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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on May 18th, 2005 (All posts by )

    This survey of events [Galloway, Canada, Newsweek, Uzbekistan] suggests (and it just my opinion) that the real strategic danger to the cause of freedom and democracy isn’t from the noisemakers of the Left but from the temptation to betray principles for tactical gain. It lies on the very same path that Galloway, Martin and Newsweek, in their cunning, have taken. The Left hitched its wagon to the worst men of the 20th and 21st century and it is dragging them into the dustbin of history. Let’s go the other way.

    -Wretchard

    This is an important point and one too often forgotten by proponents of realpolitik. Our advocacy of human rights and democratic self-rule are not PR, they are force multipliers and critical to our strategy. We use them not to be PC but because the alternatives failed. That’s why it’s important not to brush the Uzbek crackdown under a diplomatic rug, even if the regime is our ally (and why we shouldn’t ignore things like this).

    The realpolitik response to Uzbekistan — we should cut the regime some slack because we need our bases there — misses the point. In the modern world our political and military effectiveness depend at least as much on our being perceived as principled and reliable as on control of real estate.

     

    5 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. Mark Says:

      “I’d say amen to that, sir.”
      It’s hard to be consistent, though. Do we really dare act as if there were a moral dimension to consider? Perceptions in the Arab world about our actions in Iraq or Cuba, or our non-actions in Palestine, for example, might matter a great deal in that kind of analysis. I was very disheartened to read the recent report about public opinion in Iraq that suggested we were perceived as occupiers rather than liberators; largely on the basis of interactions with our troops. Moral dimensions to war may not be adequately taken into account.

    2. Steve Says:

      Good point, Mark. Not all theaters are the same. Realpolitik may still be applicable in some of the ex-soviet republics, though. The more issues of contention that exist in any region, the more likely a power may have to compromise its principles to see progress on multiple fronts.

      In the Middle East, Bin Laden and Arafat did us a favor. They distilled a myriad of pseudo-complaints down to one dualism: democracy or terrorism.

      But, in regions where Islamic terrorism and fascistic governance share a theater with our continuing efforts to transform Russia, the lines of action for us are not so clear cut.

      I sympathize with Wretchard and Johnathan’s conclusions, but also think we may need to accommodate some official ambivalence in this case – if just for a while.
      -Steve

    3. Ginny Says:

      Am I just a crude and vulgar person or do sentences like these appear, well, disproportional:

      In the New York Times today, we find reported as a throw-away line that[i]n another case, a soldier was investigated for taunting a Muslim detainee with a Star of David.We have evidence that detainees in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere were forced to eat pork and had liquor poured down their throats.

      Our government should not do this; it should certainly not sanction it pouring liquor down their throats, etc. But let’s have some proportion here. And what’s the idea of “taunting” with a Star of David. I have a suspicion that some purists (who believe if anything exists counter to their beliefs, they are insulted) might see wearing the Star of David is a taunt. Those are not sensibilities we should pander to.

      Of course, we might then notice other Dane Gelds we are paying, for instance this one.

    4. Steve Says:

      Ginny,
      Here’s Theodore Dalrymple’s poetic summary of Larry Summer’s quandry:

      “Humor, fearlessness, seriousness, and honesty: the qualities that are hated with an equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies that are contending for tenure in the humanities departments of our universities. There lies the real literary scandal of our times.”

      This guy writes like an angel flies. If you haven’t read his latest, you should.

      The best,
      -Steve
      Sorry for going OT, J.
      (hat tip: Gene Expression blog)

    5. molavi Says:

      Bravo Chicagoboyz -

      The real tragedy is that the Islamofascists in Uzbekistan have now gained the upper hand and have made the non-violent secular democratic opposition, the traditional standards bearer for freedom and democracy, look like idiots. We all know Karimov is a dead man walking. So who is going to inherit power if the secular democratic opposition has been discredit and identified with the US pro-Karimov stance?

      Uzbakestan is a “wedge issue”. It is driving a wedge between liberal hawks-neocons on one side and the Realpolitiks on the other side. It would be a strategic mistake on the part of the US to take the side of the pragmatists and Realpolitiks. US has its huge air bases in Afghanistan and can get another one in Afghanistan just 30 miles from the one it has inside Uzbekistan. If there is one Islamic country without significant oil resources and of less strategic value, it is Uzbekistan.

      The harm that this wedge issue is doing on the historic discourse is so immense, that no amount of geostrategic advantage can justify this harm.

      US should immediately give a final ultimatum to Karimov and get the Europeans to put equal pressure on Putin, and force their hands. Every day we are getting closer to the point of no return in Uzbekistan where the Islamist ideologues will take over, and by extension the region. The Realpoliticians will turn it into another Chechniya and then excuse themselves: “well aren’t we pinning Putin down on another front?”.

      Such policy does not befit the interest of the United States.