Saturday, May 14, 2005

THE HEADLINE on's article about the violent government response to an uprising in Uzbekistan is telling: "U.S. Ally Fires on Its People."

The official U.S. reaction to the situation in Uzbekistan, where thousands of Uzbek citzens are trying to escape into neighboring Kyrgyzstan and as many as 300 people have been killed -- many women, children, and elderly -- is a step down from Pres. Bush's and Condoleeza Rice's inspirational assertions that the days of America cozying up to dictators and brutal regimes were over.

The White House on Saturday declined to comment on events in Uzbekistan, although on Friday it urged restraint by both sides.

The White House certainly used restraint in its response to the carnage, and here's why:

Uzbekistan hosts a U.S. air base to support military operations in neighboring Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Remarkably, the Bush administration has turned anti-war.

"The people of Uzbekistan want to see a more representative and democratic government. But that should come through peaceful means, not through violence," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday.

And he said it with a straight face. I guess Shock and Awe is the White House's definition of "peaceful means."

The president of Uzbekistan, Islam A. Karimov, also has his views about the path to freedom.

"I am categorically opposed to revolutions," he said. "I favor evolution."

Well, he would, wouldn't he? Since it's his regime that Uzbekis are revolting against.

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