The Guardian had a major feature last week on the 20th anniversary of the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. Contrary to the intention of the coup leaders, it was the catalyst for the end of the Soviet Union and, in a sense, the ultimate victory of NATO.
As NATO bombing this week achieves the loss of power of Gadaffi in Tripoli, a look back at that 1991 Soviet coup highlights the stunning hypocrisy of NATO and the danger to world peace which it has become.
One of the leaders of the coup against Gorbachev was a dedicated Stalinist Politburo member named Islam Karimov, who was President of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. After the failure of the coup, he embraced the idea of Uzbek independence in order both to escape retribution for his part in the coup and to maintain Stalinism in his little part of the Soviet Empire.
(A digression, but one of Karimov’s first acts in independent Uzbekistan was to order the Uzbek Supreme Court to pardon Alisher Usmanov, a notorious gangster jailed by the Soviet Union. He is now the third richest man in Britain).
Karimov has to this day maintained the Soviet institutions in Uzbekistan and even increased the levels of repression, with absolutely no civil or political liberty, and commercial freedoms restricted to his immediate family and friends.
So Karimov, the world’s most notorious torturer, must be NATO’s number 1 remaining enemy, right?
No, actually. He is NATO’s best friend.
Karimov is the major conduit for land supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, is host to Germany’s forward airbase, is a most valued member of NATO’s “Partnership for Peace”, is a recipient of NATO military training and equipment.
Because NATO does not care in the least about dictators. It likes them if they forward NATO’s interest in Central Asian or Middle Eastern oil and gas, and if they host NATO military logistics. Karimov can murder hundreds, keep 10,000 political prisoners in desert gulags. Bahrain can become a torture camp. NATO really does not care. Every time you hear a NATO spokesman telling lies about their mission to protect civilians, remember the tortured of Uzbekistan.
I used to be neutral about whether or not an independent Scotland should remain in NATO. I now view leaving NATO as the number one foregin policy priority.