I am sorry that I cannot be with the ladies at BlogHercon this weekend. I am especially thinking of them and I hope they have a productive and memorable time. It looks like great fun so far. [Beth's Blog].
If women hold up half the sky, why are they not heard? [asks Katherine at PingV.com]
Indepundit is reporting that the U.S. Military has been evicted from an airbase in the ex-Soviet state of Uzbekistan. Joe Gandelman has a report as well. The airbase was important to the support of our operations in Afghanistan. [see Reuters] The government in Uzbekistan is said to be one of the most authoritarian in the Islamic world. The Bush adminstration gave Uzbekistan $500 million to secure basing rights in the country -- and much of that money was siphoned into the private accounts of President Karimov and his allies. Senior officials in the Bush administration are saying that if they'd turned a blind eye to the Uzbek refugee/human rights problems, the Military could have managed to stay.
When was the last time you heard about the Bush administration accepting the loss of a fairly critical Military base while we were at war - based on the crappy human rights record of the nation in which they are based? [see Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et al - - all with abominable human rights records]. We Americans know the Bush administration better than that. Bush has a BIG bully pulpit - and he knows how to use it. Oil and gas interests and access to strategic military facilities in Central Asia have been primary motivators for the Bush Administration. How can the Bush administration expect us to believe they're just as glad to lose this important military base? Is this proof that we're losing ground for the spread of democracy in Central Asia? The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers has said:
"Central Asia is important to the United States for lots of reasons, not just for operations in Afghanistan... Security and stability in Central Asia is an important concept, and those that can bring security and stability ought to be welcomed in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is a very important country over there."
What will we do about the Uzbekistan problem now? Karimov is the kind of leader that Saddam Hussein was a couple of decades ago. Do you see a failure of a pattern emerging? Sanctions that will result in the sure starvation of the babies and the elderly? Ignoring the UN and any meaningful role they might play? I wouldn't put it past neocon Michael Ledeen to suggest that we should attack Uzbekistan in order to "deliver" democracy. That's the neocon M.O., isn't it?