Realpolitik ambushes Obama, and not just at home: Uzbekistan

Christopher Flavelle in Slate:

ScreenHunter_02 Feb. 15 21.04 President Barack Obama's administration is not yet a month old, and editorialists have already accused the new president of losing his innocence after he was forced to abandon his lofty talk of bipartisanship over the economic stimulus plan. But a touch of partisan politics at home is nothing compared with the ethical predicament now looming in Central Asia, where Obama may soon need to choose either funding a vicious dictator in Uzbekistan or hindering the mission in Afghanistan. Getting into bed with Uzbekistan could be Obama's first ugly but necessary foreign-policy compromise.

On Feb. 3, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president of the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, announced that he would close a U.S. air base that the United States opened in October 2001 to supply the campaign in neighboring Afghanistan. Two days after the Kyrgyz announcement, the AP reported that Washington is looking to reopen its air base in neighboring Uzbekistan, which had been shuttered in 2005, to take up the slack.

More here.