The Coming Catastrophe of Central Asia, Part II

To say I am not optimistic about the future of Central Asia is an understatement of oceanic proportions. The entire region is unstable, with ethnic disputes and conflicts over borders, water, oil, and pipelines disrupting every political discussion. It is debatable whether these countries are in fact countries. Turkemenistan, for example, was shoved together by Stalin out of a vast stretch of desert, incorporating five nomadic tribes. There is no logic at all to Kazakhstan. And Uzbekistan as an identifiable country does not exist. Ethnic and tribal distinctions will drive the region’s politics for the foreseeable future. Their current “leaders” are opportunists who seized the moment as communism fell but who have little support. Groups in all the Stans will start to agitate to establish their independence, just as happened in Eastern Europe with the former Yugoslavia and has been occurring regularly over the years in Africa.

The Soviet Union has already broken into fifteen states. People speak eighteen different languages in the five Central Asian republics. There are more than a hundred linguistic, ethnic, religious, and national groups in the region, none of which joined the Soviet Union willingly. …

Sooner or later, all these “countries” will be bankrupt. The currencies of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are declining in value rapidly, and both economies are moribund. … Big trouble is in the offing: violent strikes, assassination attempts, bombs exploding, and the eventual outbreak of more than one civil war.

What does this mean for the United States? Very little, probably, for these people will be paying little attention to us and blowing one another up for a very long time to come. Their nuclear weapons have, in large part, been stripped and cannibalized. Those weapons that are intact have not been maintained. Unless U.S. politicians, in their mindless posturing, make the mistake of replaying the “Great Game” all over again, and dragging us into this mess, as their European counterparts did in the nineteenth century, we in the United States should be largely unaffected. Or so it seemed a few years ago. Now the United States, rattling sabers over Iraq, has established bases in Central Asia, making additional enemies in the region. It constantly grieves me to see our politicians dragging us into terrible situations about which no one has done the homework, in places where no one understands the situation on the ground.

– Jim Rogers, Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip

Neocon Children of the Corn

Move over, Ben Shapiro, here come the kids of Mt. Lake, MN, to explain how the Big Guy (God, not Ashcroft) was gonna take our freedom away if we didn’t invade Iraq. As K-Lo noted over at the Corner, these kids think about war’s big picture. Gosh, if war gave us the Panama canal and made the English language what it is today, just think of all the cool new stuff we’ll have by the time the Bush administration is over!

Kill ‘Em All, Says Pathetic Little Man, with Nod to Quentin Tarantino

Wow, I really have to congratulate The American Spectator for its amazing overhaul. What with the non-stop Jed Babbin, it really looks like … well, National Review. Here, Mark Goldblatt does his best Rich Lowry impersonation:

What if there were a moment at which the American public became so appalled by the casualties and costs of the Iraqi occupation that President Bush felt compelled to bring the hammer down … a moment when C-Span was filled with hard-right demonstrators demanding that Bush subdue the terrorists by any means necessary, a moment when a revered Republican senator quoted Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino, urging the president “to get medieval on their asses,” a moment when conservative pundits clamored for Bush to, say, level Tikrit to pacify Fallujah, or level them both to pacify Baghdad?

Certainly, the prospect of such a reverse-tipping point would create a new dynamic in the War on Terror. The terrorist cannot operate without a sympathetic local population to supply provisions, stash weapons and keep secrets — which is why he depends on the restraint of his enemy in the first place. But if his enemy is determined to come after him with disproportionate violence, regardless of the collateral damage, then those who aid and abet the terrorist will soon turn against him out of self-preservation.

Turkmen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Sam’s post on Turkmenistan made me think of this amusing article from the New York Times Magazine earlier this year. As Sam mentioned, we send this guy–who renamed the days of the week and months of the year after himself and his relatives– millions for democracy and the war on terror. I can already hear Christopher Hitchens and the liberventionists squawking about the need to topple Saparmurad Niyazov, though phonetic difficulties may at least keep Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity out of the debate.

Iraqis Being Arrested for Making Anti-US Statements

US “Democracy” in Iraq:

Within the past month, I have seen more and more stories that mention Iraqis being arrested for making anti-US or pro-Saddam statements. Most of these news items have been buried in other stories or appear as captions on news photos.

Today’s UK Mirror has an article about US troops arresting and gagging an Iraqi man for “making anti-coalition statements.”