We Scoff At The AP, and Nathan’s Continuing Battle Against Journalism

by Nathan Hamm on 4/11/2004 · 5 comments

I was going to have a nice quiet day making beer and bread, but this is too delicious to pass up.

The AP is reporting that a group called the Jihad Islamic Group is taking responsibility for the Uzbekistan bombings. It’s great to see that the AP is catching up with our post from four days ago. I’ll spare the speech about the power of blog journalism.

In a related story, Uzbek officials are saying that the guilty parties, who they are call Jamoat (Society in Uzbek), were trained by al Qaeda. It’s probably true, but it’s worth noting that they also try to throw every other Islamic fundamentalist group into the mix too.

Meanwhile, this article is silly enough that I don’t even want to devote a whole post to it. I think all this talk of some intense conflict to control Central Asia resources tends towards the hysterical. Yes, Central Asia has oil and gas. No, they’re not the new Saudi Arabia (though Kazakstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan all have noteworthy oil under their soil and seas). It’s also more than a little insulting to all of these countries to suggest that they are just passively waiting to be abused at the hands of outsiders. Besides being insulting, this just isn’t true. Even if there weren’t about a million other reasons, I think the US would lose out in the long run in Central Asia because we just can’t play the game. Our shit-eating grins and willingness to trust strangers make us easy marks for Central Asians.

Anyway, the competition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Russia’s defense minister mentioned recently that Russia helped set up US bases in Central Asia:

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that President Vladimir Putin assisted in setting up U.S. military bases in Central Asia to counter international terrorism.

“Immediately after the September 11, 2001 [terrorist attacks in the United States], President Vladimir Putin contacted several heads of state in Central Asia and recommended that they provide their bases to the United States for the period of the anti- terrorist operation in Afghanistan,” Ivanov told journalists in Washington on Wednesday.

The defense minister, however, said that he does not approve of the idea of U.S. servicemen staying in CIS nations on a permanent basis. “I do not see any need for any U.S. military presence in CIS countries. Six CIS nations are signatories to the Collective Security Treaty. They are capable of protecting themselves without external assistance,” he said.

And, we don’t want them anyway.

Be wary of any story that refers to Lutz Klevemann, a case study in journalism that has the story before the facts, as any kind of authority.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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spartacus April 11, 2004 at 7:46 pm

Excellent blog! I love the subject of Central Asia, although my main interest at the moment is East Turkmenistan (Uyghur people and Xinjiang in north-west China).
I’ll come back

Mark April 12, 2004 at 2:47 am

I thought the question by the Uzbek TV journalist was cute, ‘Mr. Rumsfeld, are you aware of the situation between CHina and Taiwan?’. Surely it wasn’t sarcastic, kind of shows their disconnect from the rest of the world.

PF April 12, 2004 at 10:43 am

Just a minor note on another of your excellent posts – isn’t a shit-eating grin the kind you grin when you’re also bearing it, namely bearing having to eat shit?

Mark April 12, 2004 at 5:13 pm

Interesting point PF. I always thought a ‘shit eating grin’ referred to a person who was smiling not realizing they were ‘eating shit’. That is, stupid or ignorant.

PF April 13, 2004 at 1:46 pm

This doesn’t clarify anything, but it’s something I hadn’t thought of. But your explanation makes Nathan’s use make more sense, which satisfies me.

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