more fervent Shia Islamic majority in Iraq that was alligned with Iran.

Not true. The Iranians believed in 1980 that the Iraq Shi'a would defect. They didn't. Shi'a conscripts reported when called up, there was no resistance to the conscription, and then, as today, Iraqi troops went home for about a week out of each month. They returned to their units.

Those mass graves we hear so much about in Iraq? Many of them were created in the late 80s and early 90s. Before the US ever considered Iraq a mortal enemy, and long before Saddam invaded Kuwait.

This is dispositive of what? As Saddam invaded Kuwait in August, 1990 it would be somewhat difficult for the graves to have been made in the early 90s and before Saddam invaded Kuwait.

Saddam was our boy out of political expediencey even though we knew he was a bad guy and doing bad things to his people.

Really? Our "boy"? How so? And how does the attack on the USS Stark figure into all this?

And many of the same arguments you just made in support of the Uzbeki president, were made for Saddam then.

I really don't see any similarities other than the dictator angle.

is on the other side of the Caspian in the Transcaucasus. It will transport some Kazakh oil, but that will go by ship to Baku before it enters the pipeline.

K2 was nowhere near the pipeline you're talking about (or any I can think of). And while many think Uzbekistan has oil, recent shortages of fuel have caused speculation that it may not be self-sufficient as it claims to be.

long past that point. I used to think much the same thing, but days for such hope are long past.

The break had nothing to do with him fighting Islamist parties. In fact, the argument for your position is (inadvertently, I'm sure) similar to the official story in Uzbekistan about the break.

Uzbek behavior that fueled the break is much more of the beating and intimidating journalists, arresting and drugging members of opposition parties (the real ones, and yes they do exist), chasing out foreigners, and preventing economic activity variety.

They have drank all of my battery fluid!

/is that too obscure?

 
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