National Review Calls for Karimov’s Overthrow

by Laurence on 8/24/2004 · 3 comments

By Andrew Apostolou

“On the other hand, the U.S. cannot be seen to support or underwrite the government of Uzbekistan, a repressive regime that has barely changed since the Communist-era. Uzbekistan is run by the same political machine that took power in the then Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in the late 1950s — men who in the 1980s regarded Mikhail Gorbachev as a dangerously radical reformer.

“Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, has been in power since 1990. During the 2000 presidential elections his only opponent was Abdulhafiz Jalolov, the head of the ruling party, who publicly announced that he was voting for Karimov.

“Thanks to Karimov, Uzbekistan has become a propaganda victory for Islamist radicals and human-rights groups seeking to discredit the war against terrorism. Uzbekistan’s appalling human-rights record is a disgrace. Islamist prisoners are routinely tortured; some have disappeared. One, Muzaffar Avazov, was boiled alive.

“The problem for the U.S. is that it needs Karimov’s assistance even while it knows that his regime is part of the problem. There is no basis for Islamic fundamentalism in Uzbekistan, a largely secular country where women are more emancipated than in most majority Muslim states. Yet the population is dangerously indifferent to the fate of its government. There is little room for legitimate dissent, and as a result politics has been reduced to the struggle between the unreformed neo-Communist state and a few hundred Islamist radicals.”

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Laurence August 24, 2004 at 5:50 pm

Well, if this hysterical misdiagnosis in a leading Republican journal doesn’t cement Uzbekistan to John Kerry, I don’t know what will…

BTW I looked up the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, where the author is a “researcher” (though it looks like he is just recycling old International Crisis Group reports, and I doubt he speaks any Uzbek). I see that former Voice of America honcho Richard Carlson, who tried to get me fired from my job when I was a critic of PBS and he was head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the first Bush administration, is Vice-Chairman.

Nathan Hamm August 24, 2004 at 6:50 pm

I’ve also noticed FDD being popular on right-leaning blogs–typically over Iraq I think. I find it interesting that he uses the President’s words here:

“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.”

Because, well, maybe I’m nuts, but I think that in the short run, liberty cannot be purchased at the expense of stability. And that’s exactly why we can’t up and leave in a place like Iraq or Afghanistan. Not that Uzbekistan is in their shoes, but it’s certainly not what I would consider a good prospect for full-on Western democracy. Maybe Fareed Zakaria’s illiberal democracy is more suitable for now, but I think Uzbekistan needs more time building institutions and skills to get where we want it to be (and some political reforms would help quite a bit). I don’t think that’s going to happen if we leave them out in the cold, no matter how distasteful it is to make nice with Karimov.

Art August 24, 2004 at 9:26 pm

Karimov is necessary because he was there before the coup. Russians have been rethinking the coup which we arranged. ‘The Dancing Bear'(I really don’t remember his name now) election was how Clinton was re-elected in the States. The answer here is these leaders are there because of other leaders who came after them, like Clinton. Why get rid of a ‘good thing?’

I don’t think anyone is likely to arrange a change in power for Uzbekistan or, other Peace Corps countries, Morrocco.

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