After Empire: The Emerging Geopolitics of Central Asia

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Jed C. Snyder
The Minerva Group, Inc., 2002 - History - 264 pages
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When the Soviet Union collapsed, fifteen sovereign states suddenly appeared on the geopolitical landscape. None were less prepared for independence than the five republics of Central Asia. The peoples of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan had existed for seven decades in a semi-feudal state of suspension. The region, so dependent upon Soviet largesse that its rich cultural history was nearly smothered, had been the object of imperial competition for centuries - Soviet domination being merely the latest. This book incorporates research papers and discussions originally presented at a conference of leading scholars from the United States, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East who gathered to examine the regions political, economic, social, and security evolution since 1989. As the papers illustrate, the Wests image of Central Asia as a homogeneous belt of Islamic countries with uniform views of the regions future orientation is false. The papers also illustrate that hyperbolic prognoses of an "Islamic implosion" threatening to embroil the region in violent insurrections, possibly spreading throughout the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, are false as well. They have simply not materialized. Islam, in fact, has yet to emerge as a potent political force in Central Asia. This region is now lifting itself from economic obscurity and political isolation. Although distinct national identities are only in formative stages today, each of the five Central Asian states is likely to move in an individual direction, motivated by distinct national interests. The key issue is the extent of Russias influence in Central Asia and its long-term implications for the regions security. After Empire makes an important contribution to the better understanding of this very complex, indeed mysterious, region.

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