Talking the Talk
We really are unique in the world. America is the only country I know of that makes such unending noise about human rights and the pushing and shoving for democracy, then allows the most outrageous offenses for short-term goals. Talking the talk while neglecting to walk the walk. Or, walking it when we feel like it. Other countries may be as self-serving in this area, but they are at least well enough mannered not to bray like an ass in a pasture and then turn their backs.
Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov is a thug, backed by Russia, who shot a couple hundred (give or take a few dozen) protesters who voiced opposition to the Uzbek authoritarian regime. Last week the State Department through a spokesman said “We are calling for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the Andijan tragedy.”
That was last week.
Then Karimov cut off full access to the air base we use there and State, Defense, NATO and the U.S. President caved like a house of cards. Rumsfeld meowed about the cost of alternative basing---the fucking cost!
Suddenly it became much less of an issue and the message outside America continues to be that the United States is, above all else, an opportunist nation. Of course Americans for the most part don’t live outside America so they don’t give a damn and, not having given a damn for so many consecutive generations, they’re drop-jawed about people in the world who not only don’t like us much but don’t trust us from here to the corner pub.
There is a time to play hardball and Uzbekistan is (or was) the time. The U.S. should have supported the Brits and Europeans who were determined that NATO draft a communiqué calling for an independent investigation of Karimov and the Uzbek government. Then it should have told Karimov there were two choices he faced, (1) continued American unfettered access to the air base or (2) immediate withdrawal by the U.S. and unilateral sanctions against Uzbekistan by every means at our disposal.
Then see who blinks.
Russia says their thug was a victim of an incident inspired by Afghanistan. They further don’t want to put any ‘extraordinary’ pressure on anybody about the shootings. In an inexplicable statement, NATO Secretary Jaap de Hoop blamed the deconstruction of NATO resolve on Russia not taking the NATO position. Someone should inform de Hoop that Russia is not a member of NATO. Then they ought to run his sorry ass back down the road to Amsterdam and bring someone in to head NATO who knows who are members and who are not.
All in all, the Brussels meeting was a disgrace on many fronts, but none more eloquent than the American lack of diplomatic character and resolve. Once again, this disaster lies at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld.
We still torture China over Tiananmen Square, but of course we weren't basing aircraft there and shitting our pants that the thug du jour might throw us out.