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Managing Editor Jonathan Tepperman interviews author Alexander Cooley on the geopolitical role of Central Asia, and how outside powers--Russia, China, and the United States--are competing for influence in the region, as the British and Russian empires did a century ago.
Cooley brings firsthand research and a detached, sensible eye to a complex, fast-moving subject. In brisk steps, he demonstrates that the “game” today is not the same one played by the great powers in the nineteenth century.
Recently, China, Russia, and the United States have started to compete for influence in Central Asia. Unlike Afghanistan in the last Great Game, however, the governments there are strong enough to use the clash to their advantage. The Central Asian case is not a throwback to the past but a guide to what is to come: the rise of new players and the decline of Western influence in a multipolar world.
For years, Pentagon officials took comfort in the relative stability of Bahrain, which serves as a major base for the U.S. military. But the protests in the country have raised concerns that it will evict U.S. forces -- part of a broader pattern that is jeopardizing U.S. basing agreements around the world.
This article appears in the Foreign Affairs/CFR eBook, The New Arab Revolt.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not the powerful anti-Western bloc it appeared to be a few years ago. The organization should deliver some tangible accomplishments before the West rushes to condemn or cooperate with it.
As the Pentagon prepares to redeploy U.S. forces around the world, it should review its practice of setting up bases in nondemocratic states. Although defense officials claim that having U.S. footholds in repressive countries offers important strategic advantages, the practice rarely helps promote liberalization in host states and sometimes even endangers U.S. security.