In This Review

Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development
Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development
By Marlaene Laruelle, Sebastien Peyrouse
M.E. Sharpe, 2012, 288 pp

Although Central Asia has faded from public view as the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan staggers to an end, the region remains important. It is the unsettled hinterland of both East Asia and South Asia, as well as Russia’s critical southern flank. Laruelle and Peyrouse do the region justice with this perceptive and informed survey of the approach of outside powers to it, while factoring in what the Central Asian states themselves have going for and against them in this complex whirl of relations. By focusing on the challenges that globalization presents for all the countries that have a stake in Central Asia, they rescue the region from the simple parallels many reach for -- such as today’s supposed reprise of the nineteenth-century Great Game between Russia and the United Kingdom, this time between Russia and the United States. They instead highlight the more complicated “little games” played by a multitude of actors -- not just the Americans, the Chinese, and the Russians but also the European Union, India, Pakistan, Iran, and the Arab states of the Middle East -- and explore the equally complex interplay among the five Central Asian countries themselves. If strategic calculations still influence the players, they argue, they are now overshadowed by economic objectives and the new century’s nebulous but menacing security threats.