A Cacophony of Voices A Neoclassical Realist study of United States Strategy toward Central Asia and Southern Caucasus 1991–2006
Abstract: U.S. strategy toward Southern Caucasus and Central Asia has not been studied sufficiently. The present study, which takes the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the subsequent independence of the states of CASC (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) as its starting point, is probably the most detailed tracing of the evolution of U.S. strategy toward this specific region hitherto available. The study is methodologically committed to process-tracing and covers U.S. strategy toward CASC over a 15-year period covering three separate presidential administrations. A vast material has been collected and studied, and the primary contribution of the study is empirical.The study also sets out develop a neoclassical realist framework for analysing U.S. strategy, which introduces strategic culture as an intervening variable between the external actions of the U.S and the international environment. The theory in this study is based on three pillars. The first is structural realism. With its focus on the international environment and the pressure that is exerts, the study accepts the systemic imperative described by structural realists. The second pillar is cultural/constructivist theory. The study presupposes the notion of malleable norms and identities promoted by such theories. The third and most important pillar is neoclassical realism, which aims at finding intervening variables between a state´s external actions and the international environment.The definition of U.S. strategic culture relies heavily on American political and diplomatic history, the main argument being that U.S. policymakers constantly draw on U.S. strategic culture and have strong incentives to frame their policies so as to be culturally acceptable. The strategic culture thus both constrains and enables actions. The framework contributes to the ongoing effort to bridge the gap between realist and constructivist perspectives.This study will demonstrate that U.S. strategy toward CASC was shaped by specific U.S. strategic culture to a considerable extent. Throughout the entire period studied, the declared goal of the U.S. was the integration of CASC into the community of liberal market democracies. One very important theoretical finding of this study is that U.S. strategic culture had a powerful impact on U.S. strategy, independently of international pressures. This study will also demonstrate that U.S. strategy was incoherent, inconsistent, bureaucratically uncoordinated, susceptible to domestic pressure, and frequently subordinated to more important strategic goals outside of the region.
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