Globalization is a hallmark of the twenty first-century world. As transportation and telecommunications grow in both efficiency and level of performance and as the ambit of the Internet expands, it becomes easier and easier for nations to both connect and coordinate with one another over long distances. And the declining relevance of boundaries in the post–Cold War world makes it more and more feasible politically for them to actually do so.
Korea, the United States, and Central Asia are, of course, located in distant parts of the world, with thousands of miles separating each of the partners to this disparate triangle.Yet all three corners of the triangle have significant and growing economic and geopolitical relevance for one another. All are deeply concerned with problems of global energy—Central Asia as a producer, Korea as a consumer, and the United States in a variety of roles: producer, consumer, and service provider. The three members of this strategic global triangle are all likewise deeply concerned with the future of Russia—that it be a constructive force in world affairs but that it also be constrained from returning to the expansionist, at times imperialist, policies that the Soviet Union once pursued.They all likewise share a deep concern that China’s future be constructive and stable.
There are, of course, important differences of national orientation and approach—not only across the triangle, but also within Central Asia itself. Some are more market oriented, for example, while others are less so. Yet these three broad common concerns—energy, China, and the future of the post-Soviet space—are broadly shared. They provide important reference points for thinking about the prospects of the strategic U.S.-Korea-Central Asian triangle itself.