U.S. Foreign Policy: May 2008 Archives

Thumbnail image for Karimov_Rumsfeld.jpg

[Image: AP/Wide World Photos - Donald Rumsfeld and Islam Karimov]

Sabrina Tavernise wrote yesterday in the NY Times about how the U.S. is starting to remember that Uzbekistan is resource-rich and strategically located while starting to forget that its government slaughtered hundreds of its own citizens three years ago at Andijan. 

Western governments say further ostracizing Uzbekistan by extending sanctions -- America's come up for consideration in June -- will cause it to close back up, increasing instability in a region of vital energy transportation routes and strategic proximity to the war in Afghanistan.

A newly softened tone has already paid political dividends. After Andijon and a volley of criticism from Washington, Uzbekistan ejected the United States from a military base that was supplying the war effort in Afghanistan. Though there are not yet plans for the base to reopen, the Uzbeks have allowed the Americans limited access to a German base at Termez, and Uzbekistan recently offered NATO the use of its railway to ship goods to Afghanistan.

That highlights the difficult questions that relations with Uzbekistan raise for American foreign policy: How much influence should the United States try to exercise -- if any at all -- over another country's behavior? And will that country be receptive, given the abuse, indefinite detentions and closed tribunals that have been part of the United States' record in recent years?

It looks like majority world migrants aren't the only ones getting rounded up and shipped back to their countries.  Watch this Real News Network video on a U.S. soldier who deserted to Canada to avoid fighting the War in Iraq, and is now being deported back to the U.S. where he will likely go to prison. (sombrero tip to Renata Avila of Global Voices Guatemala).
One consequence of the myth of sovereignty propagated through our current international political system is the war in Iraq.  Another is our broken immigration system.  Yet another is the skyrocketing death toll in Burma, caused in part by the massive storm and entrenched poverty, but in large part by an incompetent and corrupt government that makes George Bush look like Cory Booker.

It may comfort some in the U.S. to imagine that the first two problems listed above are rooted in the misdeeds of a particular leader, or a particular political party, or even in the dysfunction of the contemporary American political system 

However, these diagnoses are mistaken.  The dysfunctional international political system permits an unconstrained superpower like the U.S. or warped polities like Burma or Zimbabwe to push far past the bounds of civilized conduct, but while culpability may lie with leaders and the voters who support them, the framework that allows such bad actions to persist is structural. 

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the U.S. Foreign Policy category from May 2008.

U.S. Foreign Policy: April 2008 is the previous archive.

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