In the early 19th Century, czarist Russia and the British Empire shadowboxed over Central Asia in an exercise of diplomatic brinkmanship that historians would later dub the Great Game. The U.S. insists it has no designs on replaying that game.
"We do not look at Central Asia as an object in a Great Game," Daniel Fried, a top State Department envoy for Eurasian affairs, said recently in Washington. "We do not look at this as a zero-sum contest between the United States, the Russians and the Chinese."
There is just one problem. Whether Washington likes it or not, Russia and China indeed have brought back the Great Game to the steppes and snowcapped peaks of Central Asia, a region blessed with oil but struggling with rampant poverty, corruption and Islamic extremism.
Any Central Asia pundits in the readership with comments?