In October, CSIS launched its Reconnecting Asia project, which seeks to track the various initiatives by China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and other growing Asian powers to reconnect Asia and Europe via old trade routes. These modern-day Silk Roads will use highways, railroads, ports, bridges, and pipelines to reduce the travel time between the two continents. The best known of these initiatives is China’s “One Belt, One Road” in Central Asia. This is an ambitious undertaking across 43 countries that encompasses 69 percent of the global population and 60 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). The efforts to reconnect Asia with Europe will be one of the biggest forces shaping the next 30 years, bringing new markets, people, and resources into the fabric of the global geopolitical landscape. If successful, it will revolutionize logistics and create trillions of dollars in economic value through increased trade and economic activity.
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Given the wars in the Middle East, the muscle-flexing of China towards its neighbors, the strategic challenges to NATO and its allies posed by Russia, and the serious drug wars on the southern border of the United States, attention in Washington is clearly—and understandably—divided. However, a significant challenge to U.S. national security is looming in Eurasia and appears to be receiving limited attention from the U.S. government: Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative and its plan to connect China with Western Europe through overland routes across Central Asia.
The South Caucasus in a Reconnecting Eurasia examines the full scope of South Caucasus–Eurasia relations and analyzes the broad outlines of U.S. engagement over the coming years. It is part of a four-part CSIS series, “The South Caucasus in a Reconnecting Eurasia,” which includes studies focusing on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the South Caucasus.
Today, with combat operations in Afghanistan winding down, U.S. policy toward the states of Central Asia is transitioning to a third era. The United States now has an opportunity to refashion its approach to the region. In doing so, it should capitalize on trends already underway, in particular the expansion of trade and transit linkages, to help integrate Central Asia more firmly into the global economy, while also working to overcome tensions both within the region itself and among the major neighboring powers with interests in Central Asia. Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia: U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations examines the full scope of U.S. national interests in Central Asia and puts forward the broad outlines of a strategy for U.S. engagement over the coming years.