At the turn of the 21st century, Central Asia – especially Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan which are rich in oil and gas – has emerged as a new center of energy reserves. To compete for access to these resources in a pragmatic manner, the major powers also found it increasingly necessary to rationalize their ambitions qualitatively, if not necessarily ideologically. So the United States designed the platform of liberal democracy and “human rights above sovereignty,” Russia proffered its own idea of “sovereign democracy” to the Central Asians, and China posed as a non-interventionist “responsible state.” However, as this article will demonstrate, the effort and mode employed by the three powers to advance such qualities in the region vary, with Washington’s effort relatively greater and Moscow’s effort least. More importantly, these qualities, even if value-loaded, generally remain subservient to interests, with Moscow’s adherence to mere interest encroachment most obvious among all. This paper uses primary sources in these nations, and secondary accounts of their rivals, to re-map what it calls “qualitative energy diplomacy” (hereafter QED) in an attempt to assess the progress the three powers have made. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part reviews how this new international relations school of QED has evolved from the original realist-driven antecedent. The second part, the main section, describes the tactics of QED of the three powers. The contrasting “combine-and-rule” and “divide-and-rule” approaches of QED in Central Asia are discussed in the conclusion as an explanation of the current stalemate. Copyright © 2011 The Brookings Institution.
|Publication status||Published - 2011|