Murray Compels Me

by Nathan Hamm on 3/31/2005 · 34 comments

In re: Craig Murray’s comment about us (originally placed here).

As for Nathan and the Bush boys at Registan, I have followed their site with great interest. I am genuinely at a loss to understand why they expend so much real bile and hatred on me, while showing so little antagonism to the truly appalling dictatorial regime in Uzbekistan. I have no claims to perfection, but I never tortured anyone. If I saw a little more evidence of real concern about that, I might take them more seriously.

I’m no defender of Karimov’s government as an absolute good in and of itself. Not one bit. I am concerned with distortions about it and the projection of Western concerns onto the Uzbek people that are all too common in the media and punditocracy. If they were less common, you’d probably see me being more antagonistic. In other words, there are so many folks painting an inaccurate picture of Uzbekistan that I end up spending more time defending than attacking its government. As bad as it is, it has done some positive things. Does that absolve it of its sins? No. But take the whole picture into account.

I try to focus discussions on human rights in Uzbekistan (or anywhere else) on good policy — how we can minimize suffering. Good policy flows from a dispassionate look at accurate information. The only thing I get really emotional about are moralizers who insist on doing what’s good for their own souls, knowing they are trading away their ability to reduce suffering.

I wish no ill to befall Craig Murray. I hold in disdain the self-centered human rights crowd and its unwillingness to accept that compromises must be made in the real world even if they happen to be unpalatable. I find his tall tales about his suffering repetitive and silly. I hear too many tales of suffering from people who don’t know the first thing about it. For someone who claims to be speaking for those who suffer and have no voice, I would expect Murray to change the subject when it comes to questions regarding his “persecution.”

I do deeply abhor Uzbekistan’s government. I would love nothing more than to wake up tomorrow and hear it is no more. I’m not convinced that bitching and whining to that effect is at all constructive, and I certainly know that it won’t make the Uzbek government suddenly realize it’s done wrong. In the absence of good alternatives and as much as I’m partial to revolutionary change, I’m willing to stomach some bitter pills, make compromises, and take the gradualists’ path to grind away at the Uzbek government through indirect means.

And, I would wager I have some pretty strong and personal reasons to care in ways that only the rarest of ambassadors would ever have. Reasons like Roza, Timur, the Rakhimovs, my 10th form at the Lyceum, the people who fumbled for words to console us when we were being evacuated after 9/11, and many more I’m forgetting. Craig, I care in a real personal way. A way strong enough that I’m concerned about what the real world results are of abandoning policy in favor of self-righteous, condescending speeches.

So, Mr. Murray, let’s cut down to it. I care about what happens in Uzbekistan. I’m not out to make passionate denunciations and statements of how appalled I am. That game is mostly played for the satisfaction of the denouncer. Karimov’s government is the card everyone was dealt and if by working with that government — which requires not speaking ill of them at every opportunity (but doesn’t preclude pointing out faults and our expectations entirely) — we can make things better in Uzbekistan, even if at a glacier’s pace, I’m in support of doing so until a better alternative comes along. Yes, I care. I care enough to give a damn about a parliamentary race in Blackburn and encourage people to eschew what might give their souls momentary warmth in favor of what is slowly “preparing the ground” in Uzbekistan.


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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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{ 32 comments }

Curzon March 31, 2005 at 1:33 am

First, this blog is notably non-partisan and non-judgmental in its coverage of Central Asia. Kudos.

Second, you’ve rightly identified the self-destructive psychosis that afflicts many on the far Left:

I hold in disdain the self-centered human rights crowd and its unwillingness to accept that compromises must be made in the real world even if they happen to be unpalatable.

… although as noted elsewhere, Mr. Murray will make all sorts of compromises with who he works when his goal is to be a joke candidate for office. Human rights for these people is a religion, and the fundamentalists are out in full force. They don’t think hard. They don’t make choices. They just see something bad (alleged human rights violation!) and proceed to bitch and moan with not a care for the world what the consequences might be.

I care about what happens in Uzbekistan. I’m not out to make passionate denunciations and statements of how appalled I am. That game is mostly played for the satisfaction of the denouncer.

Third, it’s also interesting that you note how you defend the Karimov government not because its good but because the picture painted is so inaccurate. Funny, I often feel the same way about Mr. Bush . . .

Finally, “Nathan and the Bush Boys” sounds like a great punk rock band name. . .

Younghusband March 31, 2005 at 2:05 am

I can play either guitar or bass…

Colin Guard March 31, 2005 at 6:47 am

Nathan, could you remind me from when to when you were in UZ? If memory serves, in a previous thread you wrote that people who have been in UZ post-9/11 seem to have a more negative view of progress or lack thereof than people who were there earlier. It might be worth it for you to go back to UZ and spend a few months there to judge for yourself whether the situation has gotten better or worse since 2002, rather than argue with people who have been living there more recently from your computer in the U.S.

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 7:04 am

Funny Colin, since you weren’t there before it became fashionable to denounce Uzbekistan as the worse thing to come along since the plague, I might say the say thing about you and your computer in Ukraine. I made that previous comment the way I did because a lot of you post-9/11 people have a different frame of reference. I know of things that got worse and things that got better.

Plus, I stand by what I say because I lived out amongst the people, as it were. I rarely found NGO employees to be as aware of or take as seriously what the daily concerns and hopes of the Uzbek people were.

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 7:27 am

I should also add that this debate is, on many levels, conceptual. And, in addition to my experience in Uzbekistan, my opinion is based on the opinions of regional experts, human rights reports, and how diplomacy works.

Colin Guard March 31, 2005 at 8:08 am

“I rarely found NGO employees to be as aware of or take as seriously what the daily concerns and hopes of the Uzbek people were.”

Nathan, are you trying to say something about me that is based on anything, or is this another one of your unsupported generalizations? I don’t know much about your background, but I’d be willing to bet money that I have had more contact with “the people” than you have, and have a greater ability to communicate with them in a language other than English. I could make a generalization about PCVs generally knowing only how to order a beer or negotiate a taxi ride, but don’t know whether that applies to your specific case.

Again, I’ve asked you a specific question, and you haven’t answered it.

jonathan p March 31, 2005 at 8:26 am

It is a mistake to look at Murray’s actions and interpret them as an attempt to affect change within the Uzbek government. It would be more accurate to view him as something akin to a corporate whistle-blower. His actions were aimed at calling attention to the hypocrisy and (in some cases) complicity of Western governments (especially those of the U.S. and Britain) in regards to the despicable actions of the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan.

Has Mr. Murray brought any harm upon the Uzbek people because of his actions? I can’t see how. Might Murray have been able to do a little more to help a few of them had he just kept his mouth shut and “toed the company line” so to speak? Maybe. As you say, Nathan, he in essence traded away his ability to reduce their suffering by direct means.

While you seem to think his “trade” was a poor one, you don’t acknowledge what he traded away his position in Uzbekistan for: namely, the opportunity to put public pressure on the Western authorities that have been condoning the Karimov government’s actions by their silence and even (in the case of the United States) using and even promoting said government’s oppressive policies for their own ends.

While I agree with you that Mr. Murray’s tone and self-promotion is sometimes annoying, I do not agree that the “gradualists’ path” is the best way for a public figure to take in every case. Your willingness to “stomach some bitter pills” is made easier by the fact that you are not made to suffer under Karimov’s regime while the world walks hand-in-hand with him, writes him a bunch of checks, and occasionally whispers, “You know, friend, some of your actions are a bit unseemly.”

Laurence March 31, 2005 at 8:42 am

Good answer, Nathan!

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 9:23 am

Again, I’ve asked you a specific question, and you haven’t answered it.

What was it again? Didn’t see one. If it’s about what our policy should be, I said engagement. People who know foreign policy know what that means. If you want it spelled out, it’s pretty much the Clinton-Bush policy that’s the status quo. A few tweaks to be certain (especially as to how the military base can be used as leverage), but pretty much the same.

Nathan, are you trying to say something about me that is based on anything, or is this another one of your unsupported generalizations?

USAID employees and on of their grantee NGOs told us they didn’t care about the actual performance of their grant project. It looked good on paper and that’s all that mattered.

Same NGO had employees that suggested to the secret police that I might have been involved in a series of murders in Bukhara. When their US supervisors and grantmakers were told about this and management issues, we were told that they didn’t care.

Red Cross – arrogant to us.

UN Volunteers – disconnected from reality. And that’s just what one of them told me.

MSF – mixed bag. They do good work and get dirty, so I’m not as put off by the attitude of some of their employees.

I had a good experience with the Asian Development Bank. They are a little different from the rest, I hesitate to place them in the NGO sphere. They had their heads screwed on straight. No B.S.

The best NGOs were the ones run by locals. They were enthusiastic, committed, and not anywhere near as full of themselves as the Landcruiser crowd.

I could make a generalization about PCVs generally knowing only how to order a beer or negotiate a taxi ride,

If you’re talking about Tashkent volunteers, you’re right. Much less likely outside of the capital, but maybe that’s changed.

Hearing that you spoke a local language is good. Too many people coming through for a tour don’t.

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 9:37 am

It is a mistake to look at Murray’s actions and interpret them as an attempt to affect change within the Uzbek government.

Which is why I say it’s masturbatory.

It would be more accurate to view him as something akin to a corporate whistle-blower. His actions were aimed at calling attention to the hypocrisy and (in some cases) complicity of Western governments (especially those of the U.S. and Britain) in regards to the despicable actions of the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan.

Warmed over points made by someone else. Most of us paying attention already knew that the relationship was complicated and unpalatable.

Has Mr. Murray brought any harm upon the Uzbek people because of his actions? I can’t see how.

No, he hasn’t. But, were we to emulate his approach to discourse with the Uzbek government, we reduce our ability to make things better.

I do not agree that the “gradualists’ path” is the best way for a public figure to take in every case.

Nor do I. So, if you have a prescription for fast change, please let me know. I am genuinely interested in faster alternatives.

Your willingness to “stomach some bitter pills” is made easier by the fact that you are not made to suffer under Karimov’s regime while the world walks hand-in-hand with him, writes him a bunch of checks, and occasionally whispers, “You know, friend, some of your actions are a bit unseemly.”

No, I don’t suffer under the Uzbek government. I do worry about my friends though and would love to make their lives better. That being said, I knew plenty of Uzbeks who are fairly ambivalent about Karimov (and have seen evidence that many still are). Because it’s a closed society, it’s hard to tell how dissatisfied people are, but I get a strong impression that as much as Uzbeks want a change, they are worried about a chaotic transition.

As for your characterization of our relations, it’s fairly distorted. The West had a relationship with Uzbekistan pre-9/11 that just was. US involvement was noticeable, but fairly low-key. Nobody really talked about the relationship. After 9/11, we cut deals and signed a memorandum of understanding declaring that Uzbekistan would receive aid from the US and that they would need to make progress on a host of issues (the benchmarks were very ambiguous though). One can’t expect immediate change, so time was given. After about two years, the State Department went through a review process and decided Uzbekistan wasn’t meeting its obligations and cut the direct government aid.

Now, I’m not going to say that’s the best way to do things. I’d much rather set out benchmarks with rewards attached for achieving the. Either way, reforms take time. Unless there’s a clear way to leap forward from where we are to where we want to be that has a fair degree of success, I’m all for “preparing the ground” and gradually hammering away.

Sepra March 31, 2005 at 9:47 am

What’s that about Tashkent volunteers? That wasn’t true of me or most of my sitemates in Tashkent… but it was definitely true of some of the NGO workers.

And I don’t think it’s true of most PCVs. I’ve heard it is true of some PCVs in Ukraine, but you can’t generalize all of PCVs by one post. We have done lots of good work in Central Asia.

Nathan, I think I know the Rakhimovs. I’m pretty sure my good friend had them as a host family and I met them when they came to visit her in Tashkent (or when I went to Navoi). Did they host the 14s?

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 9:56 am

Sepra, we had a crew of slacker volunteers in Tashkent (just outside of the city they were very different). Most of our group spoke fairly good Uzbek, Russian, or some combination of the two. A good friend of mine spoke wonderful Xorezmcha (that Uzbeks in my neck of the woods just called Turkmen).

I think they did host some 14s. The Rakhimovs are great. I’ve always been disappointed that I never got a chance to learn their family “moonshine” recipe. Oddly enough I don’t have pictures of them up. I’ll have to add some.

uzbekvoice March 31, 2005 at 10:38 am

comment test

uzbekvoice March 31, 2005 at 10:44 am

Nathan, I cannot post comments.

Tatyana March 31, 2005 at 10:47 am

I see an opportunity! Interesting, how much Colin wants to bet?

Also, love the band name. If you ever, consider me a groupie.

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 10:53 am

Tatyana, you magnificent woman! You gave me an idea…

jonathan p March 31, 2005 at 1:00 pm

Nathan, I understand your point of view very well. But even you surely can see that Murray’s actions (despite perhaps even his own intentions) were not merely masturbatory, as you so aptly put it.

Whatever his intentions (which no one but Murray himself can know) I thought one positive effect of his decision was the exposure and increased scrutiny our “Western” governments’ policies in Uzbekistan received in the (almost exclusively British) media.

Again, Mr. Murray was not aiming his comments at the Uzbek government. Nor do I believe his comments had any impact on the Uzbek government whatsoever. Rather, his comments were aimed at the diplomatic communities of the United States and Great Britain, and should be understood in that context. They were made in a public forum because that was the only way they would get any attention.

While it’s true that those of us who pay attention to Central Asia already knew about the less-than-appealing aspects of the relationship between the Karimov regime and the governments of the US and GB, I would venture to say that a good number of people were made aware of it for the first time as a result of the publicity his statements received. And, while his actions’ efficacy in this area was probably negligible, the British and American diplomatic establishment could probably (I feel) benefit from a few more gadflys like Mr. Murray.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m certainly not saying our diplomats need to start agitating for regime change! (As if that would ever happen! Besides, that would be the worst possible thing they could do.) Nor do I necessarily think any type of ‘revolution” would help the people of Uzbekistan. Based on my 3+ years of experience in the country, I rather tend to agree with you that steady pressure over time is the way to go.

So I’m not advocating some kind of kneejerkism in response to Karimov’s lack of “progress” on the “issues.” But I do think we should be honest about the shortcomings and faults of our own countries’ policies toward the Karimov regime. Your implication that the United States is somehow applying pressure on Karimov to actually change his ways is a bit misleading. While it’s true that the State Dept did cut a percentage of its direct government aid (emphasis on the word ‘direct’), the Pentagon actually increased its aid (later that same week) by much more than the amount that had been cut.

This is the kind of thing that never gets talked about and never gets called into question. And I think it’s a good thing when someone in a position to do so, makes a little fuss about it.

Nathan March 31, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Jonathan, I agree with a lot of that. I do think that the gadfly role is adequately performed by others though.

Curzon March 31, 2005 at 1:39 pm

Jonathan — Colin’s actions are indeed “masterbatory” (great words). There is at least as much publicity about Uzbekistan as there is about, say, Burma, Xin’Jiang, or the Congo, although not as much attention as there is to Tibet or the Sudan. The US State Dept for their part is very curt about Karimov’s human rights record. And Uzbekistan, unlike Burma and Sudan, has improved recently, as noted by events in this blog. We do pressure them, but not to a level where it would adversely damage our ability to keep our bases in the region and keep good relations with the Uzbek government.

Foreign policy is about adult choices. Having our base in the region allows us to keep tabs on Afghanistan and will allow us to respond to a crisis in nearby Turkmenistan, Pakistan, or elsewhere, possibly saving far greater instability in the near future. In foreign affairs, as in most things in life, you have to tolerate a certain level of evil to do a greater amount of good. If you can’t accept that morally difficult reality, get out of politics.

And Jon, if this is true:

“Mr. Murray was not aiming his comments at the Uzbek government. Nor do I believe his comments had any impact on the Uzbek government whatsoever. Rather, his comments were aimed at the diplomatic communities of the United States and Great Britain, and should be understood in that context.”

…then Mr. Murray has even less legitimacy than I thought. Why stick with Uzbekistan? What about Saudi Arabia? Or Egypt? Or other nasty places we support? Mr. Murray’s just found his niche to occupy an untapped market in the market of criticizing US and UK foreign policy, implying he’s more interested in criticizing us that fixing things overseas.

Additionally, with his absurdist lack of temperment seen in the comments here, he is not set out for politics or policy advocacy (I’m guilty of a bad temperment myself, but I ain’t going into either, and at least I lack the self-righteous tone.)

Mark Hamm March 31, 2005 at 8:06 pm

Wow, that Harry’s place comments was a hoot. ‘You, sir are a charlatan and a scurilous wag-about’ In the the US after even one of those the debate will break down to a ‘Oh yeah? well you….suck’ Those Brits are so cute.

Tim Newman April 1, 2005 at 12:06 am

Well, our culture does go back a thousand or so years, you know. 😉

Colin Guard April 1, 2005 at 6:05 am

Colin: “Again, I’ve asked you a specific question, and you haven’t answered it.”

Nathan: “What was it again? Didn’t see one.”

It was the first sentence of my rather short post, to which you were replying. Here’s my question again: “Nathan, could you remind me from when to when you were in UZ?”

Colin Guard April 1, 2005 at 6:22 am

“And Uzbekistan, unlike Burma and Sudan, has improved recently, as noted by events in this blog.”

Curzon, you’ve repeated this assertion that several others on this site have made without citing any evidence. I’d like to propose a new voluntary guideline: anyone who asserts that there has been improvement in UZ has to cite a specific fact or two to back it up. In a dozen posts making this assertion, I’ve only seen one that referred to supporting evidence, specifically the lower number of arrests after the 2004 explosions versus the 1999 explosions, which I’ve argued is not evidence of any progress at all. There are a number of possible explanations for this that have nothing to do with any loosening up of the regime. Turkmenistan has gotten to the point where arrests are almost completely unnecessary; the population is so afraid and/or brainwashed that they rarely even entertain thoughts of rebellion.

In two years of living in UZ that ended only 6 weeks ago, I didn’t see any progress on human rights or democracy, and saw significant regression on economic policy. I’m not saying the absence of evidence proves that there was no progress, but I am waiting for someone to bring forth the evidence that progress has taken place.

It would be an exaggeration, of course, to say that Karimov eats babies for breakfast, but it is not at all an exaggeration to say that torture is widespread (an IREX employee was detained and sustained head injuries because he helped an ‘unofficial’ imam create a non-religious and non-political website). Nor is it an exaggeration to say that there is no democracy in UZ, and that the economy has been shrinking steadily and consistently for the last three years. These are easily observable phenomena.

It is a reasonable position to take that the GOU’s human rights record is abysmal. I’m not picking on UZ because it’s a US ally and I’m a liberal (which I’m not). I’m picking on it because I have personal knowledge of the situation there, whereas what I know about Saudi Arabia or North Korea is only from news reports. I suspect that Craig Murray is singling out Uzbekistan for the same reason.

Colin Guard April 1, 2005 at 6:33 am

“Because it’s a closed society, it’s hard to tell how dissatisfied people are”

Uzbekistan is a closed society? If you speak Russian or Uzbek and live there, it’s not closed at all. My experience in conversing with Uzbeks is that roughly 90% of them are extremely dissatisfied with the regime, and they don’t hesitate to say this.

“but I get a strong impression that as much as Uzbeks want a change, they are worried about a chaotic transition.”

True, Karimov is a bastard, but he’s the bastard we know, and the next one might be worse. I think Uzbeks are going to be watching Kyrgyzstan closely to see what sort of possible positive or negative outcomes can come from a revolution. At the same time, clearly the GOU could prepare the ground for moderate successors by loosening control of the media and tolerating legitimate opposition. By controlling everyone and everything, the GOU is forcing opposition underground and fostering conditions conducive to extremism.

Colin Guard April 1, 2005 at 6:41 am

Sorry, I’d like to correct a statement I made:
“an IREX employee was detained and sustained head injuries because he helped an ‘unofficial’ imam create a non-religious and non-political website”

Actually, I’ve clarified this, and what actually happened is that the IREX employee helped a gentleman who was translating the Koran set up his computer. This was outside of and unrelated to his IREX responsibilities. The main point stands, though.

Nathan April 1, 2005 at 7:39 am

In a dozen posts making this assertion, I’ve only seen one that referred to supporting evidence, specifically the lower number of arrests after the 2004 explosions versus the 1999 explosions, which I’ve argued is not evidence of any progress at all. There are a number of possible explanations for this that have nothing to do with any loosening up of the regime.

If you’re going to play the high school debater game, back up those assertions. If you want evidence, don’t resort to multiple outs as an argumentative style. I’m not particularly interested in having a formal high school policy debate in here because I got thoroughly sick of the people who engage in them when I was a coach.

There also was a reduction in the number of political and religious prisoners over the past year by about 1,000. Check the State Department report.

Uzbekistan has offered amnesty to members of Islamist terror groups such as the IMU. I’ve never seen a number of the total who have taken the offer, but I’ve seen reports of dribs and drabs of IMU members leaving Pakistan to live a normal life in Uzbekistan.

May not seem like much to you, but the black market and official exchange rates are much closer than when I was there. Kind of a macro-change, but it’s good.

Outside investigators have been increasingly allowed to visit Uzbek prisons and investigate human rights cases.

Look, I said these are minor and I’d like to see more.

Uzbekistan is a closed society?

As in, you can’t do an accurate, methodologically sound survey of public opinion or get much of a sense of the public mood from the press. Lots of people told me they were dissatisfied too. Did you take it to the next step and ask if Karimov should be overthrown? Like I said, they always seemed timid about change.

You’re right, the Uzbek government should open society. They do tolerate some legitimate dissent, but don’t let it have much of a voice or take part in elections. I certainly think we should push harder for loosening of controls.

Curzon April 3, 2005 at 6:31 pm

As for citing evidence, the “Well, I, Colin the Magnificent, was just talking with my driver the other day and he confirmed everything I am saying as totally correct and spot on” schtick doesn’t exactly pass as a citation of evidence.

Additionally, the “I spent at least four more months than you in Uzbekistan, making my opinion clearly exponentially more insightful and genuine than yours” is a total hoot.

Best of luck in your run against Mr. Straw. I look forward to you siphoning enough votes off from the far left so that the Tories have a fighting chance.

Nathan April 3, 2005 at 6:51 pm

Curzon, Colin’s an employee of a US NGO who worked in Uzbekistan and currently is in Ukraine. Different buy than Murray, who apparently reads occasionally but does not comment.

Hilary Matthews April 4, 2005 at 6:17 am

Nathan,

I think it’s unfortunate that you keep using these abusive terms like “masturbatory”. It’s also unfortunate that you’ve made several claims about Murray that are factually untrue; eg. this idea that he’s doing what he’s doing to distract attention from disciplinary charges which were long ago been shown to be bogus. Putting out this kind of disinformation just makes you look biased.

Your beef with Murray really seems to come down to the fact that you don’t like his style and you disagree with him over the possibility of “constructive engagement” in Uzbekistan.

Surely there are arguments on both sides in this debate, and it would be more productive to have a discussion based on facts rather than smears?

Murray’s view seems to be that US policy in Uzbekistan is motivated chiefly by its national economic interests rather than by genuine humanitarian or security concerns. It seems a coherent view to me, and I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

Nathan April 4, 2005 at 6:44 am

Masturbatory is a wonderfully descriptive word for something that is done solely for one’s pleasure. I’ll keep using it.

I never said the particular charge is true, but that it looks an awful lot that way. Murray got loudest when he was up for disciplinary charges. Could be coincidence.

As for US policy being motivated chiefly by economic interests, I’ll say prove it. US economic involvement in Uzbekistan doesn’t hold a candle to Russian. South Korea may be more involved (they are more visible, but I’m not sure how much $$$ changes hands). I’ve heard baroque explanations for how the military base is all about stabilizing the region to get Turkmen or Kazakh or Azeri oil or whatever. The problem I have with all this is that Russia keeps coming out on top. And, Uzbekistan doesn’t have much that really interests us all that much. They compete with our cotton producers, don’t have a lot of oil, and what gas and oil they do have will be extracted almost solely by Russian companies. I would think that if we were motivated by economic interests, we’d have, you know, something to show for it.

Hilary Matthews April 4, 2005 at 7:27 am

Use whichever words you like in the comfort of your own home, Nathan! It’s just that you sound a lot less credible when you descend to personal insults…

In media terms Murray got “loudest”, surely, after October 2004 when he was withdrawn from Tashkent following the memo leak. The 18 bogus disciplinary charges had been dropped in January 2004. It just doesn’t add up.

What does seem plausible is that having 18 bogus charges brought against him actually radicalised Craig Murray, and set him on the course that he’s now chosen.

Does the UK Foreign Office’s handling of all this not seem in the least bizarre/incompentent?

So what do you think are the key US concerns in Uzbekistan? Are there no moves to get the oil out of Russian hands?

Nathan April 4, 2005 at 8:19 am

And calling me a fascist apologist makes you seem full of it too Hil. Like I said, masturbatory is a perfectly grand word for actions that primarily pleasure result in one’s own pleasure. If it cuts too close, well then…

I don’t think that withdrawing the charges necessarily makes them all bogus. The man celebrates his love of the sauce and broke up his marriage for a young Uzbek woman. Expats often do unsavory things. I find none of the charges hard to believe. I also don’t find it hard to believe that the FO decided to drop charges because poor, persecuted Craig was fast becoming a media darling.

I think know that the key US concerns in Uzbekistan are security, strengthening the state, and encouraging economic and political liberalization (which tie back to strengthening the state). I’m sure that we’d exploit oil if we could, but we just can’t cut it in Uzbekistan. Taking oil and gas rights from Russia is simply not going to happen without an Uzbek-Russian falling out. They signed a contract and we cannot offer a better deal (and it’s probably not even worth the trouble in Uzbekistan anyway).

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