Foreign Policy Concepts Editorial
U.S strategic interests in Central Asia started to take shape under President Bill Clinton. America started to build diplomatic presence in then newly independent states of Central Asia. Washington established relations with the region’s young states and helped them with strengthening their governance. It offered them security assistance and helped them establish functioning counter-narcotic agencies, and encouraged them to recognize human rights. These American initiatives took place while Russia was immersed in post-Soviet chaos of the time with its economy on downward spiral. The U.S even enjoyed logistical and military cooperation from the regional states in its war against the Taliban in the wake of 9/11 attacks.
What happened since then has been far from what the U.S had hoped for. The regional states have made little progress in embracing democratic values, opening their societies and political systems, building competitive markets, and in recognizing respect for human rights.
Under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, American diplomacy and trade in Central Asia has been in continuous retreat. The region’s economy is now intimately woven with those of China and Russia. China has turned Central Asia into the key and most strategic node in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). So far, the Trump administration has made no policy announcement or plans regarding U.S policy in Central Asia. In fact, no one should expect any such announcements from Trump.