Saturday, February 21, 2009

US Foreign Assistance in Central Asia and the Supply Route to Afghanistan: Will Obama Repeat Bush’s Mistakes in the Region?


Yesterday, the Century Foundation posted a white paper I wrote on U.S. democracy assistance policy in Central Asia. One of my major points in the paper is that the U.S. lacks a long-term strategy for the region, and, as a result, democracy assistance has been dictated too often by the ebbs and flows of America’s immediate needs from the Central Asian states. In the context of America’s present desire to engage the region as part of its increased involvement in Afghanistan, this paper offers some important warnings for the Obama administration. At present, the U.S. appears to be undertaking a strategy in Central Asia that is beginning to look like a repeat performance of mistakes made in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. While the short-term memory of Americans may easily lead us down a path already taken, Central Asians’ memories are a bit better. They remember too well American policy in the region following September 11th, and Kyrgyzstan’s recent decision to close the U.S. airbase on its territory is very much related to some of the past mistakes in that policy. The policy in the region following September 11th, however, was merely indicative of larger problems in the U.S. approach to Central Asia, which as I outline in my paper, includes remaining inconsistent in its policy in the region and tying its development assistance too closely to the ever changing short-term goals that govern this policy. While I encourage people to read the actual paper, let me summarize some of USAID’s past history in Central Asia, which are covered in the manuscript, since it is pertinent to the argument I want to make about the proposed overland supply route to Afghanistan and the new US engagement of Central Asia.

During the early 1990s, USAID’s strategy in Central Asia was similar to those in all of the former Communist states assumed to be “in transition” at this time. Projects aimed to make quick changes that could help transform Soviet institutions into democratic and capitalist models. While there were some successes in some countries, overall the projects faced a major obstacle in the form of people’s attitudes. In short, Central Asians (and most former Soviet citizens outside the Baltics) were not prepared to interact with a new system that was based on citizen participation in governance and a transparent merit-based economy. While it took USAID some time to recognize that local attitudes were rendering interventions ineffective, they finally did so in the later 1990s as they shifted their focus.

In the late 1990s, USAID adopted a long-term gradual strategy for its development objectives in Central Asia. This was not only true of democracy programs, but it reflected a general understanding that all forms of development in the region would take time and concerted effort from the international community and must be focused on attitudinal change. While this strategy was slated to inform U.S. assistance policy in the region from 2001 to 2005, it was never really implemented. September 11th happened, and our military mission in Afghanistan needed Central Asia’s immediate assistance and buy-in. Suddenly, USAID budgets increased by leaps and bounds, and the Agency was forced to quickly think of how the money should be spent. While the Central Asian USAID mission did come up with some innovative ways to put these resources to use, such as an expansive community development project, many resources went to revitalize defunct projects and approaches that had previously failed. In Uzbekistan, for example, USAID went back to the business of paying consultants to promote economic liberalization on the policy level with government only a couple years after it had ceased such work due to a lack of political will. By 2003, therefore, many of the same banking, macro-economic, and trade projects that had been abandoned in 1999, were back in business in Tashkent, and the Uzbek government was about as receptive to what the projects were promoting as they had been in 1999.

More importantly, the U.S. Defense Department came to the region in full force at this time. Not only did it sign agreements with the Kyrgyz and Uzbek governments to establish air bases serving Afghanistan, but it also offered substantial military aid and training to these countries and others in the region. Likewise, other U.S. government agencies provided security assistance to the Central Asian states on everything from border security to preventing terrorist financing from passing through the region’s financial institutions. While some of these programs were important in the context of the Global War on Terror, they also brought the US precariously close to propping up the region’s continuum of authoritarian rule and strengthening the foot soldiers of this authoritarianism in the security and military sectors.

The answer to this quandary that U.S. policy makers offered was to simultaneously provide increased democracy assistance to the region. While democracy assistance programs were in dire need of resources, the sudden desire to counter-balance America’s new military and security relationships with less-than-democratic governments in the region meant that these resources couldn’t only serve the long-term democracy strategy that was in place. Instead, USAID and the State Department needed to show that the U.S. cared about democracy; in other words, they needed to focus on visible symbols of democracy understood by Capitol Hill such as political parties, elections, and human rights. Unfortunately, the region was not ready for such aggressive programs, and they essentially backfired.

The result of these policies became quite obvious by 2006 as the Central Asian states began to push back against U.S. democracy assistance. In Uzbekistan, the government methodically ejected virtually every U.S. NGO working in the democracy field from the country. In Kazakhstan, the government prevented foreign assistance to political parties. In Tajikistan, people working for U.S.-funded democracy projects were subjected to various forms of harassment. More generally, the Central Asian states became increasingly suspicious of U.S. intentions in their countries, especially in the aftermath of the so-called “color revolutions,” which the Russian media portrayed as USAID-led conspiracies aimed at installing pro-American leaders throughout the former Soviet Union. In Uzbekistan, the government levied thinly veiled accusations of U.S. involvement in the Andijan protests turned massacre, and the Uzbek state subsequently closed the U.S. airbase on its territory. Now, the Kyrgyz government is taking a similar step. Through all of this Russia, which has been extremely concerned about the U.S. military presence in Central Asia, has been fanning local fears about American intentions.

This history is particularly relevant now because the evolving U.S. plans for Central Asia now appear to be replicating these past mistakes. In hopes of establishing a large overland route for bringing supplies to Afghanistan, the U.S. is already increasing its assistance and is contemplating a return to strong military and security assistance programs. Most recently, there have been suggestions that the US military may try to regain access to an airbase in Uzbekistan due to the closure of the base in Kyrgyzstan. As an article in Slate last week noted, such a renewal of close military relations with Uzbekistan could create a serious human rights quandary for the Obama administration. It could also increase tensions between the U.S. and the Central Asian states once again, hindering rather than fostering the engagement we desire.

In my opinion, the key to avoiding past mistakes depends on the question of US military involvement in the region. Unfortunately, current trends suggest that this involvement will be substantial once again as we ramp up efforts in Afghanistan. The defense department already appears to be at the forefront of the new US engagement in Central Asia. General Petraeus was the person sent to Central Asia to negotiate the overland route, and – as already mentioned – there is talk of a new base in Uzbekistan. There is also evidence that plans for military assistance are being folded into all of the agreements that seem to be hastily put together for the region. If these trends continue, we can expect a similar scenario that played out in the years following 2001. There will be a need for the USG to demonstrate measurable and visible political reforms in order to justify its increasingly close military relationship, leading to aggressive democracy policies that will likely backfire. Russia will be once again disturbed at the U.S. military presence and will attempt to subvert it. And, the assumptions of many Central Asians that the primary US interest in the region is aggressive and militant will be reconfirmed.

Fortunately, it is not too late to prevent a repeat of history, but avoiding past mistakes will require some thoughtful planning. USAID presently has several solicitations for assistance programs to the region, especially in Tajikistan which will be a critical country to America’s plans for Afghanistan. To date, the majority of these projects focus on resolving critical, yet mostly uncontroversial problems in the region such as maternal and child health, community development, agricultural development, and local economic development (see, for example, these solicitations: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). All of these interventions reflect attempts to establish gradual long-term development in the region, and one would hope that similarly focused democracy programs would also be designed and funded in the near future. To be truly effective, however, the US needs to ensure that all of these interventions are part of a coherent long-term strategy of engagement and development and not just carrots to get short-term concessions in the service of objectives in Afghanistan.

The overland supply route through Central Asia could be a critical part of such a strategy if the U.S. develops it with Central Asia in mind as well as Afghanistan. If this supply line does not carry weapons and munitions and is driven by commercial carriers, as already promised, it could be a force for development in the region, engaging Central Asian vendors and labor and offering opportunities for the development of local economic activity along the route. This requires a concerted effort to find development opportunities in the establishment of the supply line and ensuring that these opportunities do not only serve corrupt elites, but translate into better livelihoods for regular citizens. It also requires, therefore, efforts to bolster citizen participation in these local development projects and to support local media and civil society activities that hold local officials and the central government accountable and prevent state corruption in connection with the supply line.

In order to realize such a coherent long-term strategy, however, the U.S. government needs to take several steps uncharacteristic of its bureaucracy. First, it needs to make a clear decision to limit the involvement of the Pentagon in Central Asia outside Afghanistan. The Pentagon should realize that this serves its interests in the long-run. If a well thought-out commercially oriented supply link devoid of U.S. military involvement is created between Central Asia and Afghanistan, it will not only create a more cost effective way for the U.S. to bring supplies into the country; it will also encourage increased Central Asian commercial involvement in Afghanistan, especially from Kazakhstan. Furthermore, it would essentially remove the need for a U.S. airbase in the region since supplies could be brought overland at lower cost than by air through either Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. While I am sure that many military strategists will continue to insist on the necessity of a base, the arguments I have heard in the past for its need were based on the high cost of bringing supplies directly from Germany, and presumably a land-route would resolve that problem. Furthermore, the increased stability in host government support for (and hopefully decrease in Russian objection to) the overland supply line that would likely result from avoiding a base would ultimately better serve U.S. interests in Afghanistan over the long term.

Besides keeping the Pentagon away from the nuts and bolts of the running of a supply line through Central Asia and forgoing any plans to establish yet another military base in the region, the U.S. should not consider ramping up military assistance in Central Asia (if such assistance has not already been promised by General Petraeus). As already noted, this will inevitably create an impression that the U.S. is helping armies that could be used against local citizens as was the case in Andijan in May 2005. In short, while the supply line is certainly entangled with the Defense Department’s goals in Afghanistan and will inevitably involve DOD input in its design and planning, the engagement with Central Asians should primarily be run through two of the three D’s – diplomacy and development. Otherwise, as the former Kyrgyz ambassador to the U.S. noted Friday in a Washington Post op-ed about the Kyrgyz base, the long-term development goals of sustainable free markets and good governance will be lost to an over-emphasis on short-term military interests.

While limiting the Pentagon’s involvement in Central Asia is probably the most challenging step the U.S. would need to take to realize the plan I mention above, it is certainly not the only one. Secondly, USAID needs to engage the many people who have been working on the ground in the region on development issues for the last decade and a half in the formulation of a coherent long-term development strategy for Central Asia. Such a strategy needs to be cognizant of local cultural issues and history while also being aware of the regional context and the symbiotic relationship between democracy and economic development.

Finally, the U.S. government as a whole needs to commit to the long-term resources to realize this strategy. While the U.S. is usually reticent to make any financial commitments that extend beyond one year, it must be understood that this is a critical aspect of any strategy to rebuild Afghanistan, where we are already prepared to be involved over the long-term. If USAID is given the opportunity to use increased resources for the establishment of long-term projects focused on gradual changes in all sectors from economic reform to democracy, the agency may find a willingness on the side of host governments to buy into these development efforts when appropriate. Ideally, such buy-in would also create more tolerance on the part of host governments for projects engaging citizens on freedom of information, civic involvement in governance, and the protection of human rights, especially when they stress gradual change and citizen development over short-term regime change.

Although this may sound like a radical and ambitious plan for a region on the margins of Americans’ attention, the new administration should also keep in mind that it was voted in on a platform promising change and “out-of-the-box” thinking. The last thing the Obama administration should want to do is repeat the mistakes of its predecessors. Unfortunately, if current trends in the recent increased engagement of Central Asia continue, that will be exactly what the administration is doing. If it makes the effort to do things right this time, however, the Obama administration could make more in-roads in the region than any U.S. government since the fall of the USSR and help make a sustained impact on Central Asia’s development while they are at it.


Blogger Ainur said...

Oh, we read the article 'Saving democracy promotion...'. I told the class that I used to know you personally. The class is a combination of international and local (American) students. So... We were surprised that you used the word WHILE more than 21 times (people tired of counting them). The second, you never mention the concept of international cooperation that should be utilized rather than a unipolar view of neoliberalism and security. The third, your argument of promoting democracy sounds weak in the contexts of lack of freedom, diversity, and the government's gridlock within the US. Recently, Pr. Clinton told me that we should seek not democracy but communal ways in governance (I am quoting him as an American citizen). Moreover, we hardly find in your recommendations how US foreign policy will benefit millions of oppressed and poor people in CA.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the overall premise that USG needs to change its approach, but all of the work done in the region (especially UZ) was not a mistake. Agriculture development/technology, secondary education programs like ACCELs are starting to show positive results. Unfortunately, no results in Central Asia will ever be captured within the US political cycle of 2-4-8 years.

I see two practical legacies of USAID in Uzbekistan: 1. Former USAID employees remember how great it was to get paid above average wages, for 9-6 jobs (sounds like GM, huh?), and 2. The excess of so-called 'skilled consultants' who add zero practical value to the real sector.

Nowadays, Tashkent/UZ/Central Asia needs a different set of skilled labor, people that can work in production (engineers, operations managers) - there are plenty of translators, interpreters to go around.

Why can't the USG provide tax incentives for PRIVATE US business to operate in countries like Uzbekistan, which would create stable jobs, increase skills, and mobilize the workforce, and cost US taxpayers much less money than a bloated USAID program of 3-years-and-out highly paid consultants...

5:16 AM  
Blogger Sean R. Roberts, PhD said...

It is good to see that this post is getting a coversation going. I want to address the points of both commentators who have left remarks thus far. First, let me address the comments of "Annonymous" on Uzbekistan. I completely agree that some good has come from US-funded projects in Uzbekistan. Unfortunately, not only is the US political cycle too brief to capture real results, I also feel its short-term perspective is extremely counter-productive to strategic thinking. The positive results of programs in Uzbekistan are generally isolated and do not add up to significant incremental change in the country. Those who hope that development can make a difference in a country (including those in the US Congress who approve funding for USAID) want to see integrated change across sectors. That, in my opinion can only be done through a well thought-out strategy that takes a long-term view. Finally, the more important point I was making in this particular post with regards to Uzbekistan relates to the influence of the US military on Uzbek-US engagement, development included. I think the military relations between the two countries following 9/11 clouded other bi-lateral policy discussions, especially on reform. I also believe that the military relations ultimately set back engagement rather than facilitating it. It is true that it remains to be seen whether USAID, given the opportunity to formulate and implement a long-term strategy, could be successful. Still, I believe it is worth trying, especially if the agency works to engage the many people, both local and international, with regional knowledge who have been working on development in Central Asia for years.

Now - to address the comments provided by Ainur.

Ainur -
I am glad that you have the opportunity to be studying these issues and hope that it will provide you with the increased energy needed to make a difference in Kazakhstan. I hope you continue to think critically about these issues and listen to your own critics. Along those lines, I am happy to have you among my own critics. Now, let me respond to your remarks.

1) I am sorry that you and your colleagues were perturbed by the frequency with which I used the word "while." While (;-)) I always welcome constructive criticism of my writing style (if that was the intent), I prefer to receive such criticism in private. Here, I believe it only distracts from the discussion of ideas. Personally, I am more concerned with content than style, and I think most of my readers are as well.

2) I, in fact, do discuss international cooperation, but perhaps not to the extent that you and your colleagues would have liked. As I noted, I believe that an internationally funded Democracy Fund would go a long way to changing perceptions of democracy promotion as merely an American fetish. Such a fund would also make it more difficult for authoritarian regimes to dismiss their internal critics by claiming they are the tools of an Amerrcan "neo-liberal" conspiracy. I also think, as I noted in the paper, that it is important to engage the UN, the OSCE, and other multi-lateral organizations on democracy issues more than the US has done in the past. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed the ineffectiveness of large multi-lateral efforts in development and remain skeptical of whether it can be the silver bullet that some think. I have studied the miserable failures of the multi-lateral UN programs to develop Africa, and I have seen the ineffectiveness (and sometimes counter-productive work) of UNDP in Central Asia. I was involved in a World Bank consultative group effort to produce a multi-lateral poverty reduction strategy for Kyrgyzstan, and I have never seen it have substantial impact. I think that there are two major drawbacks to large multi-lateral development plans: 1) the bureaucracy involved with creating a consensus tends to delay the availability of funding and projects are often outdated by the time they begin; and 2) even supposed multi-lateral consensuses usually do not have the buy-in of all the sides involved. While (oops, I used it again) in a perfect world all governments would be internationalist and humanitarian, the truth is that governments tend to justify their use of citizen tax payers' money abroad only by demonstrating how that money will also benefit those tax payers and their own state. Since each state has its own interests, it is not usual that they can actually coincide fully enough to work together on a unified multi-lateral plan. That being said, I applaud your enthusiasm for multi-lateralism - it is something that everybody must continue to work on, but due to the realities of international politics, I do not believe it cancels the importance of unilateral engagement.
3) I am glad to hear that President Clinton would like to see a communal government, but I am not sure if I really know what that means (or if I would completely trust Bill Clinton to provide an international vision that fights against inequality, corruption, injustice, and the violation of human rights). My interest in democracy and good governance is internationalist. I deplore the abuse of human rights in America as much as I do in Kazakhstan. In Central Asia, I have seen too many of my own friends and acquaintances suffer from the repercussions of corruption, rights abuses, control of information, and physical violence to remain a relativist on this issue. I do believe that promoting good governance and human rights is the best way to help the "oppressed and poor people in CA" because only governments accountable to their citizens can be trusted to act responsibly in this regard, especially in any sustainable manner. I remember discussing the corruption in southern Kazakhstan with you when we were working together down south. Your attitude seemed to be that little could be done to change politicians and politics, and I believe that this defeatist attitude is one of the major problems in Central Asia. I do not blame the people of the region for feeling that way, but I also think it is worth the effort to try and change that attitude. I would like to see a Kazakhstan where Ainur could run for president and have a chance of winning. While I am all for projects that seek to help the poorest communities in Central Asia, I do not believe that such programs can have any sustainable impact until the political culture in the region changes.


12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your feedback (this is the same 'Anonymous'). Your comments are well taken. The engagement between Uzbekistan and the US Military may also be the most effective way to move relations in a practical direction, since the Pentagon is less affected by the normal political cycles which impact the US State Department. It has been alluded to that DOD would take over certain State responsibilities on strategic and even implementing programs; don't know if this has been realized.

I think like Ainur, many of us are frustrated and disappointed at the capriciousness of US policy in the region, the lack of an integrated, long-term vision and commitment, and generally the lack of professionalism by about 50% of USAID's staff and contractors. It would be great the new administration is able to identify committed, skilled professionals like yourself to lead the next generation of AID policy and implementation in this important part of the world.

If the US takes the lead of the statistical research on the relationship between economic growth and democracy in the field (Robert Barro, Harvard, among others), the people at USAID will identify that there is substantial evidence that there is a layered approach to increasing living standards; but fundamentally, it does not start with democracy.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Ainur's classmate.

Hi Sean,

we delegated Ainur, so she was transforming our critique not criticism. We also think that having an opportunity to openly share our views and debate the issues is a privilege of democracy (system of governance promoted by you, however I am not sure if it is best form). One more comment regarding multilateral or technocratic organizations. You said you do not highly supportive of their large-scale programs. May be. But both World Bank and UN are extremely learning organizations. Notwithstanding their bureaucracy and size they are trying to learn from their mistakes. Dams could be one example. May be we need them to counter balance bilateral organizations such as USAID.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Sean R. Roberts, PhD said...

Anonymous colleague of Ainur -

Thank you for your comments. I am definitely supportive of multi-lateral projects, and I agree with you that they are needed to counterbalance bi-lateral relationships. I also agree that the World Bank and the UN are learning organizations (much more so than USAID), which is one of the reasons that it is so frustrating to see them be ineffective. Some of the smartest people I have ever met work at the World Bank, and I can never understand why that does not translate into success. As I noted, I think it is due to their bureaucracy and the scale of their programs. My experience has shown that no organizations have proven to be entirely successful in the field of international development. But, I also believe it is worthwhile to keep trying. I also think it is important that there exist a variety of organizations multi-lateral and unilateral to counterbalance each other and to keep one another honest.

There is one other thing that I want to mention. I sense that both yourself and Ainur are skeptical of democracy in general, which is an attitude which you share with many people around the world. In many ways, I blame the US policy from the last eight years for dragging the name of democracy through the mud. It has become associated more with American arrogance than with good governance and human rights. I definitely do not think that the US system is a perfect democracy, nor the only example in the world. Perhaps it is time that we let go of the word democracy entirely and begin talking about accountable governance and human rights.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Excellent White Paper. I'm currently working on an article examining how membership in the European Court of Human rights has changed domestic legislation/courts in post-Soviet countries. One of the concepts I keep coming back to is the lack of a traditional social contract embodied in a constitution (or, in this case, the European treaty). Your paper captures these ideas really nicely - Central Asian constitutions contain alot of nice words on paper, but if the M.O. of the people is to work around the institutions, it is an empty sentiment.

Also think your comments would be useful for AID here in Azerbaijan.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Roberts:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are very interesting. And so are the comments of your readers.

I don't mean to take this discussion off topic. Just have a question. Some bloggers say Voice of Turkey has started to broadcast in Uyghur []
Why? And why now? If you speak the language, can you tell us what the content and tone is? [Voice of Turkey puts the content of all its programs in 30 languages on its website]. It's a curious development and, I'm sure, your readers would appreciate your thoughts.

1:04 PM  
Blogger ecodomani said...

Certainly interesting article! Thank you very much!

I would like to re-address the issue brought up in one of the comments above.

I think the lack of professionalism among many members of the staff of international organizations and programs in Uzbekistan is a HUGE factor contributing to the overall failure of development projects in the country.

Many foreigners coming to Uzbekistan to work as directors of development programs just had no idea what was going on. For the most part, any recommendations given by local staff were dismissed as unreliable and unprofessional. What a local employee could teach someone with Oxford education?

Many USAID projects were operated without any control over money given in grants. Most of those grants were distributed as some kind of Christmas presents without any strings attached. Some success stories on USAID Web site were nothing more than just a product of somebody's imagination. I personally know several people from Uzbekistan who sent their kids to American colleges for money they received in grants for some "noble cause" such us "developing gender awareness in Samarkand" or "promoting the idea of credit unions in Bukhara."In short, it was like a big party where everyone would get drunk and spend nobody's money like there was no tomorrow.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, ecodomani, for reinforcing my comments. A big part of the problems that I've seen with USAID contractors and with Embassy personnel is that they really don't give a s*it about the local people and are only collecting a paycheck...or experiencing some 'exotic land' temporarily so they can recall the exciting and mysterious lands beyond the borders of the USA for their friends back home.

That cynical view aside, many people that have come through with USAID/Embassy do have genuine concern and care about local Uzbek people, Kazakh people, and so on. The complete absence of any attempt at 'humanitarian aid' by Chinese and Russian counterparts in Uzbekistan make the goals of those relationships much less ambiguous - it's commercial and strategic.

But the US involvement is more complicated than that. As an American and one who has a unique perspective on both sides, I can say with a certain level of authority that the US has zero desire to diminish the sovereignty of any of the Central Asian republics (in spite of the previous presidential administration, whose actions, it has been determined, represented very very few Americans). My view on USAID is just like democracy - it's the messiest, least professional, but also most earnest and probably approach to genuinely helping countries raise individual living standards.

I do not think that Russia or China sponsor counterpart organizations (or budgets) like USAID with those goals in mind. If they did, it would be equally messy, for sure. But this is not an issue - Russia will never allocate millions of dollars a year in providing humanitarian aid or assistance to Uzbekistan.

In many ways (as an American) I greatly prefer the way that Russians and Chinese operate in Uzbekistan; practical, creating jobs, increasing trade and economic activity, and thus having a positive impact on the economy.

Uzbeks may argue that the Lukoils, Gazproms, CNPCs are simply 'robbing' Uzbeks of their natural wealth (as the Kazakhs sometimes whine about Exxon and Chevron) but that is a weak and empty argument, especially since Uzbekistan does not have a multi-national oil/gas approach. Uzbek Neft Gaz barely reaches beyond Uzbekistan's borders, so how could they effectively market Uzbek product in China or Russia?

The Russians and Chinese have efficiently and effectively transferred new technology - and raised earnings - for a very real (albeit small) part of the population. Why philosophize about 'mulhollah committe effectiveness' or 'gender issues' when you can put more bucks in the pockets of people that really need it?

The US has succeeded in confusing many intelligent Uzbeks by the wishy-washy approach, and by putting the wrong people into positions of authority. The open exchange of Uzbeks and Americans (between UZ and USA) will create the foundation cadre for much more practical and successful future relationships - either commercially or for humanitarian purposes - I am certain.

4:34 AM  
Blogger ecodomani said...

Dear Anonymous,
I did meet some professional Americans who worked for the Embassy or USAID and, as I'd like to think, genuinely cared about Uzbekistan. Unfortunately they are minority...

I do believe in the good intentions on the part of the USAID but that alone doesn't really make a situation with humanitarian programs in Central Asia any better. Professionalism and control over funds are still missing in the USAID and many people (including Americans) become disillusioned with the idea of "spreading democracy" in the region.

That said, I would like to state that U.S. Embassy is probably the most effective body in Uzbekistan that really tries to do at least something to improve the human rights situation there (probably because other embassies are merely watching without getting involved).

8:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I believe NATO, with US as its integral part, has also been active in CA region. What has been its success or failure? Will it not be better to utilise NATO's base for Military engaement in CAs?

1:06 AM  
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