Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bush Squanders Another Chance to Take the High Road

The Bush administration and conservative bloggers are trying their best to spin Uzbekistan's eviction of the U.S. military from their air bases as evidence that Bush refused to cozy up to dictators for strategic gain; and so far the MSM seems to be playing the enabler role.

Uzbekistan has been widely viewed as an important test for the Bush administration -- and whether the anti-terrorism efforts or promotion of democracy takes priority. "We all knew basically that if we really wanted to keep access to the base, the way to do it was to shut up about democracy and turn a blind eye to the refugees," said the senior official, on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive diplomacy. "We could have saved the base if we had wanted."

They could also have left the base on their own if they had wanted. If Bush had been offended by Uzbekistan's treatment of political dissidents (mowing them down in the streets), he would have pulled our troops and planes off the airbase instead of waiting to be kicked out. If our compassionately conservative, Christian president had found Uzbekistan's interrogation methods (boiling people alive, among other things) distasteful, he would not have sent detainees in U.S. custody to Uzbekistan for interrogation by the demons in human form there.

The Bushies might have preferred it if Uzbekistan's human rights violations had not made that country such a political hassle for them; but they were not so concerned about it that they were willing to give up the enormous strategic military advantage Uzbekistan's geographic location gave them. They wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. It just didn't work out that way. But if Uzbekistan had not kicked us out, we would still be using their military bases, right?

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