It’s great that Secretary Clinton toured some of Central Asia last month, but this handshake with Uzbekistan’s Karimov just seems awkward.
Clinton was in the region to talk up the State Department’s “New Silk Road” project, which is supposed to increase trade between Central Asian countries.
Steve Levine reports for NPR that the project would bring a “massive economic latticework” of natural gas pipelines, railways, electric grid and new highways to South and Central Asia.
Not surprisingly, the Central Asian-focused blogosphere erupted with skepticism, offering something along the lines of “good luck with that.”
And it does seem dubious, given the contentious relations between the neighboring countries, not to mention the (growing?) anti-American sentiment and the heavy hand of Russian influence across Central Asia.
Let’s hope, though, that this high priority effort from State goes a little way toward building cross cultural understanding and collaboration.
According to VOA coverage, when asked why she would meet with a dictator known for extreme human rights violations (e.g., boiling people), Clinton said that no contact meant no influence and that other countries that don’t care about human rights would fill the vacuum.
Okay, but still…
A State Department perspective on the New Silk Road policy can be found here.