The Cold War in South and Central Asia

Authored by: Artemy M. Kalinovsky

The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415677011
eBook ISBN: 9781315882284
Adobe ISBN: 9781134700653


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The Cold War in South and Central Asia can be divided into three periods. The first, lasting from the early 1950s until the mid-1960s, saw an independent India and Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan and Soviet Central Asia, take advantage of the Cold War competition to advance their own economic and development programs, while the superpowers tried to prove that their respective systems had the best tools to reach those goals. Strategic interests and competition, both between the states in the region and between the superpowers competing there, were important but secondary. In the second phase, lasting from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, economic development took a backseat as the idealistic projects of the 1950s failed to deliver broad prosperity, and both the US and the USSR focused increasingly on military aid. The period also saw the politicization of religious movements as a response to the failure of secular alternatives. The final phase, lasting from the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 to the end of the Cold War, saw the region’s full militarization, with consequences that lasted beyond the Cold War itself.

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