U.S. Military Engagement with Transcaucasia and Central Asia

  • June 01, 2000
  • Dr Stephen J Blank

The Clinton administration has proclaimed a strategy to engage and enlarge the democratic community of states. By virtue of their strategic location adjacent to Russia, the Middle East, and Europe s periphery, and their large-scale oil and natural gas deposits, Transcaucasia and Central Asia have become important testing grounds of this strategy. The U.S. goal of irrevocably integrating these states into the Western state system economically, politically, and militarily has made them an intensifying focus of international rivalry with Russia. Moscow still perceives these areas as part of its sphere of interest and deeply resents U.S. engagement there. Furthermore, Moscow's current war with the breakaway province of Chechnya demonstrates its willingness to contest expanding U.S. interests forcefully. Moreover, in this region many factors exist that could cause other conflicts. Accordingly, it is a sensitive place to test the strategic rationale of the engagement strategy and its military corollary, a strategy whose goal is to shape the emerging environment in directions that we wish to see. This monograph contributes to the debate that has just begun and which undoubtedly will last for a long time over what our strategy for the new states should be and how it should be carried out.