In the wake of Kyrgyzstan’s decision to close its American airbase the U.S. must find a Central Asian location for its logistical operations outside of Afghanistan to ensure they remain uninterrupted in case the war deteriorates further.
The debate in Washington and European capitals has recently centered on how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of a military surge. The real question, however, is how combat troops should be used - to pursue the Taliban, or secure key areas to allow institutions to develop. The main policy objective must be the development of a government that can survive U.S. withdrawal.
Early hopes for a democratic transition in Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union were dashed, but new hope was raised as the global community re-engaged with Central Asia in the wake of 9/11. Martha Brill Olcott explains how the region squandered its "second chance," and what might happen next.