donderdag, mei 19, 2005

Laughland is on crack.

To me it is self-evident that one did not have to support Saddam Hussein in order to oppose the war - however much the pro-slaughter left likes to confuse the two positions. Similarly, one does not have to be a supporter of the congregation of Eastern European despots and their 'managed democracies' in order to raise concerns about the Americans' activities behind the scenes of the resistance groups.

However, intermittent Guardian contributor and Putin-cheerleader John Laughland seems to believe the contrary.

His latest exercise in false logic sees him warming up to Uzbekistan's Islam 'Boil-in-a-bag' Karimov and reminding us all that the 'alleged massacre' in Andijan is yet to be proved. His reasoning for this? That there have in the past been examples of massacres that turned out not to have been quite so bad.

'Other alleged massacres in the recent past have also turned out not to have been what had been claimed… [T]here has been too little scepticism about reports from Uzbekistan, which seem to be following a well-worn propaganda formula.'

While the UK canned its ambassador to the country for speaking out against the Uzbek president's various abuses, Laughland seems to think this was all some sort of slick ruse to hide the fact that the US and UK are actually the puppet-masters controlling the Uzbek opposition.

If Laughland thinks the Western media has been too quick to take the word of the opposition, he himself certainly hasn't delayed much in taking Karimov at his word and repeating the accusation that the opposition are violent Islamists.

At the same time, because there is the same network of U.S.-backed N.G.O.s operating in Uzbekistan as have been operating in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and Yugoslavia, he deduces that they must be orchestrating the opposition manoeuvres.

However, the only two examples of these N.G.O.s he can find in Uzbeistan are Freedom House and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which he says is 'is overwhelmingly funded by western governments and private foundations close to them'.

And how is it that the States, ostensibly in a war against Islamists, in Uzbekistan back them against the man who has provided them with a handy-dandy air base from which to attack Afghanistan? Ah - see, the U.S. has backed Islamists before, in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and Osama bin Laden was on the C.I.A. payroll once upon a time. All of which is true, but Laughland offers no proof that the U.S. in fact is supporting the Uzbek Islamists - or even that they are Islamists.

The man has it comprehensively bass-ackwards. Craig Murray, the former ambassador to the country was rendered jobless for his discommodious mentions of the allergic reaction Karimov has to democracy and human rights. It is Karimov's very abuses that puts the lie to Bush and Blair's commitment to the 'untamed flame of democracy alight in people's hearts around the world' and other associated codswallop.

Further, if one has in fact been reading the American press, one would see that the Yanks have decidedly taken Karimov's side in all this, calling for 'calm on both sides' - as if 700 dead people could be any calmer - and repeating the accusation that the opposition are Islamists. White House press secretary Scott McLellan warned that there were 'Islamic terrorists' among the Andijan dead and scolded that the opposition should seek peaceful means to achieve change in the country and renounce violence.

Laughably, Laughland's position is nearly identical to that offered by the U.S. he supposedly opposes.

Murray himself, writing in the Guardian, encourages us to read a U.N. report and a Human Rights Watch report that detail the systemic nature of torture in Uzbekistan.

'One of the uses of Uzbek torture is to provide the CIA and MI6 with "intelligence" material linking the Uzbek opposition with Islamist terrorism and al-Qaida. The information is almost entirely bogus, and it was my efforts to stop MI6 using it that led ultimately to my effective dismissal from the Foreign Office.'

Then we have Jonathan Freedland, writing in the same publication, noting that Karimov may be a sonofabitch, but he is at least our 'sonofabitch':

'Shortly after 9/11, he allowed the US to locate an airbase at Khanabad - a helpful contribution to the upcoming war against Afghanistan. Since then he has been happy to act as a reliable protector of central Asian oil and gas supplies, much coveted by a US eager to reduce its reliance on the Gulf states. And he has gladly let Uzbekistan be used for what is euphemistically known as "rendition", the practice of exporting terror suspects to countries less squeamish about torture than Britain or the US.'

Karimov is a vital American interest in the region, and that is why, despite the presence of Freedom House in Tashkent, there will be no people power revolution on the Georgian or Ukrainian model - or not if the Yanks can help it.

Laughland is on crack. He seems to genuinely and unapologetically take the side of Stalinoid and proto-fascist despots. What his background is, I don't know, but it is a mystery to me why the Guardian publishes his odd, odd, unhelpful essays.