FOREIGN MILITARY BASES IN POST-SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA
Nuria Kutnaeva, Head of the International Relations Program, International University in Central Asia (IUCA) (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
The collapse of the bipolar system of international relations at the end of the twentieth century led to global changes in these relations, the main one being that local conflicts have replaced large-scale wars.
Soft power is increasingly moving in to replace hard power; international and nongovernmental organizations, transnational companies, and even terrorist groups are taking the place of individual countries on the international arena.
Nevertheless, when it comes to state security, certain mechanisms that used to be part of the bipolar system continue to function. I am referring to military bases abroad, which, in the context of globalization, continue to play just as significant role in international relations as they did during the Cold War.
This article takes a look at how important it is to have these facilities in the territory of foreign states, as well as the advantages they offer the countries where they are located, using Central Asia (CA) as an example.
In this work, military bases imply “specially equipped areas used by a state for deploying its armed forces in relation to hypothetical or actual theaters of military operations.”
It must be specified that the term “military installation” should only be used in those cases when we are talking about Russia’s military presence in CA; the establishment of “military bases” is associated with other states.
All empires throughout history that engaged not only in territorial expansion, but also in control over neighboring territories were known to establish their military bases in other states, the empire of Alexander of Macedonia, the Venetian and Genoese republics, and the colonial empires of France and England being cases in point.
During the Cold War, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (the leaders of the state belonging to NATO and the Warsaw Pact), as the main players on the international political arena, were interested in establishing their military bases in various countries, since this helped them to execute a strategy of deterrence and carry out a policy of containment. Proximity to the theaters of military operations ensured the possibility of gathering intelligence and rendering a certain amount of military support.
After the end of the Cold War, deployment of Russian and American military bases significantly changed. Between 1988 and 1995, the U.S. military-political leadership closed 97 of its foreign military bases.
In 2001, the U.S. announced it was closing a few more of its foreign bases (by 2003) and moving them from the European theater of military operations to other regions of the world. This was due to a shift in the Pentagon’s policy. It no longer recognized the concept of static defense, which presumed visibly identifiable threats. Instead Donald Rumsfeld suggested that it was no longer possible to predict with precision where a threat may come from or exactly what kind of a threat it might be.
So the concept of “site, and not base” was adopted. According to official data, as of September 2006, the Pentagon had………………