By any reasonable standard, Islam Karimov is one of the world’s most infamous torturers. His particular brand of infamy is so horrid that even the Bush Administration had to cut off military aid to the Uzbeki dictator in 2005. For example, one of his favorite methods of punishing his victims is to slowly immerse them in boiling oil. That horrid.
But it seems a good “friendship” is a difficult thing for the Clinton’s–both Bill and Hillary–to let go of. As Fred Kaplan pointed out way back in 2005, before US aid was cut off:
President Bill Clinton struck up a relationship with Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov to stave off the common threat from Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. After Sept. 11, President Bush tightened the alliance. Karimov supplied the CIA and the Pentagon with an air base, which served as the staging area for the invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. During that war, he also allowed the United States to set up listening posts and to launch Predator drones from Uzbek territory.
Later, in 2009, Clinton attended an AIDS fundraiser in Cannes and had his picture taken with the elegant Gulnara Of The Oil Vats:
Ken Silverstein made a point of inquiring with the Clinton Foundation whether or not Karimova made contributions to the foundation. He didn’t receive any reply, which normally translates into English as, “We can’t actually deny it, so we’re not going to say anything at all.”
In any case, it’s a fair question to ask since (1), Clinton is always raising money, and (2), he doesn’t exactly have a reputation as being terribly picky about his funding sources. In this case however, it matters, since Gulnara Karimova–Harvard grad–has a rather terrible reputation as was laid out in Wikileaks releases as noted in this Guardian story from last December:
The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of “rampant corruption”, organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.
But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN).
Many dispatches focus on the behaviour of Karimov’s glamorous and highly controversial daughter Gulnara, who is bluntly described by them as “the single most hated person in the country”.
She allegedly bullied her way into gaining a slice of virtually every lucrative business in the central Asian state and is viewed, they say, as a “robber baron”. Granted diplomatic status by her father, Gulnara allegedly lives much of the time in Geneva, where her holding company, Zeromax, was registered at the time, or in Spain.
Gulnara acquired interests in the crude oil contracts of Zeromax in “a deal with [a] local mafia boss“, the embassy said. She also got hold of shares in the Coca-Cola bottling franchise after it was subjected to a tax investigation, they claimed.
“Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way … She remains the single most hated person in the country.”
The relationship between the US and the Karimovs hasn’t been without its complications though, since Hillary bestowed an award to one of Uzbekistan’s human rights activist:
But the US secret cables go some way towards explaining western ambivalence. They detail how the dictatorial president recently flew into a rage because the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, presented a Women of Courage award in Washington to a newly released Uzbek human rights campaigner, Mutabar Tadjibayeva.
Karimov’s displeasure was conveyed in “icy tones”, which alarmed the embassy: “We have a number of important issues on the table right now, including the Afghanistan transit (NDN) framework.”
Your humble correspondent is perplexed at the priorities of his government.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ever stalwart proponent of one of the most bizarre human rights agendas one can imagine, has bravely taken on the mantle of global cheerleader for the right of Saudi women to drive Mercedes Benz’. Being an American feminist, I can only bow before her courageous outpouring in support of those oppressed women. But that’s where the praise fades to black, to the sound of an Israeli navy bullhorn announcing it’s pending attack on an American vessel and it’s occupants.
“We’ve made clear [to the Saudi government] our views that women everywhere, including women in the kingdom, have the right to make decisions about their lives and their futures,” Clinton said. “They have the right to contribute to society and provide for their children and their families, and mobility such as provided by the freedom to drive provides access to economic opportunity, including jobs, which does fuel growth and stability.”
Tis a pity, then, that these same considerations do not apply to Gazan women seeking to care for their own children. Indeed, it doesn’t even apply to Americans who seek nothing more than to extend those rights to their fellow human beings. The trick, it seems, lies in how one parses the Clintonian usage of “human beings” and whether or not certain people fall into that category. Via Mondoweiss and others, we’re finding that the current regime is rather picky about who gets to enjoy that label. Because in the case of the delightfully irony-enhanced name MV Audacity of Hope, we find those hearty travelers don’t quite pass muster with the administration’s usage.
“And we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves,” Clinton said.
Not helpful. Trying to provoke. The Israelis apparently enjoy the right to defend themselves from unarmed peaceniks bearing a cargo of dangerous foods and medicines. This, of course, is the standard issue boilerplate “Blame The Soon-To-Be Victims.” But it gets worse.
The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel… On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt.
We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety.
(emphasis is Think Progress’)
Putting together these two sets of remarks, it’s pretty clear Hillary Clinton hates Americans. Or something. In any case, she’s perfectly fine with the IDF violating the rights of such “threats” as 87-year old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, even if that includes murder. She is a threat, you see. A threat to what, Empress Clinton will not say.
Not to be left out of this orgy of moral bankruptcy, even the White House has to get in on the act.
The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on activists planning to challenge Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, warning that they will face action from Israeli authorities and that American participants may also be violating U.S. law.
The U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are “irresponsible and provocative” and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.
So to sum up:
- Saudi women seeking to enjoy the pleasures of mall traffic (they’re not allowed to work or even speak, for the most part, are they?) = Double-Plus Good.
- Americans risking their lives in opposition to ethnic cleansing = Bad, Bad, Bad.
What the brave souls of the MV Audacity Of Hope fail to realize is this: In order to qualify as a Humanitarian Mission, they have to lob cruise missiles at Tripoli. According to Barack Obama’s own statements, disgorging thousands of tons of ordnance on another country does not qualify as “hostilities” or “war.” Indeed, it’s all very, very Humanitarian!
So if they are not murdered by the IDF, they may also face prison terms in the US. This is how the US Government treats it’s own law-abiding citizens.
I can’t wait to see how the Obamatrons spin this one.