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More on Uzbekistan

May 23rd, 2005

The NYT has survivors’ accounts of the massacre in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, on last night’s ABC News, I saw the commander of the US base in Uzbekistan interviewed. He said something like “The host country military are doing a wonderful job protecting the base and we have had no trouble from the disturbances”. That’s the same host country military that was murdering hundreds of its own people a few days earlier. I can’t find a link to this on Google news, so I’d be grateful to anyone who can point me to a transcript.

Bush’s friendly relations with the Uzbek dictator Karimov have been unshaken by this, and any stated opposition to Karimov’s use of torture and murder is meaningless: it’s an open secret that a good deal of it is being done on behalf of the Administration, as part of the policy of extraordinary rendition.

The blogospheric right has mostly been either silent or supportive, along with much of the pro-war left. But some cracks are emerging. Here’s a piece by Stephen Schwartz and William Kristol from the Weekly Standard. And on the pro-war left, there are some good pieces from Eric the Unread and Harry’s Place.

Update JF Beck offers a defence of the Karimov dictatorship, ending rather lamely with the weasel words “Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting the Karimov government or its actions. I’m simply pointing out that the “wanton murder” scenario being pitched by the left is open to question”. For Beck, and the rest of the RWDB crew, the important thing is to support Bush and attack the left on every possible occasion, even if it means giving someone like Karimov the benefit of the doubt.

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  1. michael.burgess
    May 23rd, 2005 at 17:35 | #1

    Actually the situation in Uzbekistan I think clearly also illustrates what happens when the left loose credibility by blindly opposing just wars and other initiatives simply because their put forward by conservatives. If more of the left had supported intervention in Iraq and elsewhere and been prepared to acknowledge the extent of Islamic extremism and of other problems within Islam (domestic violence and general intolerance), then they would have had more credibility when rightly criticising oppressive pro-western governments. Pakistan is clearly also another country where the US’s support for the current regime needs to be carefully assessed. Although, it should be pointed that a careful assessment is not quite the same as saying nothing until a particular policy stance starts to look problematic and then saying something.

  2. May 23rd, 2005 at 17:52 | #2

    Are you seriously trying to say that domestic violence is worse in Islamic Communities? What data do you have to back this up or is this just another beat up on Muslims.

    What difference did support or protest make in the war on words. George and the boys were going in anyway they just needed to make the evidence.

  3. Dave Ricardo
    May 23rd, 2005 at 18:04 | #3

    Yeah, sure thing, Michael, if the all the Left had supported the war in Iraq then (a) Karimov would not be in power, torturing and murdering people or (b) he would not be appeased by the Bush administration.

    What we’d see, instead, is Bush saying “Look at what these far sighted people on the Left are saying. They are right. I will send in the marines immediately to oust Karimov, who is no better than Saddam”.

    Michael, you are kidding yourself. In fact, I reckon I could smoke a pound of dope, snort 5 lines of cocaine and take 10 ecstasy tablets, and still be more clear-headed than you are.

    What Uzbekistan shows is that the neo con tub thumping about spreading democracy and freedom is highly conditional indeed. It has nothing to do with any principled commitment to anything except US interests. It is just warmed over Kissinger-ism, opposing some dictators, while supporting others.

    But, in Michael’s fantasy land, it’s all the left’s fault, even though though the left are as far from running US foreign policy as the universe is wide.

  4. still working it out
    May 24th, 2005 at 08:04 | #4

    Credibility with whom?

    With whom exactly would the criticism of the close relationship between the Uzbekistan and certain western governments have a greater credibility? Would it make any real difference?

    I would think that being proven correct in your criticism increases your credibility, not the reverse.

  5. michael.burgess
    May 24th, 2005 at 09:28 | #5

    Ender, are you seriously suggesting it is otherwise. How out of touch can one get, you will be telling me next that domestic violence in Aboriginal communities is no greater than the general community – culture, religion, social standing do make a difference, get over it and stop spouting the hard feminist line. How about for starters a German report published last year (the first one they had bothered to do – thanks to both indifference and political correctness) that found extensive domestic violence in Germany’s Turkish Muslim community was significantly greater than the general community. The newspaper article that reported this also noted that in the previous two months 6 Muslim women had been murdered by relatives for the crime of trying to live western lifestyles.

  6. May 24th, 2005 at 10:27 | #6

    Domestic violence may be worse in Aboriginal communities because of alchohol, the fact that invaders came and took their future away and our indifference -(expletive deleted by author). Not content with hating Mulims you seem to want to condemn Koories as well.

    We hide our abuse – ever heard stories of woman defending rape in court, how about the worst part of pornography that link sex with violence and portray woman as objects. Have a look at the problems woman have when they want to advance in business – are there 51% woman in high executive positions – no. Our statistics of abuse are nothing to write home about as alchohol fuelled domestic violence is a common police constable’s most hated job. Talk to them about the instances of violence in good christian homes.

    There are communities that are further behind in womans rights however custom and tradition hide the fact that we (men) have the power and do not want to release it – religion is an excuse, just as it was used as an excuse when christian woman tried to get some womans rights. We forget these times because for us it was in the past. Woman today enjoy the gains that have been made by woman’s sacrifice.

    To say religion is the reason for woman’s abuse is to jump on the dehumanising muslim bandwagon. Instead of promoting hatred the way you are doing try working for muslim womans rights in a constructive way, assuming of course by your comments that you have a deep and over-riding desire to futher the course of womans rights. I personally doubt this and I believe you are just grabbing any straw possible to promote divisions and inflame hatred.

  7. Katz
    May 24th, 2005 at 10:39 | #7

    None without sin here.

    Who is to decide which barracker for which culture represents the less sinful and therefore has the right to cast the first yonny?

  8. michael.burgess
    May 24th, 2005 at 10:48 | #8

    Ender, you really are an offensive jerk. How is it promoting hatred to point out that domestic violence has often been ignored in minority communities for both reasons of indifference and political correctness? The fact that last year was the first time (if the newspaper report was correct) that the situation of Turkish Muslim women was examined is disgraceful. Moreover, as for tolerating the intolerable, I don’t recall middle class western liberals giving Martin Luther Kind etc a lecture in the 1960s on the importance of being more sensitive to the cultural sensitivities of southern rednecks.

  9. Katz
    May 24th, 2005 at 10:53 | #9

    Interesting. This was my original post. It was disallowed I excised the first two paragraphs to send the above version. Now I have circumlocuted in square brackets to test whether this version goes through.

    “Islamic cultures: possibly a higher level of wife beating and honour killing of daughters. These features have received much finger-wagging attention since the outbreak of the War between Civilizations.

    Western cultures: possibly a higher level of [close family progenerative activities]. Four Corners last night indicated that perhaps one-in-four Australian girls is [gender-related attentions].

    None without sin here.

    Who is to decide which barracker for which culture represents the less sinful and therefore has the right to cast the first yonny?”

  10. derrida derider
    May 24th, 2005 at 10:54 | #10

    I feel so sorry for those poor neocons, forced to become hypocrites by the lack of support from we non-neocons. Now if only we’d all shut up and believed their noble lies then those people in Uzbekistan would also have shut up and would not have been shot (Mr Karimov understands that it is necessary to destroy democracy in order to save it, especially when oil is involved). Truly, their blood is upon us.

    Michael, why don’t you think about what you wrote in that first comment, and demonstrate your intellectual honesty by retracting it. We all write really silly things sometimes.

  11. Elizabeth
    May 24th, 2005 at 11:02 | #11

    Dear Ender

    You write: “… the fact that invaders came and took their (Aboriginals) future away�
    True, but invasions are part and parcel of human history. While regrettable that Aboriginals have suffered as a result, there comes a point in time when that excuse no longer applies or has traction. Individual responsibility still counts for something, or should women in whatever societal structure just ‘cop abuse’ because society says they should. Eg, in traditional communities women and children are often considered as chattels, property.
    I don’t think MB is ‘hate mongering’. He is casting an opinion, that appears to be well argued. I think you have significantly overrepresented the case.
    You write: “ Have a look at the problems woman have when they want to advance in business – are there 51% woman in high executive positions – noâ€?
    Of course there is a class ceiling, but also view it in another way. Women don’t want to spare every single moment at ‘the office’. Women are not as ego driven as men, and as a result tend to have fuller, emotionally enriched lives.
    You write: “There are communities that are further behind in woman’s rights�
    I thought this was what MB has in part referring to. Would you care to illustrate which communities you feel are ‘further behind’?
    You write: “To say religion is the reason for woman’s abuse is to jump on the dehumanising Muslim bandwagon.�
    No its not! Islam is both a religion and a philosophical construct. Conservative Islam prescribes the role of both men and women, and prescribes serious social penalties for transgressions.

    PS: Women do not need men to stand up for us. Thank you Ender, for a somewhat patronising defence.

  12. jquiggin
    May 24th, 2005 at 11:07 | #12

    Hi Katz. I didn’t get any comments showing up as requiring moderation, so I’m not sure what happened to yours.

  13. Homer Paxton
    May 24th, 2005 at 11:46 | #13

    Michael, a lot of the problems would have been avoided if you had listened to the cricism of the right on the war.
    The Cato institute, Eagleberger, Scrowcroft.Harries have been positivley prescient about the repurcussions!

  14. May 24th, 2005 at 12:22 | #14

    Pointing out issues is different from pointing out issues in one section of one community and then using this to make unfortunate divisions deeper.

    While I do not have a very high opinion of you I do not think calling people “offensive jerks” furthers your cause, and only would firm most right thinking people’s opinion of you.

    If Islam sets the abuse of woman then why are there secular muslim communities where woman have rights? Christianity also is “religion and a philosophical construct” and if we were to live by strict christian tenets then our society would be very different.

    Again look to the keepers of power for your abuse not religion. Also if you say that Aboriginals cannot hide behind our shameful treatment of them, then equally muslim men cannot use religion as an excuse for the abuse of woman. ie:if you want Koories to have resposibility for their actions then you cannot hold religion as the reason Muslim woman are abused or try to use the Muslim religion to divide people. People (men and woman) who abuse weaker people are criminals and cannot hide behind a religion for their abuse.

    Tolerance and understanding are the keys here. They will gain more long term gains for all repressed people than guns, war and hatred.

    I am sorry if I patronised you Elizabeth. You are correct, as a male I have no real understanding of womans issues it is just that I believe in justice and equality for all and will say so. Perhaps you can put in a better defence.

    Basically it all comes down to a good old religious saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. For me this ends the conversation as it did for the people in this story.

  15. Katz
    May 24th, 2005 at 13:52 | #15

    Don’t surrender Ender!

    “I am sorry if I patronised you Elizabeth. You are correct, as a male I have no real understanding of womans issues”

    This concession to essentialism, the assertion that there is an inner reality which non-members of a group are incapable of penetrating, underestimates the power of empathy and ultimately denies the ability of any human being to understand any other human being.

    To claim that women are “essentially” not ego-driven, while males “essentially” are, and a priori claims of that ilk, short-circuits much intelligent conversation.

  16. Paul Norton
    May 24th, 2005 at 14:04 | #16

    On the question of domestic violence I, as an Anglo-Celt, have been too preoccupied with the size of the mess in our own backyard, and the need to clean it up, to have time to spare to stickybeak over the fence to see if our Muslim or Koori/Murri/Yolngu neighbours are in worse case. Without giving too much personal stuff away, I was *very* young when I became aware that domestic violence occurs in Anglo-Celtic Australian families.

  17. May 24th, 2005 at 14:13 | #17

    The whole idea of “murdering hundreds of its own people” is the same fundamental misunderstanding as accusing Saddam Hussein of gassing his own people when he may (or may not) have been gassing Kurds, but he was never so foolish as to gas Tikritis.

    The point is “its own people” is a basic western nation-state concept being misapplied. Saddam Hussein would never have lasted if he had attacked his own people – but that term is not equivalent to “Iraqis”.

    Similarly, in Central Asia it is quite traditional for all the Turkish groups to oppress the Tadjik agriculturists. The Fergana valley is an agricultural area, and it looks quite likely that the Uzbeks are in fact murdering non-Uzbeks. Still a problem, but not the one JQ thought he was looking at. But we would have to enquire further to find out just who is killing whom before we commit ourselves.

  18. May 24th, 2005 at 14:29 | #18

    Well, I’m sure there is a connection between domestic violence between Islamics/Aborigines and the recent unrest (read: unprovoked slaughter) in Uzbekistan, but I can quite see it. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it has absolutely nothing to do with Islamic extremism. This is simply about a dictator who wants to hold onto power and is willing to use violence to do so.

    What is completely unacceptable is the acquiescence of the US by remaining silent on the issue, as well as maintaining their military base there. (PS: If anyone can point out to me the strategic significance of an air force base in Uzbekistan, I’d be very grateful.)

  19. michael.burgess
    May 24th, 2005 at 14:56 | #19

    Ender, personally I think accusing someone of promoting hatred is more offensive than calling someone in reply an offensive jerk. As for you call for tolerance, tolerating the intolerable is hardly acceptable nor does it fit in with the concept of universal human rights. The reality is that non-western cultures, especially Islam are responsible for most of the serious abuses of human rights in the world today. In the past, individuals such as you have had no problem criticising racism in western societies, the treatment of black Americans in pre-civil rights days, sexual abuse in the Christian church, and the reactionary views of various Popes. This is ok but criticising Islam is not. So could you please provide me with a list of whom it is acceptable to criticise and why. Can I criticise Sikh’s for bombing cinemas in India etc, high-caste Indians for their treatment of low-caste Indians or the Japanese for being more racist than the average Australian or is it only ok to criticise Anglos or westerners. Please explain.

  20. May 24th, 2005 at 15:01 | #20

    Alpaca – yes you are right I am guilty of taking the thread off topic. The current situation just makes all the more ridiculous the notion that the invasion of Iraq was all about removing dictators.

  21. michael.burgess
    May 24th, 2005 at 15:48 | #21

    The question Ender et al is not whether Bush or Howard or even the impressive Tony Blair lay awake at night worrying about people living under dictatorships and planning ways to get rid of dictators. However, when they do get rid of dictators (after ample warning and UN resolutions etc) they should be supported. To simply oppose the US simply because they are the US (is that not racism and intolerance) and never have anything positive to say about the powerful democracy in the world while going overboard to play down the evils of Islamic extremism etc is hardly intelligent. It also hardly puts the left in a credible position to attack the US when it pursues misguided policies or to have a constructive input into issues such as terrorism and the future of multiculturalism.

  22. Warbo
    May 24th, 2005 at 15:56 | #22

    Michael, as you (unlike people who opposed the Iraq war) have credibility on this issue, what do you think should be the West’s approach to Karimov and Uzbekistan?

  23. May 24th, 2005 at 21:23 | #23

    Yes Micheal but the stated aim of the war was to deny Saddam WMDs that we were told by Blair that he could launch in 45 mins. You do not seem to realise that it is not war per se that I object to but lying. War in the defense of Australia in the face of invaders on the shore is justifiable and unavoidable. This war on terror, manufactured to keep us compliant, was fought on a lie.

    When the lie was exposed then we invaded Iraq to rid the world of a dictator and yes the world is perhaps better off because of the removal of one dictator and perhaps Iraq may have a future however the invasion was botched and led to the deaths of many people that did not have to die if the invasion was done with the correct number of troops (526 000 was the estimate that Rumsfeld rejected).

    I do not oppose the US simply because it is the US. I oppose it because it time and time again has arrogantly ridden into countries that it has absolutely no understanding of, with cultures and beliefs that it has taken no time to understand in the name of its supposed superiority. It then often places brutal dictators in charge of the cowering survivors. So when the US goes into the dictator removal business, particularly ones that they have supported in the past, people quite naturally suspect their motivations.

    Now in the face of yet another brutal dictator the US does nothing, says nothing because this brutal dictator has a strategic airbase that the US needs. This sort of leads the thought that if Saddam had patched things up with George Senior and not invaded Kuwait the US would still be dealing with him in the continuing battle with Iran. I mean the US has clearly demonstrated that it only objects to brutal dictators that do not toe the line.

  24. production line 12
    May 25th, 2005 at 07:32 | #24

    One link on from JQ’s links is this site, which provides a useful synopsis of the various positions on Uzbekistan put forth by the Russian media.

    http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/

  25. production line 12
    May 25th, 2005 at 07:43 | #25

    J.F. Beck’s efforts is decidedly gutless, but as I can’t be bothered going through his tedious registration to comment, I’ll vent here:

    The point is not to discern how many police officers need to be killed before you can junk the term ‘massacre’. The point is that nobody knows what the hell happened in Andijan ONLY because Karimov’s neo-KGB won’t let anyone in to find out. This in itself is about as bad a sign as any RWDB could want.

    This is a bad road to head down. Bush-sucking and Bush-bashing aside, Karimov and his secret police represent the very worst of everything the Soviet Union stood for, and the US opposed, in the Cold War. Now is not the time to give that legacy up for the sake of some minor geopolitical exigency.

  26. May 25th, 2005 at 14:22 | #26

    Does anyone remember Aesop’s fable of the wolf finding excuses to eat the lamb? “You muddied my water”, “But I’m downstream”; “Your father did”, “But he’s from the next farm”; and so on, ending, “Well, I’m hungry so I’ll just eat you anyway”.

  27. Dave Ricardo
    May 25th, 2005 at 16:23 | #27

    There is something tragi-comic about the RWDBs, and the puppet master in the White House, supporting Karimov, an old Brezhnevite communist apparatchik, whose first name is Islam.

    A communist and a Muslim – surely, you would think, Karimov would be top of the pops amongst the people that the neo cons and their apologists would despise, quite apart from his predilection for boiling people alive, etc.

    Apparently not, though.

    If we can invade Iraq to save the Iraqi people from Saddam, then surely we should invade Uzbekistan to save the Uzbeks from Karimov.

    Right, Michael Burgess?

  28. May 25th, 2005 at 23:21 | #28

    Here’s an update for you, JQ.

  29. production line 12
    May 26th, 2005 at 03:40 | #29

    JF, yours is probably the most pathetic update I’ve ever had the misfortune to take the time to read. Why don’t you cut the dissimulation and mud-slinging and tell us what you truly think about Karimov?

  30. July 31st, 2005 at 21:43 | #30

    Uzbekistan has asked the Americans to leave. Why ? Because they have critised their appauling Human Rights situation in the Fergana Valley (eastern Uzbekistan and the home to many Tajiks and fundamentalist Uzbeks). Maybe.

    Or more likely is it because the Americans whilst pretending to be friends of Karimov on the one hand have it would seem been backing front organisations of the IMU. (Regarded by the Uzbek Government and many observers as a local branch office of Al Queda)

    See http://expage.com/bushbusters23b – The life and Times of Djuma Namangani Bin Ladens Deputy in Afghan War and founder of the Key Uzbek Islamic Opposition Party the IMU.

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