I wrote my column for PBS this week, from Bishkek, elaborating on Nathan’s thoughts about Herman Cain’s insult toward Uzbekistan:
Uzbekistan must be at the heart of any successful security policy for Central and South Asia, arguably one of the epicenters of U.S. foreign policy for the next decade. If any budget-cutting Republican wants to drawdown in Afghanistan and keep Pakistan at bay, he must come up with an alternative to Pakistan’s supply routes, which Islamabad uses as a trump card when it dislikes an American policy. Building up the transit corridor through Uzbekistan gives the U.S. leverage to cut off and isolate Pakistan as punishment for its constant funding of international terrorism…
Still, Herman Cain wasn’t arguing that engaging with Uzbekistan was a bad idea. That’s a perfectly defensible position to take, even if I disagree with it. Cain was arguing that no one should bother with Uzbekistan because it doesn’t matter to Americans, so he’s proud to be ignorant of the place. That’s just wrong. Uzbekistan is crucial to American interests, if for no other reason than it can help us craft an exit strategy in Afghanistan.
There’s a bit more there, so read the whole thing before leaving comments.