International ordering and great power competition: Lessons from Central Asia

Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian service members line up during military drills carried out by the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) at the Harb-Maidon training ground, located near the Tajik-Afghan border in the Khatlon region, Tajikistan October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Didor Sadulloev

Executive summary

Renewed strategic competition among the great powers is challenging and transforming the U.S.-led liberal international order. And this has important implications for the standing of U.S. bases abroad. Basing agreements in regions that are of acute interest may be undermined by revisionist powers, particularly China and Russia, as they further develop their regional security architectures, allocate and distribute rival nonmilitary public goods, and promote domestic political norms that are more aligned with the values and governance practices of often autocratic host country regimes. In Central Asia, revisionist efforts are already challenging regional U.S. leadership and undermining its capacity to establish overseas bases and access.


  • Acknowledgements and disclosures

    The author wishes to thank Andrew Yeo and Isaac Kardon for their comments on previous versions of this brief, as well as the participants in the Workshop on Great Power Competition and Overseas Basing. The author also acknowledges research support from Rachel Amran and Natalie Hall, Lori Merritt and Alexandra Dimsdale for editing, and Rachel Slattery for layout.