Russia’s actions of the last week have reminded the region once again that although the giant slumbers often, when it wakes, bad things happen to the good and the bad alike.
Those countries that are working toward Western ideals, however haltingly, are the good ones. The satrapies of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan do not care, and so medieval brutalities are commonplace.
Everyone — Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, possibly Timur himself — want a piece of the valley and have legitimate and highly contested claims to it.
Lest it be thought that Karimov and his corrupt regime have no value, they are providing a lesson: the Soviet Union left a great many idiots behind in its wake, and those idiots are unconcerned with anything but their own enrichment.
2014 will be the year that Europe’s mettle is truly tested.
Today, as Russia and China tussle over the post-American world on the continent, Ashgabat and Tashkent can become secondary beneficiaries of the energy and commerce that will move through the area.
There is a tragedy here, one that goes even beyond the thousand and one failures of governance that marks this as perhaps the very worst run of the former Soviet Republics.
Lola’s backhanded dismissal of her older sister’s prospects is therefore both a profound familial sin and a sign that Karimov, while very likely suffering from some sort of psychosis, is not completely insane.
This decision smacks of the sort of constant engagement that treats aspiring democracies as pariahs for the occasional failure and provides cover to totalitarians, on the theory that they’ll be a little less totalitarian.
The fact that Uzbekistan has only now joined this exclusive list says more about Freedom House than it does about Uzbekistan.