The testimony to Congress under analysis is Richard Boucher’s (Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs) statement to the House International Relations Committee on April 26th, 2006. This statement on US policy was developed to relay several factors about how Mr. Boucher proposed to prioritize stability, democracy, US security, and US commercial interests in the region. His stance is built on three particular aspects: security, commercial & energy benefits, and political & economic improvement (U.S. Department State Archive). He states the three aspects mentioned are all equally important in a balanced way. The testimony was inclusion of the challenges faced in the region of Central Asia and the plan to overcome such challenges and obstacles.
In relation to prioritization, Boucher’s statement attempted to place all the important considerations on an equal level; however, from the reading it appears security should be placed higher amongst the other possible priorities. In Central Asia, common instability factors such as drugs, terrorists and threats are commonly brought up in foreign policy discussions. With the citizens’ “view of Afghanistan as part of central Asia” (U.S. Department State Archive) stability in the security of the region should also be a factor in placing security higher on the priority scale. As Boucher suggests, commerce and economic improvement can be seen as related factors to a more stable level of security in the region, but the unstable and unsecure aspects of security in the region surely warrant a higher priority to promote better economic improvement. Narcotics trafficking in the region also lead to a higher emphasis placed in improved security and a higher priority for security in the region. With the possible threats of terrorism and drugs, security should have a higher priority instead of an equal priority as other measures included in the statement by Richard Boucher to Congress.
The statement contained elements related to the Bush Administration’s long-term vision for the region in that when people have the option to choose, the people will choose democracy over tyranny. In relation to the Bush Administration’s long-term vision there are certainly several factors that should be considered according to this statement. The first factor is truly related to how the people feel about their government and if the people feel the government will honor the choice of democracy or fall on the side of corruption (McGlinchey). Another factor of consideration in relation to the Bush Administration’s long-term vision is the transparency of the banking and financial situation. In times of economic turmoil and bankruptcy people are scared and often looking for a solution, which is less oriented toward a democratic approach as opposed to a tyrannical solution presented by an influential dictator (Adolf Hitler for example). One of the last factors considered to how people in a region such as Central Asia would view democracy over tyranny is the economic strength of the country. When people are working in a strong and healthy economy democracy is a desirable option because the people have employment options and actively engaged in politics.
In conclusion, Boucher’s statement to Congress was very political savvy but seemed to lack the realistic view of how to accurately prioritize the issues in Central Asia. His statement was oriented toward an equal approach to each of the problem areas brought up in the statement instead of a true prioritization of the issues. Security in the region is truly a major issue and should hold a higher priority than economic commerce topics or political issues. The issue of security ultimately affects the other two aspects brought up in the statement to Congress. The long-term view of Bush Administration may be possible in the region but there are other factors that affect the consideration of the long-term vision.
- McGlinchey, E. “Central Asia Grows Wobbly.” 2012, mason.gmu.edu/~emcglinc/McGlinchey_CH_2012_cawobbly.pdf.
- U.S. Department State Archive. “U.S. Policy in Central Asia: Balancing Priorities (Part II).” 26 Apr. 2006, 2001-2009.state.gov/p/sca/rls/rm/2006/65292.htm.