ABSTRACT

In an era often characterized as one of intensive globalization, the ‘war on terror’ has not only witnessed the resurrection of Cold War-like competition between the United States and Russia but perversely also stimulated increased co-operation between states. While Russia and America publicly agree on the need to combat terror, they have both sought to increase their military presence in resource-rich Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, the Americans established a new airbase at Manas following the 2001 assault on Afghanistan. Fearful of a possible extension of American influence in Central Asia, the Russians established a new base at Kant. The two bases are separated by 55 km of semi-desert. President Putin of Russia justified the decision on the basis of combating the activities of terror groups inside and outside the Russian Federation. These activities have helped to stimulate further debate in Central Asia and elsewhere about the strategic importance of this apparent ‘pivot region’ (originally Halford Mackinder’s 1904 term). Formal, practical and popular forms of geopolitical reasoning are in much abundance.