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uzbekistan and the human connections of military colonization:
The villagers began experiencing difficulties almost from the moment US forces began using the base in late 2001. The village was encircled by a barbwire fence, preventing villagers from grazing their cattle in nearby fields. As a result, many villagers felt compelled to sell their livestock. In addition, Uzbek authorities granted a portion of the village’s lands – including a lot with an irrigation canal situated next to the only source of irrigation water for the village – to US forces, which sought to expand the air base.
Uzbek authorities have also shut down the Uzbek branch of the Open Society Institute, amid an indiscriminate crackdown following the earlier suicide attacks on the police state. The State Department's response has been to threaten the cutoff of the US assistance that was being delivered through the OSI which the Uzbek authorities have just cutoff. Big, powerful displays of meaningful intent such as this will surely send a serious message about US aid.
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting have sent correspondants around the region to get input from the locals:
The problem is that the message that Central Asian governments relay to their peoples through state-controlled media is that all is well, and that there is no impetus to change their existing policy course. For the Central Asian governments – particularly Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan which hosted Coalition air bases – the message is clear: the West has signalled that it is prepared to deal with them on their own terms, and concerns about human rights and democracy will not cloud the growing relationship. That may be a misreading of the US message on their part, perhaps a deliberate one, but as things stand they are likely to resist quiet diplomacy in areas they regard very much as their own business.
For Kyrgyz and especially Uzbek leaders, the presence of US bases on their soil is a coup –something to be trumpeted domestically as proof of their success on the international stage.
Military aid should be cutoff - the threat hasn't so much as been raised by this administration in any audible manner - and the barbed wire around that village should be taken down. A portion of US military aid is under the control of the Pentagon, from what I understand without any of the human rights restrictions imposed on the State Department by congress, and cutting the tap by State can be overridden by the Administration for whatever reason it cares to pull out of its hat, as it has in the past. The problem isn't that Uzbekistan is already like Iran, but that it will become one if this bastardized, Cold War era SOP continues.
:: posted by buermann @ 2004-04-27 14:43:06 CST |
One of the difficulties in this whole discussion is what exactly "aid" is. At the end of the day, the distinction isn't enormous, but depending on who you listen to, some will call payments for use of the military bases, and sometimes even soldiers' payrolls, "aid." The State Department, when they mention it at all, usually label it as a payment. Regardless of what you may think of making the distinction (I actually think "aid to Uzbekistan" can be very misleading as a lot of that "aid" comes in the form of bags of wheat, Peace Corps Volunteers, and direct support of NGOs), it's a handy way for State to say, "hey, we can't do anything about this."
That's all kind of a roundabout way of saying that the $28 million is not the OSI money. It's right in the press release: "Drug Demand Reduction & Basic Education." Unless OSI really changed in the last few years, they weren't too involved in either one.
I may not agree with you on the military aid/rents, but it is where the bulk of the dough is and that all goes straight into the government's coffers. Removing that (hell, just withhold payment because they haven't kept their end of the "mutual understanding" -- who's going to look worse there?) is the most powerful weapong the US has and should wield it.
BTW, April's nearly over and I still haven't heard what the final State Department certification decision is.
posted by Nathan
@ 2004-04-27 23:29:09 | link
(Sorry - this is off-topic - but I'm responding to your comment on my blog - thanks).
I think you're look at the whole Kerry-medal-flap through more of a partisan lens than me.
I think Kerry's statement in 1971, to the effect that he'd "given" all of his medals "back," would have (and did) mislead the normal listenter to believe that he had ... um, tossed all of his medals over the fence at the ceremony for same in DC.
The idea of a person with medals throwing them away is very powerful - and this is what made his actions seem powerful and newsworthy at the time. The idea however, of tossing over a fence only your ribbons (the small cloth bands made for wearing on a dress uniform), but NOT your actual medals, is much less impressive or noteworthy.
Kerry let the misleading, more powerful, idea stay out in the public realm to help his rise to fame and power. Only when it had the potential to do the opposite (when union voters in Massachusetts said they wouldn't vote for him because he'd thrown away his medals) did he feel the need for complete honesty, by telling him, in effect: "gee, I never threw away my medals - just my ribbons."
Bottom line, Kerry lied (or, at minimum, he knowingly lied by omission) to enhance his national standing. This is obvious. Now that's he's been caught in his fib, he doesn't like it. Tough.
My above reading of the underlying events is fair and accurate I believe. If you think otherwise, please indicate with specificity why. Thanks.
-your friend, nikita
posted by nikitademosthenes
@ 2004-04-28 09:40:25 | link
"a roundabout way of saying that the $28 million is not the OSI money"
I probably read to far into the statement, but the OSI does have education and drug programs in the region. My point should be obvious: it's the security relationship that's taken precedent over putting pressure on the regime for reform, and like you I'd like to see the security relationship abandoned until there is some reform to speak of. I just enjoy needling away at your blog for being so goddam optimistic about the State Department.
And I've been patiently waiting for their failing grade to come up in the news for weeks, I'm getting a little testy.
posted by buermann
@ 2004-04-29 10:07:54 | link
Nikita, your exaggerating the import of a semantic dispute to score political points, over an issue that your candidate doesn't compare well on, be it serving in Vietnam, protesting it, or having a record of telling untruths.
The idea that the difference in symbolic value between cloth and metal is so great that it could have cost Kerry an election is wholly absurd, that's really just a low in hackery, were it so important he could have just reordered them. But here I am the partisan one, at least I bite at my leash.
posted by buermann
@ 2004-04-29 11:04:27 | link
It doesnt seem like a lot of people reading your stuff here =b
Oh, just a quick comment on the thread: the "anti-terrorism" aid to Uzbekistan is nothing more than another egregeous support for a dictatorship, aiming at no good but the further encirclement of China (who, as a matter of fact, a brutal state but doesnt deserve what they got from the West in many cases). In my opionion, I don't think those Congress restrictions mean anything but just a farce to justify the US power game (at least in most of the cases).
posted by Chucky
@ 2004-04-30 13:26:26 | link
Not a lot of people commenting, but for an amateur blogger the readership's not that bad. I'm not completely anti-aid to Uzbekistan, I have reservations about most of it and disagree entirely with the "security" arrangements. I think the Congressional restrictions reflect a certain amount of success on the part of popular forces, they just don't mean anything since the establishment response to unpopular foreign policies has been to take them out of the popularity contest, handing it to the executive dick over fist.
posted by buermann
@ 2004-05-03 12:45:57 | link