The states of Central Asia are of increasing strategic importance for the U.S., yet unfortunately the opportunities that U.S. policy-makers have for influencing developments in this region are relatively circumscribed.
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.
Discussants examine the challenges of conflict prevention in five Central Asian countries since their independence. A profound transformation of the political, economic, and social landscape of Eurasia has taken place, but challenges like poverty, HIV , drug trafficking, and deterioration of health care and education systems remain serious problems.
The challenge of building democratic societies in Central Asia is becoming more profound with each passing year, and unfortunately there are no easy answers to the question of how to alter this situation.
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.
State-sponsored terror persists because the international community is either silent in the face of it, or restricts its condemnations to actions that are of little or no consequence to the offending party.
The systematic terrorization of the elite - the arrest of scores of people who have experience in running the government and the economy, the terrorization of their families, the push into exile and silence of dozens of other people has enormous consequences for the capacity of a state as small as Turkmenistan to govern itself.
Major impediments to a unified energy strategy do not come from Russia. The dynamics of interstate relations between Russia, Caspian, and other transit states, and domestic politics in any of these states, decrease the likelihood of any singular, meaningful international energy development strategy.