Central Asia’s slow internal rot

I have a new article up at Foreign Policy about Central Asia. I argue that the greatest threat to the region is not volatility, as is commonly assumed, but stagnation:

The slow, tortuous decline of Central Asia is something we should all pay attention to — not because it will inevitably lead to state collapse, but because it might not. Central Asia shows how a country (Tajikistan) can spend decades sliding toward a failed state, yet never quite arrive. It shows how mass violence can claim the lives of hundreds, as in Uzbekistan in 2005, yet fail to alter the political structure that predicated it. Above all, Central Asia shows how quiet repression can be as damaging as violent conflict — and more difficult to quell or contest. Central Asia’s biggest problem is not conflict, but stagnation: the consistency of corruption, the chimera of change.[…]

The endurance of Central Asia’s dictatorships serves as a reminder that the collapse of an authoritarian state is not inherently imminent, no matter how bankrupt it is fiscally or morally. Corruption, brutality, and censorship are not necessarily signs of vulnerability, but indicators of the lengths a government will go to preserve its power at the expense of its people. Central Asia’s dictatorships are not surviving on luck, as some experts have claimed, but on fear.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy

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6 Responses to Central Asia’s slow internal rot

  1. This is very important, what we ought to be talking about, not what stupid Kardashian is doing when or with whom.

  2. Jamila Haider says:

    This is an excellent piece. I think you’re right on point with the ‘Curse of Stability.’ It’s the inertia that is keeping the system trapped, and what may really be needed is collapse. What that collapse looks like and to what extent it can be managed or ‘controlled’ is an interesting question. I have lived in Khorog on and off since 2009 and the attitude you describe about maintaining peace, however fragile is absolutely this driver of inaction. Thank you for such an eloquent article!!!

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