Behind the Silk Curtain

Despot Watch turns the spotlight on Islam Karimov, America's newest Central Asian ally.

Issue: Summer 2004

Islam Karimov was such a happy and contented Communist Party leader that, when his domain inconveniently became the independent republic of Uzbekistan in 1991, he simply took all the trappings of Soviet Communism--one-party rule, state control of the press, secret surveillance of the populace, five-year plans, government monopolization of the means of production--and converted them, lock, stock and political prison, into a well-oiled banana republic--or, to speak more properly, a cotton republic, since Uzbekistan was completely denuded and environmentally destroyed during its decades as the designated cotton supplier to the rest of the USSR.

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