Central Asia's Shrinking Connectivity Gap: Implications for U.S. Strategy
ARMY WAR COLLEGE CARLISLE BARRACKS PA STRATEGIC STUDIES INSTITUTE
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Today s world marks the era of profound changes in the international system over the last 2 12 decades. From globalization and fragmentation tendencies to transnational threats and the emergence of new power centers, the international order has been under stress, challenging the United States as the strongest power to address security issues of global scale, including in the remote region of Central Asia. It is in this region that one can track the emergence of the U.S. global supremacy after the collapse of the Soviet Union and observe its relative decline at the start of the 21st century due to the rise of the rest and the failing war effort in Afghanistan. It is also here that old and new power centers and aspiring contenders, some of them nuclear-armed like Russia, China, and India, increasingly have tested Washington s ability to shape the global and regional orders. Most prominently, it is the region that is seeing the rise of major powers, which have been advancing its connectivity with the global economy and causing power shifts that generate security risks and benefits for both the global order and the ability of the United States to shape it. In the 1980s, few could predict the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade later, al-Qaeda attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001 911, or strong economic performance by the rising powers of China, India, Turkey, and Russia. Equally, few could anticipate the repercussions of these developments on the remote, landlocked, and impoverished Central Asian region and the global order. For decades, the Tsarist Russia s control and the Cold War stalemate had prevented the region from becoming a hub of commerce, trade, and ideas that had existed in the Silk Roads era centuries earlier.
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