05/17/2005 01:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dull Echo

This is a cry from across the pond! Why in nothing that I have read from the States is the phrase regime-change in Uzbekistan mentioned? Karimov is a Saddam-style dictator, if anything as horrific in his tortures. He guns down dissident tribes and boils his enemies in oil. He has no interest in democracy yet he sits astride an oil-rich corner of the globe. Yet on the BBC this morning an American spokesman told an increasingly irate British audience that Uzbekistan was "not ready" for such talk. America preferred negotiation and expressions of concern over recent massacres.

Karimov has held ruthless power for 14 years. When is he "ready" for regime change? Why is sauce for the Iraqi goose not good enough for the Uzbek gander? Surely it is not that Karimov is America's dictator (as once was Saddam)? Or have the neo-cons turned yak-eating surrender llamas in the steppes of middle Asia?

After five years of lacerating attack from America for "not seeing the danger in Saddam", Europeans are understandably watching to see how America reacts to Karimov. The last emphatic action from Washington in Uzbekistan was to ask the British to sack their ambassador in Tashkent for attacking Karimov's methods. The British did just that. If ever a concept was relative it is democracy!