UK Watch- Promoting Democracy?:Since 2001 Britain has been using the ‘historic window of opportunity’ (to borrow a term from US Secretary of State James Baker) created by the events of September 11th, to prop up dictatorships in Central Asia. One very prescient example of this was the virtual tolerance of one of our allies in ‘the war on terror’ to commit mass-murder. Uzbekistan’s crackdown on protesters in Andijan was, according to Human Rights Watch, ‘so extensive, and its nature was so indiscriminate and disproportionate, that it can best be described as a massacre’.
Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, criticised coalition support for Uzbekistan when the invasion of Iraq was being planned, using similar human rights abuses as justification. ‘The US will claim that they are teaching the Uzbeks less repressive interrogation techniques’ said Murray, ‘but that is basically not true. They help fund the budget of the Uzbek security services and give tens of millions of dollars in military support. It is a sweetener in the agreement over which they get their air base.’
Murray was promptly sacked for speaking out against his masters, but sometimes eminent figures are kind enough to communicate Britain’s foreign policy with some level of candour. Before the invasion of Iraq, Robert Cooper, Tony Blair’s ‘foreign policy guru’, laid out the principles at the core of Britain’s international affairs in his article ‘Why we still need empires’, where he stated: ‘when dealing with old-fashioned states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era ‘ force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself.’