Monitoring Bush: the Uzbekistan test

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on in Uzbekistan, but so far it appears that hundreds of civilians (some armed, some not) have been killed in clashes with soldiers (some of whom have also died).

Uzbekistan’s repressive regime is led by President Islam Karimov, who blames “criminals” and “Islamic radicals.” Because Uzbekistan provides a base for US forces in Afghanistan, the country has received relatively gentle treatment from the Bush administration– although the US withheld $18 million in military and economic aid last year because of human rights abuses.

Clearly, though, Uzbekistan is a test of Bush’s stated commitment to the spread of democracy worldwide. The US needs to do all it can to strengthen the forces of democratic (as opposed to Islamic extremist) opposition in the country while pressuring Karimov to step down. Being “our son of a bitch” shouldn’t protect him any more.

Bush needs to remember the stirring words of his inaugural address last January and act accordingly.