Sunday, March 06, 2005

What about Central Asia?

With all the attention being paid to the triumph of democracy in Ukraine and its spread in Iraq and Lebanon, perhaps we should spare a thought for the Tajiks and Kyrgyz. Like Uzbekistan, both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have recently had elections. And like Uzbekistan, those elections were shams. According to the OSCE, Tajikistan's elections "failed to meet many OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections", and suffered from "widespread irregularities" including intimidation of the press, barriers to opposition candidates, and "manipulation during the vote counting and the tabulation of votes". Those in Kyrgyzstan "fell short" of international standards and were marred by

vote buying, de-registration of candidates, interference with media and a worryingly low confidence in judicial and electoral institutions on the part of voters and candidates.

The OSCE also reported multiple voting, intimidation, and infringements of freedom of expression and assembly.

But the parallels with Uzbekistan don't just stop with the local rulers' penchant for fixing elections. As with Uzbekistan, Russian observers pronounced the elections "fair and legitimate" (which I suppose they were - by Russian standards). And as with Uzbekistan, US criticism of these poor parodies of democracy has been muted at best. Why? Because like Uzbekistan, both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are allies in the "war on terror", and play host to US troops. And in exchange for that, the US seems quite willing to look the other way on a little bit of despotism.

In Tajikistan, the opposition are suing. In Kyrgyzstan, they're taking to the streets. But in both cases, it looks as if the local democrats will be doing it without even the moral support of the US. So much for "spreading freedom"...


is the EU or russia or china or wherever else doing anything to help the democrats? if not then your critisism of the US is hypocritical.

The US simply does not have the resources to fight every batle against every non-democratic state in the world all by itself. You should know that.

Posted by Genius : 3/06/2005 09:21:00 AM

Oh Russia really want to 'help' democracy. Help it ll the way to the grave.

Posted by Muerk : 3/06/2005 12:10:00 PM

So can i take it you Idiot/Savant, want America to act alone in international matters and install democracy and freedom on other countries?

Posted by Anonymous : 3/06/2005 12:38:00 PM

I want them to be consistent. If they want to advocate for democracy and freedom - which I think are very good things - then they should do it when it is their allies who are trampling all over them, rather than just their enemies.

Ukraine and Georgia (and to a lesser extent Togo) show that there is a peaceful and respectful way for the international community to promote democratic governance. And in light of the trumpet-blowing they did in these cases, the US's silence over Central Asia looks an awful lot like complicity.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/07/2005 10:37:00 AM

arguing for consistancy is strange because you should either support one view or the other not both while denying the middle ground.

anyway as to the extremes a perfectly isolationist USA would probably result in some pretty bad stuff happening - while a perfectly interventionist USA would be vastly overstreached so the two "consistant" positions are irrational choices.

Posted by Genius : 3/07/2005 11:41:00 AM