Economic Dimensions of Security in Central Asia
Dec 13, 2006
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The September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States led U.S. policymakers to realize that instability, failed and failing states, and economic and political underdevelopment present security concerns not just in the states that suffer directly from these problems but in the global community as a whole. From this perspective, political, social, and economic trends in Central Asia—comprising Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—merit attention. The prospects for long-term economic growth and stability in the region remain uncertain and will depend on Central Asia's approach to balancing internal security challenges with political and economic liberalization. Despite strong economic growth rates in recent years, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with economic policies and corruption, growth of organized crime networks, and deteriorating social conditions that pose major challenges to the regimes in the region. These factors could potentially foster regional instability and conflict, with implications for U.S. security goals such as counterterrorism and counternarcotics.
A study of economic and security trends in Central Asia by RAND Project AIR FORCE suggests that the United States should balance its strategic military relationships in the region with the potentially disparate goal of fostering domestic reform and sustainable economic development. As the United States clarifies its long-term military relationships and commitments, it should take several key issues into account:
The United States has limited ability or interest in becoming a regime patron in Central Asia, but it may play a significant role in shaping the prospects for development by influencing the nature and pace of political and economic reform.
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