WAR ON TERROR AND THE SECURITY DILEMMA
Farkhod Tolipov, Ph.D. (Political Science), assistant professor, University of World Economy and Diplomacy (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
The war on terror that is unfolding before our eyes has brought to light old sores of world security and international relations, created an unprecedented opportunity to treat the problems of a new world order in a fundamentally new way, and, to a certain extent, has been guiding the entities of world politics.
One has to admit that antiterrorist struggle has been going on for many decades if not centuries. Yet after 11 September, 2001 terrorism ceased to be an object of military, special, organizational, and technical antiterrorist measures. It became a phenomenon.
Indeed, so far the world community has been fighting manifestations of terrorism rather than its ideological and other causes. Some people are convinced that terrorism is a result of the developing countries’ appalling backwardness, others believe that it is an Islamic attribute, still others take it for the beginning of the clash of civilizations. There is also an opinion that it is nothing more than a result of psychological instability of individuals or of fanaticism of religious sects (which are more or less the same), the form and method of liberation struggle, etc. We need a consistent approach to the phenomenon—otherwise we shall be doomed to disjointed, mainly military actions. This will make the expected world order rather shaky.
Socio-psychological, Moral-political, and Information Factors
The hornets’ nest of international terrorism in Afghanistan was destroyed yet the threat of terrorism has not been removed. Social, political and military instability in Afghanistan heated by the “traditional” strife of all sorts of ethnic, confessional and religious groups (that seemed to close ranks under the anti-Taliban banner) flared up. They plunged into power struggle as if ignorant of the presence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that under the U.N. aegis is trying to unite the country and bring peace to it.
It seems that varied political, extremist, and criminal forces are trying to set public opinion of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Arab and other countries with a pronounced factor of Islamic extremism against the U.S. They not only wish, but also can do this. They are out to turn the tide of local long-suffering people’s fatigue with war against the United States and the antiterrorist operation. In this context the assets of antiterrorist struggle are turned into liabilities. In other words, those who supported the United States and the antiterrorist coalition have become their enemies. The war on terror in Afghanistan claimed civilian lives and this set against the U.S. even those who had been looking forward to the long-awaited peace and order.
Can we speak of a situation when terror is created by antiterrorist efforts? Fear and horror caused by the antiterrorist operation or by terror causes identical social and psychological state. One should ask whether the terrorists themselves want the war to go on as long as possible so that to stir up dissatisfaction and even indignation among the local people and complicate the conditions in which the international coalition has to act?
The Afghan phase of the worldwide war on terror has moral and political aspects as well. The need to fight terrorism rules out the question of the price the countries have to pay. Indeed, can one regard as moral the bargaining caused by the geopolitical, strategic, and civilizational factors and the desire to reap dividends created by this or that country’s participation in or support for the coalition or its involvement, in various forms, in the war? The bargaining found its way in official statements, analytical materials, publications in the media and their discussions of the same theses: one should not forget the lessons of the Soviet-Afghan war; “another Vietnam” cannot be ruled out; Russia will never approve of permanent American bases in Central Asia; the results of victory over the Taliban should be justly divided between Russia, the United States, and the Northern Alliance; the Russian political establishment is displeased with the fact that Russia failed to get any strategic and economic dividends out of its support for the U.S.-led antiterrorist action; the U.S. military bases should remain on the territory of Tajikistan only during the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan… If they remain there longer we shall stop being friends, etc.
Any expectation of definite economic and political remuneration for cooperation with the U.S. in the war on terror is another distortion of the meaning of this struggle. It was rightly said that there is a prospect of an antiterrorist coalition in which the United States would play the leading role while the majority of its partners would expect certain advantages.
The moral and political gap between the universal value of antiterrorism and the archaic geopolitical egotism created a dilemma of sorts: either we should specify the meaning of terrorism and antiterrorism or revise the rules and principles of geopolitics. It seems that we should do both. On the other hand, geopolitics and the resultant bargaining over an involvement of certain countries in the international coalition called for information campaign—this is testified by the theses quoted above that are elements of information struggle.
International Legal and Political Aspects
The lessons of Afghanistan and the current worldwide antiterrorist efforts have posed new political and legal questions to mankind.
I am convinced that the main conclusion about Afghanistan becoming a terrorist paradise and a source of global threat to the world’s security is the following: it lost all attributes of statehood and social-political system and fell victim to geopolitical competition between the global and regional powers in South Asia. In fact, this is the lot of any buffer state. The rule of “pax talibanica” in Afghanistan (the first signs of which also appeared in certain places in Pakistan’s North Western Frontier Province) proved to be fertile soil of terrorism as an ideology and a guide to action.
All similar operations in future, if they take place, will make use of stage airfields, air space some states will be prepared to open for military aircrafts of other states, and of military presence of members of an antiterrorist coalition on the territory of other members. In these conditions people prepared to shoulder responsibility for the military phase of an antiterrorist operation will be needed as well as rank-and-file participants carrying out their own, not necessarily military, missions. In each case such operations will be conducted on specific territories with geopolitical and military-strategic values of their own. This means that the states involved in antiterrorist operations of the future will have to choose between possible repercussions of such operations for themselves and for their international role within much wider frame than the antiterrorist struggle itself.
This brings us to the need to restructure the international system so that it would ensure a correlation (if not harmonization) between the interests of antiterrorist struggle and the need to set up a stable world order that will take care of the states’ national interests. It is easier said than done because there is no commonly accepted definition of terrorism and because of the specifics of antiterrorist struggle itself.
The coming battle with terrorism would be “a war of will and mind.” This was how national security advisor Condoleezza Rice described the future operation. She pointed out that the war would have many fronts: information and financial, military and others. Speaking about the need to pool the world community’s efforts to carry out struggle she said that different countries would have different roles to play. This war, she said, would go through several phases and continue for a long time. It would involve many countries, the contribution of some of them would never be disclosed yet their role might prove to be pivotal.1 Probably, these are the elements of the budding new world order, which is a result of a systemic restructuring of international relations on the basis of a new paradigm of international security and new conceptions of national security of the states that cooperate in this struggle.
The formula offered by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attracts special attention in the context of international-legal and political aspects. Speaking at a news briefing in Brussels after meeting with NATO defense ministers he emphasized: “You have no choice but to take the battle to the terrorists, wherever they may be” far outside the national borders.2 This poses several questions: first, can all states threatened with terrorism guide themselves by this formula or was it coined for an exclusive use of certain states (something like an antiterrorist “Pax Americana”)? Second, how will military interference far outside the national borders be made legal, that is, will international and political legitimacy be sought at all? Third, who will determine the nature of struggle in each specific case, and how? In fact, so far terrorism has not even received a commonly accepted definition?
In this connection mention should be made of the world community’s attitude to the Iraqi WMD programs and a possible spread of the antiterrorist operation to Iraq. The approaches that the powers possessing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction exercise in case of Iraq may prove inadequate or, rather, conceptually deficient. There is a problem of the sovereignty of Iraq (irrespective of whether Saddam Hussein is an undesirable personality or not) and of other countries wishing to acquire or produce WMD because legally these countries are equal to nuclear powers. The latter had to prevent India and Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons. Long before May 1998 they had to treat both as they are now treating Iraq (sanctions included). If the United States manages to remove Saddam Hussein can one treat a “new” Iraq in the same way as India and Pakistan? In other words, will Baghdad acquire the right to work on weapons of mass destruction—for self-defense?
The International Institute for Strategic Studies came to an interesting and a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: “…as the counter-terrorism effort becomes routinized, and if it is successful enough to forestall large-scale attacks in the short term, the Bush administration’s focus on state actors (that support terrorism.—F.T.) and WMD could have a more dynamic and potentially revolutionary effect on international relations than counter-terrorism itself. Regime-change in Iraq, for instance, could change the alignment of strategic relationships in the Middle East and the Gulf; the defeat of al-Qa‘eda would not. Furthermore, the WMD threat could re-invigorate the military utility of nuclear weapons by promoting the development of a new generation of less destructive ones.”3 There are at least two paradoxes: first, “routinization” of the antiterrorist operation gives ground to switch over to a more important problem—Iraq, since the Iraqi problem resolves the question of the alignment of forces in the region. Second, the problem of WMD liquidation will be resolved with the help of “less destructive” WMD.
There is certain logic in this yet it is of a straightforward rather than dialectical nature. It should be said that the problem of terrorism cannot be detached from the WMD problem because al-Qa‘eda and other international terrorist organizations may use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In addition, so far success of the antiterrorist operation is not obvious. The operation itself may feel a powerful pressure of the resumed geopolitical game, on the one hand, and domestic strife in Afghanistan, on the other. In fact, this was the main reason why Afghanistan became a refuge of international terrorists in the first place. One finds it hard to agree that the defeat of al-Qa‘eda will not affect “the alignment of strategic relationships in the Middle East and the Gulf.” In his time President Carter declared these regions to be a sphere of U.S. vital interests precisely because the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan. (It is common knowledge that it was Washington’s desire to stop Moscow in this country that urged the United States to support the so-called Afghan mujahedin movement that later developed into the Taliban.)
As for using WMD against WMD it reminds of a Russian proverb “Fight fire with fire.” No matter how “less destructive” are nuclear weapons they will remain weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise we should specify what we mean by WMD.
I say this not because I want to justify or accuse Iraq. I offer a critical assessment of the existing international legal and, more so, political non-proliferation mechanisms. The problem has become even more urgent after 11 September, 2001. Another round of its actualization reflects the deep-rooted or even philosophical aspects of antiterrorist struggle.
The same can be said about the new political Middle East crisis: the right of Palestine to become an independent sovereign state, on the one hand, and the right of Israel to fight terrorism, on the other, disclose something more than a mere contradiction in defining sovereignty and terrorism. There is a much more important and so far unresolved contradiction between the Arabs and Jews, Islam and Judaism.
Finally, a new flare-up in Kashmir confirms the above that can be summed up as the civilizational dimension of terrorism and antiterrorism.
The Security Dilemma
On 1 March, 2002, at the Almaty CIS summit President Putin clarified the Kremlin’s stand on the problem of American advisors expected to arm and train the Georgian antiterrorist units: “Each state has the right to protect its security as it deems necessary.” The absolutely just and diplomatically correct statement contains a certain paradox connected with the so-called security dilemma manifested in this particular case in the following.
If antiterrorist struggle is one of the directions of the security policy the states should coordinate their actions on the regional and international, as well as on the national, level. This is what the principle of undivided security is about. The states’ “sovereign” actions to strengthen their national security in the context of antiterrorist struggle (that is international by its nature and scope) directly or indirectly bring in geopolitical elements—something that plays into the hands of terrorists. Central Asian experience confirms this: the terrorist attacks of 1999-2000 urged the republics to strengthen their state borders that raised numerous questions about historical justice and pseudo-historical speculations. Their nationalist fervor did not strengthen the nations’ authority—it subjected them to another moral and political test created by a mainly unfounded idea of revising the existing frontiers. This nationalistic side-effect has forced the Central Asian governments to strengthen national security, on the one hand, and has encouraged those wishing to exploit the border issue to promote their terrorist and other criminal or political aims, on the other. This brings us face to face with the security dilemma that, in this case, is transformed into the dilemma of nationalism vs. democracy: when realized the democratic national idea is inevitably accompanied by the far from democratic national security policy.
The thesis of the right of any state to independently build up its security policy is paradoxical for the following reasons: it obscures the fact that this policy proceeds, first and foremost, from strategic assessments of the military-political situation taking shape around the state. Without such assessments any efforts of state “A” to create a security system may cause reciprocal actions of one or more neighbors “B” designed (besides other things) to contain or compensate for possible advantages gained by “A” through its unilateral steps as “A” “deems it necessary.” As a result “A” might be confronted with less rather than more security. This is political realism turned upside down: the egotistically interpreted national interests create a hypertrophied national security strategy and tip the balance of forces in the international security system.
What is more the situation when national and international security principles clash is worsened by the current maneuvering of those who signed the antiterrorist “contract social.” No wonder there are analysts who believe that the “military threats India addressed to Pakistan after the terrorist attack of its parliament in December 2001 were intended as a demonstration of force and a test of Washington’s preferences: Which of the sides was closer to its heart.”4 One of the Russian politicians has said: “By being present in Afghanistan and the neighboring states the United States has shouldered total political responsibility for the continued existence of the local stable and predictable regimes and for a political settlement of contradictions that exist between two nuclear countries—India and Pakistan. It is also its responsibility to wipe away the threat of aggressive Islamic radicalism and to stem the traffic of bandits and drugs to Russia. This is in our interests as well.”5 One would like to believe in this because the entire world community, and Afghanistan’s neighbors in the first place, need this. Yet one can detect the desire of certain Russian (and probably not only Russian) politicians to extract all possible dividends out of the American military presence in Central Asia: hardly welcome within the framework of traditional geopolitics this presence has become obvious and inevitable.
The United States cannot and should not shoulder all political responsibility for the antiterrorist operation. The moral-political and the strategic aspects of war on terror demand that other coalition members should also shoulder part of responsibility. Otherwise, it will look as if the United States is fighting terrorism in Afghanistan single-handedly while other states are helping it for selfish and mercenary considerations.
In this way the euphoria of struggle against international terrorism developed into geopolitical maneuvering and created a contradiction between national and international security. This is a serious problem because the main ideologists and propagandists of Islamic extremism are found outside Afghanistan. In Pakistan alone there are over one thousand religious-military schools (madrasahs) that offer courses to young men between 13 and 17 who are trained to be “the genuine fighters of Islam.” The graduates joined the Taliban; they served as instructors and mercenaries in Tajikistan, Algeria, Chechnia, and other hot spots.
One is inclined to think that al-Qa‘eda, one of the largest terrorist organizations, will be hardly destroyed even if its leader Osama bin Laden is killed. Experts believe that it has clandestine supporters in more than 100 countries across the world, in the West in particular. Its strategic aims will hardly change—it seems that the tactics will be radically revised. Probably today al-Qa‘eda is secretly regrouping its forces, means and finances, is analyzing all possible developments, and is looking for potential allies in its open struggle against the United States.
Early in the 21st century the world community has found itself face to face with the now dispersed threats to international security, a side effect of globalization. Terrorist illegal armed formations and organizations can ready themselves to action, gather together, disperse and gather again. Their small military force, as compared to that of the states, will not prevent them from dealing asymmetric blows. In high demand across the world they are open to offers to wage “contract wars.”
The U.S. president promised military help to any country in which terrorists would try to find shelter or which they would threaten. This was an adequate statement yet it smacks of a worldwide police action, which brings to mind the old (yet not outdated) conception of American strategists and missionaries: the United States should play the role of a worldwide gendarme. Translated into the parlance of antiterrorist struggle this means that Washington will hasten with military help “on order” to stand opposed to those who are waging “contract wars.”
Different countries treat differently this state of affairs since the geopolitical factors continue to play its role in the international context. At the same time, one finds it hard to imagine all possible developments had not the United States extended help to these countries in their antiterrorist efforts, and in strengthening national and regional security.
Fight Against Terror Is a Fight for Afghanistan
The breeding ground of terror in Afghanistan has not yet been destroyed—to achieve this the country needs state institutions. On the whole, the question of who will win in the fight against terrorism can be reduced to the problem (obvious and conceptually simple, though very hard to translate into practice) of control over territory, the state and other forces. In other words, this is a problem of national and state development: even during their last days in power the Taliban exploited nationalist rhetoric and called on the Afghans to close ranks in the fight against the “American aggressors” deliberately ignoring the fact that there were foreign mercenaries in their own ranks.
In view of certain specifics of the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan zone the Afghan phase of the antiterrorist campaign should end in the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan. For the following five reasons not only the United States but also the world community as a whole should pose itself a strategic task of removing the Taliban and al-Qa‘eda from the scene.
First, if they failed the extremist forces that supported the Taliban would have triumphed and pushed the Taliban to even more radical actions, thus creating a permanent threat to international security. Second, if the Taliban and the terrorist network survived this would have meant that the United States was not striving toward “Enduring Freedom” but rather to a punishment much more limited in scope than the terrorist attacks at New York and Washington (which would have raised doubts about Washington’s true designs). Third, the very fact of increased activity of radical Islamic groups all over the world that publicly announced that they supported Afghanistan proved that the network of international terrorism and extremism had already covered the globe. Therefore, removal of the Taliban and al-Qa‘eda spells a victory and creates a no mean potential of the global antiterrorist movement now taking shape. This will also undermine, to a great extent, the ideological basis of extremism and terrorism. (This means that rhetoric about a worldwide offensive on terrorism should be supplied with tangible results—otherwise the world community will suffer a crippling blow at its image.) Fourth, recently the media all over the world, analysts and the Taliban have been talking about the Afghans’ invincibility. They relied on the experience of the past wars against Great Britain and the Soviet Union that was hardly correct—this is nothing more than a trick used in the information war to create an impression that the retaliation action is not winnable. (From this it follows that the antiterrorist operation should avoid political and historical traps but should guide itself by an adequate assessment of the degree and nature of the threats to international security.) Fifth, if a prolonged land operation never happened (or discontinued if unfolded)—and this was discussed—the country might have turned into the terrorists’ “promised land” out of reach of the world community and international law. In this case, the world would have been left with the only option: a “buffer zone” around the country. There would have been no possibility of uprooting the sources of threat inside the country.
American researcher Elie Krakowski was quite right when he said that Afghanistan needed an alternative to the Taliban: “The Afghans have increasingly come to resent and hate bin Laden, his Arab cohorts and the many Pakistani fighters who have been colonizing their country. Given an alternative, they will enthusiastically help to eliminate their presence.”6 He is convinced that the United States should adopt an all-embracing strategy to achieve a consensus among the neighbors of Afghanistan: “The key to the Afghan problem is to be found not within Afghanistan but in the countries surrounding it… While it is true that the Afghans are fiercely independent and have stood up to mighty conquerors, it is also true that it is the neighboring states that have fanned and maintained ongoing warfare for now more than twenty years. It is also this external intervention and the chaos it has engendered that has allowed the country’s gradual hijacking by an international terrorist network.”7 He continued: “the whole tenor of U.S. strategy” should be shifted “from revenge and retaliation to a more positive grounding that simultaneously conveys the longer-term U.S. commitment to stay the course and ensure a comprehensive Afghan settlement.”8 In June 2002, Loya Jirga gathered to elect an interim cabinet for the next 18 months. It took place in a complex and contradictory military-political situation, the military phase of the antiterrorist operation not yet over. The cabinet was “elected” yet political tension remained. The ISAF remained in the capital despite numerous calls from President Karzai to extend their zone to ensure more stable peace in the country. Strangely enough Washington is not prepared to do that. Meanwhile information coming from Afghanistan confirms that ethnic and religious confrontation will continue while the terrorist threat has not yet been uprooted.
Should this be interpreted as a need to revise the principles and approaches to the settlement in Afghanistan? Should the world community plan an international protectorate over the country or even an occupation regime of sorts? This should be discussed otherwise the active start of the war on terror in Afghanistan might develop into a half-hearted campaign and end in palliatives. Talking about “the key to the Afghan problem” that “is to be found not within Afghanistan but in the countries surrounding it” one is tempted to say: “Fight fire with fire.” By this I mean that the centuries-old opposition of geopolitical forces in this country can be removed with permanent (long-term) and wide-scale presence of international peacekeeping forces.
Today the fight against terrorism is a fight for Afghanistan. The world community alone can save the nation and the country from foreign states’ destructive influence. Before moving on to other antiterrorist operations it is desirable to successfully complete the operation in Afghanistan while demonstrating high efficiency of the use of assets, forces and methods, and to obtain their approval and support of the majority of countries. Afghanistan is the sick man of the world—its treatment and recovery will affect the way similar sicknesses will be treated in other parts of the globe.
Strategy of Antiterrorist Struggle
The antiterrorist coalition acting in Afghanistan may become an example for all states dedicated to the ideas of peace and stability if it proves that its military and other actions make the world safer. This means that the countries should reach a genuinely high level of trust among themselves and share a common idea of the degree and nature of the global terrorist threat so that the antiterrorist struggle will rule out all geopolitical maneuvering that might harm the world community’s common interests as well as all sorts of the security dilemmas. There is a probability of this since “the more complicated the situation, the more pronounced the elements of the classical Big Game, since control over the territory and, partly, police control of its population will be at stake.”9 Therefore, it is “…important to prevent a disintegration of the wide coalition that took shape in the wake of the tragic events in the United States. There should be no discrimination of the rights and interests of its direct and indirect participants.”10
Experts, academics, and politicians have a lot of systemic work to do; common people should actively contribute to it. The military aspect should be completed with political, economic, social, cultural, psychological, and information measures. Terrorists and terrorism are normally described in the terms of a system with a single organizational structure and infrastructure, the parts of which are interacting and are planning concerted efforts. This is what allowed terrorists, drug traffickers, illegal arms traders and transborder organized crime to act together.
Those who are fighting terrorism have not yet created a system (the international coalition is too amorphous to be called a system), this is why U.N. Resolution 1373 of 28 September, 2001 that envisages an Antiterrorist Committee at the U.N. Security Council is a step in the right direction. It instructs the member countries to regard terrorism as a crime, to freeze financial means and assets of terrorists and those who help them, and refuse them shelter. The Committee will try to raise the global standard of the governments’ antiterrorist struggle to a higher level. What is needed is a worldwide consensus about the methods of antiterrorist struggle—otherwise the terrorists will always escape.
It should be said once more that so far international antiterrorist struggle cannot compete with international terrorists where the degree of organization is concerned. The expected Convention on Antiterrorist Struggle will undoubtedly become one of the major steps toward systemic actions. There are undercurrents that are interfering with the smooth movement toward the desired aim. A definition of terrorism acceptable to all members of the world community is merely one of the obstacles—it is necessary to identify those responsible for the spread of terrorist ideas and the most efficient methods of antiterrorist struggle.
Georgi Mirskiy has formulated three factors that give hope that a clash of civilizations can be avoided: First, there is a possibility … to wage a stubborn, consistent struggle (with the use of force, among other means) against the international terrorist organizations; second, a contemporary state with huge material and information resources can fight extremism in a very efficient way by developing cooperation with the officials and the authorities of the Muslim states; third, there is an urgent need to conduct propaganda in the Muslim countries done by the Muslims themselves so that to convince people that militant fundamentalism leads nowhere. It creates terrorism, a phenomenon pernicious for the Muslim nations the world over.11
While agreeing with Mirskiy one should like to point out that the factors he has enumerated concentrate on Islam and the Muslim countries—this inevitably narrows down the range of problems to be addressed to the processes going on inside the Muslim world. What the outside world can offer is either struggle (mainly the use of force) or the desire to help the Muslim countries sort things out.
It seems that the three factors of Mirskiy’s can be supplemented with three more, no less important factors, related to the world outside the Muslim world proper: a new world order as a result of a resolved contradiction between the interests of antiterrorist struggle and the geopolitical interests; a genuine settlement of the Arab-Israeli confrontation; and an increased attention of world community to the Third World problems. What is more, not only the Muslim countries but also many other (non-Muslim) nations and states should be helped to sort things out (related and unrelated to Islam). In other words, what we need is not a dialog of civilizations but a talk among the three world confessions.
The Central Asian Dilemma (in lieu of a conclusion)
I have written above that in the war on terror the national interests, quite often hypertrophied, have moved to the foreground pushing back the inadequately stated regional interests of Central Asian countries. This is the main problem. Regrettably the Central Asian countries’ involvement in the antiterrorist coalition was not complemented with their full-scale cooperation yet its legal basis is already in place: in April 2000, in Tashkent they signed an agreement On Joint Actions in Fighting Terrorism, Political and Religious Extremism, Transnational Organized Crime and Other Threats to the Sides’ Security and Stability.
The present state of affairs in the region can be explained solely by the destructive influence of geopolitics and its relict—the zero sum game. Xing Guangcheng, a Chinese political scientist, has written: “The PRC is not interested in a prolonged American presence in Central Asia close to its borders and does not support it. This threatens China’s interests.”12 According to another analyst, Murat Laumulin of Kazakhstan, “the United States is more and more actively claiming the role of the guarantor of regional security” while “Moscow has neither political nor economic levers to close the region to other centers of power and remain the only dominating force there.” At the same time, the Kremlin “cannot accept American presence in Central Asia once the antiterrorist operation is over.”13
These deliberations about Central Asian geopolitics in the “game with a zero sum” terms can be accepted yet they, regrettably, ignore one of the key factors: independence of the Central Asian states. What shall be the lot of the local countries if their recent dependence exclusively on Russia is replaced with a pluralistic dependence on many centers of power (Russia, the U.S., China, etc.)? This brings in another question: Which formula of regional security can be equally acceptable not only for the powers outside the region but also for the countries inside it?
It seems that the Central Asian republics themselves are the best guarantors of their own security. What is more, whether or not outside guarantees are effective will depend on them, too. It should be added that the new national security strategy of the United States contains a provision of signal importance for them: “The United States should invest time and resources in building international relationships and institutions that can help manage local crises when they emerge. The United States should be realistic about its ability to help those who are unwilling or unready to help themselves. Where and when people are ready to do their part, we will be willing to move decisively.”14 The willingness to help themselves and to avoid crises in mutual relations, a political will to act together to oppose common threats and to build common regional home is the primary prerequisite for respect from the powers outside the region and an inalienable condition of self-reliance in the sphere of regional security. An alternative to the latter is an outside interference.
This explains why the Central Asian countries should treat their experience in fighting terrorism as well as the 10-year long experience of independent development as a challenge: they should finally realize that unilateral quest for geopolitical advantages leads nowhere and that they can no longer avoid a historically predetermined integration. This is conditioned, at least, by the need to try to escape the security dilemma now looming on the political horizon created by the countries’ frantic search for a “security umbrella.” The geopolitical lessons of the Afghan settlement say: united security is impossible in a disunited region. Today, the Central Asian countries should do their best to avoid, and prevent at their threshold, the traditional and destructive Big Game between the global and regional powers. It is even more critical for them to avoid another Big Game, this time among themselves.
1 Quoted from: RIA Novosti, 20 September, 2001.
2 RIA Novosti, 18 December, 2001.
3 Strategic Survey, 2001/2002, p. 9.
4 V. Iuritsyn, “Aziatskaia sverkhzadacha Vashingtona,” Vremia PO (Kazakhstan), 24 March, 2002.
5 S. Shishkarev (deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Relations), “Sokhranenie amerikanskogo voennogo prisutstvia i mezhdunarodnykh mirotvorcheskikh sil v Afghanistane gorazdo vygodnee dlia Rossii, chem nalichie tam ekstremistskikh agressivnykh islamskikh sil,” Trud, 1 February, 2002.
6 Elie D. Krakowski, “U.S. Should Lead Way on New Afghan Rule,” The Baltimore Sun, 14 November, 2001.
7 Statement by Dr. Elie D. Krakowski, Senior Fellow, Central Asia/Caucasus Institute, the School of Advanced International Studies, the Johns Hopkins University and Senior Fellow, American Foreign Policy Council at a Hearing on “The Future of Afghanistan” before the House Committee on International Relations, 7 November, 2001.
9 V. Belokrenitskiy, “Big Game Elements in the Western War Against Terror,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 6 (12), 2001, p. 139.
10 Ibid., p. 141.
11 See: G. Mirskiy, “Islamic Fundamentalism and International Terrorism,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 6 (12), 2001, pp. 36-37.
12 X. Guangcheng, “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Fight Against Terrorism, Extremism, and Separatism,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 4 (16), 2002, p. 19.
13 M. Laumulin, “Central Asia after 11 September,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 4 (16), 2002, pp. 30, 33.
14 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America [http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/secstrat.htm]).