Democratic prospects in Central Asia

Democratic prospects in Central Asia

Stephen Blank

Talk of prospects for democratization in Central Asia seemingly represents the triumph of hope over experience. Nowhere in this region will the requirements for and understanding of genuine democracy materialize anytime soon, either in elite or mass practice. Moreover, both here and in the Muslim world generally (and in Russia as well), the transplantation of Western and democratic institutions paradoxically often has strengthened authoritarian rule, not liberalism or democracy. (1) Furthermore, if we are honest with ourselves, we must realize that the demand to democratize the former Soviet Union as a whole, and Central Asia in particular, amounts to a call for a revolutionary transformation of those areas, especially when perceived from local capitals. That transformation will probably not be a quick nonviolent one unless its advocates and leaders take special care.

These bleak conclusions apply equally to issues of either economic or political democracy. Arguably, one also plausibly could contend that whatever impetus for democratization, or at least for liberalization that ultimately concludes with some recognizable form of democratization, must inevitably come from outside the region, as internal forces are too weak to make the necessary transition without foreign assistance. But whatever external impetus might develop, it cannot offer genuine democracy on its own. It only can stimulate, support, or at best galvanize existing, even latent, domestic impulses for reform in politics and economics.

Neither is this assessment confined to Central Asia, for nowhere in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, do we see genuine democracy or its imminent advent upon the scene. (2) Moreover, Russia’s democratic deficits in Russia relate strongly to Central Asia. They impel Russia’s elites to support Central Asian dictators for classic reasons of state, not least the idea that this will somehow strengthen hopes of a return to hegemony, if not empire. (3) In turn, those rulers look to Russia for support against pressures for reform.

Sadly, Russia, the most advanced of the CIS governments, manifests disquieting and regressive efforts to restore the outlines of a police capitalism, or it moves to frustrate such essential democratic rights as free press, meaningful elections, and civilian democratic control of the instruments of violence. (4) Thus Russia resembles what Max Weber long ago called pseudo-constitutionalism, hardly the same thing as pseudodemocracy. (5) Elsewhere, the situation is correspondingly worse. Thus throughout the CIS the road to democracy will necessarily be long, winding, and often tortuous. Indeed, Turkmenistan has deteriorated to a tragic and yet farcical restaging of Stalinism’s worst excesses, representing almost a paradigm, if not a caricature, of Weber’s category of sultanism. (6)

But this well-founded pessimism does not render discussion of prospects for democracy in Central Asia wholly futile. After all, it is never too soon to think about how we may work toward democracy, practically or conceptually or both. It is always appropriate to attempt to lay the foundations for successful democratization, because only through that process can genuine democracy eventually be consolidated at minimal civic cost, rather than through intense civic violence. Moreover, discussion rather than pronouncements from on high as to what those foundations are is essential, because we ourselves are still debating the meaning of democracy. Some writers even deny that the West has the skill, knowledge, or means to foster democracy abroad or that it acts to promote authoritarian regimes in places such as Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the West cannot and should not discuss democratization of Central Asia and instead should leave it to Russia as a sphere of influence. (7) At the same time, some analysts of democracy and comparative politics argue that either or both of those entities suffer from various “democratic deficits” or else are perhaps excessively democratic. (8)

Similarly, despite the strong current of opinion that proclaims a Western and American mission to be an evangel of democracy abroad, or at least a force for democratization, there exists a powerful current of opinion that criticizes equally strongly the efforts to bring Western democracy to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. (9) This line of argument forcefully contends that efforts to bring the Western model of economic liberalism and political democracy to the Third World ironically become a force for destabilization, violence, and more anti-democratic manifestations, or “illiberal democracy?” (10)


Precisely because debate epitomizes democratic politics, an open discussion about the prospects for democracy throughout the former Soviet Union remains topical. Therefore, as it regards Central Asia, we should inquire into the conditions needed to undergird and sustain the perpetual and open-ended process of democratization. Although arguments still rage over the requirements of democratic politics, certain attributes seem to be held in common. Lincoln’s famous epigrammatic definition appears to be widely accepted as a necessary attribute of a democratic government. So too are the notions of a government subject to regular, free, and fair elections; the rule of law; parliamentary control of the purse through democratic and transparent means; official accountability to the legislative branch; separation of powers; limits on the executive; democratic control of all of the means of violence; full civil rights of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition; freedom from arbitrary police power (how to define arbitrary power does need to be clarified, but the general idea that we need a category of defenses against it seems to be well established); legal equality of all citizens without reference to race, sex, ethnicity, creed, and so on.

Furthermore, it also has been clear since Aristotle, if not more recently Tocqueville, that a balance of economic power where there is a strong middle class, civil society, and thus a sphere of social and economic life free from state control, is essential. Unrelieved mass poverty and democracy are ultimately incompatible. The prospect and reality of broad-based sustainable growth must be visible to society at large for it to sustain its own belief in building democracy and in liberal politics and economics more generally. Thus a government whose policies consist of one or another form of rent-seeking and of misappropriation of the nation’s wealth cannot be considered a democracy. This principle also mandates the existence of what used to be called intermediary orders or civil society, a body of social associations and civic groups, free of state penetration, that offer the individual a legally protected sphere of privacy and freedom. This is because an inevitable corollary of economic growth is ever greater specialization and division of labor, which creates new needs, roles, and functions for citizens and encourages them to form associations with like-minded citizens.

Equally obvious, what Henry Adams called the systematic organization of hatred, whether directed at other religions, peoples, nationalities, or races, is an unreliable foundation upon which to build democracy. America’s experience testifies that racism and ethnic discrimination are ultimately incompatible with genuine democratization and are sources of internal violence. As Lincoln reminded us, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Ideologically as well, the polity and its elites must internalize the need for political figures to desist from attempts to promulgate or impose their own vision of moral or ideological truth on the populace for the state to be considered democratic. Ideological monism and democracy, in both thought and practice, are incompatible. Church and state, even if the religion is a civil religion like communism, or a cult of personality as in Turkmenistan or, to a lesser degree, Uzbekistan, must be separated institutionally and cognitively. Whatever citizens hold about the extent and nature of divine revelation of truth, democracy is founded on the probability of human error, not theological, scientific, or any other certainty. As democracy arose from the Enlightenment’s critique of revealed religion that challenged the teachings and power of the church, such philosophical pluralism is absolutely essential for civil and human rights to be established. Today as well, debate over the proper place of religion in a democracy continues throughout Western democracies such as America, Israel, Poland, Russia, Serbia, France, and other states with a strong religious foundation to their nationhood.

In many of these cases, we see recognized political figures advocating a state and social order based on a religious vision of political truth that expressly articulates a coherent hostility to other religions. (11) Consequently, it is not altogether surprising that in countries where large Islamic populations live, even as minorities, the determination of critical clerico-political elites and of societal sectors to impose their version of Islam as law and truth shows the lack of democracy or a willingness to entertain its requirements. Likewise, this insistence on an uncompromising Islamic truth, even where Islamic communities are in a minority, reflects an absolutism that then evokes a corresponding response. (12) Even in a Muslim state as secular as Kazakhstan, Islam’s historical intolerance of pluralism will make demands for separating church and state and for dismantling all institutional bases for ideological monism, both religious and civic, highly contentious, if not violent, issues.


More recently, feminist thinkers also have argued that the emancipation of women, as a category beyond mere citizenship and thus as a class of citizens in their own right, is an essential attribute of democratic polities. As Bernard Lewis wrote:

The emancipation of women, more than any

other single issue, is the touchstone of difference

between modernization and Westernization.

Even the most extreme and most anti-Western

fundamentalist nowadays accepts the

need to modernize and indeed to make the

fullest use of modern technology, especially the

technologies of warfare and propaganda. This

is seen as modernization, and though the methods

and even the artifacts come from the West,

it is accepted as necessary and even as useful.

The emancipation of women is Westernization,

both for traditional conservatives and radical

fundamentalists it neither is necessary nor useful

but noxious, a betrayal of true Islamic values.

It must be kept from entering the body of

Islam, and where it has already entered, it must

be ruthlessly excised. (13)

This emancipation goes beyond according women all of the rights commonly enjoyed by all citizens of the state to undertaking what Americans call “affirmative action” to equalize their status in critical ways. Whether or not female emancipation is an essential component of democracy, women’s more emancipated role in the West long has been one of the most salient points of difference between Western and Islamic civilizations. As Lewis noted, it always has been one of the phenomena of Western civilization that has struck Muslim observers most forcefully and negatively, and it is the touchstone of the difference between modernization and Westernization. (14) To the extent that female emancipation is now seen as an essential attribute of democracy, we must admit that when we advocate democratization, we are advocating a revolutionary transformation of Islam and Muslim societies.

This tension between Western and Islamic societies’ views of women’s roles suggests that the struggle for female emancipation is a critical and wrenching barrier for Muslim societies to overcome if they are to resemble democracies as understood by the West. The salience of this issue in Turkey, the most progressive Muslim state, suggests the dynamite implicit in this issue. Indeed, one way in which efforts to initiate a social revolution in Central Asia historically took place was through the violent and authoritarian imposition of female emancipation, a campaign whose results were very limited. Still, this does not dissuade activists from urging foreign support for a campaign pitched at the emancipation of women today. (15)

But equally important, to bring women more fully into society and political life means reordering economic priorities to restore the social safety net that has been shredded since 1991 throughout Central Asia. It means redirecting real resources and money away from self-gratifying rent-seeking for the elite to investments in urgent social, economic, educational, public health, and ecological institutions to repair that shattered network and to provide a basis for a better allocation of resources throughout the country. That also entails pressures for legislative accountability and oversight over even more areas of the state’s economic policy, an indispensable prerequisite of democracy.


The broader triumph of democracy in Central Asia must therefore go beyond establishing its institutional prerequisites. Those societies also must, and probably simultaneously will, undergo what inevitably will be a wrenching institutional and ideological transformation. Western history suggests that these transformations entail a prolonged and generally violent crisis. This is especially true when there has been no prior preparation for liberalization or democratization and the old order suddenly collapses, largely because of its own internal contradictions.

Consequently, to avert violence, a democratic or democratizing polity has the added burden of shunning what Henry Adams described. His description of modern nationalism also may be applied to attempts to suppress female emancipation, which have themselves often been violent. Instead, the democratizing state, not to mention the democratic one, must accept not only the points listed previously but also the plurality of religious and moral truths, and it must refrain from promulgating its own religion. A state where ideological monism reigns or can be catapulted to power is a state that will turn on those who are “alienated,” that is, made alien. Since all states and societies today are multicultural and multiconfessional entities, wherever we have a state church, whether civil or otherwise, there are by definition outsiders, class enemies, racial enemies, or “unbelievers.” Moreover, such a state must be an intrinsically intolerant one whose intolerance easily becomes translated into militancy in word and deed against all “others.”

This militancy is not accidental. Ideological monism only can be enforced at the point of the sword. The state that proclaims an ideological and hence political monism proclaims itself at war with itself and with others. Turkmenistan’s and Uzbekistan’s prevailing tendency to shun cooperation with their neighbors reflects some of this tendency and strengthens the obstacles to liberalization across Central Asia. But the monistic state does not only entail a refusal to cooperate with neighbors. Indeed, it defines the world as being composed of enemies and supporters, whether it does so according to ideological or philosophical categories derived from anti-democratic thinkers such as Carl Schmitt, Lenin, or radical Islam. (16) This monism was an essential point of Communism, Fascism, and Nazism, with their imperial and racial cults and various forms of “fuehrerprinzip” that have decisively influenced the modern Middle East’s political parties. It is also the essence of radical Islam. All of these anti-democratic trends come together in the Moslem world’s authoritarian one-party states that are the most successful Arab and perhaps Muslim borrowing from the West.

For Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, and others, their states were threatened not only by capitalist encirclement, imperialism, and so on but also by domestic enemies. The internal enemies and the external ones were confederates or allies, thereby making the former enemies of the state, or racial or class enemies. Thus the monistic state is by definition a mobilizational or at least mobilized state whose raison d’etre is war against both internal and external enemies. War and the ensuing aggrandizement of state power is a permanent project, the state’s Telos and justification. Whether the enemy be another people, race, religion, or social class, the monistic state cannot be secure until the other is exterminated or can no longer defend itself. Such defenselessness inherently entails a condition of oppression of those so situated. Hence the monistic state is perpetually engaged in warfare against its own citizens, not to mention against outsiders. In this respect, the monistic state ranges itself against one of the cardinal points of the democratic project, namely that the citizen inherently can defend himself against the state. Should authoritarian projects persist in Central Asia or neighboring areas, war is therefore the inevitable, not just likely, outcome. (17)

Lenin “introduced a state of siege into Russian democracy” and then globalized it. As Central Asian leaders have inherited those traditions, they often have incorporated communist as well as other traditional authoritarian forms of rule into their arsenal. Turkmenistan is the extreme example of that incorporation. But it is not alone, as Uzbekistan and Armenia indicate. These states exist in a permanent state of war, or at least controlled tension, with all others and with key elements of their own society. Internal and external enemies abound, along with permanent war scares or heightened tension, and are permanent and necessary lodestars of the state’s formation and development, whether they are real or imagined enemies.

In such states, the armed forces and police are generally arrayed in multiple organizations, each spying on the other to defend the regime in power and its various cultic phenomena. Thus a reliable guide to the level of liberalization or democratization achieved by new states is the extent to which there is only one regular army, police force, and intelligence apparatus, with each having carefully delineated functions and transparent systems of real accountability to democratic authorities under law. Where these organizations have overlapping functions and are primarily tasked with internal security, we can be reasonably certain that we are dealing with an authoritarian and intrinsically unstable state. Given post-communist regimes’ abundant failures in this domain, these are not only incompletely democratized states, they also are tempted constantly, because of the failure to exercise democratic controls on their “multiple militaries,” to launch unending military adventures. Chechnya epitomizes the point both for itself and for Russia. (18) But any sober assessment of Central Asia and the Caucasus locates this adventurism in Armenia and Georgia, as well as farther afield in Pakistan. (19) Nor is it surprising that this military adventurism and absence of democratic controls is tied to an inflamed nationalism among leaders of these states and to some degree their secessionist “others.” This analysis would also discern all of the indices of rising militarization and domestic repression in the last decade even before September 11, 2001. (20)

Consequently, prolonged peace is essential to the inauguration of a democratization process that will eventually culminate in what we could recognize as democracy. This does not mean that pacifism is the only answer if we want democracy. That assertion is absurd on its face. Rather, the democratizing state, to consummate its long march to democracy as perceived by itself and other states, must not be drawn into wars or initiate them. Avoidance of the monism trap delineated above is therefore both an essential aspect of this gradual pacification of the undemocratic state and of its equally gradual democratization. But the avoidance of monism is not in and of itself a sufficient guarantee that the state will escape either initiating or being drawn into wars. This leads us to conclude that without external and internal security–and not the security provided by authoritarian police forces–these societies are permanently at risk, and the experiences of the last five years confirm that.

This requirement for avoiding war also most certainly includes prolonged civil wars. The relationship of war to democracy is not a linear one, but in the early period of democracy building–a process often related to the process of state building–the democratizing but incompletely realized democracy is prone to conflicts that can derail it or provide ways for atavistic elites to deflect or corrupt democratic possibilities. (21) The tendency of incompletely democratized polities to go to war has been discerned for states as disparate as Hohenzollern Germany and Yeltsin’s Russia, whose two wars in Chechnya undoubtedly served and were intended to prevent democratizing trends from prevailing. (22) The fact that many functioning democracies have had to overcome internal civil wars as well as make a revolution (which incorporated elements of such wars as well as revolutionary wars against foreigners) suggests that such strife may be, or at least was, a necessary phase of the democratizing process if the first stages either fail to create a solid basis for progress or go too far and lead to anarchy.

If this last observation is correct, then these states that have not become completely democratic must undergo the trials of domestic or foreign war to become democratic if their regimes fail to evolve. Therefore, to avoid war we must contribute an impetus for continuing democratization. Otherwise the accumulated tensions that arise due to blocked democratization will explode into war. History suggests that it is then unlikely that only one war then suffices for democracy to ensue.

For Central Asia, these observations point in two directions. On the one hand, if democracy is to emerge from indigenous democratizing processes, then to the greatest degree possible, wars, either external or internal, must be avoided. The requirement for internal and external peace also signifies that democracy cannot issue out of the ruins of a failed state by the efforts of that state alone or by its citizens’ exclusive efforts. A “society” entrapped in a Hobbesian universe of a failed or failing state cannot begin to fashion a process of democratization, let alone a democracy and even more urgently a functioning government, that is, a state. Alternatively, if we are to follow the advice of the American radical Randolph Bourne, who observed that “war is the health of the state,” we should try to act and counsel others to act in such a way as to prevent the undue strengthening of these authoritarian states. Thus, for Central Asia, two indispensable prerequisites of a future democratic evolution are the avoidance of either internal or interstate wars and the continuing external pressure for reform to reinforce the efforts of domestic reformers and to achieve a more broadly based, transparent, and legitimate basis for domestic security. All of this must also take place while external security is guaranteed as well.

Without continuing and combined internal and external pressure for reform and more stable bases for security, it may only be possible for democracy to develop because of a war or series of wars culminating in the discrediting of the old order. However, as we want to spare societies the terrors of war and the hardships of what might be war’s functional equivalent, for example, cold wars, we must find or devise alternatives or create an international environment that mitigates the possibility of war and that also reduces the scope for local “bad actors” to start them. Thus the paradoxical relationship between war and democratization provides no easy answers, but it does seem to point to certain guidelines for action that are at once moral and strategic in nature.

Specifically, the requirement for beginning a liberalization process that will end in something recognizable as democracy, in part or in whole, probably must be sparked by a deus ex machina, an external actor or actors who reinforce and strengthen domestic trends within those societies. One existing possibility is that the guarantees of security provided by the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and Central Asia, specifically NATO and U.S. forces, can provide a respite for terrorism and opportunities for building security that also could contribute to the general pacification and democratization of the entire area. Moreover, they are the only effective barriers to either Russian or Chinese aspirations to hegemony. Certainly, it is true that without security in Afghanistan, Central Asia is at risk. (23) But the converse also holds true, and therefore both ends of this chain must be grasped simultaneously.

Thus the task of initiating a democratic process in Central Asia equates, at least in some measure, to the perennial and ever difficult business of making an existing political order a legitimate one beyond simply using force. Subsumed in that issue is also the question of how to use force that is already being deployed in ways that are legitimate and that can bring about more positive outcomes than has hitherto been the case. For democracy to evolve–and there is no other way known to us, short of divine intervention–viable and secure states must precede it. For democracy to emerge from the unfavorable conditions of Central Asia, those states must not only avoid violence but also must form effective and viable states amidst strong international rivalries and even violence. We cannot postulate a halcyon state of nature from which democracy may evolve, because political order is always contextual. States exist in a temporal and spatial, that is, historical, context, a fact that is especially relevant to states that emerged out of the Soviet collapse and whose nationality was in many ways an invented or fabricated one. (24)

Just as continental Europe underwent a long, historical, often interrupted, and complex evolution before it could actually become democratic, to begin democratization, Central Asian states probably also must undergo long-term processes by which their evolving political orders can attain true legitimacy beyond the simple coercion or bribery of elites. There are no shortcuts to democracy, and the effort to devise or impose one will inevitably lead to a catastrophe. Our responsibility is to create the most auspicious conditions for that strengthening of societal capacity and the evolution of conditions facilitating a legitimization of a political process that steadily widens opportunity for economic and political participation under law. In short, we must simultaneously concern ourselves with both the internal and external conditions leading to security in these states while preventing the international competition for influence in the region from getting out of control.


Any assessment of prospects for democracy or democratization in Central Asia must duly start from the problems of state order and of constructing viable and legitimate states. Although this may be unpalatable because it implies our seeming acceptance of the deformed regimes that presently exist there, we have no choice. Certainly we cannot build democracy based on a thoroughgoing rejection of reality. Since democracy only can arise as the culmination of a democratizing process in the real world, that process only can take place within a state, that is, a genuine political community, however presently constituted. And it must be a political process from within, not one imposed from without. Although there cannot be democracy unless these states’ sovereignty and independence are consolidated, we can then insist that this sovereignty must be consolidated legitimately.

Thus the domestic and external circumstances of Central Asia’s birth and recent development oblige us to focus on both the domestic and international context within which those states have evolved and are evolving. There is much cause for anxiety concerning Central Asia, but it has avoided the wars that have torn apart the Caucasus, Central Africa, and the former Yugoslavia. Although troubled, these states still function; although we cannot blithely assume that this sequence will continue uninterrupted, as the prospects for stable domestic order in these states are under severe challenge, without peace there would be no debate.

Many of those challenges are well-known. Apart from the dangers of terrorist or otherwise incited insurgencies, these states must overcome immature, authoritarian state apparatuses, which all bear to varying degree the marks of their birth from a profoundly repressive, deformed, and corrupting Soviet order. Moreover, there is reason to believe that their level of competence has, if anything, declined since independence, often because of capricious or misguided state policies. (25) These strictures apply not only to political issues and to the quality of the state administration at the central and local levels but also to the profound challenges of widespread poverty, some of the most severe environmental challenges in the world, the lack of basic social infrastructures of all kinds, geographic isolation from global markets, and potential internal and external ethnopolitical challenges.

Even before September 11, 2001, these states had become central objects of immense international competition and internal rivalry, for example, the widespread fears of Uzbekistan’s potential for seeking to dominate the region. Accordingly, Central Asia, and for that matter all post-Soviet governments, confront enduring, dynamic, and difficult internal and external challenges without any history of cooperation among them or of spontaneous regional cooperation under the Soviets. Rather, they were parts of a centralized administration that often deliberately strove to keep them from being able to play complementary roles for each other. Therefore it is hardly surprising that mutual cooperation has come only with difficulty or that they also have found it difficult and often against their interests to cooperate with Russian objectives, even if the latter were not specifically aimed at curtailing their sovereignty and independence. (26) But the absence of regional cooperation also inhibits the growth among them and within them of the division of labor that could facilitate demands for democracy within them and in their interstate relationships. It also weakens their ability to resist challenges to their security from within or without.

We also can follow other scholars’ assessments that the exigencies of what the Soviets called state-building, under inauspicious and unexpected conditions, is a major factor in facilitating the movement toward oil- and gas- dominated rentier economies and authoritarian polities. Lacking much else in the way of economic capability, and in many cases being under immense pressure from neighbors, the short-term benefits, both tangible and intangible, generated by playing the energy card seemed to many political figures as perhaps the best or even only game in town, and they chose it. Since then they have embraced the consequences and have built states based on short-term, self-interested, rent-seeking policies. (27)

Thus the situation in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus conforms to Mohammed Ayoob’s penetrating observations that these states, like other Third World states, simultaneously face the exigencies of both domestic and external security without sufficient means or time to democratize or the resources to compete successfully with other, more established states. (28) Not surprisingly, their primary concern is internal security, hence the appearance of multiple militaries and their governments’ recourse to rent-seeking, authoritarian, and clientilistic policies. Beyond the foregoing observation, however, there is one more fact or perspective that merits our analysis before passing on to prescriptive remedies. Bjorn Moeller observes that

While in modernity the inside of a state was

supposed to be orderly, thanks to the workings

of the state as a Hobbesian “Leviathan,” the

outside remained anarchic. For many states in

the Third World, the opposite seems closer to

reality–with fairly orderly relations to the outside

in the form of diplomatic representations,

but total anarchy within. (29)

Yet, as contemporary events in Central Asia and the Caucasus indicate, local governments cannot take foreign relations for granted. Too many of their neighbors are more than willing to try and subvert them using force or external agents who are supported from Moscow, Islamabad, or Kabul. (30) Therefore these states face the constant danger of either internal collapse or externally induced pressure that can align with those internal forces. Furthermore, their external relations are not confined to diplomatic representations abroad, but they also embrace an ever wider network of international financial institutions (IFIs) or supranational bodies such as the UN, OSCE, or the EU. On top of that, they also have large and growing NGO communities that are active within them and that are highly articulate in their critical assessments of internal trends within those countries. Consequently, for many post-Soviet states, foreign policy’s purpose is to protect the internal regime from the domestic anarchy that lies inside of it and that can be stimulated by the pressures of the outside world. (31) As described by Mikhail Alekseev, this is reversed anarchy, where the international state system is not nearly as anarchic as the domestic political scene is perceived to be. (32)

If international relations are perceived by post-Soviet leaders to be threatening to their internal capability to hold and wield power, then more isolation will be likely. Interdependence or cooperative actions may well be seen as a threat to domestic security, because in today’s world, where processes described by James Rosenau as “fragmegration,” or what others call globalization, are commonplace, greater foreign involvement reduces the domestic government’s capacity to control events and trends. (33) External pressures for reform are resisted if they appear to contribute to pressures for devolution or deconcentration of powers. If, on the other hand, foreign support allows governments to suppress threats to their power, then it will be welcomed. (34) Uzbekistan’s efforts to extend Islam Karimov’s rule using U.S. support exemplify this pattern, and we can find other examples throughout the region where the sad state of democratization has led some observers to claim that the situation has changed marginally, if at all, since 1991. (35)

We may fairly expect that under such conditions as reversed anarchy or the picture painted by Ayoob and other similar theorists, these governments will constantly seek to evade foreign relations that entangle them in a perceived web of dependency that prevents the unbounded exercise of powers at home. Personal, if not sectoral or factional, interest will thus tend to supersede any concept of a national interest. Under those circumstances, and given the obstacles to democracy that we now see, what can be done?


Despite many rulers’ best efforts, Central Asia cannot escape from the world, particularly in today’s system of international economics and security. This fact provides opportunities for external and internal pressures for reform and for their synchronization, not unlike the efforts of the Reagan administration to support changes in both foreign and internal Soviet policy. However, we are not only speaking of state policies. Certainly all manners of NGOs will continue to cast a harsh spotlight on all manners of abuse in the post-Soviet world and finally will not be deprived of the information necessary to publicize them or the means of doing so. Private and public alliances, states, and institutions working separately must continue to support those activities, and pressure must be placed on governments to validate or actualize their claims that they are pressuring Central Asian governments to reform.

Second, governments, IFIs, and private businesses seeking to invest in Central Asia, whether the investment be an economic one or one of more military instruments of power to achieve security, now can leverage their influence and widen the sphere through which foreign and liberalizing influences and social forces may enter these countries. But they must do so intelligently. We must avoid the trap whereby institutions of reform in our world, when transplanted abroad, become facades for more effective authoritarianism. Two examples bear mentioning here, the expansion of Western bilateral military programs and reform of laws so that foreign direct investment (FDI) can flow more freely to these states. These do not by any means exhaust the repertoire of instruments available to the West. Certainly international organizations should try, wherever possible, to promote regional cooperation among these states. But IFIs or NGOs illustrate or could exemplify intelligent approaches to the problem of foreign promotion of reform.

Obviously, the main purpose of bilateral military or mil-mil programs in American parlance is to train forces in working with the United States and NATO so that they are reasonably interoperable with those forces and can augment U.S. and NATO capabilities for power projection and military operations, including so-called stability or humanitarian operations, not just war. (36) But the other major purpose of such programs, as expressed during NATO enlargement and the Partnership for Peace (PfP), to which all of these states belong, is to provide a living and successful model of democratic civilian control over the armed forces. In many of these programs, too, most strikingly the PfP and European programs, the other major purpose besides upgrading quality of performance and interoperability is to create the basis for more democratic structures and behaviors with regard to civil-military relationships.

In its military action programs (MAP), NATO guaranteed a continuing process of close monitoring to ensure that aspiring members met its conditions. Essentially, NATO and these governments entered into a continuing process whereby NATO reviews their progress in all areas and works with them to improve shortcomings or encourage further progress along desirable lines. Aspirants must conform to the basic principles of democracy, liberty, and so on as set out in the 1949 Washington Treaty, the original documents of the 1994 NATO summit on the creation of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the 1995 NATO study on enlargement, and the 1999 NATO summit in Washington. They also must commit themselves to the peaceful resolution of disputes; civilian democratic control of their armed forces; desisting from using force in ways inconsistent with the purposes of the UN; and being able to contribute to the development of peaceful international relations and democracy and the various institutions of the NATO alliance. They would commit to continuing participation in the PfP and its planning and annual review processes (PARP) to maximize their ability to contribute to their own and the alliance’s security and missions. (37)

Although Central Asia’s programs are not nearly so advanced, they do resemble the PfP programs. These programs should now become part of what the United States professes to be its larger program of commitment to democratic reform in post-Soviet states. (38) We should advocate that both the U.S. bilateral programs and the PiP therefore be broadened to obtain a more pronounced democratic component with regard to Central Asia. Moreover, they should aspire to create the basis for genuine security cooperation among Central Asian states from the bottom up on the basis of perceived mutual interest among local governments in marginalizing security competition and fostering cooperation. (39)

The current security situation and the unsettled regional security situation, made worse by Russia’s efforts to obtain its own military bases and to inject more rivalry into the area, ensure that U.S. and NATO facilities and bases will remain much longer than anticipated. Indeed, it would be counterproductive for them to leave unilaterally, as that would consign the area to Russian military protection that is at once insufficiently effective, supportive of reactionary domestic tendencies, and prone to both adventurism and the fomenting of coups d’etat against local rulers. As S. Frederick Start, director of Johns Hopkins University’s Central Asia Institute, notes, a new Russian empire or hegemony’s opportunity cost is CIS members’ modernization. (40) Furthermore, Russian suzerainty over the area consigns it to perpetual backwardness, underdevelopment, and hence authoritarianism and conflict. If Washington and Brussels are willing to stand their ground on this point, real progress could be made regarding democratization and regional cooperation. Thus pressure along such lines should be applied to Washington and Brussels along with continuing pressure on Central Asian states.

The Impact of U.S. Policy and Presence

The American presence in Central Asia constitutes an opportunity for radical movements in Central Asia. Still, this has not yet happened, and many elites seem to welcome the U.S. presence because it not only prevents terrorism but also is a check on Russian and Chinese designs and elevates the importance of the region, making these elites feel that their countries are key players at the center of world politics, rather than on its periphery. (41)

At the same time, America has incurred a responsibility due to its enhanced presence in Central Asia. That presence has obligated U.S. representatives to call more often and more publicly for further democracy and reforms. (42) But it also has obligated them to balance those calls with an emphasis on the defense of the host state against terrorism and insurgency, because this presence in some sense represents a defense of local governments against terrorism. Because the first priority appears to be the war, progress on getting dictators to democratize has been limited. They clearly do not want to do so and see no reason or incentive for doing so. It also must be said that the NGO community pushing for the use of U.S. power to reform Central Asia all too often fails to realize how difficult it is for anyone to persuade these governments to behave differently, especially when they have nearby options of would-be protectors such as Russia and China who are happy to have them continue in their established ways. Very often major coercion is ultimately the only answer such dictators understand, as with Milosevic or Charles Taylor. Although there are many brave, courageous, attractive, and distinguished personages among the opposition movements to these regimes, their future success or commitment to democratic politics is by no means certain. We cannot teach the Central Asians to elect good men or have democracy fall from the sky, especially in current international conditions. Nevertheless, the United States is obliged for reasons of interest and conscience to keep advocating reform.

The twin responsibilities of defense and arguing for reform are facilitated by the opportunities for doing so that U.S. presence gives to America. It also offers these regimes a chance to pursue options other than that of being Russian or Chinese satellites, an option that consigns them to perpetual backwardness. To be sure, that American presence also facilitates opportunities for U.S. access to Caspian energy and other raw materials, a major interest of the U.S. government.

Toward Economic Reform

That success in achieving a substantial economic foothold in the region does, however, open up constructive opportunities for urging greater economic liberalization to create conditions that work against an ultimate explosion due to misrule and lack of opportunity. Specifically, that economic success gives us opportunities to argue for property rights and economic liberalization, without which no progress toward democracy is sustainable. (43) Beyond that, economic liberalization and the promotion of more open trading regimes, leading to greater economic interdependence, may be the key to unlocking the door to greater stability in Central Asia. Although economic liberalization is indispensable and is indeed a necessary condition for democracy, it is insufficient. Although international experience shows that democracy is inconceivable without property rights, establishing them is only a major step toward democracy, not the culmination of the journey.

Similarly we must understand that to attract desperately needed FDI, it is not necessary to have a big bang effect that legislates an end to the obstacles to it or that imposes democracy in one fell swoop. FDI will enter even authoritarian regimes if conditions for making money are improved to the point of worthwhile risk. Although calculation of that point varies by country, anyone familiar with the realities of legislation knows it comes about only one step at a time and after a long legislative process that is anything but direct. (44) FDI’s liberalizing effects are inherently gradual, but we can see how it has dramatically improved conditions inside China and how it has forced considerable devolution of state power and even a more liberalized regime compared with what existed in 1978. (45)

But for FDI to take root, legislation must ensure the security and sanctity of real property rights, without which no true middle class of an independent civil society can grow. Even if FDI is not intended as a democracy or liberalization project, the requirements for getting it, a proclaimed goal of all of these governments, are profoundly subversive of the status quo. Therefore, we must encourage these governments to pass the necessary laws and then to promote the ensuing foreign investment.

As part of the recommended broader program of continuing pressure on governments and supporting NGOS and other activities such as those in the defense or security sector, we must re-adjust our horizons and support realistic efforts to ameliorate economic conditions by encouraging FDI, especially investment that contributes to growth without despoiling the population or the ecology. Doing so is obviously difficult, but not impossible, as environmental and growth issues have been addressed elsewhere with positive results. But this only can be done incrementally over time to create a climate that leads to favorable conditions for investment. In turn, once that investment enters, it stimulates further pressures for economic liberalization and ensuing social change that must then be exploited to widen the breach in the authoritarian wall. But again this must be done in ways that channel the resulting dynamism into constructive nonviolent change whose end point is a cumulative pressure for reform that cannot be resisted.

Nevertheless, recent research suggests that it is essential. One recent study showed that not only is such openness more likely to work to prevent ethnic cleansing and even genocide-clearly a risk in Central Asia–but it also can work to forestall state failure.

The State Failure studies have consistently

shown that countries with a high degree of trade

openness–indexed by exports plus imports as a

percentage of the GDP–have been less likely

to experience state failures. The relationship

holds when controlling for population size and

density and for productivity indicators. It also

has the same effect at the global and regional

level. Moreover, trade openness is weakly correlated

with other economic and trade variables.

The interpretation is that trade openness serves

as a highly sensitive indicator of state and elite

willingness to maintain the rules of law and fair

practices in the economic sphere. In the political

sphere a high degree of trade openness

implies that a country has more resources for

averting and managing political crises. (46)

Fostering such strategic interdependence through expanded trade and investment openness has, from the American standpoint, two other worthwhile objectives, which have proven their utility since 1945 in Europe and Asia.

The first is to help activate and reward internal groups and factions within the economy and society and strengthen their domestic position, thereby giving a boost to political forces that favor democracy and a pluralistic political system. The other objective of strategic interdependence is to create within the country dependencies and “vested interests” that favor stable and continuous relations. This is often seen most clearly in the economic realm: International business leaders grow in number and importance in the target country and raise their collective voices in favor of political and economic openness and friendly relations. (47)

Such policies create formal institutional links between countries and thus reduce incentives for future conflicts between them or within them. Similarly, these programs create open and working channels of communication that allow the United States to influence their policies. (48) Thus,

These tactics and strategies work together. The

more that trade, investment, and political

exchange work to open a country up to the outside,

the more opportunities there are to tie

them down and bind them with other states.

This observation follows from a rather simple

argument: the more open a state is–democratic,

liberal, pluralist, decentralized–the more

points of contact that a state can have with the

outside world. Private actors in society can

directly connect to international organizations

and build extensive non-governmental relationships

with similar actors in other states. The

more connecting points and institutionalized

relationship, the less arbitrary and sudden

shifts in state policy are likely or possible.

Webs of interdependence are created that mitigate

the security dilemmas, lower the incentives

to balance [against the United States] and

render shifts in power more tolerable. (49)

Similarly, James Fearon and David Laitin conclude that,

[r]egarding prevention, our analysis suggests

that while economic growth may correlate with

fewer civil wars, the causal mechanism is more

likely a well-financed and administratively

competent government. In specific terms, international

and nongovernmental organizations

should develop programs that improve legal

accountability within developing world militaries

and police, and make aid to governments

fighting civil wars conditional on the state

observing counterinsurgency practices that do

not help rebels recruit militias. (50)

These recommendations certainly track with each other and, if implemented, might produce virtuous circles to strengthen state capacity, economic openness, and liberalization in a host of areas. But we should have no illusions that this will happen soon. Rather, this is a long-term strategy that must begin now to avert what could otherwise be many cases of state failure within a relatively short period of time. Clearly, domestic forces in Central Asia are too weak to convince local regimes to launch the necessary transformative measures to set this process in motion. Arguably, whatever impetus there is for democratization, or at least for liberalization that ultimately concludes in some recognizable form of democratization, it must inevitably come from abroad, as internal forces cannot launch the process without foreign assistance. But whatever external impetus might develop cannot offer genuine democracy of its own. It only can stimulate, support, or at best galvanize existing, even latent, domestic impulses for reform. However, we must also grasp that the opportunities to pursue the U.S. agenda of open markets, open polities, and security against terrorism, not least through domestic reform, for which American organizations consistently argue, also bring dangers in their wake.

Many of these dangers are well-known. First, a large and visible American presence can be a target for and a goad to insurgents who can then ratchet up the violence in the belief that U.S. leadership and the public cannot stand the casualties and costs of what is admittedly a somewhat peripheral theater. This belief that the United States has no stomach for war and casualties dies hard among authoritarians even though there is no evidence for it. We can be sure that radicals will try to derail any sign of progress lest it undermine their hopes for power. Paradoxically, successful reform that is then blocked from further consummation may initially create more violence in areas that America has taken it upon itself to defend. A second danger is that the United States, even if it tries valiantly to impose reforms, will be seen as a pillar of an increasingly despised and decrepit regime, as in Iran in 1978-79. If a Central Asian or Transcaucasian ruler spurns U.S. pleas and arguments for reform, yet his country fails further and further, radical insurgents, Islamist or others, will exploit that situation against the United States and the government in power. After all, if America is seen as the exemplar and driving force of the forces of globalization and of a cultural invasion of the world beyond its shores, then the perceived failure of globalization or the reaction against it–not necessarily the same thing–will drive opposition to America and to the ruling regime as a symbol of corruption, degradation, and so on.

This transformative presence of American culture, mores, sexual standards, and economics is not something that is under any government’s control. Certainly Washington cannot and will not try to prevent it. But it clearly stimulates diverse, ambivalent, but often strong reactions in host countries, and not only in Muslim ones. But to the extent that the manifestations of that economic-social-sexual-cultural presence arouse passions in already overly stressed societies, then all things American could serve as a negative antipode for the entrepreneurs of identity-based politics such as political Islam. Thus good governance is ultimately a security issue, because it reduces the likelihood that the transforming American presence will place excessive stresses upon a society that cannot bear them.

To some degree, these risks are unavoidable. Nobody can control globalization or its manifestations, and it simultaneously generates new social patterns of both integration and fragmentation within and between states and societies. (51) But those who represent America in countries so different from it must realize that they are constantly under a rather large magnifying glass with more than enough observers on the other side of that glass to make a real difference in local politics. Thus the conduct of troops abroad also plays into this process if there are reasons for unhappiness over their behavior among their hosts.

The American presence can serve to impel societies and states to undertake the kind of reforms that Americans believe will avert falling states and civil violence. The American presence also can ensure defense of the realm against foreign insurgents, terrorists, and so on. Yet, on the other hand, and particularly if the regime refuses to grasp the need for reforms, that presence can become simultaneously a symbol of oppression, or support for it, and a symbol of all of those forces that have brought about a social situation where “all that is solid melts into air.” We have long known that the whirlpool that is contemporary capitalism and globalization is disorienting in the extreme. When vulnerable personalities are caught up in it, the results are often tragic and their behavior often becomes anomic, rootless, and even violent.

The Trans-Caspian states as a whole are experiencing that disorienting process, and we can see the results in all of the myriad pathologies of socio-economic-political life there now. But even if the United States might be blamed for the disappointments of freedom and globalization, it cannot and ultimately will not stand aside from the effort to bring both security and liberty to the area. Ultimately, not only its values but also its interests demand this. And although it will undoubtedly make mistakes and even frequently fail to rise to the occasion or to understand it, that failure does not absolve local governments from their obligations to their peoples. Ultimately, America cannot be more of the Uzbek or Kazakh regime than those leaders are now. Although it can pressure, cajole, and try to persuade, it must first secure those regimes against violence from the outside before it can persuade the leaders of those states to secure their people, if not themselves, against violence from within.

Finally, one last item that our governments and NGOs can and should do to encourage democratization in Central Asia and the broader post-Soviet world is to increase pressure on Russia by our governments, the media, and other institutions active in these fields. Despite its relative weakness, Russia will always be a point of reference in Central Asia. There also is little doubt that the support of dictators in the CIS is seen from the point of view of strengthening Russia’s great power aspirations there and thus the interests of the most unregenerate and antireform elements inside Russia. And in fact, President Vladimir Putin has made clear his aversion to “exporting democracy.” (52)

To the extent that we are successful in fostering democratic reform in Russian politics, that will promote democratization beyond Russia, for example, in Central Asia, and will force rulers in both sets of states to move away from the present undemocratic policies. It also will produce greater security and fewer Russian efforts to impose neo-colonialist and imperial policies there for empire and autocracy to go together. This also will create strong incentives for local regimes to reform, as they will be unable to hide behind Moscow and will have to reckon with the positive rise in Russian economic power and stability that reform should stimulate. But it also will reduce both Moscow’s ability to derail Central Asian reform and its interest in doing so by situating Russian power in more globalized, transparent, democratic, and international institutions.

Right now, international and domestic developments apparently are pushing Moscow to strengthen its military-economic hold on the area. (53) But that policy embodies a paradox. Its result would be to encourage the option of perpetual backwardness, misrule, and violence in the misbegotten belief that this brings security to both Moscow and Central Asia. It also strengthens the hand of antireform elements in Moscow and Central Asia, which is contrary to the interests, security, and prosperity of those states” peoples. Consequently, Russian support for democratization at home and abroad must be enlisted if the long-term project of Central Asian democratization is to succeed.

The picture portrayed here and the steps recommended may seem too bleak in the first case and too modest in the second. We may be accused of not doing enough or of being too pessimistic and accepting of the realities that now dominate Central Asia. However, to realize the dream of a democratic progressive Central Asia, we must will it strongly enough through persistent efforts so that it will not be forever a dream. Therefore we must start from current realities and act intelligently and purposefully to transform them so that this dream is realized and not deferred. In Central Asia, as we can see all too plainly today, if we fail to act to translate the dream into reality, if the dream is indeed too long deferred, it will soon become a real nightmare.


(1.) Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

(2.) Lilia Shevtsova, Putin’s Russia (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003); Taras Kuzio, “Back to the USSR? Ukraine Holds Soviet-Style ‘Discussion’ of Political Reform,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 28 April 2003.

(3.) Igor Torbakov, “Moscow Seeks to Take Advantage of Iraq Conflict to Reassert Its Leadership in CIS,” 9 April 2003; Igor Torbakov, “Russian-Turkmen Pacts Mark Strategic Shift for Moscow in Central Asia,” 15 April 2003.

(4.) Shevtsova, Putin’s Russia, passim.

(5.) Max Weber, The Russian Revolutions, ed. Gordon Wells and Peter R. Baehr (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995).

(6.) Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, ed. Talcott Parsons (New York: Free Press, 1964), 6243, 347-48; Juan J. Linz and H. E. Chehabi, eds., Sultanistic Regimes (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).

(7.) Anatol Lieven, “The Not So Great Game,” National Interest 49 (winter 1999-2000): 69-80; Anatol Lieven, “Bobbing for Rotten Apples: Geopolitical Agendas in Ukraine and the Western NIS” (paper presented to the Project on Systemic Change and International Security in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C., 2000); Richard Sokolsky and Tanya Charlick-Paley, NATO and Caspian Security: A Mission Too Far? (Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation, 1999); Eugene Rumer, “Fear and Loathing in the ‘Stans,'” Christian Science Monitor, 2 August 2001; Ira Straus, “Wisdom or Temptation in Central Asia?,” The Russia Journal, 22-28 February 2002.

(8.) Robert A. Dahl, How Democratic is the American Constitution ? (New Haven. Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001); Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (New York: Harper Collins, 2002).

(9.) Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (New York: Doubleday, 2003); Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (New York: W. W. Norton, 2003).

(10.) Ibidem.

(11.) For example, Michele Cottle, “Bible Brigade: Franklin Graham v. Iraq,” New Republic, 15 April 2003, discusses how Christian evangelists in America view Islam and their influence on policy there.

(12.) Thus France’s minister of interior, Nicholas Sarkozy, was forced to state that “Imams who propagate views that run counter to French values will be expelled” and that “Islamic law will be applied nowhere because it is not the law of the (French) Republic,” Kim Housego, “France Threatens to Expel Extremist Islamic Leaders,” Associated Press, 16 April 2003, retrieved from Lexis-Nexis, Lewis, passim.

(13.) Ibid., 73.

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) Belinda Cooper and Isabel Traugott, “Women’s Rights and Security in Central Asia,” World Policy Journal 20, no. 1 (spring 2003): 59-68; Gregory J. Massell, The Surrogate Proletariat (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974).

(16.) Whereas Lenin’s views are well-known, for an introduction to Carl Schmitt, see Mark Lilla, “The Enemy of Liberalism,” New York Review of Books, XLIV, no. 8, 15 May 1997, and the books cited there. Schmitt was a major theorist and justifier of an approach to politics that postulated politics as a struggle between enemies.

(17.) Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, trans. Carol Volk (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994).

(18.) Miriam Lanskoi, “War of the Russian Succession: Russia and Chechnya between the Wars” (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 2003); Dmitry Trenin and Aleksei Malashenko, Vremya Iuga: Rossiya v Chechne, Chechnya v Rossii (Moscow: Carnegie Center, 2002).

(19.) Ahmad Faruqui, Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan: The Price of Strategic Myopia (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2003); Stephen Blank, “Central Asia’s Strategic Revolution” (paper presented to the Conference on Caspian Sea Basin Security, Seattle, Wash., April 2003).

(20.) Mark Eaton, “Major Trends in Military Expenditure and Arms Acquisition by the States of the Caspian Region,” in The Security of the Caspian Sea Region, ed. Gennady Chufrin (Oxford: Oxford University Press and SIPRI, 2001), 83-118; Stephen Blank, “Central Asia’s Strategic Revolution” (paper presented at the NBR Asia/U.S. Army War College Conference on Caspian Sea Basin Security, Seattle, Wash., April 2003).

(21.) Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder, “Democratization and the Danger of War” International Security 20, no. 1 (summer 1995): 5-38; Jack L. Snyder, Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991); Jack L. Snyder, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Violence (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000).

(22.) Lanskoi, passim., Malashenko and Trenin, passim.

(23.) Central Asia and the Post-Conflict Stabilization of Afghanistan (London: International Institute for Security Studies, 2002).

(24.) Martha Brill Olcott, Central Asia’s New States: Foreign Policy and Regional Security (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 1996).

(25.) For example, Robert C. Rickards, “Business, Bureaucrats, and the EU in Turkmenistan,” in Asian Economic and Political Issues, ed. Frank Columbus (Commack, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, 1999), II, 212.

(26.) Martha Brill Olcott, Anders Aslund, and Sherman W. Garnett, Getting It Wrong: Regional Cooperation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999).

(27.) See the essays in Robert Ebel and Rajan Menon, eds., Energy and Conflict in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999).

(28.) Mohammad Ayoob, “From Regional System to Regional Society: Exploring Key Variables in the Construction of Regional Order,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 53, no. 3 (1999): 247-60; Idem., “Inequality and Theorizing in International Relations: The Case for Subaltern Realism,” International Studies Review 4, no. 3 (2002): 127-48, and the works cited therein.

(29.) Bjorn Moeller’s quote is located in Mikhail Alekseev, Regionalism of Russia’s Foreign Policy in the 1990s: A Case of “Reversed Anarchy,” Donald W. Treadgold Papers, University of Washington, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, no. 37 (2003): 12.

(30.) See Faruqui, 2003; Blank, 2003.

(31.) Alekseev, passim.

(32.) Ibid.

(33.) James N. Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier, Governance in a Turbulent World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); and Idem., Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990).

(34.) Alekseev, 12-19.

(35.) Bruce Pannier, “State Department Sees Little Improvement in Rights Situation,” 5 April 2003; Ibragim Alibekov, “Nazarbayev Embraces Reform, Seeks to Undermine Support for Political Opposition in Kazakstan,” 15 April 2003.

(36.) Roger W. Barnett, Extraordinary Power Projection: An Operational Concept for the U.S. Navy, Strategic Research Development Report 5-96, U.S. Naval War College, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Occasional Papers, Newport, R.I., 1996, 7-8.

(37.) “Membership Action Plan (MAP),” Press Release NAC-S (99) 66, 24 April 1999, . See also Ambassador Klaus-Peter Kleiber, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, “The Membership Action Plan: Keeping NATO’s Door Open,” NATO Review Web Edition 47, no. 2 (summer 1999) .

(38.) Speech by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Beth Jones, “U.S. Engagement in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Staying Our Course Along the Silk Road,” University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 10 April 2003, U.S. Department of State Washington File.

(39.) General (Ret.) Sir Garry Johnson, “Security Cooperation in Central Asia Post-11 September,” Central Asia and the Post-Conflict Stabilization of Afghanistan (London: International Institute for Security Studies, 2002): 19.

(40.) S. Frederick Starr, “Russia and the Neighboring Countries,” Presentation to the Kennan Roundtable at The Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C., 24 January 2001.

(41.) Ravshan M. Alimov, “Central Asian Security and Geopolitical Interests,” Marco Polo Magazine no. 1 (2003): 3-9.

(42.) Speech by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Beth Jones, “U.S. Engagement in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Staying Our Course Along the Silk Road,” University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 10 April 2003, U.S. Department of State Washington File.

(43.) Richard Pipes, Property and Freedom (New York: Random House, 2000).

(44.) John Hewko, Foreign Direct Investment: Does the Rule of Law Matter? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Democracy and Rule of Law Project Working Paper no. 26, 2002).

(45.) Merle Goldman, Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China: Political Reform in the Deng Xiao ping Era (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994); Kenneth Lieberthal, Governing China: From Revolution Through Reform (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995).

(46.) Barbara Harff, “No Lessons Learned From the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder Since 1955,” American Political Science Review 93, no. 1 (February 2003): 65.

(47.) G. John Ikenberry and Jitsuo Tsuchiyama, “Between Balance of Power and Community: The Future of Multilateral Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific,” International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 2, no. 1 (2002): 77-78.

(48.) Ibid., 78.

(49.) Ibid., 79.

(50.) James Fearon and David Laitin, “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War” American Political Science Review 93, no. 1 (February 2003): 88.

(51.) James N. Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Governance in a Turbulent World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); and Idem., Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990).

(52.) “Putin Speaks Out Against ‘Exporting Capitalist Democracy,'” ITAR-TASS News Agency, 11 April 2003, retrieved from Lexis-Nexis.

(53.) Torbakov, Ops. Cits.

Stephen Blank is a professor of national security affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute, at the U.S. Army War College. This is a revised and expanded version of a paper presented at a conference sponsored by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, Istanbul, 1-3 June 2003.

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