Paul Goble, Director of Research and Publications, Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (Baku, Azerbaijan)

The relationship between the United States and GUAM has undergone a remarkable evolution over the decade of that groups existence. Prior to the 11 September terrorist attacks, Washington viewed GUAM as a key element in Western efforts to secure access to the oil and gas of the Caspian basin and the demontage of the post-Soviet world. And GUAM viewed Washington as a key supporter in the efforts of both the organization and its member states to gain effective independence from Moscow.

But in the years since those attacks, both Washington and GUAM have changed their focus. Washington has come to see GUAM less in terms of these two initial goals than as a major player in the war against terrorism, and GUAM has come to view Washington less as its primary source of outside support and more as one resource among many which can help the organization and its member countries achieve their goals.

For both sides at the present time, this relationship is both less important and more than it was, a paradoxical situation that helps to explain why some analysts view GUAM as an organization certain to acquire even greater importance in the future and why others view it as one that arose as a result of the specific conditions of the collapse of the Soviet Union and that is destined to disappear as the significance of some unified post-Soviet space declines.

Rather than trace the evolution of GUAM itselfthere are many useful studies available, including others featured in this issuethe present essay examines the factors at work on both sides in defining the initial relationship between GUAM and its member states and the very different set of factors affecting the United States and GUAM that not only define this bilateral relationship at the present time but which are likely to do so over the next five to ten years.

From a Useful Tactic

For the United States, GUAM initially represented a unique channel for the construction of a pipelines to carry Caspian basin oil and gas to the West, an organization that could promote the independence and stability of its member states without being so direct a challenge to Moscow that the Russian Federation would be ready to react harshly, and..

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