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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Central Asia: How Not to Run an Empire.

The U.S. is becoming more involved in many central Asian republics with poor human rights records. The U.S. policies seem to be concentrated upon providing transit stopping points and bases of operations in Afghanistan and neglect the fact that they are co-operating with unpopular regimes. As a result when trouble comes as it has in Kyrgyzstan it may find itself in difficulties because of its support for regimes that were hated by the public. This is from Foreign Policy. The article is much longer and goes into much greater detail.

How Not to Run an Empire
Ignoring human rights in favor of stability is backfiring not just in Kyrgyzstan, but all over Central Asia -- big time.

BY TOM MALINOWSKI |

U.S. policymakers increasingly view Central Asia as a transit point to somewhere else. It is a region through which oil and natural gas flow to Europe, reducing U.S. allies' dependence on Russian energy supplies. It is a region through which fuel, food, and spare parts flow to surging U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, reducing their dependence on a precarious Pakistani supply route. Officials and policy experts even have a new name for this region that captures its status as a logistical intermediary, rather than a set of distinct countries that matter in their own right: They call it the "Northern Distribution Network."

One hub in the "network" is Uzbekistan. Ruled for two decades by the government of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan is a place where dissidents are routinely imprisoned and tortured; a few weeks ago, the government convicted a photographer for "insulting the Uzbek people" because she took pictures showing poor people in the country.





In Uzbekistan, the Pentagon has reportedly used a company controlled by the dictator's daughter to truck its goods across the country. Many Kyrgyz demonstrators were disgusted by signs that their leaders were personally profiting from the increasingly high payments they extracted from the United States for use of the country's Manas air base (and believed that the U.S. government stayed silent about their government's abuses to keep the base).

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