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Instability in the New Imperial Periphery: A Conceptual Perspective of The “Turbulent Frontiers” In the Caucasus and Central Asia

Author(s): Khatchik Der Ghoukassian

Journal: Caucasian Review of International Affairs
ISSN 1865-6773

Volume: 2;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 146;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: ‘Turbulent frontier’ | regional security complex | imperial periphery | local-regional level interaction

Since the emergence of the United States as the world’s only superpower, the Caucasus and Central Asia, traditionally conceived as the Russian “Near Abroad,” have increasingly made their way up the U.S. foreign and security agenda. From debates on NATO expansion to pipeline diplomacy, basing policy, “train and equip” programs, as well as suspected support for ‘color revolutions’, and bilateral cooperation agreements, Washington has tried to mark a presence in these regions. These moves have generated concerns in Russia, where the U.S. expansion to the “Near Abroad” is perceived as a prelude for a new Cold War-style confrontation. Nonetheless, while this “big picture” of a renewed great powers competition holds some truth, it, however, should not hide the importance of local political dynamics, in particular territorial and ethno-nationalist conflicts, as well as clan politics and domestic unrest. Both the international and regional/domestic interplay have mutually conditioning and provocative impacts. This essay proposes a conceptual reflection linking local and global power plays to understand the political dynamics in the Caucasus and Central Asia conceived as a new imperial periphery. The essay aims at a theoretical formulation to explain this dynamic in any geopolitical context characterized as an imperial periphery in the current unipolar systemic structure. It deliberately is not an empirical study of the Caucasus, Central Asia, or the U.S.-Russian relations.
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