Goldman, Minton F.: Rivalry in Eurasia: Russia, the United States and the War on Terror

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Goldman, Minton F. Rivalry in Eurasia: Russia, the United States and the War on Terror. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009, 261 pp.

Rivalry in Eurasia examines and elucidates the delicate state of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. From America's war on terror to which Russia became a proactive partner of the United States, this complex bilateral relationship unfolded in Russia's 'backyard' in five Central Asian Republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with far reaching consequences.

In Chapter One, Minton Goldman provides a succinct analysis of U.S. policy in the aftermath of 9/11 and how the Bush administration was bent on promoting democratization, production and marketing of oil, as well as in restraining Russia's political, military and economic clout in the ex-Soviet Central Asian Republics. Although these Republics pledged support to US in its broader goals on defeating and dismantling terrorism, on the issue of democratization, the U.S. policy suffered a setback as the Central Asian leaders for the most part were authoritarian. Goldman, however, has not sufficiently explained as to why the drive towards democratization did not take firm roots in the region and whether there were any systemic causes underneath that inhibited the growth of democratization.

Chapter Two deals with the internal dynamics of Kazakhstan and how the country has made a delicate balancing act between Russia and the United States. Kazakhstan has geo-strategic significance as it bordered Russia, China and the Caspian Sea as well as other Central Asian Republics. In addition, Kazakhstan is endowed with enormous energy and other natural resources including gold, silver, zinc, coal, and iron ore. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in power since the 1980-made strategic partnership with Russia by becoming the first non-Slavic republics to seek membership in the entente of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, a brain child of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1991. At the same time, Nazarbayev diversified Kazakhstan's range of choices when he requested and was granted by President Bill Clinton to triple American aid to Kazakhstan from USD$91 million in 1994 to USD$311 million in 1995. In the period following 9/11, Kazakhstan even drew closer to the United States and offered tangible support to US war on terror that included the use of Kazakhstan territory for the refueling of American aircraft going to and from Afghanistan. As part of 'strategic partnership' with US, Kazakhstan expressed support for the U.S. policy in Iraq and the U.S.-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan(BTC) oil pipeline project.

Chapter Three provides an overview of Turkmenistan and its range of foreign policy choices. Whereas Russia's interests in Turkmenistan's were primarily commercial in nature and were deeply rooted in history, geography and culture, US interests were basically strategic. Turkmenistan's policy of 'positive neutrality' suited US policy makers as the latter could count on increasing military relations between US and Turkmenistan in areas such as counter terrorism, drug trafficking and enhanced border security. …