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The Myth of the Caspian Great Game and the "New Persian Gulf"

The Caspian Question: Is It Worth It?
Robert A. Manning

If old pessimistic pseudo-verities of resource scarcity resurfaced in the late-1990s, a wholly contemporary fallacy of misplaced optimism also emerged: the idea that the newly independent states of Central Asia and the Caucasus ringing the Caspian Sea promise a resource bonanza, a new"Persian Gulf," with competition over control of oil and gas reshaping geopolitics into a twenty-first century version of the old"Great Game" between Britain and Russia in the nineteenth century. Such hopes, however, have fostered perceptions not supported by knowable facts, which have led to dangerous exaggeration of the region's commercial and strategic significance. Indeed, the fate of the Caspian region may be an interesting test of whether the commercial logic of geo-economics or the strategic logic of geopolitics prevails.

The meteoric rise of the Caspian region to center stage of world politics