'Our' Uzbek Massacre

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"On either side of Chulpon Prospekt, blood flowed freely through the gutters," said a survivor of the May 13 massacre of several hundred demonstrators in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. In the wake of the massacre, the Uzbek rulers who ordered the killings have been called "thugs" (and worse) by human rights advocates.

Yes, you say, but they are our thugs—and they are letting us use bases in their country for GWOT! What’s GWOT? For you outside-the-beltway-readers, it is the Global War On Terrorism (earlier known as the Cold War against Communism). Whatever it’s called, it requires military bases around the world—and now especially in the oil-rich region where Uzbekistan happens to be located.

In his excellent book The Sorrows of Empire, political scientist Chalmers Johnson warns that "the growth of militarism, official secrecy, and a belief that the United States is no longer bound...by ‘a decent respect for the opinions of [humankind]’ is probably irreversible." Johnson adds that a "revolution" (the biblical concept is metanoia) will be required to turn things around.

The massacre in Uzbekistan is a particularly gruesome reminder of what so many repressive governments believe they can do with every expectation of "godfather" protection by the United States. Why? Because the Department of Defense, which seems to be running our foreign policy these days, is able to block attempts to rein them in. In fact, Uzbek police and military have for years received training and equipment from counterterrorism programs run by the United States, according to American officials and congressional records. They are, indeed, our thugs.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2005
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