Further thoughts on the US expulsion from Uzbekistan
The US will be keen to emphasise recent disagreement over Andizhan/refugees, to try to retain some dignity. But the causes in fact are much deeper, and relate to the failure of a policy of constructive engagement with a regime that is more recalcitrant even than Lukashenko, and was never going to reform.
The US tried for too long to paper over the cracks and argue in international fora that Karimov was reforming and just needed time. I believe that, for a while, wishful thinking led the US actually to believe this.
The result was a position, particularly on defence and intelligence co-operation, that became untenable and appeared to expose a massive hypocrisy at the centre of the Bush doctrine of spreading democracy and freedom.
It is I think important to realise that for Karimov it was the threat of economic freedom, not just political freedom, which turned him away from the US. Uzbekistan is much closer to a North Korean insular model than the South East Asian model that the US seemed to mistake it for.
The policy of constructive engagement (or “critical engagement” to use Jack Straw’s phrase) was myopic, morally corrupting, visibly hypocritical and unsustainable. Let us hope it is now buried.