More than ten years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, none of the major powers, including Russia, has developed a cohesive geopolitical strategy for dealing with the countries and regions that once made up the USSR. Even after September 11 and the sudden importance of Central Asia in the struggle against global terrorism, the United States continues to deal with the region in fragmented and incomplete ways. Thinking Strategically, the first volume in a series focusing on security challenges posed by the former Soviet Union, addresses the economic, political, and security interests at stake in Kazakhstan for Russia, the US, China, Europe, and Japan.
Kazakhstan presents an interesting case study both because of its role as a pivot point between Russia and the world beyond and because of its position in Central Asia. The contributors to this book call it variously a buffer, a meeting place, a bridge, a gateway, and a strategic arena. Because of its internal problems—which include great economic uncertainty despite vast oil wealth, a disintegrating infrastructure, and the potential for internal instability—and its geopolitical position, Kazakhstan and the region of Central Asia present a complex set of opportunities and dangers for the major powers.
The authors of each chapter, who come from Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Kazakhstan, address the security challenges posed by Kazakhstan and Central Asia from the point of view of their respective countries or regions. From the Russian perspective, for example, Kazakhstan itself is central—as a bulwark against instability and a close economic partner—and Central Asia subordinate; other countries tend to view the entire Central Asia region strategically.
"Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular is an area of the world in which the United States has very recently and precipitously become more deeply involved. Our policy in Central Asia has not benefited from much debate or contribution from experts outside of the government. This volume provides necessary thinking on the topic and is likely to generate important discussion of US policy."
—Marshall Shulman, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Relations Emeritus, and Founding Director of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University
"This is an important and original book on one of the least-studied regions of the world. By placing Kazakhstan in the center of 'Inner Asia' and then examining Great Power perspectives, it forces the reader to think about the area in new and rather unconventional ways."
—Coit Blacker, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University