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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Chapter 24. Central Asia

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· 24 ·

CENTRAL ASIA

The Chinese, Islamic, and Russian empires influenced Central Asia. The Chinese Empire’s influence was comparatively minor. During the 19th century running of the Great Game, the Chinese Empire was busy defending territory on its western edge that was coveted by Britain and Russia. The influence of Islamic empires began in the 8th century from Muslim traders traveling the Silk Road and invading Arab armies. Later influence came from rule by Turkic or Persian-speaking empires or khanates,1 many of which were local to the region. The rule of the Russians and Soviets was a little more than 100 years, but they were last in, only exited in 1991, and introduced some profound changes including borders, atheism as the official religion, and encouraging sedentary lifestyles. The presence of significant nomadic populations always complicated ruling Central Asia until the Soviets implemented formal governance that prompted stationary ways of living.

Central Asia was one of the last three regions to gain independence. Like Central and Eastern Europe, this was triggered by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Upon independence, these nations embarked on a transition from communism to a democratic form of government with capitalism. Some transitions dragged on, and others were abandoned. Only the two Christian-majority countries of Armenia and Georgia, and more recently Tajikistan have demonstrated a commitment toward a democratic form of government. ← 237 | 238 →

A return to the old days of repressive rule should have...

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