Central Asia Wars and Ethnic Conflicts

Rebuilding Failed States

2004 Occasional Paper
By Rubin, Barnett R.

The early 1990s saw the development of a new regional state system in Central Asia. The breakup of the Soviet Union created five newly independent states out of the Soviet Republics between the steppe and the Amu Darya. It also led to the collapse of both the Soviet-supported government in Afghanistan and of the Soviet-supported military structures that had formed the core of state power in Afghanistan.2 The processes at work resembled the breakup of colonial empires on other continents, notably Africa. In both places, the process of changing colonial administrations into nation-states was beset with conflicts and challenges to the legitimacy and capacity of the new states and their ruling elites from both within and without. Soviet policies, in particular its nationalities policy and the tight economic integration of the Soviet space, determined a particular range of outcomes that differed from other post-colonial regions. The outcome also differed significantly in Afghanistan, which was not politically incorporated into the Soviet metropole.