Russia and China are America's traditional enemies

Central Asia

Mehdi P. Amineh

To person

Dr. phil., born 1961; Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Energy Program Asia (EPA) at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden University, The Netherlands.
Email: [email protected]

This article describes the rival power projections of the three main oil-importing actors in Central Asia since 1991.


The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the globalization process and developments in information and communication technology have all contributed to a redefinition of the concept of "geopolitics". The fall of the Soviet Union not only created eight independent states in Central Asia; At the same time, an entire concept of world order about the geopolitical understanding of identity in political space has fallen apart. In contrast to the traditional concept of geopolitics - the so-called realistic school of international relations - which sees the state as an essential actor in an anarchic world order, the school of "critical geopolitics" or "neo-geopolitics" [1] rejects any state-centric analysis . In the neo-geopolitical understanding, non-state actors such as multinational companies, terrorist groups, governmental and non-governmental organizations are just as much a part of the concept of geopolitics as states.

An important part of current international politics is the competition between states and multinational corporations for oil and gas reserves in the world. The survival of a country and its society, economic dynamism and technological innovation today depend on the energy resources of crude oil and natural gas and no longer on a large military apparatus. Access to the oil and gas reserves of a country or region has thus become an essential factor in the power projection of states. [2]

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, a unipolar military power structure has emerged worldwide. It consists of the three core economic regions of North America, Western Europe, and East and Southeast Asia. Before that there was only one economic core area, consisting of the Atlantic Alliance together with Japan and including Taiwan and South Korea in East Asia. The economic growth of these two outlying areas of Eurasia was promoted by the Atlantic Alliance and should benefit the security of the western world. A change has obviously taken place here. Since the emergence of China - after the United States the world's second largest oil consumer with rapid industrial development and the striving for regionalization in East Asia as well - economic growth and security no longer go hand in hand. For the administration of US President George W. Bush, the structural change in the earlier state order and the associated changes in the world economy form the political framework for his power projection on the "Greater Middle East" region. The United States has set itself the goal of democratizing this region, even with violence if necessary. It is already subject to de facto US authority.

The politics of power projection includes dimensions of control beyond the state borders of industrialized and industrializing societies and is the decisive force in the transition process of a world in which individual societies are growing together into a single world community of global capitalism. The goals of the power projectors are determined by the space and time of the power projection, the resources allocated to them and the target country or region which the power projector wants to bring under its control.

Post-Soviet Central Asia is one such target region. [3] Since the end of the Cold War, its position in the world order has changed, as have the socio-economic and ideological forces that invade the region from outside. In Central Asia, the rival power projections of the United States, the EU, China and also Russia, Iran and Japan collide. When considering political and economic considerations for Central Asia, American, European and Chinese politicians must ensure that the long-term goals in foreign and security policy (public space) and short-term (commercial) interests in private space are compatible with one another in their own country. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the raison d'ĂȘtre seems not only to be commercialized in times of peace as well as in times of war, but above all to privatize.