Neo-cons on Uzbekistan

Also from the The Weekly Standard, neo-cons Stephen Schwartz and William Kristol on Uzbekistan:

The Bush administration’s response to the bloodshed has been tepid, featuring calls for restraint by both sides. The president’s failure even to mention Uzbekistan in a major foreign policy speech to the International Republican Institute last week is not good news. Neither is the absence of talk about using U.S. aid as leverage on Karimov.

Uzbekistan has a distinguished cultural and theological Islamic heritage. If it had a regime accountable to the people, allowing entrepreneurship and pluralism, it could become a force for progress in other Muslim lands. As an exemplar of successful reform, Uzbekistan would be a far more valuable ally than it is now as Karimov’s fiefdom.

President Bush should lead the international pressure on Karimov to allow journalists, legitimate relief workers, and trustworthy investigators to travel to Andijon and render a verdict on the events there. That verdict will likely be harsh for Karimov, and it should have consequences for U.S. aid to and support for the regime. Washington cannot turn a blind eye to massacres in a country where U.S. troops are based and that receives U.S. assistance. Here as elsewhere, the principle of linkage between a regime’s behavior and relations with the United States must be reestablished. And if not in Uzbekistan, where we have so much leverage, how seriously will others take our promises and our warnings?