The sudden breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991
has stimulated fresh thinking about newly liberated Central Asia. Yet,
the brevity of this period of unearned independence among the former
Union republics does not yet offer enough depth or perspective to pro-
vide balance for the longer view. Chapter 18, "The Hunger for Modern
Leadership" treats certain dilemmas faced by the five newborn Central
Asian states and helps give an understanding of the tremendous prob-
lems facing those societies at present. That new, final chapter, written
especially for this latest edition, considers the crucial problems stem-
ming from a deprivation of sovereign indigenous leadership over the
past 130 years (calculated from the attacks and final Russian conquest
of Tashkent, 1864-65, though Czarist troops earlier had invaded much
of northern Kazakhstan).
The chapter focuses mainly upon the eventful period, 1989-93, since
the appearance of the previous edition of the book. But only some
grasp of the previous history can prepare readers for interpreting the
astonishing developments of the most recent years.
Central Asia holds special meaning for informed persons everywhere,
owing to its extraordinary human and cultural qualities. For centuries
before the present one, Central Asia stood out as a leading civilization,
an Islamic heartland, a nexus for trade routes. Its centrality defines
the great importance that this region also possesses for international
affairs connecting West and East, situated as it is between Russia, the
People's Republic of China (PRe), countries of the Middle East, and of
Southern Asia. Yet it remains politically divided into three major seg-
ments-Eastern (Chinese) Turkistan, the region of the former Russian
Turkistan, including Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan.
The present inquiry into the situation in Western Turkistan-the sec-
tor with the largest Central Asian population-after 130 years of Russian
dominance responds to these three Significant questions, among others:
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