Pentagon helps block probe of Uzbek ruler’s Andijan massacre
There’s nothing we won’t do for Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov. Now there’s word in the Washington Post this morning that Pentagon officials worked hard to help block a NATO probe into last month’s Andijan massacre.
Well, we “render” prisoners to Uzbekistan, among other countries, for interrogation, so it’s the least we can do. The Post‘s R. Jeffrey Smith and Glenn Kessler report:
British and other European officials had pushed to include language calling for an independent investigation in a communique issued by defense ministers of NATO countries and Russia after a daylong meeting in Brussels on Thursday [June 9]. But the joint communique merely stated that “issues of security and stability in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan,” had been discussed.
The outcome obscured an internal U.S. dispute over whether NATO ministers should raise the May 13 shootings in Andijan at the risk of provoking Uzbekistan to cut off U.S. access to a military air base on its territory.
The communique’s wording was worked out after what several knowledgeable sources called a vigorous debate in Brussels between U.S. defense officials, who emphasized the importance of the base, and others, including State Department representatives at NATO headquarters, who favored language calling for a transparent, independent and international probe into the killings of Uzbekistan civilians by police and soldiers.
We’re so worried about keeping our “war on terror” base in Karshi-Khanabad that we’ll do anything for the guy, despite the fact that a full-fledged rebellion by Uzbekistan’s 25 million Muslims against Karimov’s ruthless repression is probably just around the corner.
Once again, we’re siding with a dictator, and this guy is in charge of Central Asia’s most populous country.
If we were really fighting a war on terror, we’d be trying to stop Karimov from terrorizing his own people.
A Soviet-era holdover, Karimov has played the U.S. brilliantly, building coalitions with the Pentagon and defense contractors, playing factions of the U.S. government and establishment against one another. He harasses his country’s Muslim majority but lays off the tiny fraction of Jews left in Uzbekistan—not because he loves them but because they’re no threat to his rule—and as a result, he enjoys the ardent support of Bukharan Jews who have emigrated to the U.S. Likewise, he couldn’t give a shit about the U.S., but he plays the base at Karshi-Khanabad for all it’s worth, and he knows that if he gets grief from the State Department for torture and murder, the Pentagon will come to his aid. Smith and Kessler dive deep into the intrigue:
A senior diplomat in Washington said that “there’s clearly inter-agency tension over Uzbekistan. . . . The State Department certainly seems to be extremely cool on Karimov,” while the Pentagon wants to avoid upsetting the Uzbekistan government.
A senior State Department official, who called the Washington Post at the Defense Department’s request, denied any “split of views.” But other government officials depicted this week’s spat over the communique as a continuation of frictions that erupted last summer, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell would not certify that Uzbekistan had met its human rights obligations. The decision led to a cutoff of $18 million for U.S. training for Uzbekistan’s military forces.
Weeks later, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, and criticized that decision as “very shortsighted”; he also announced that the United States would give $21 million for another purpose—bioterrorism defense.
More recently, the senior State Department official confirmed, State and Defense officials disagreed about a cable addressing Uzbekistan’s continued participation in the military’s Partnership for Peace program. After the Andijan massacre, the State Department had proposed a blanket suspension of cooperation. But the Defense Department recommended a case-by-case review of cooperative programs—the position that prevailed.
It’s one thing for the Bush regime’s schmeckels to map out outrageous imperialistic and oil-hungry plans. What’s even more alarming is that they aren’t very good at carrying out those plans, and that puts us in greater danger all the time. In fact, they’re lousy—look at Iraq. And now, in this episode of the Great Game, this tinpot tyrant Karimov is kicking their butts.