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Eurasia's New Frontiers

Young States, Old Societies, Open Futures

Thomas W. Jr. Simons

Publication Year: 2008

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In Eurasia's New Frontiers, Thomas W. Simons, Jr., a distinguished veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service with extensive experience in the Communist and post-Communist worlds, assays the political, economic, and social developments in the fifteen successor states to the Soviet Union that comprise Eurasia-from Estonia to Azerbaijan and from Tajikistan to Ukraine, centered on Russia. He makes a compelling case that the United States can play a large role in shaping the future of this vast and strategic region, and at less cost than during Soviet times. This can only be accomplished, however, if U.S. policy toward Eurasia shifts from alternating hand-wringing and indifference to steady and flexible engagement that focuses on its fledgling individual nation-states.

Throughout Eurasia, Simons shows, civil society is anemic, market reforms have been discredited, and political development has been stunted. Authoritarian and semiauthoritarian regimes are firmly in place from Belarus to Central Asia; in Ukraine, Moldova, and even Russia, some democratic forms have taken hold; but everywhere, politics features struggle among elites over access to economic resources, albeit often defined in terms of "sovereignty." Almost everywhere, states are consolidating: as resurgent Russia presses on its neighbors, they can now press back, alone or with help from the outside world. Simons believes that the post-Soviet space needs stable development of state institutions within which new civil societies can take root and grow. Potentially strong state institutions are, in his view, Soviet Communism's "secret gift" to Eurasia, and they may well enable the region to become in time an arc of promise, an anchor of relative stability in a troubled part of the world.

For that to happen, Simons argues, the nationalism that gives content to these new state structures must be the right kind: civic and inclusionary rather than ethno-religious and exclusionary. Because Russia is so diverse and its nationalism so state-oriented, Simons also sees it as more likely to develop that kind of civic nationalism than some of its new neighbors. The United States has a limited but real role to play in helping or hindering its emergence everywhere in Eurasia. If it wishes to help, though, the U.S. must realize that in this part of the world the path to democracy leads through state development. The U.S. will continue to advocate for its core values, but it can best act as a City on the Hill for Eurasia if its policy centers on the emerging new states of today, for they must be the incubators of tomorrow's civil societies.

Published by: Cornell University Press

Cover

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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-10

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

This little book’s path to the light of day began on the Advisory Council of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C. I joined the council when I retired from the Foreign Service in 1998 for the Stanford history department, ...

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Introduction: Getting Beyond Eurasia’s DNA

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pp. 1-14

Russia’s 2008 presidential election was less suspenseful than ours. Months before the polls on March 2, it was clear that Dmitry Medvedev would succeed Vladimir Putin as president and that Putin would then take over as Medvedev’s prime minister. ...

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I. The Weakness of Civil Society

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pp. 15-37

Whether we realized it or not, many of us in the West grew up permeated with ideas that set “society” over against state power. They are centuries old. In America, our founders looked to the English philosopher John Locke’s defense of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 for legitimation of their resistance to arbitrary royal rule here. ...

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II. Politics as Elite Infighting

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pp. 38-62

Deprived of the unifying ideology of Communism, they no longer fight to end the exploitation of man by man, nor to consolidate and improve “really existing socialism.” They are not (or not yet) driven by nationalism based on ethnocultural identities. So the natural answer would be that post-Soviet elites fight about economics. ...

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III. The Politics of Economics and Sovereignty

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pp. 63-90

Deprived of the unifying ideology of Communism, they no longer fight to end the exploitation of man by man, nor to consolidate and improve “really existing socialism.” They are not (or not yet) driven by nationalism based on ethnocultural identities. So the natural answer would be that post-Soviet elites fight about economics. ...

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IV. States, Nations, and Nationalisms in Eurasia

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pp. 91-119

If the end of 2005 opened a new era of Russian outward pressure and stiffening resistance from Russia’s neighbors, is twenty-first-century Eurasia likely to face rolling turbulence reminiscent of twentieth-century Europe? Part of the answer will depend on whether state-building and state-consolidation in Eurasia will be underpinned ...

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V. Today’s Eurasia and the United States

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pp. 120-144

As a global power the U.S. will always be interested in Eurasia and engaged with its peoples and nations. Eurasia is too large and important a part of the world to be ignored. It casts a shadow of the old Soviet threat forward in time, and its axis—the Russian Federation—is nuclear armed. So are its neighbors: ...

Notes

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pp. 145-166

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 167-170

Index

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pp. 171-178

Envoi

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pp. 179-180


E-ISBN-13: 9780801461835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801447433

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1