Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Central Asia and the USA

The Argus has a discussion on why we don't actively go after all the dictatorships in the world, even politically. At least on the surface. He uses Uzbekistan as the focus of the discussion, as we have a base there, and Karimov is a pretty nasty dictator. We appear to be using the country as a base of operations in that region in our war on terror. Karimov allows this and backs us as long as we don't criticize him.
This makes it look like we are encouraging the oppressive regime solely for our strategic interests, but the Argus reminds us that not all political pressure is visible.
...we are attempting some small things to try to further democracy in Uzbekistan. They aren’t particularly sexy, high-profile projects, but IREX (and their IATP and Freenet), IWPR, and my beloved Peace Corps (among many others I’m forgetting) are supported by the US government and laying the ground in Uzbekistan. After all, nobody but close watchers of post-Soviet societies had heard of the years of work supported by the US government that went into preparing for the Rose and Orange Revolutions until after the fact.
He also argues that democracy is sometimes harder to get started in some places than others, and trying to push for democracy in Uzbekistan might not work right now. But the quiet effort goes on.
This is the whole idea behind the Peace Corps when it was started with the full blessing of the Kennedy administration. Kennedy was a liberal in the sense of wanting to project American power (in this case economic) to promote democracy throughout the world. Bush's retoric is not all that different, and the Peace Corps has been operating with government support all these decades.

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