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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Uzbekistan: Our ally in the war of terror

Greg Saunders at This Modern World writes about the enormous amount of US aid going to the brutal Karimo regime in Uzbekistan, and some new torture memos. Saunders concludes:
[I]t should be repeated again and again that this would all stop if the President wanted it to. With a phonecall to the Uzbek government, he could threaten to eliminate foreign aid until human rights abuses ceased. With a stroke of his pen, he could fire Donald Rumsfeld and replace him with a Defense Secretary serious about curbing detainee abuse. Working with Congressional leaders, he could cooperate with stymied investigations into torture. For the most powerful man in the world, the torture of innocent people could be eliminated tomorrow if he cared enough.

Why he hasn’t done any of these things leads us back to the eternal debate about the presidency of George W. Bush. Is he so isolated from bad news that he has no idea about the abuses that are happening on his watch? Is he a callous monster who thinks the torture of innocents is justified by the “greater good” of whatever the hell he’s trying to accomplish? Or is it a combination of the two? Either way, I don’t know how much longer we can afford to have the reputation of the United States tarnished while we ponder the endless “idiot or asshole?” debate.