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Revisiting the 12 Myths of Central Asia

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Nearly ten years have passed since the countries of Central Asia received their independence. This impending anniversary affords a good opportunity to look at how these states are managing the state-building process and, in particular, at what symbolic or ideological defenses they are offering for their actions.

Six years ago, Martha Brill Olcott wrote about the "Twelve Myths of Central Asia." In this new working paper, she revisits these same myths and comments on their continued applicability. She examines the myths that the five Central Asian leaders are using to explain away the very disappointing results in both economic and, especially, political reforms. Olcott also shows how U.S. policy makers have bought into some of these myths and how, after ten years of independence, stagnation is more prevalent than progress in the region, with security risks increasing rather than abating.