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Uzbekistan evicts U.S.

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2005

For some time now, I’ve been arguing with libertarian friends about the Bush Doctrine. It’s been my contention that libertarians should at least respect, if not embrace, the Bush Doctrine. Libertarians, of all people, should welcome the rejection of the preceding 50-odd years of "realpolitik" and applaud a foreign policy explicitly committed to promoting liberty. 

A typical riposte involved some cynical remarks coupled with the words "Uzbekistan" and "unprincipled." Even before the May slaughter of pro-democracy demonstrators, some of my friends said U.S. policy toward Uzbekistan proved that the Bush Doctrine was long on rhetoric and short on consistency.

I replied, somewhat lamely at times, that a principled foreign policy didn’t require foregoing all other considerations, that our strategic needs could legitimately influence when and how we pushed for more freedom and democracy in places like Uzbekistan and Pakistan, and that, for all we knew, the Bush administration was actually pushing Uzbeki President Karimov hard behind the scenes.

Apparently, the U.S. has been pushing hard. So hard that Karimov is throwing us out of the country. TigerHawk summed up the story:

The United States has a strategically significant base in Uzbekistan, which borders on Afghanistan. In May, Uzbekistan’s hideous government opened fire on demonstrators and killed hundreds of innocent people, raising the ire of the civilized countries of the world. The United States, among others, threw a fit. Uzbekistan has now expelled the United States, ordering it out of the base within six months. Russia and China, neither offended by the thugs running Uzbekistan but both sorely annoyed by the U.S. presence in central Asia, are happy today.

The next time somebody tells you that the United States operates without principle, remind them that the Bush Administration walked away from an important base in central Asia because it stood up for political liberty in one of the most isolated places on the planet.

Austin Bay has more, including the impact on Bagram Air Field near Kabul, which he visited not long ago.

The loss of the K2 air base is bad news, as is the failure to positively influence the Karimov government. But at least I get to say "I told you so."

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