February 20, 2009

Manas Update: Attention Deficit Disorder to Blame (Who, us?)

Today's Washington Post had an interesting op-ed from the former ambassador from Kyrgyzstan. Not normally the most reliable source, I know, but he has now left Kyrgyzstan and teaches in Utah -- at Utah Valley University (naturally) -- and this op-ed doesn't read like something written by a regime's mouthpiece. He frankly admits, for example, that the Russians were none too pleased about the massive U.S. airbase in their backyard. But that wasn't what irked the ambassador:

Every relationship has its peaks and valleys. But one thing has consistently troubled me about the relationship between the United States and my country. Once the base was set up, I saw a fairly radical change in American attitudes. Before, Washington had consistently juggled a series of priorities -- broadly speaking, they were security concerns, economic concerns, and advocacy of human rights and democracy. But once the base was established, it became clear that while other concerns might be voiced from time to time, only one thing really mattered: the air base. In the end, this shift served neither country's interests.

Does this strike anyone as implausible? I mean, doesn't this sound like all-too-typical great power behavior?