Courtesy Reuters


This past July, the government of Uzbekistan evicted U.S. personnel from the Karshi-Khanabad air base, which Washington had used as a staging ground for combat, reconnaissance, and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan since late 2001. The government in Tashkent gave no official reason for the expulsion, but the order was issued soon after the UN airlifted 439 Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to Romania -- a move that Washington supported and Tashkent opposed. (The Uzbek government wanted the refugees to return home, but the international community did not, fearing that they would be detained and tortured by Uzbek security personnel.) The showdown was the latest in a series of confrontations since a much-criticized crackdown on antigovernment demonstrators in the eastern city of Andijon last May.

These events illustrate the enduring problem that U.S. defense officials face as they try to promote democratic values abroad while maintaining U.S.

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  • ALEXANDER COOLEY is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and was a Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in 2004-5. He is the author of "Logics of Hierarchy: The Organization of Empires, States, and Military Occupations."
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