Shanghaied

This month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (comprising Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazahkstan) celebrated its fifth anniversary. There has been a good deal of breathless commentary in the regional and international media about the organization's influence and its impact on the new "great game" in central Asia. Some see a league of autocratic governments trying to tamp ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.

This month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (comprising Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazahkstan) celebrated its fifth anniversary. There has been a good deal of breathless commentary in the regional and international media about the organization's influence and its impact on the new "great game" in central Asia. Some see a league of autocratic governments trying to tamp down democratic sentiment in the region (and there are some interesting parallels with the 19th century Holy Alliance of Prussia, Russia, and Austria). More sanguine observers see the beginnings of a structure that can stabilize a turbulent region and control drugs and terrorism. Over at Eurasianet.org, Stephen Blank helpfully reminds us that the two pillars of the organization--Russia and China--may not hold for long. Regional organizations launched with high hopes often have very short shelf lives.   

This month, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (comprising Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazahkstan) celebrated its fifth anniversary. There has been a good deal of breathless commentary in the regional and international media about the organization's influence and its impact on the new "great game" in central Asia. Some see a league of autocratic governments trying to tamp down democratic sentiment in the region (and there are some interesting parallels with the 19th century Holy Alliance of Prussia, Russia, and Austria). More sanguine observers see the beginnings of a structure that can stabilize a turbulent region and control drugs and terrorism. Over at Eurasianet.org, Stephen Blank helpfully reminds us that the two pillars of the organization–Russia and China–may not hold for long. Regional organizations launched with high hopes often have very short shelf lives.   

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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