Authors and scholars Alexander Cooley and Alexander Kupatadze discuss their research into the interplay of geopolitics and local networks across Central Asia.

The struggle between Russia and Great Britain over Central Asia in the nineteenth century was the original "great game." But in the past quarter century, a new "great game" has emerged, pitting America against a newly aggressive Russia and a resource-hungry China, all struggling for influence over one of the volatile areas in the world. In Great Games, Local Rules, Alexander Cooley explores the dynamics of the new competition over the region since 9/11. All three great powers are pursuing important goals: basing rights and security cooperation for the United States, access to energy for the Chinese, and increased political influence for the Russians. But Central Asian governments have proven themselves powerful forces in their own right, establishing local rules that serve to fend off foreign demands and pare down external conditions, enrich themselves and reinforce their sovereign authority. Cooley's explanation of how small states interact with great powers advances our understanding of how world politics actually works in this contemporary era of diminishing Western influence and rising new regional powers.

Author Alexander Kupatadze will discuss the diverging trajectories of organized crime in post-Soviet Eurasia focusing on professional criminals (so-called vory-v-zakone) in Georgia and drug smuggling groups in Kyrgyzstan.

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The Kennan Institute speaker series is made possible through the generous support of the Title VIII Program of the U.S. Department of State.