August 1, 2005 [LINK]

Uzbekistan: "Yankee go home"

The authoritarian government of Uzbekistan has evicted U.S. military personnel from the air base near the city of Karshi. It supposedly provides a very useful refueling stop for U.S. aircraft headed for the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, but during his trip to Kyrgystan and Tajikistan last week, Donald Rumsfeld he said the U.S. military did not really need that base. (Those two countries agreed to continue cooperating with the United States.) Uzbek President Islam Karimov brutally repressed a protest movement earlier this year, causing some embarrassment to the United States because cooperation since the 9/11 attacks with the Uzbek government (which has fought Islamic extremism) calls into question the Bush Doctrine of promoting democracy as a central part of the fight against terrorism. See Washington Post. China and Russia recently criticized the U.S. military presence in their mutual "backyard," and in spite of the unfriendly nature of those regimes, it is hard to deny that they have more compelling interests in Central Asia than we do, and even more reason to control the spread of Islamic extremism. As I wrote on May 26, unless there is some overriding compelling reason to remain (such as warding off coercion against nascent democratic regimes wielded by Russia or China), the sooner U.S. forces withdraw from the countries in that region [the former Soviet republics of Central Asia], the better.

Guns of August

Donald Sensing reflects on the outbreak of The Great War" 91 years ago today. By comparison, Barbara W. Tuchman's book The Guns of August was published in 1962, or 43 years ago, which is nearly as long ago as World War One was when the book first came out.