The Boring Future History of Central Asia in 2013

I recently wrote a post for on how Central Asia will have a quiet year, neither fixing long-term problems, nor descending into immediate conflagration. After I had written it, I found a Foreign Policy post that chalked up Central Asia as a region heading for apocalypse before 2012 got going, in a post called “Next Year’s Wars“.

Several states in the region are surviving on luck: their infrastructure near collapse, their political systems eaten away by corruption, their public services almost nonexistent.

All of this, and everything else written here, was true in 2011, and will be true throughout 2013.

At this point, the odds of Uzbekistan invading one of its neighbors, Tajikistan being overwhelmed by repatriated jihadis, or Kyrgyzstan descending into full-scale Tajik-style civil war are close to zero. Not that it won’t happen, or that it isn’t more likely to happen here than elsewhere, but the actual likelihood of chaos is quite low for any given 12 month period in any given failing state. The likelihood rises with time as these issues go unresolved for ever.


The Limits of Reporting on Central Asia

Some thoughts I threw together over at, basically center on the tragedy that is reporting on Central Asia. This tragedy is based on our assumption, generally well-founded in western democratic political history, that actions are undertaken with logical goals in mind, centering on the furtherance of some reasoned state goal.

…the way those of us who know Central Asia talk about the region basically can’t be published in most Western news outlets. This is, of course, how some local muckrakers write about the region. With the full knowledge that, when an action is taken that seems self-defeating and ill-conceived, the personal logic of the executor almost never matches the logical interests of ‘the State’ or ‘the Citizen’. There may not be any good reason – but there does not have to be.

It is nearly impossible to get to the bottom of the motives behind some of the worst decisions made in this region. But, newspapers have no choice but to publish them on their own terms. Maybe this is why elites in this region (and as Russia as well) assume we are such fools as to believe their stated aims are primary.