Authoritarianism, Energy and Ideas in Central Asia: From Politics and Pipelines to Foreign Policy
The largely authoritarian Central Asian area has been remarkably stable politically. This is despite its overwhelming dependence on resource income, not to mention the fact that there are extensive great power interests in the region. This chapter explores why this is the case. Here, one common argument is that an inside–outside dynamic has been produced within Central Asian states. In this context, norm cascades reinforce authoritarian politics, with embedded identities shaped by powerful pre-existing socio-historical forces in each particular society. However, I argue that the reverse is the case: in fact, it is regional power structures that have provided incentives for the emergence of stable Central Asian authoritarianism. This is partly because foreign policy decisiveness has enabled elites — and therefore states — to better manage the intense material pressures they have been subjected to. More broadly I argue that a neoclassical realist reading of the domestic-structural nexus is the most useful way of understanding these dynamics, and how they contribute to Central Asian stability. Crucially, it reveals how multi-vector foreign policies combine with resource incomes, which in turn complement domestic ideas about security.
KeywordsEurope Hydrocarbon Income Turkey Trench
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