Making an Example

by Nathan Hamm on 1/28/2005 · 7 comments

I’ve had thoughts banging around in my head in response to this that I may or may not get to.

I am disinclined to agree that the five suggested carrots (well, four of them anyway) should be taken away and then offered in exchange for good behavior. However, when I read that Karimov is making not-so-veiled threats against NGOs, well, I think it might be a wonderful opportunity to show that there really is a price to be paid for bad behavior, especially if the country in question is assumed to be a partner. And remember, I’m not a big fan of a bunch of these aid groups.

“Examination of some Western aid groups has shown that their activity goes far beyond declared programs and it aims at certain goals,” President Islam Karimov said in a speech to the new parliament, which was elected last month in voting that international observers said fell significantly short of democratic standards.

“We have enough power to curb the aid groups that violate our laws, I hope those sitting at the balcony understand that,” he said, pointing at the loge where Western diplomats sit.

I’ll look to see if I can find what else was said in the speech.

UPDATE: Related

And, the reporting on the speech very well could be only pointing out the negative, which is why I wanted to find the speech. Still ticks me off though.

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– 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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Tatyana January 28, 2005 at 11:32 pm

Good nose; he smells a different breeze from the North…

Laurence January 29, 2005 at 12:50 am

Nathan, why should Karimov help himself to be overthrown by the US, especially when it is not clear that the Americans have a better candidate than Karimov in mind (who is the Yushenko of Uzbekistan)?

Think about the situation: Would an American President allow Uzbek NGOs to be politically active here? I don’t think so. In fact, in the USA it is against the law to accept political contributions from non-US citizens, and against the law for non-US citizens to make such contributions. Non-US citizens may not own radio or television stations, either. We don’t even allow the BBC to broadcast on our airwaves. And all foreign agents attempting to lobby Congress must register with the government. That’s our law…

Robert Mayer January 29, 2005 at 1:01 am

I see both good reasons, and bad reasons, for not allowing foreign owned media for broadcasting here. Though I don’t think the U.S. should allow the BBC to broadcast in the U.S. Why? Because while Britain is a friendly country to us, the BBC is a publicly funded media, and thus subject to some government control…

Nathan Hamm January 29, 2005 at 1:33 am

Laurence, we kind of already do allow such an NGO (not exactly Uzbek, but it does Uzbekistan’s work here as best it can). Karimov isn’t talking about strictly defined guidelines like we have. He’s reinterpreting Uzbek law because it’s convenient for him to do so and because he is grossly misinterpreting the aims of most NGOs and US & European policy.

I agree that direct foreign involvement in politics is undesirable. But, Karimov is, given the tone of both this statement and his recent interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, talking about NGOs that are doing the long-term work–the exchanges, trainings, etc (this includes Peace Corps apparently). He nailed Soros not because it was an immediate threat, but because it proved to have been important in building the foundation in Georgia over a long period of time for a Georgian society that didn’t need Kuchma. So, he’s not thinking about what opposition politician we’ll support in the short term (cause you’re right, there’s not one), but toying with Turkmenbashi’s political and cultural Central Asian variant of Juche. Either his doctors are telling him he’s going to live for a very long time, or he genuinely thinks he’s building some unique, incredibly positive political system for Uzbekistan. I don’t think he’ll be around long enough for him to really need to cover his ass this way.

My support for him only concerns his expediency. When he says things like this, he certainly looks to be doing his best to prove he’s not really on the same page with us (like he kind of said he was a couple years ago). If an ally can’t at least nominally keep its word, I have a hard time sympathizing.

Nathan Hamm January 29, 2005 at 1:41 am

I should also mention that I’ve never, though it may have seemed otherwise, been at all interested in fairness when it comes to NGOs and Uzbekistan. Sure Karimov’s got a right to fight against what he believes is his doom. Democracy’s my goal though. When Karimov is an ally against the likes of the IMU and Hizb ut-Tahrir, I feel we can work with him, even if he’s not the ideal ally. When he starts to actively fight not just democracy, but even the idea of liberal authoritarianism, I have a hard time giving him a break.

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