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Credit where it’s due

July 31st, 2005

Via Harry’s Place, it appears that the US is going to be evicted from its base in Uzbekistan. Although no reason has been given, it’s reasonable to assume that the Karimov dictatorship objects to US pressure for an investigation into the Andijan massacre.

This is unequivocally good news, and the Bush Administration should be given due credit for not backing down. There’s no mention of the policy of extraordinary renditions (shipping suspects to Karimov’s torture chambers for interrogation), but now that his regime is openly hostile, it is to be hoped that this dreadful practice will cease also.

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  1. e sciaroni
    July 31st, 2005 at 13:55 | #1

    Bush did his best not to ever mention the Andijan massacre. But thanks to the blogoshere some of his supporters started to feel uneasy.

    The dictator Karimov won’t have such queasy friends, so we must leave.
    Just as you suggested at that time.

  2. July 31st, 2005 at 17:27 | #2

    Why do you keep jumping to optimistic conclusions, when the one thing we know with any certainty is that we don’t yet know everything material there is to know on the subject?

    Some years ago most Britsih newspapers jumped to similar conclusions when one Milton Obote was deposed by a coup. Only one expressed the reservation that things could always get worse and that we didn’t yet know much about this replacement of his, Idi Amin.

    I really had better go and write that full expansion of mine that I promised, to try to illustrate to all these optimists just what is wrong with their blind spots. I’ll have to try to show them how to infer the existence of these blind spots, since obviously nobody can ever perceive such things directly.

    I’m not counselling despair, merely not confusing optimism with achievement. That way declaring victory and personal righteousness lies, without ever checking either your attainments or your justifications. Very G.W.Bush, in fact.

  3. jquiggin
    July 31st, 2005 at 18:00 | #3

    PML, I don’t keep jumping to optimistic conclusions, it’s just that you only respond when my conclusions are optimistic.

    My pessimistic assessments, like this one are just as premature, but you never seem to complain about them.

    I think you can take it as read that what is on offer in a blog is a preliminary assessment based on limited knowledge.

  4. July 31st, 2005 at 20:18 | #4

    There are two main areas of difference. One is that they are not just as premature, but rather express tentative working views (that one even states it is too early to draw conclusions). The other difference is that optimism – unlike pessimism – is structurally suited to encourage “fools rush in” behaviour. It is certainly true that inaction can also lead to bad consequences, but that is what good heuristics allow for – the occasional necessaity of action on incomplete information, as being the least worst bet.

    I was addressing the problem of jumping to conclusions, though. I cannot help it if the occasional JQ pessimism is more tentative; if it were indeed a counsel of despair, I would have passed on some of my father’s wise words about a dog sitting on a thistle, howling.

    But JQ’s particular failing in this area is irrational and pernicious optimism. His pessimism quite rightly has reservations.

  5. brian
    July 31st, 2005 at 23:47 | #5

    Almost un-noticed in the Australian media is the fact that a few weeks ago,the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation,which is China dominated and includes the five”stans” in what was once Soviet Central Asia,called for the withdrawal of all US forces from those states(one of which is Uzbekistan) . Rumsfeld made a hasty visit to Uzbekistan last week,but obviously too late…which leads one to wonder if the Chinese are now funding Karimov”s bankrupt regime(which has the unique record of boiling its opponents in oil!!) Karimov was happily lodged in the US embrace of course, until the recent massacre,which being fairly publ;ic was too much for even Bush to ignore. One US source says the loss of the base will be very bad news indeed for the US forces in Afghanistan.Along with the US funding ,there was also a considerable Israeli presence. A resistance group , recently tried to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Taskhent. The Israelis showed no sign of distancing themselves from Karimov’s “robust” tactics towards his opponents,but with their US patron out, the Israelis may decide to cut and run, as John Howard would say!

  6. brian
    July 31st, 2005 at 23:55 | #6

    By the way, a website that deals extensively with Central Asia and the Caucasus,and also with Russia,The Ukraine ,and other adjacent areas,is one I find most interestin and always good with curent information is called ..”Axisglobe.com. “Well worth a regular look ,for information which seems lacking in many other news sites. By the way ,they has several articles recently suggested that some fracture between the US and Karimov was likely

  7. August 1st, 2005 at 00:58 | #7

    heres a link http://axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=229

    people that believe the world is unipolar – with only one superpower have their heads stuck in the sand. The combinations of russia and china + various other asian states forms a far greater superpower, but this is not even discuessed in our cozy western media.

    Only american patrotism, RWDBs, and an unending delivery of hollywood actions films, allows the uneducated to presume the global domination of the united states.

    From a trade perspective – our close ties with china is going to cause problems in the coming years.

  8. August 1st, 2005 at 01:10 | #8

    I’d say that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation initiative is the main reason the US are withdrawing in the short-term. Karimov has decided he can do a better class of business with the Chinese than he can with the USA.

    I wouldn’t give too much credit to the US for being on the nose however. Rumsfeld’s hasty and repeated visits smack of pleading. But they should get some credit in that they are obviously seen as at least harsher critics than Beijing.

    It’s a game of chess and very hard to read except in hindsight so I tend to agree with PM Lawrence on this one.

    Bases Stand

  9. Andrew Reynolds
    August 1st, 2005 at 10:45 | #9

    PML,
    I think you are being a little bit harsh on our gracious host. I occasionally find his pessimism to strong and his optimism lacking – rarely the other way around. But perhaps I am too optimistic. I believe the world as it is is the best it has yet been, but with a few (maybe quite a few) development needs.
    If optimism encourages a ‘fools rush in’ approach, pessimism would encourage a ‘fools mope about complaining and never getting anywhere’ approach.
    Lest we go to far off topic, however, I would agree that this area is going to be a continuing source of instability for some time – at least until one or two of them become open democracies. The real unfortunate outcome of this is the usual – difficulties for their neighbours, misery for the bulk of the populace and environmental destruction left behind. Regime change anyone?

  10. Ian Gould
    August 1st, 2005 at 14:04 | #10

    Alphacoward: If we assume that the Chinese economy continues to grow at around 8% per annum for another couple of decades and the US economy continues to expand at an average of around 3.5% per year over that period then it seems inevitable that China will overtake the US as the world’s dominant economic power.

    Yuan revaluation will only hasten this process.

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