Friday, May 13, 2005


The former Soviet state of Uzbekistan, truly a model of democracy (ruled by dictator Islam Karimov, an even nicer guy than Vladimir Putin) was the scene of widespread unrest Friday, as protesters stormed a prison, releasing a number of apparent political prisoners. The catch is that the anti-government protesters are Islamists, and the government has sided with the United States in the so-called War on Terror.

It's a tough bind for the United States, with our rhetoric about spreading democracy and popular rule running smack into our desire to maintain access to bases and intelligence assets in central Asia.

The most immediately troubling aspect of the Uzbek government crackdown is that no television coverage has been permitted from the town of Andijan. The word that has gotten out has been damning, but what have we not yet heard about?

For a lighter take on central Asia, see political cartoonist Ted Rall's "How to Depose a Central Asian President without Really Trying" (on