The Poison From Afghanistan 88

Foreign policy is a nexus of issues and relationships.. Once you get an important issue seriously wrong, it has ramifications across the whole. A seriously misguided enterprise like the occupation of Afghanistan spreads its poison across whole areas of foreign policy.

Only one such consequence, but a very bad one, is British support for the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian dictatorships. This is based on our “need” for Uzbekistan as a transit route for supplies to Afghanistan.

I had already noted the extraordinary enthusiasm of the current British Ambassador for promoting the Uzbek regime and apologising for past “misunderstandings” over Uzbekistan’s political system.

Now Joy is actively promoting Gulnara Karimova’s activities in the world of Fashion TV. That Chopard and Prado are shallow enough to be gulled by Gulnara’s billions is par for the course. For the British Ambassador to flank her at a press conference for her fashion show is unforgivable.

Note that the headline “British Diplomats Toadying to Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter” was written by Uzbeks, not by me.

The policy of backing dictators is in my view wrong in principle. But even in terms of realpolitik, it depends on a judgement of whether you believe extreme repression in Uzbekistan stops or increases the prospect of Islamic extremist violence. I think extreme regimes spawn violence and instability. The British government now has its money firmly on the dictator.

The real motivation is short term support for military occupation of Afghanistan. The Northern supply route, or “Northern Distribution Network” as the Pentagon calls it, is all important. I highly commend to you this extremely revealing report for the Center for Security and International Studies in the US.

Now the CSIS are bought and paid for cheerleaders for the Karimov regime and unquestioning supporters of the war in Afghanistan. They are extremely well connected in Washington and have excellent sources. This paper is a fairly definitive guide to the State Department view of Central Asia – and nowadays the FCO view of Central Asia is what the State Department tells them it is.

The CSIS position is reflected, for example, in the characterisation of the Andijan massacre as an “uprising”. Human rights and democracy are never mentioned as factors in the discussion of US relations with Uzbekistan. But nonetheless the paper does make some highly revealing statements:

The NDN was designed to provide redundancy to this critical Pakistan supply line and to help handle the surge of supplies associated with an increase of 21,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009 and, with the recent announcement by the Obama administration, an additional 30,000 troops in 2010. This obvious need and vulnerability has placed the United States’ Afghanistan war resupply squarely in the hands of other nations….

The first misunderstanding concerned priorities and expectations. In the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia, the elite’s top national priority?”its overriding policy consideration?”is to maintain its hold on power. Additional considerations can and do exist, but they are necessarily secondary in the absence of democratic mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power. An attendant expectation is that international cooperation should strengthen the regime’s hold on power. At the very least, it cannot under any circumstances weaken it….

Crony capitalism and the enmeshment of ruling dynasties in moneymaking schemes mean that commercial shippers servicing the NDN are almost certain to be woven into the dense nexus of personal and state interests that characterize post-Soviet business.

This last is a very interesting admission. I have reported previously that Gulnara Karimova is making hundreds of millions of dollars from Pentagon supply contracts. Here you see it admitted, with a slight cover of academic coyness.

The core funding for the CSIS project is from Carnegie, and one of the authors, Andrew Kuchins, is a former director of the Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The CEIP this summer published a paper on much the same subject “written” by a certain “Professor” Gulnara Islamovna Karimova. Strangely Carnegie did not mention that she was the dictator’s daughter. The article in Gulnara’s name discusses supply to Afghanistan without mentioning her personal commercial interest in it. Yet again an example of the respectability the Washington establishment is trying to confer upon the Karimovs.

I gather that a visit by Hillary to visit Karimov is planned before the end of the year.

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88 thoughts on “The Poison From Afghanistan

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  • pdb

    Glad to see your posts coming thick and fast. I’m just back from 12 days in Uzbekistan on a ‘touristy’ holiday. Having previously read your book I was able to get a different perspective on the country compared to most of my fellow tourists. The Uzbeks are warm and friendly but sidelined by the heavy dominance of the Russian class. Pointless bureaucracy is choking the country. What chance do the people have to achieve freedom and true democracy when we in the west are doing our nasty meddling?

  • ingo

    thanks very much for once again bringing some clarity into the fumbling wests shady relations with Uzbekistan.

    The Termez border crossing and its illegal drugs trade, as indicated by Richard Conroys untimely murder in your book, has been in the spotlight for some time and it is surprising that the US after the experience in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, have not learned from their mistakes. Then it was the CIA clandestinely gathering revenues, by selling drugs, they could not get from congress, now they keep stumm whilst Karzais cabinet and heroin warlords supplying the whole world.

    Another despicable trade that is/

    ‘are almost certain to be woven into the dense nexus of personal and state interests that characterize post-Soviet business.’

  • somebody

    As was the case in Iraq, will any conviction follow here?

    16 October 2010

    US soldier faces court martial over Afghan killings

    Cpl Morlock (centre) faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with no parole if convicted

    A US soldier charged with murdering Afghan civilians is to face a court martial, the US Army has said.

    Cpl Jeremy Morlock is one of five soldiers accused of the premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians earlier this year.

    All five deny the charges. Another seven soldiers from the same unit have been charged with conspiracy to cover up the alleged murders.

    Continue reading the main story

    Taliban ConflictWho are the Taliban?

    Q&A: Fighting the Taliban

    Challenges for Afghan forces

    Suspicion over Nato tanker attacks

    The army said that Cpl Morlock faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

    The charge of premeditated murder carries the possibility of the death sentence but the army had decided not to press for this sentence, spokeswoman Major Kathleen Turner said.


  • Suhayl Saadi

    Resource wars: the end-games of a dying empire. Rome, circa 350AD. Gold is the key. Rare earth metals, the code. China owns 95% of the world’s rare earth metals; China owns the modern world. In terms of the USA-Western EU, Germany might survive as a major player, so long as they get their banks out of Greece.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    The war in Afghanistan has been lost. The report :-

    “US backs “peace talks” as violence soars in Afghanistan

    By James Cogan

    16 October 2010″

    does not comport with truth.

    Are there not a number of tribes within Afghanistan? Does one now assume that all of them have subjected themselves to Taliban leadership ?” or does the truth lie elsewhere?

    “The Taliban” is supposed to be this monolithic enemy, and so one by way of this propaganda is to be led to believe that one single faction can be negotiated with to sustain an occupation of US/NATO troops with peace being embraced by the very resistance forces that have fought the occupiers for almost a decade. Sounds highly improbable and unlikely to me.

  • Alfred

    “it depends [the wisdom of backing Karimov] on a judgement of whether you believe extreme repression in Uzbekistan stops or increases the prospect of Islamic extremist violence…”

    So are you suggestng that we face another 9/11 if Karimov keeps boiling people alive? That seems improbable in the extreme. For even if the US were to withdraw support from Karimov, he would surely have nothing to fear from the US on account of his continued use of torture and brutal repression, since the US itself openly tortures and assassinates.

    An interesting wrinkle is that the Karimovs are billionaires. The US seems to be ruled by a plutocratic oligarchy without any noticeable national loyalty. Perhaps, then, one should see the Karimovs not so much as US clients, but rather as part of the global plutocratic oligarchy that owns the American government. In this capacity, they would naturally expect to share in the plundering of the American taxpayer. If that’s the right way to view things, then the America’s relationship with Uzbekistan is a match made in heaven that can be expected to long endure.

    For those who don’t like Britain’s involvement in such arrangements, perhaps this is time for the revival of the London mob. If a few folks with eggs can end Tony Blair’s book promotion, what could a few thousand with pikes and pitchforks do to Davie Cameron’s thinking about world affairs?

    Unfortunately, here in Canada, folks are so spread out, it’s difficult to get together a good mob.

  • Anonymous

    Good pic here of Bill Clinton schmoozing with Gulnara Karimova:

    Clinton Leg-Humps Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter, Gulnara Karimova, At Charity… Ken Silverstein Trying To Find Out If She Donated To Clinton’s Charity.

    Seems to confirm Gulnara’s status as a genuine oligarch.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone seen the in-ya-face Echelon everyone been postulating, but noone been able to look at the mechanics…

    well Project Echelon got broken up and renamed to different sub projects which are Publically Consumed, of course im referring to er…Google, Yahoo, Facebook. Oh we make it so easy and now they want us to locate or data in their cloud…..Pulllleeeeeeezzzzz

  • CheebaCow


    According to the whois information, the registrant for the domain is Galima Bukharbaeva, an Uzbek journalist (also a witness to the Andijan massacre). Here is a piece she has written:

  • libhomo

    You make an excellent argument of how the Afghan war is poisoning British politics. The same thing is happening here in the US.

  • somebody

    Thanks CheebaCow. Galima must be a brave woman. She describes a totally Orwellian and disgusting situation in Uzbekistan in that article.

    I see that DfID were co-funding IZIS’s good and necessary work. I wonder what representations ‘Wee Duggie’ Alexander (the DfID Minister) made to the regime about Mr. Popov’s imprisonment and/or to get him freed. None I assume.

    There are pages and pages of the ridiculous Mr Rupert Joy visiting projects and hosting parties to mark the Queen’s birthday. How do they live with themselves?

    He took a sabbatical to obtain a wine masters qualification. Nice. Were we paying the individual for the two years’ duration?

    PS I think he would be at home in Tel Aviv.

  • Courtenay Barnett


    Just about 10 days after the then Soviet Union invaded Afghansitan, on the 6th January, 1980, the UN Security Council by a vote of 13 to 2 expressly itself as “gravely concerned” about developments in Afghanistan in relation international security and peace. It went further and affirmed the right of all people to self-determination, free from foreign interference.

    It is now just shy of a decade that the US and NATO troops have invaded ?” so ?” is anyone at the highest level of the UN still “gravely concerned” and what about the right of a people to self-determination without foreign interference?

    It is all the more ironic and instructive to read this interview with a former US National Security Adviser.

    So, it seems that the US pushed itself to invade Afghanistan with 9/11 as the casus belli, if parallels are to be drawn:-

    Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski,

    President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser

    Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998

    Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

    Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

    B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

    Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

    B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

    Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

    B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

    Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

    B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

    Translated from the French by Bill Blum

  • Courtenay Barnett

    So – coming from a learned, well informed, politically positoned person such as Zbigniew Brzezinski when asked whether Islamic fundamentalism represenated a meanace for the world saying this:-

    “B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.”

    Should we now conclude that this so-called “war on terror” with Islam and Muslims as the declared main enemy – that this “war” is something that is contrived and lacking in credibility?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    The Poison of the War of Terror

    Here is a comment from the blog of a witness who was on the No. 30 bus that exploded in Tavistock Square after being diverted by two cars, a blue metallic BMW and a black Mercedes. The occupant of the blue BMW according to this witness showed some ID to a police motor-cyclist concerned that the bus was causing traffic congestion. This action caused the policeman to ride away.

    The comment reads:

    hi daniel, sorry this is a little off subject from what this story is, but non the less its to do with it!

    why do you continue to investigate 7/7 to try to prove the goverment was involved in 7/7?

    let me be clear on this, IF you did magically find a smoking gun to prove MI5 was involved do you know what would happen to this country? seriously, you’d f**k this country right up.

    imagine it all over the internet- British goverment did do 7/7, heres the proof ?” (say a video of a officer planting a bomb), you’d single handly bring the goverment down and there would be anarchy/riots

    this is why your being followed ?” YOUR a threat to national security- and it annoys me. (this has to do with your post, lol)

    to be fair to you (and to family members of ones who died), you nearly lost your life and you’d like to know why ?” understandable, BUT before you go any further think about the consequences, as a british citizen (along with nearly all of us) we owe the goverment and security services a lot (not going into it).

    also at the EXTREME end you’d destroy our country, and with ensueing chaos more lives could/would be lost.

    basically all im asking for is for you to look at the bigger picture (which to be fair me or you have hardly a clue about), and call off your campaign. Be a man about things and just leave it out, because going by past things you might just have a accident one day (please- this is not a threat from me, im just pointing it out).

    anyway i see people critizing you and you have balls to not delete their comments and reply so please do the same for me.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    7/7 was not an inside job. Only a moron would believe that.

    (And the Jews weren’t forewarned, either).

  • Larry from St. Louis

    I believe that the vast majority of commenters on this blog think that 7/7 was an inside job.

    Hence, they’re morons.

  • Alfred

    “I believe that the vast majority of commenters on this blog think that 7/7 was an inside job.

    Hence, they’re morons.”

    That’s the kind of dopey assumption and feeble non-sequitur that one would expect of a semi-intelligent robot.

    Sorry Larry, but much improvement remains to be made.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “That’s the kind of dopey assumption and feeble non-sequitur that one would expect of a semi-intelligent robot.”

    Said by someone who accuses me of being a Jewish agent.

    Heh Alfred – are you otherwise followed by Jewish agents?

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Alan, that’s almost right – that article does not in fact place the blame on the Jews.

  • alan campbell

    Pity them, Larry. or at least have a quiet chuckle. Truthers and conspiracy theorists tend to come from the “losing side”(politically, socially, or economically)of society. Believing in conspiracies is therefore therapeutic for them. They can then explain why they are on the losing side (“we were robbed, deceived”) salve their hurt (“the people who deceived us are so powerful, so evil, it’s understandable that they appear to be the winners”) and then restore their egos (“we have seen the truth, we are so much cleverer than ordinary people who are happy to be sheep-like in their acceptance of things; we are illuminated, in the know, we are special”).

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