October 25, 2005
SECRETARY RICE IN CENTRAL ASIA: A 'DIPLOMATIC BLITZ'
** Media call Secretary Rice's "leap into Asia" an "inspection tour" of China's neighbors.
** Papers say Rice's "unscheduled" visits to France, Russia, and UK not totally "unexpected."
** Observers allege U.S. "less attentive" to human rights and democracy issues in the region.
** Analysts claim results of Rice's "diplomatic blitz" were of "little effect."
'Rice's Asian big game'-- Euro and Asian commentators dubbed Secretary Rice's "diplomatic offensive" a "reconnaissance trip" to "re-conquer Asian Khan." The "real reason" of the visit was to "consolidate" Washington's position with a "major source of oil and natural gas," claimed Kyrgyzstan's influential Vecherniy Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan has become the "only strong point in Central Asia," supporting U.S. military efforts to "stabilize" Afghanistan, asserted another Kyrgyz paper. Russia's financial Kommersant declared the U.S.-Russia "rivalry" boils down to "whose carrot is sweeter," U.S. "money for bases" or Moscow's natural resources; another Russian daily alleged, the U.S. has "big plans" for Central Asia.
'Impromptu visits'-- Euro observers were not surprised by Rice's "unplanned" visits to France, Russia, and the UK on her "world tour." Russia's official Rossiyskaya Gazeta claimed that five days of Rice's efforts in Central Asia would have had "little effect" without talks with "the Russian leadership." While Chirac and Blair pledged their support to the U.S. in "warning Iran to desist," Rice and Putin "remained divided," on how to act, added EU papers.
'Issues concerning democracy and human rights'-- While many editorialists faulted a U.S. lack of attentiveness to democracy, an Italian analyst penned, the U.S.' "old cover" of supporting embarrassing dictators is being replaced by the "neo-con dream of freedom and democracy." Kazakhstan's pro-government Liter blasted U.S. "first-class hypocrisy" in claiming "democratic norms" are "more important than oil interests." Rice's visit to see the "democratization" process in Afghanistan revealed a "growing chaos," claimed a German observer, while Pakistan's Ausaf praised the U.S. for "relief" and "long-term" disaster help from its "close ally" on her stop to the hard-hit country. In Kyrgyzstan, Rice's insistence on "constitutional reforms" obscured "geopolitical interests," said a Kyrgyz paper. A Russian writer argued, the U.S. "turns a blind eye" to human rights problems if they do not "conflict with its interests."
'Too soon to celebrate'-- "Skipping Tashkent" set U.S.-Central Asian relations "stepping toward failure," warned China's official Guangming Daily; European editorialists agreed that Rice's tour ended "without success." Russian dailies termed the trip a "fiasco" and one observer added the Kremlin visit ended when "Putin told Rice to turn her plane around." An Italian writer lauded Rice for her success in obtaining an "insurance policy" on future U.S. military presence in Central Asia; Kyrgyzstan's independent Obschestvenniy Reiting criticized Kyrgyz leaders for yielding to the "strong-willed woman" who "sets American foreign policy."
Prepared by Media Reaction Division (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Susan L. Emerson
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 34 reports from 10 political entities over 11 - 18 October, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Too Soon To Celebrate"
An editorial in left-of-center the Guardian noted (10/17): "Whitehall-watchers have noticed that Jack Straw....has said on the record that war with Iran is 'inconceivable'. Mr. Blair has been less categoric. Ms. Rice backed him yesterday in warning Iran to desist from aiding recent guerilla attacks on British forces in southern Iraq.... Britain must maintain its own course. Key decisions on Iraq were made by Mr. Blair in private talks with President Bush and other high-level contacts. It is thus alarming to hear that the government has now effectively censored the memoirs of Sir Jeremy Greenstock, our man at the UN in the run-up to the war. Things may be starting to look up in Iraq, but vigilance is needed to avoid stumbling into a new crisis."
FRANCE: "The U.S. And France Share Determination Against Iran"
Natalie Nougayrede remarked in left-of-center Le Monde (10/17): "On her previous visit to France Secretary Rice remained very discreet on the subject of Iran. But last Friday Iran occupied a position of choice in her meetings with President Chirac and FM Douste Blazy...intense consultations are on about Iran but also about Syria. America and France’s diplomacy have together warned Iran and asked for a resumption of negotiations with the EU-3...Rice’s impromptu visit to Moscow proves that the U.S. wants to find a common ground with Russia in how to deal with Iran.... Separately, the French and the Americans advertised their shared views on Syria and Lebanon...according to a Times of London report, the Americans have offered a deal to Syria in exchange for cooperation in the Hariri assassination."
"Washington Increases Its Pressure On Iran"
Arnaud de La Grange commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/17): "One thing is certain: American diplomacy is on the offensive. Secretary Rice has just made the rounds in order to drum up support in favor of the threat of sanctions to counter Iran’s obstinacy...London and Washington, not surprisingly, exhibited their shared views on the issue. But Secretary Rice was also pleased with the warm support given by Paris: 'The British, the French--yes you heard me, the French--the EU-3, they have all been very clear.....' Secretary Rice also warned Iran against aiding Iraq’s insurgents.... A link between WMD and terrorism which brings another similar link to mind."
GERMANY: "Not So"
Jasper von Altenbockum noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/17): "U.S. Secretary of State Rice's visit to Moscow shows Europeans and Americans the limits of their power to keep Iran at bay. Russia is interested in avoiding a confrontation with Tehran not only because of its commercial interests and, therefore, is trying to prevent the UN Security Council from dealing with the matter. Good relations with Iran also safeguard a greater scope of action for the Kremlin ranging from the Caucasus to Central Asia. That is why we cannot take Moscow's promise to do everything to prevent the development of a new nuclear power too seriously, at least not as seriously as the concrete plan to cooperate with Iran when it comes to reprocessing used fuel rods. This could even offer Moscow the possibility to present itself as an 'honest broker' in the nuclear conflict. But those who have witnessed how Moscow deals with nuclear waste do not want to believe that this could happen in the sense of a non-proliferation. The EU and the United States are at a stalemate with respect to Iran if they are dependent on Russian assistance, and this means again on the UN."
Karl Grobe commented in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/13): "Visits to Afghanistan are intended to gather information on the process of the democratization, but what Condoleezza Rice had to see was a civil war with unclear fronts, a drug war, and an administration and parliament in which divergent interests are combined. The parliamentary election is supposed to be the coronation of the Bonn process, the transformation program decided after the invasion at a conference in Bonn. It is good that this has happened. It produced winners and losers like in every political process. The winners are warlords and democrats as well as some Taliban supporters and--which is the most positive thing--women. However, the mixture of parliamentarians is very explosive. They do not fit together, and there is hardly any political discourse.... It does not come as a surprise that many intellectuals do not return, but without these tolerant people the political chaos will remain."
ITALY: "Putin’s 'Nyet' To Condi, Hands Off Iran"
Maurizio Molinari reported from New York in centrist, influential La Stampa (10/16): "Condoleezza Rice unexpectedly arrived in Moscow for a diplomatic blitz that ended without success because she was unable to obtain Russia’s support to defer Iran to the United Nations for its race to an atomic military.... At the end of their talks, the two leaders hardly managed to hide their differences.... While agreeing on the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Washington and Moscow remain divided over how to achieve that.... The Kremlin believes that it can obtain Tehran’s commitment not to build the nuclear weapon without going through the U.N. Security Council."
"Rice’s Asian 'Big Game'"
Piero Ippolito wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/13): "An insurance policy on the future of U.S. military presence in central Asia: this is what Condoleezza Rice was able to obtain from Kyrgyzstan.... The U.S. Secretary of State obtained guarantees that the military base at Manas, near the capital city Bishkek, will be able to continue to function until it is no longer necessary for the support of military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. But, most of all, that the possible closure of that outpost will be possible only after a joint decision by the two governments.... Rice was able to obtain this promise only at the end of tough face-to-face negotiations with the Kyrgyz President.... Rice’s tour, which arrived in Kyrgyzstan yesterday and will then proceed to Tajikistan and Afghanistan, is an attempt to regain control in an area that, over the last few months, has seen America on the defensive with respect to Russia and China, less attentive to issues concerning democracy and human rights, and therefore looked upon less suspiciously by authoritarian regimes in central Asia."
"Putin Re-Conquers Asian Khan, U.S. Out"
Anna Zafesova opined in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (10/12): "We will find other allies in the fight against terrorism, claimed Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting the former Soviet Central Asia. Uzbekistan, which was once the U.S.' leading partner in the region, has been excluded from the itinerary, and is now on the black list of dictatorships.... The Uzbeks have brutally evicted the Americans from the Karshi-Khanabad military base, which was fundamental for operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. Condoleezza puts on a good face in this ugly game: 'We have many ways of fighting terrorism.' In other words, we can do without you and Condi went to pay her regards to 900 U.S. soldiers in Manas, Kyrgyzstan. But despite a recent 'democratic revolution' facilitated by Washington, even Kyrgyzstan is not enthusiastic and guarantees the maintenance of the base only as long as there is a 'need' to stabilize Afghanistan.... The U.S. can give a lot to those poor and underdeveloped countries. But there is something they no longer offer: the old cover of 'He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.' Used for decades with embarrassing dictators, it is being replaced with the neo-con dream of freedom and democracy."
RUSSIA: "Condi Talks Nukes, Bases"
Anatoliy Safarin opined in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (10/18): "Rice came on the heels of the patriarch of U.S. diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, who while in Moscow, reportedly, on a private business, met with Putin. Without a doubt, he had an instruction from the U.S. leadership to try to influence Russia's position on Iran. Apparently, Kissinger failed. Rice came to try the same. But that didn't work, either, suggesting that the Kremlin is making progress in filling empty talk about 'defending national interests' with a 'real something.' But then, the current regime has been known for u-turns in its policy. So we'd better not get our hopes up too high. Besides, Americans are tenacious clients and don't give up easily when it comes to their interests. Let's live and see."
"Visit Not So Unexpected"
Vladislav Vorobev commented in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (10/17): "On second thought, the unplanned visit by the U.S. Secretary of State doesn't look so unexpected. Apparently, without talks with the Russian leadership, the five days of her efforts would have had little effect. So Rice changed her schedule to spend nearly a day in Moscow."
"Rice Finds No Support in Moscow"
Artur Blinov noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/17): "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit, a surprise at least to the broad public, ended with an important statement: the sides differ widely on a principal issue, the Iran nuclear program. With Washington and the EU-3 seeing eye to eye on that problem, Russia-West relations may face a serious crisis when the question of turning over the Iran dossier to the UN Security Council comes under discussion at the end of November."
"No More Bases in Central Asia!"
Maksim Chizhikov stated in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (10/17): "Rumor has it that the Kremlin was very much concerned about U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Central Asia. To clear the air, she changed the schedule of her world tour, coming to Moscow personally.... The usually tough Secretary of State was a lot gentler this time. The way it looked, it was not Rice who turned her plane around, but Putin who told her to do so."
"The Visit A Fiasco?"
Business-oriented Kommersant observed (10/17): "The visit seemed unexpected and was described as a complete fiasco since the sides failed to agree on anything.... The Kremlin and Foreign Ministry realized the U.S. Secretary of State wanted a meeting more than her Russian colleagues. This means that Moscow was well aware of the real results of Condoleezza Rice's trip to Central Asia. Evidently, they were not very good."
"Rice Ends Central Asia Tour"
Business-oriented Kommersant noted (10/14): "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended her tour of former Soviet republics in Central Asia yesterday. Ms. Rice painstakingly avoided criticizing local leaders’ dictatorial ways, claiming Washington did not need new military bases in that area. But her interlocutors should not delude themselves--the United States turns a blind eye to human rights problems only as long as they do not conflict with its interests. Uzbekistan, conspicuously lacking on Ms. Rice’s itinerary, is a graphic example."
"Condoleezza Rice: 'All Is Well In....'"
Vadim Markushin remarked in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (10/14): "Though U.S. diplomats deny former Soviet republics in Central Asia are of interest to America as part of a big political game, one can see Washington’s desire to neutralize their gravitating toward Moscow."
"The U.S. Supports Kazakhstan’s Claims To Leadership In Central Asia"
Seken Salimov filed from Astana for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/14): "Based on Condoleezza Rice’s statements in Astana, the United States has big plans for Central Asia. A democratic developed Central Asia is a new American dream. Kazakhstan, so it seems, has been assigned a special role in implementing those plans, with Nazarbayev recognized as a trailblazer of democracy."
"Good Soldiers, Poor Administrators"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (10/13): "Paradoxically, as time goes by, the future of Hamid Karzai and his government looks ever murkier. Similarly, as they review the situation in light of the ongoing dispute over U.S. bases in Central Asia, world and regional powers increasingly diverge in their assessments. Those who want the Americans out insist the war in Afghanistan is over. To that, their opponents say the end of fighting and 'democratic elections' don’t make the current regime more stable. Arguing about whether the attempt at democratic change in Afghanistan succeeded or failed makes no sense. It is far more important to remember that Afghans, while good warriors--a reputation they earned back in the years of struggle against the British--proved to be poor administrators each time they remained on their own. Essentially, what we have in Afghanistan today is a kind of the Dayton accord--a weak government in the center and strong administrations in provinces--all controlled by the occupation authorities otherwise known as an international peace mission. Chances are things will stay that way in Afghanistan for a long time."
"The Americans Are There For The Long Term"
Arkadiy Dubnov wrote on the front page of reformist Vremya Novostey (10/13): "While in Kabul, Ms. Rice said that America is going to 'be in and with Afghanistan as long as we are needed. We are not going to pull out before the situation stabilizes,' she stated and added that 'it is for the Afghan government to decide when the Americans should leave.' To say that is a political subterfuge, with the Afghan government having its decisions made in Washington. Kabul has no control of the situation in most provinces."
Vladimir Belousov opined in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (10/12): "It is a response of sorts to Central Asian leaders having visited Moscow last week for Vladimir Putin's birthday. One of Rice's goals, according to experts, is to set up an organization excluding Russia, China and Iran. What that means is an alternative to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community. In return, Washington is ready to lift trade barriers for goods from Central Asia."
"Steel Magnolia On Reconnaissance Trip"
Centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda front-paged a commentary by Vadim Markushin (10/12): "The mission is taking place at the time when the sympathy-antipathy balance regarding U.S. policy in Central Asia is clearly changing for the worse. As they say, the stakes are high, indeed. Central Asia is a major source of oil and natural gas. You need to be on your toes at all times: other giants--China, India and Pakistan--are watching, ready to pounce. Admittedly, Washington will spare no expense. The Americans have their hands full in that part of the world as is, with their authority dented by the Iraq war. Of course, as she tours Central Asia, Condoleezza Rice will talk a lot about democracy and human rights, scolding some for 'totalitarian ways' and praising others for progressive views. No doubt, she has nice words for Kazakh wise man Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and saves harsh ones for Uzbek 'hermit' Islam Karimov and his regime, which faces rigid sanctions."
"Money For Bases"
Mekhman Gafarly observed in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (10/12): "To retain its Manas base, Washington is ready to pay the Kyrgyzs $200 million for economic stabilization. Kyrgyzstan, in dire economic straits, can't refuse the money. The Rice mission is designed to consolidate Washington's position in Central Asia. The Americans are concerned about the situation in Uzbekistan, whose leadership demands the withdrawal of the U.S. base in Khanabad and has abruptly changed its political orientation to favor Moscow and Beijing. Besides, Tashkent is preparing to restore its membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization with security guarantees from CIS countries. After Bishkek, Ms. Rice will go to Dushanbe where she will use the same tactics, offering the Tajik president a couple of million humanitarian dollars."
"Different Places, Different Methods"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (10/11): "There is a sharp contrast to methods used by America in different regions. The Americans feel free to set its rules in the Middle East and Latin America, with Russia long gone. Former Soviet republics are a different matter. Moscow won't mind engaging Washington in a tug of war when it comes to that part of the world. This makes life harder for U.S. diplomacy, forcing it to act with greater ingenuity. It is not what you would call forsaking principles. It is using different methods. The Moscow-Washington rivalry in Central Asia boils down to trying to find out whose carrot is sweeter, that is, who can offer more to post-Soviet republics. Can we outbid the Americans in the Asian auction with its military bases and natural resources? Hardly. This means that the Americans will have it their way, even if they don't speak much of democracy. Actions speak louder than words. Giving is better than speaking."
ROMANIA: "Battle For Central Asia"
Simona Haiduc concluded in financial daily Curentul (10/12): "The dialogue with the Biskek regime remains uncertain. It is Rice’s duty to clear things up. In this respect, she’ll have to propose a new system of relations.... Rice is expected to ignore Moscow’s request...but reality says something else: the stakes are also about control of the important oil and natural gas reserves in the region."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
PAKISTAN: "Condoleezza Rice Assures Pakistan To Provide More Assistance"
Popular Urdu-language daily Ausaf editorialized (10/14): "The Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visit to Pakistan is very significant in this hour of grief. She reiterated that the U.S. would provide more assistance for the relief operation and help in long-term strategy to deal with such disasters. Pakistan is a close ally to the U.S. in the war on terrorism. Therefore, the people of Pakistan are expecting a greater assistance from the U.S. The visit of the Secretary of State shows that the U.S. will certainly provide more aid. Dr. Rice has formally assured that Pakistan would not be left alone in this hour of trial."
KAZAKHSTAN: "About Gender In American Politics And Covert Agents Of Opposition"
Presidential political aide Yermukhamet Yertysbayev had this to say in an interview with pro-government daily Liter (10/18): "Criticism of authority is evidence of democracy...Condoleezza Rice responded with cold politeness to a representative of the opposition.... I think that in the White House the American administration has had fundamental changes in their points of view on issues of building and developing democracy in post-Soviet countries. This change has occurred not without the participation of Kazakhstan and has demonstrated...to the whole world, the evolutionary strategy of economic reforms and the step-by-step entry to economic and democratic zones, and the constant expansion of social space for democracy by nurturing a growing middle class.... Condoleezza Rice said this in Astana: 'The U.S.A. cannot, and should not tell sovereign countries how to conduct democratic reforms. Each country, taking into account their obligations, should itself choose forms and methods of how to conduct democratic reforms!'… It would be first-class hypocrisy to state that the norms of democracy for the U.S. are more important than oil interests. Without oil, the U.S. as a superpower will cease to exist.... Where there is oil, there are U.S. vital interests. Until 1978, Iran was ruled by the Shah and there was no democracy...but an Iran with oil reserves was a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.... The whole world already knows that there were no nuclear weapons in neighboring Iraq. The whole world learned that efforts to install democracy in Iraq was only an excuse and the reason was oil. If Cuba had as much oil as Iraq, do you suppose that the U.S. would limit itself to economic blockades of the rebellious island?"
KYRGYSTAN: "New Phase of Interest In Kyrgyzstan"
The independent Kyrgyz supplement to the Turkish islamist-intellectual Zaman highlighted (10/14): "The U.S. recognized Kyrgyzstan as its partner, no only in Central Asia, but in the CIS in general, urged the defense of the gains made by the March Revolution, called for democracy, and ensured the strength of its airbase, alongside the Russian airbase."
"Kyrgyz Leaders Yield To The Secretary"
Russian-language, independent Obschestvenniy Reiting observed (10/13): "The Kyrgyz leadership was caught off guard by the Secretary's visit. It was obvious that the Kyrgyz leadership had to yield to such a charismatic and strong-willed woman, who sets most of American foreign policy. On the other hand, her statement about the need for further constitutional reforms obscured U.S.-Russian-Chinese geopolitical interests in Kyrgyzstan."
Political columnist Syrgak Abdyldaev analyzed in Russian-language, independent Obschestvenniy Reiting (10/13): "Kyrgyzstan has become the U.S.'s last and the only strong point in Central Asia after Karshi-Khanabad was ordered to shut down. In such a situation, Kyrgyzstan should take as much advantage as possible from both the U.S. and Russia. During Rice's trip, Kyrgyz President Bakiyev was able to win continuing U.S. financial assistance sufficient to keep power in his hands and help solve Kyrgyzstan's domestic problems, especially economic ones."
"Official Spin On The Visit"
The influential, Russian-language, government official newspaper Slovo Kyrgyzstana remarked (10/13): "Kyrgyzstan became the first stop in her journey's schedule not by chance. Since one of the announced aims of the visit was to support democracy in the region, this privilege in itself is considered a sign of the positive attitude of the U.S. towards the present (Kyrgyz) government and its post-revolution reforms."
"The Secretary's Leap Into Asia"
Influential, Russian-language, independent, pro-President, anti-parliament Vecherniy Bishkek opined on its front page (10/12): "Some local politicians say that the (real) reason for her visit was to restore the U.S.'s position in the region that had been lost since the war in Iraq. There is also speculation that one of the reasons for Secretary Condoleeza Rica's trip to a number of Central Asian countries was to make an offer to their leaders to create an organization without Russia, China, and Iran's participation. One can assume that the discussion was about economic and political alternatives to such structures as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Euro-Asian Economic Cooperation Organization."
"Secretary Rice Won't Allow Harm To Come To The Airbase"
The Krygyz supplement to the Moscow-based tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda commented (10/12): "The meeting with parliamentarians and revolutionaries was open. She talked mostly about the constitutional reform that had to follow the revolution. Moreover, Condoleezza Rice strongly requested a revision of the constitution by the end of the year. The deputies immediately concluded that she came to demand democracy from Bakiyiev. The second purpose of the visit became clear at the joint press conference with Condoleezza Rica and President (Bakiyev). It was clearly about the U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan."
EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
CHINA: "Secretary Rice Tours China's Neighboring Countries"
Chen Feng commented in the China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal (10/13): "This is Secretary Rice's first visit to Central Asia since she took up her post. In view of the continuously changing situation in the region, Rice's trip shows some new trends in U.S. policy. Rice's earlier words about Uzbekistan are the toughest and frankest criticism by the U.S. about the country.... It is a settled fact that the U.S. has suffered a setback in Uzbekistan. The U.S. is adjusting its Central Asia policy and continues to swallow Russia's backyard. The U.S. wants to set up a big Central Asia group consisting of 'five Central Asian countries plus Afghanistan to negate Russia's influence. But the U.S.'s way of supporting opposition parties and supporting color revolutions has given them doubts about the U.S. and made them return to Russia's embrace. Uzbekistan is a good example."
"Secretary Rice's Central Asia Trip Is Not Easy"
Sun Li and Yao Yushan commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (10/12): "Secretary Rice's trip to Central Asia aims at comforting central Asian countries and preventing them from approaching Russia and alienating the U.S.... The trip will not be an easy one. Starting this year, the changes in Central Asia's geopolitical setup have made the U.S. feel uncomfortable. Russia has changed its defensive posture to an offensive one by improving relations with Central Asian countries. The U.S. had a falling out with Uzbekistan and additionally conducted vengeful activities toward the country along with the EU. This has given Central Asia has a new take on the U.S.'s 'democratic reform.' A professor at Columbia University said Central Asia is approaching Russia and China.... While the U.S. is terribly worried about the situation in Central Asia, Russia is dealing with it with skill and ease in 'its backyard.' It will also build up a new airbase in Tajikistan. Russia's latest measure is to increase its military presence in central Asia. Central Asian media indicate that the U.S. will not leave Central Asia. Actually Rice's trip is an attempt to mitigate Central Asian countries' trend of approaching Russia. Good relations with the U.S. are also important to Central Asian countries' diplomacy. Therefore, neither the U.S. nor Russia can hardly expect to singly control Central Asia."
"Why Doesn't Secretary Rice Go To Tashkent?"
Wang Jiabo commented in the official intellectual Guangming Daily (10/11): "Secretary Rice's trip to Central Asia, which does not include Tashkent, shows that the U.S. government has accepted Congress's advice and decided to publicly challenge Uzbekistan and confirm the hostility between the two governments. Since Uzbekistan asked U.S. military based there to withdraw, the two countries' relations have started to deteriorate.... The U.S. wants to build up a long-term military presence in Central Asia so that it can interfere in Central Asia affairs. Uzbekistan is a big country in the region. The U.S. put a lot into the country, hoping to construct a strategic fort for the U.S. However, it turns out the U.S. influence in Central Asia affairs is limited and the U.S. goal to take over Central Asia can hardly be realized in a short time. Secretary Rice's decision of refusing to visit Uzbekistan is very wise, but she has apparently had difficultly finding a stop in her Central Asia trip. Is Central Asia without Tashkent still Central Asia? Rice's skipping Tashkent actually means the U.S.'s Central Asia policy is stepping toward failure."
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