A successful Russian modernization is the most reliable basis for the foreign attractiveness of the country. Volumes of energy resources as such will not make Russia a great power, energy is not the same as leadership, nor is harshness the same as effectiveness. This is precisely how a post-imperial project differs from a neo-imperial one.
The Carnegie Endowment event with Carnegie Senior Associate Martha Brill Olcott, Robert Kaiser of The Washington Post and Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich of the Council on Foreign Relations to launch Dr. Olcott’s new book Central Asia's Second Chance, published by the Carnegie Endowment in July 2005.
What we have seen play out over the last few weeks in Kyrgyzstan is but the first scene of a lengthy drama that will dominate the Central Asian stage over the next few years. And we can only hope that in later acts, the action won't turn bloodier.
For the third time in 18 months seriously flawed elections have brought down the government in a CIS state, and for the first time this has occurred east of the Urals, demonstrating that popular expectations in the Asian states of the former Soviet Union are not appreciably different from those in the European ones.
US policymakers should be proud of US-sponsored programs which broaden the range of participation for even limited numbers of people. But those of us engaged with Central Asia should not delude ourselves into believing that through "soft needling" we will get the ruling elites in these countries to modify the core practices at the heart of their regimes.
The five states of Central Asia raise fundamental questions about the process of democratization in post-Soviet states and in the Muslim world more generally. In light of recent developments, the expectation of remaining as part of the region's Soviet heritage must now be incorporated with both nationalist and Islamic agendas that exist in Central Asia in order for democracy to have a chance.
The challenges of consolidating statehood which lie before the states of Central Asia and the Caucasus in the immediate future,are likely to be shaped by the peculiarities of the relationships of these states to Russia, and what strategic consequence this might have from the US.
The main reason why democracies have not developed in Central Asia is that the region's leaders don't want them to. However, the region's rulers would like us to believe that the failure of democracy-building in the region is a good thing, not a bad one.