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Kyrgyzstan’s Second Tulip Revolution?

7:30 PM, Apr 9, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Thinking a payoff to Bakiyev was enough to resolve the problem of Russian intrigue in the region comprised one of several disastrous foreign policy notions to emerge from the Obama White House. Worst has been the administration’s persistent flirtation with Tehran and disregard for the Iranian reform upsurge. This attitude has only occasionally been diluted by concern about the hallucinated behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his drive for nuclear weapons and his threatening language against Israel--meaning, against the security of the whole world. The Obama strategy of proposing a similar accommodation with an imaginary “moderate Taliban” in Afghanistan has also sent the worst possible message to that embattled country. Given Obama’s manifest weakness, the sudden adoption of anti-American rhetoric by Afghan president Hamid Karzai should have surprised nobody. Fear of Russian reassertion of power in Eastern Europe was also aggravated by Obama’s abandonment of  missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. While the bribe to Bakiyev may appear minor when compared with these follies, they all form a pattern of heedlessness, if not improvisation, that cannot be ignored.

When the Tulip Revolution occurred in Bishkek five years ago, Roza Otunbayeva said, touchingly, “We wanted our revolution to be beautiful.” The aspirations of the poor, distant Kyrgyz are no different from those of the majority of Iranians and Afghans. But the misrulers of Iran, Russia, and China are all watching Kyrgyzstan as well as Afghanistan. If America is to retain the world’s respect as a beacon of freedom, and to gain victory over radical Islamist terror, Obama’s dance with dictators, even those in small, obscure countries, must end. We need Manas, but our use of it will not be preserved by hand-holding with the Russians in Prague, Washington, or elsewhere. Central Asia is undergoing change they, and we, need, and which we must support with all the resources at our disposal, even if our options are few and difficult to sort out, and made fewer and more difficult by Obamaite incompetence.

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