Central Asia and the United States 2004-2005: Moving Beyond Counter-Terrorism?
ASIA-PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES HONOLULU HI
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The independence in 1991 of Central Asian states here defined as the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan raised serious hope in the West that after decades of authoritarianism the countries of the region would lean toward a process of democratization. This expectation was based on several assumptions. Firstly, the impressive liberal beginning of Boris Yeltsin Russia suggested that other former Soviet republics might follow its example. Secondly, the appeal of religion and religious extremism were underestimated in view of the highly secular history of post-Soviet Central Asia. Thirdly, immediately after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre China seemed to be unattractive to Central Asia leaders as an alternative political model or strategic partner. However, these factors were seriously challenged by subsequent events. Russia soon revealed that it lacked the internal consensus and tradition of pluralism that would allow it to emulate the Western model of liberal democracy, and it started to examine more closely the Chinese and other Asian approaches to reform. So did the Central Asian states under their increasingly authoritarian and corrupt governments. A rising China, meanwhile, emerged as an attractive economic powerhouse for the Central Asian states and further enhanced their ability to balance the great powers and their political ideologies. Alarmed by the rose and orange revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, which are perceived in Russia as Western conspiracies to undermine Russia s preeminence in the post-Soviet space, Moscow is offering more political and military assistance to increasingly troubled Central Asian leaders in order to protect them from similar radical internal developments.
- Government and Political Science
- Unconventional Warfare