Kyrgyzstan's Revenge

Remember Kyrgyzstan? Longtime readers of this space will recall our extensive coverage of that country’s "Tulip Revolution," also dubbed the "Pink Revolution," way back in those heady days when George W. Bush’s "global democratic revolution" was said to be the wave of the future. The so-called color revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and the landlocked and desperately poor Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan were supposedly sparked by Bush’s "fire in the mind" — a phrase lifted out of Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed and used in one of the former president’s more unhinged perorations. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, however, it looks like that fire has blown back in our faces.

After pouring all sorts of resources, including cash, into the coffers of the Tulip Revolutionaries, via overt aid and covert payments to "nongovernmental organizations," basically underwriting their campaign to overthrow the regime of then-President Askar Akayev, what has the U.S. got to show for it? The Kyrgyz government recently announced that it was unilaterally canceling the contract that grants us the right to maintain the Ganci air base at Bishkek’s Manas airport, a key link in the increasingly fragile supply lines that service U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Western news reports invariably couple this announcement with the recent conclusion of an aid pact with the Russians guaranteeing $2 billion. U.S. government and NATO officials openly accuse the Russians of interference, yet the real reasons for the base closure are only mentioned in passing, if at all: the 2006 killing of a Kyrgyz citizen by a U.S. soldier, one of 1,500 stationed in and around the air base.

The soldier, Zachary Hatfield, shot and killed Alexander Ivanov, a 42-year-old truck driver and father of two sons, at a checkpoint where Ivanov was in the process of delivering fuel to Manas. Ivanov had supposedly threatened Hatfield with a knife. A USA Today report includes this testimony from Ivanov’s son and other truck drivers.

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