عنوان مقاله [English]
Central Asia due to its unique geopolitical features has always been the center of severe struggle for power among dominant states in different historical eras. After the Cold War and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States as the hegemon of the international system invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and has pursued its various and multi-dimensional objectives in this geostrategic region using proportionate strategies and tactics to maintain and enhance its hegemony worldwide and in the five post-soviet states of Central Asia: the republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, since then.
The United States' foreign policy is based on "International liberalism" and this fixed pillar has not changed since World War II. In fact, since the end of WWII in 1945, regardless of who the president of the United Stated of America is, there has been one, fixed grand strategy in the Oval Office: Preserving American Supremacy all over the world. And revolving this fixed principle have been various political, economic, military and cultural tactics altering according to fluctuating regional and international conditions in which American troops and diplomats all around the world operate in. Undoubtedly, Central Asia as a "heartland" and a region rich of natural oil and gas similar to the Persian Gulf with unique geopolitical, geo-economic and geo- cultural features has not been an exception in this regard for the policy makers of the United States' Department of State.
This study using a comparative method tries to answer this main question: What are the similarities and differences of the foreign policy of the United States of America towards Central Asian Republics during George W. Bush tenure (2001-2009) and Barack Obama's presidency (2009-2016)? The answer is that the neo-conservative Bush Administration tried to fulfill Washington foreign policy objectives in Central Asia unilaterally and mostly through hard power and by invasion and militarism. However, Barack Obama's administration pursued the same goals through multilateralism and by consultative, institutional mechanisms.
During George W. Bush's presidency, the United States built military bases in the republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and many high ranking military officials travelled to the region regularly. During George Bush's presidency, the United States also tried to impose democracy and freedom of the press and the relative mechanisms to the republics of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan by force which led to the Tulip Revolution in Bishkek in 2005 and the 2005 Andijan Unrest in which many civilians were killed. America then sanctioned the Uzbek government economically and military which darkened the bilateral relations more and Uzbek government forced the U.S. troops to leave the (K2) Air Base. Given to the usage of hard power and militarism, United States' grand strategy during the Bush administration from 2001 to 2009 in Central Asia can be called "Offensive Liberalism".
Whereas, Barack Obama who entered the White House in 2009 found Central Asia and especially Afghanistan in different conditions comparing to the year 2001, so his administration pursued American grand fixed strategy to maintain American global hegemony with some different tactics. In fact, he commenced the "Policy of Change" in order to rectify the image of the United States of America which as a result of the invasion of Afghanistan and vast military presence of American troops all over the region was damaged and impaired. In addition, the U.S. Department of State with "Hillary Clinton", tried to "reset" the bilateral relations with Russia with which during Bush's presidency was impaired. Thus, in contrary to George W. Bush, the Obama administration acted multilaterally based mostly on soft power and through business and economic apparatus. The Oval Office, first and foremost set the agenda of diminishing the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the United Stated accepted the Kyrgyz Parliament order to withdraw U.S. troops from Manas Air Base and left this country in 2010.
The White House in the Obama presidency also initiated "New Silk Road" and "Northern Distribution Network" (NDD) as two vast, huge business and transformational projects to enhance its non- military presence in Afghanistan nonmilitary as well as approaching China and Russia as two strategic allies and rivals in Central Asia. The United States also during Obama's presidency seriously pursued the gas and oil pipelines projects which were outside Iran and Russia's main land such as "Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline" or "Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline" called (TAPI) and "Trans-Caspian Pipeline" in order to contain Iran and Russia economically and politically. This is based on the United States’ official stated policy and the Obama energy team pursued this policy.
The White House also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan and reconciled with Uzbekistan which after 2005 Andijan Unrest had expelled American troops out of (K2) Air Base. The Obama energy team also developed significant vast bilateral relationships with the Republic of Turkmenistan as a huge natural gas container of Central Asia. Contrary to the Bush presidency, during Obama's tenure, many nonmilitary high-ranking officials traveled to the region frequently. The White House, during Obama presidency tried to peruse the U.S. grand strategy of American hegemony through multilateralism, institutionalism and in the framework of collective and consultative mechanisms. Thus, given to the more usage of economic tools, along scaling down of military presence, the United States' grand strategy during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2016 in Central Asia can be called "Defensive Liberalism".
In sum, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursued one fixed goal in Central Asia which was to maintain U.S. global hegemony and primacy but due to different regional and international conditions each faced during their presidency, the former used unilateralism, hard power, sanctions and promoting democracy by force while the latter pursued the same goal through multilateral mechanisms, economic forums, gas and oil projects and political reconciliation.