Back in May I reported on an uprising in Uzbekistan that was brutally crushed by the Uzbek government. Many innocents were killed by the government forces. But they weren't the only ones. At the time I wrote:
It is clear that the Uzbek government is under-reporting the number of deaths and refusing to allow international agencies to conduct an independent investigation. One might assume they have something to hide and most likely do.
From what I can tell, this is a big problem for US foreign policy in its attempt to promote Democracy and not coddle dictators. It is not simply a matter of the US supporting pro-Democratic forces as was likely done in neighboring Ukraine because here there is a component that is clearly willing to use violence. And this component is likely led by folks who are allied with al Qaeda and Taliban types.
Later, I read Sean Naylor's "Not A Good Day to Die" which is a thrilling account of Operation Anaconda which took place in March of 2002 in Afghanistan's Shah-i-Khot Valley. According to Mr Naylor, the enemy that was coalescing in the mountains above the valley were Afghan Taliban, Chechens and Uzbeks. Specifically a man named Tohir Abdouhalilovitch Yuldeshev. Naylor writes (in page 138)
...as analysts worked feverishly to build the intelligence picture, one name was popping up repeatedly in the chatter: Tohir Yuldeshev.
A skilled organizer and passionate orator, Tohir Abdouhalilovitch Yuldeshev was a radical Islamist from Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley who had spent the 1990s traveling to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Caucasus and elsewhere forging bonds with pan-Islamic jihadi groups.....
In 1998 he and Juma Namangani, a fellow Islamic militant from his hometown, formed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, dedicated to the violent overthrow of Uzbek President Islam Karimov's authoritarian government and its replacement by an Islamic state.
He was know to have escaped capture during Operation Anaconda according to Naylor (page 376).
Interestingly, Yuldeshev's name surfaces as a leader of the uprising in May.
Unlike the more pacifist Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) advocates the violent overthrow of the government. It was born in December 1991, when young Muslims seized the local Communist Party headquarters in the eastern city of Namangan. They were protesting against the mayor's refusal to allocate land for a mosque. The protesters were led by Tohir Abdoulhalilovitch Yuldeshev, a fiery 24-year- old activist in the underground Islamic movement during the Soviet era, and Jumaboi Ahmadzhanovitch Khojaiev, a former Soviet paratrooper who spent many years in military service with the Red Army in Afghanistan, during which he developed a high regard for the Afghan mujahideen and their fighting skills.
Clearly the Bush's administrations desire to promote Democracy around the world includes the replacement of Uzbekistan's repressive regime.
Just as clearly the alternative can't be Tohir Yuldeshev and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Despite this, the Bush Administration has called for an international investigation into the Uzbek government's actions during the May uprising and recently aided a United Nations evacuation of refugees from Uzbekistan. As a result, the Uzbek government has given the US 180 days to vacate the important US base located there.
"When we got notice of the Uzbek action Friday morning, we decided it would be inappropriate for me to go at this time," he said in an interview. "We were going to have a conversation about human rights, Andijon and the fact that the Uzbek government's failure to reform has put it in international isolation."
Mr. Burns said the United States had been "profoundly concerned" about the status of the Uzbek refuges in Kyrgyzstan who fled after the Andijon incident. "We have energetically supported the efforts to bring them to safety in Romania," he said, "because we feared they would be persecuted if they were sent back to Uzbekistan."
"We are not willing to overlook these very important human right concerns," he added.
Another State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department ground rules, said, "Obviously we don't want to lose K-2." But he added that loss of the base was preferable to backing away from demanding that Uzbekistan start political and economic reforms and agree to an international investigation of the Andijon killings.
This is obviously an extremely precarious position in which the Administration finds itself. Yet it has decided yet again to abandon Realism as a Foreign Policy in favor of supporting, what Charles Krauthammer has called Democratic Globalism.
This conservative alternative to realism is often lazily and invidiously called neoconservatism, but that is a very odd name for a school whose major proponents in the world today are George W. Bush and Tony Blair--if they are neoconservatives, then Margaret Thatcher was a liberal. There’s nothing neo about Bush, and there’s nothing con about Blair.
Yet they are the principal proponents today of what might be called democratic globalism, a foreign policy that defines the national interest not as power but as values, and that identifies one supreme value, what John Kennedy called “the success of liberty.” As President Bush put it in his speech at Whitehall last November: “The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings.”
Beyond power. Beyond interest. Beyond interest defined as power. That is the credo of democratic globalism. Which explains its political appeal: America is a nation uniquely built not on blood, race or consanguinity, but on a proposition--to which its sacred honor has been pledged for two centuries. This American exceptionalism explains why non-Americans find this foreign policy so difficult to credit; why Blair has had more difficulty garnering support for it in his country; and why Europe, in particular, finds this kind of value-driven foreign policy hopelessly and irritatingly moralistic.
Democratic globalism sees as the engine of history not the will to power but the will to freedom. And while it has been attacked as a dreamy, idealistic innovation, its inspiration comes from the Truman Doctrine of 1947, the Kennedy inaugural of 1961, and Reagan’s “evil empire” speech of 1983. They all sought to recast a struggle for power between two geopolitical titans into a struggle between freedom and unfreedom, and yes, good and evil.
And the fact is, that if the Uzbek government is deposed by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, there will be more than enough of an excuse to make sure they don't remain in power long.