Great Game Geostrategy in Central AsiaMay 7, 2012
This month’s National Interest includes a short essay on what authors Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Peterson call the “three rival strategies” in Central Asia of competing great powers China, Russia and the United States. There is actually just one strategy – economic development – but the three nations are pursuing different visions from different bases of power with competing goals. It is an interesting essay, but we cannot overlook the military aspect of the contemporary Great Game and the ongoing process of the three powers to create more robust regional alliances that extend into the military realm. At the end of the day, the prize in this version of the Great Game is the same as in the original 19th century formulation: India. India is the key to the future of Central and South Asia (and possibly the world), and all three powers are circling. India has a decades old relationship with Russia, it shares a common heritage with the United States, and has a history of conflict with China. I would expect India to avoid a too-close entanglement with any of the three but to continue to foster better relations with Russia and the US to maintain alliance options as China continues to rise.