Central Asia in the Globalization Process

free essayGlobalization is the reality of the current structure of the world. The term “globalization” means the extent, to which people, nations, businesses, companies, societies, and cultures are integrated into the global arena (Ritzer, 2010). Various parts of the world have been subjected to globalization differently. Such a difference of exposure and interaction with the outside world defines the extent of globalization of a place or a region. Central Asia is a region that extends from China to the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan to the south and Russia to the north. Central Asian countries include Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

The 2007-2009 global economic crisis affected Central Asia like the rest of the world, thereby showing the globalized nature of the region. This economic crisis decreased the demand for commodities and services across the world. Kyrgyzstan is one of the Central Asian countries affected by the crisis. In the spring of 2010, the country descended into chaos as the opposition demonstrators had seized public buildings (Parenti, 2012). The people protested against a hike in the price of public services such as electricity and water (Parenti, 2012). The economic disaster began in the USA, spread across Europe, and eventually landed in Central Asia. As a result, Kyrgyzstan found itself unable to meet the financial needs, forcing the government to hike utility prices by a margin of 20% (Parenti, 2012). Climate change was one of the factors to blame for the country’s economic crisis because of the country’s reliance on hydroelectricity exports. However, a prolonged drought that had affected the country reduced water volumes, thereby undermining the country’s ability to generate enough electricity for export. Furthermore, Kyrgyzstan suffered from the ripple effects of the economic crisis as foreign remittances and commodity prices plummeted. The country’s tourism sector was also affected by the financial crunch because foreign tourists had stopped visiting it as some of them had lost their jobs or had their livelihoods affected negatively by the economic crisis. Kyrgyzstan’s agro-food sector experienced the negative implications of the financial hardships, which rendered many people in need of foreign aid (Undeland, Shapakov, Kochonova, Gouzi, & Tabaldieva, 2010). Since many of the Western countries such as the United States had also suffered from the crisis and they could not send financial aid to this Central Asian country, many Kyrgyzstanis could only blame their government for incompetence. As such, the violent demonstrations that happened in the spring of 2010 were caused by the global economic crisis of 2007/2009. Therefore, the 2007/2009 global financial crisis has shown that Central Asia is a globalized place.

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The effect of the Cold War in Central Asia has proven that the region is quite globalized. Many Central Asian countries equally benefited and suffered from the Cold War. During the Cold War, Kyrgyzstan supplied weapons to the Soviet Army, but this stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, the former Soviet republic’s economy lost billions of dollars. At the same time, Afghanistan experienced the negative implications of the Cold War because the country had become a battleground between the USSR and the US-backed mujahidin between December 1979 and February 15, 1988 (Braithwaite, 2011). During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Americans found an opportunity to revenge for the Soviets’ support of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Apparently, the Soviets supported the Vietnamese rebels to ensure that America did not have a footing in the country because the move would have made Vietnam a capitalist state. Eventually, the USA lost in the Vietnam War. As such, when the Soviet army entered Afghanistan in 1979, the American advisors armed the Mujahidin to ensure that the Soviets would lose. In 1988, after losing thousands of soldiers, the Soviets withdrew their forces from Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan has never enjoyed stability ever since the end of the Soviets had left their country. It appears that Central Asian countries continue to suffer the brunt of the Cold War that has had nothing to do with them. However, Central Asia was caught in the crossfire between the ideological rivalry of the United States, or the West, and the Soviet Union. Neither Afghanistan nationals nor Kyrgyzstanis can denounce the fact that the conflicts in their countries are products of the ideological conflict between the two world’s superpowers – the USSR and the United States. Therefore, Central Asia is indeed a globalized region.

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Furthermore, it is possible to call Central Asia a globalized place because the region suffers from the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan. The rivalry between the two nations stems from the 1947 partition of the Continental Indian British colony (Parenti, 2012). The two countries have disputed over the Indian-administered region of Kashmir. Religion has played a significant role in the rivalry because Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region, is claimed by Pakistan while India, a non-Muslim majority, has refused to relinquish its claim. During the 1947 partition, India was expected to hand over much of Kashmir’s territory to Pakistan (Parenti, 2012). However, the Indian authorities refused to concede because of the strategic significance of Kashmir to India. Furthermore, over the years, the rivalry between the two countries has also come to include water resources. Pakistan accuses India of constructing dams of the River Ganges in violation of the relevant treaties (Parenti, 2012). More to say, Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan have been sucked into the conflict. For example, Afghanistan has been an Indian ally for many years. As a result, Pakistan has been determined to ensure that Afghanistan is weak and unstable (Parenti, 2012). The government of Pakistan has supported the terror networks in Afghanistan to ensure that its western neighbor does not grow to become a threat to its national security. In 2011, the U.S. Special Forces cornered and killed Osama Bin Laden in his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It should be noticed that other Central Asian countries also experience the impact of Pakistan’s support for the terror networks in Afghanistan as terrorists use their soil as safe havens. Many Central Asians have also joined Al Qaeda and Taliban. At the same time, many foreign terrorists have joined the ranks of Al-Qaeda to fight Taliban in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi citizen, was one of the foreign Muslim fighters that had operated in Central Asia since the 1980s. Therefore, Central Asia is a globalized place because it suffers from the negative impact of the rivalry between India and Pakistan.

In conclusion, one can definitely say that Central Asia is a relatively globalized place. The Central Asian region that includes countries such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan is globalized because many of the events that occur there are products of the global social, economic, and political system. Central Asia’s economic, social, and political way of life is victim to the international ideological issues, religious politics, and economic dynamics. Indeed, the collapse of the Soviet Union affected the region’s politics and security because it was used in a proxy war of the Cold War era. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1988) and the eventual involvement of the USA in the conflicts destabilized Afghanistan and the entire region of Central Asia. However, Central Asia is not on the same level with the most globalized places in the world such as London, New York, or Madrid, which allows saying that the region is relatively globalized.