U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Journal of Eurasian Studies 3 (2012) 147–160; doi:10.1016/j.euras.2012.03.005


This paper represents an assessment of the present great game or new great game in Central Asia among the major external and internal political actors three. It finds that the game is probably intensifying and at the same time serves the purposes of Central Asian governments in helping them preserve domestic security. Thus the foreign rivalry serves multiple and paradoxical purposes. On the one hand states like Russia and China pursue great power aggrandizement and even neo-imperial policies there and on the other hand Central Asian states attach themselves to these countries in the hope of obtaining resources form them with which to augment their independence. At the same time as the United States announces its impending withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is already evident that the rivalry among the other major actors is heating up. Moscow is pursuing military bases the right to intervene in the domestic affairs of members of the CSTO and its customs union and China is strengthening its commercial primacy in the area. And while all this is occurring simultaneously we see concern over succession issues in several states, the possibility of something resembling the Arab spring occurring, an outcome that greatly alarms Russian, Chinese, and local leaders, and of course, the uncertain prognosis in Afghanistan. Thus the international competition within and around Central Asia is likely to intensify.