Moral Low Ground

US Government

WIKILEAKS RELEASE: U.S. Overlooked Corruption, Torture, Slavery in Uzbekistan

It’s no revelation to anyone who’s studied the country, but US government documents released by Wikileaks prove that the United States made a conscious decision to overlook horrific human rights abuses in Uzbekistan in order to gain that country’s cooperation in the War on Terror.

The documents describe post-Soviet Uzbekistan as ridden with “rampant corruption,” organized crime, slavery and torture.

Still, the US cozied up to Islam Karimov, the country’s sadistic dictator, because he allowed American military forces to use his nation as a crucial supply line to Afghanistan. Known as the Northern Distribution Network, it is vital to America’s War on Terror.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented a Women of Courage Award to an Uzbek human rights icon, Karimov was incensed and furiously threatened US ambassador Richard Norland that he would cut off American access to the Northern Distribution Network. The Americans relented in their criticism.

Said one Western diplomat of  post-Soviet Uzbekistan: “People have less freedom here than under [Soviet dictator] Brezhnev.” Attending a mosque or even praying has been enough result in jailing. Horrific tortures are common. Men have even been boiled to death for nothing more than practicing their religion.

Still, the US climbed into bed with Karimov’s brutal regime after 9/11. Washington even funded the very police and intelligence agencies that torture, maim and kill to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2002, President Bush  welcomed Karimov at the White House.

Then, in May 2005, government forces massacred around 500 people protesting in Andijan. Refugees who fled the site were gunned down by Karimov’s army. This time, Washington couldn’t just ignore this heinous atrocity. The Bush administration’s criticism cost the US use of an Uzbek military base.

But the Obama administration has mended fences and continued the unconscionable friendship with Karimov’s Uzbekistan. Such is the price of empire.

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