Monday, December 08, 2003

Yeah, I was talking earlier about how falseness that we embrace about the inherent goodness of our nations tends to be opposed by the facts. And these facts are not uncommon, not that hard to find, and definitely not easily refuted. They are just widely ignored.

Today I was reading the Japan Times, a mainstream English-language newspaper here, and I came across an article about the current situation in Uzbekistan. Here is an exerpt, but read the whole thing.

"You will have to make up your own mind," the hotel receptionist said when I asked her why only a few people were allowed to share in the National Day celebrations with the president and his family.

After a month in Uzbekistan I was able to make up my mind. Uzbekistan is potentially a reasonably rich country, with oil and gas, gold and other metals and extensive high-quality cotton production. The benefits of these resources are, however, restricted to just a few families that support the exploitative economic mechanism established and maintained by the president and his cronies...

...The mass opposition is kept under control by fear. Apart from one or two groups of friends of the leaders, there is no nongovernment organization in Uzbekistan and no political parties except those that support the government. The legal system and enforcement agencies, including the military, are part of the regime that exploits the country. They depend on the survival of the regime for their own survival.

There is another difference between Georgia and Uzbekistan that makes revolution unlikely in the latter. This is that, while the United States is withdrawing its support for the Shevardnadze regime, reducing aid and putting pressure on him to allow fair elections, in Uzbekistan the U.S. is increasing its economic support for the regime and does not put any pressure on it to reduce its exploitation or to allow its people democratic freedoms. It makes no mention of fair elections...

...As long as the government is supported by the U.S., as many other brutal dictatorships have been supported, there is no prospect of such justified and disenfranchised dissent turning into a successful revolution.

Chomsky echoes this:

...Saddam was not the only monster who won the acclaim of the current incumbents. Among others were Ferdinand Marcos, "Baby Doc" Duvalier, and Nicolae Ceausescu; all were overthrown from within, despite strong US support until their fate was sealed. Other favorites included Indonesia's President Suharto, who competed with Saddam in barbarism. The first head of state honored with a visit to Bush the elder's White House was Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, another high-ranking killer, torturer, and plunderer. The South Korean dictators also received Washington's strong support until US-backed military rule was finally overthrown in 1987 by popular movements. Even minor thugs could be assured of a warm welcome as long as they were performing their function. Secretary of State Shultz was so enamored of Manuel Noriega that he flew to Panama to congratulate him after he had stolen an election by fraud and violence, praising the gangster for "initiating the process of democracy." Later Noriega lost his usefulness in the contra war and other enterprises, and was transferred to the category of "evil"- although, like Saddam, his worst crimes were behind him. (p. 112)

... Also at least partially familiar is the long-standing support of the present incumbents for Saddam Hussein, often attributed to obsession with Iran. That policy continued without change after Iran's capitulation in the Iran-Iraq war, because of "our duty to support U.S. exporters," the State Department explained in early 1990 - adding the usual boilerplate about how aiding Saddam would improve human rights, regional stability, and peace. In October 1989, long after the war with Iran was over and more than a year after Saddam's gassing of the Kurds, President Bush I issued a national security directive declaring that "normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle East." (p. 111)

... In December 2002, Jack Straw, then foreign minister, released a dossier of Saddam's crimes. It was drawn almost entirely from the period of firm US-UK support, a fact overlooked with the usual display of moral integrity. (p. 130)

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