Well now that the US has been asked to leave Uzbekistan, I think that we need to examine two things: the price we pay for strictly supporting human rights goals only and the need for some kind of realpolitik when the occasion calls for it. Not saying that those who wanted to criticize Uzbekistan’s government were wrong but I think this is a very good example of a gray area that frequently gets overlooked in self-righteous discussions of human rights. I think that there needs to be balance and even then, sometimes events will be out of the control of the US and its policy-makers.
This is why I think that those who love to post the picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam once and like to report on contacts between US officials and dictators need to step back and say what are the alternatives? no contact? limited contact as was generally the case? or a cozying up with them a la the French? If the US leaves Uzbekistan as it most likely will what kind of influence will the US have on the country and how capable of helping advance human rights will it be when it is outside the country with substantially reduced ties with the leadership? Just a thought.
[quote]Uzbekistan has called for the removal of U.S. military aircraft and personnel from a base that is key to operations in neighboring Afghanistan, U.S. officials said yesterday.
There was no official answer to what prompted the decision, although U.S. authorities tied it to tensions related to the iron-fisted response by the government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to anti-government protests in May.
Hundreds of protesters are believed to have been killed by government security forces.
The government served notice that the United States will have to leave the Karshi-Khanabad air base within six months.
The government’s decision followed a trip last week by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to two of Uzbekistan’s Central Asian neighbors, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. During the trip, Mr. Rumsfeld received assurances from officials in both nations that U.S. forces can continue to use bases there. [/quote]