On September 17, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy hosted a panel discussion featuring distinguished experts and former officials speaking on the state of affairs in Central Asia. At the Crossroads of the World: Assessing U.S. Policy in Central Asia featured Professor Alex Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, and Director of Columbia's Harriman Institute; and Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, a former U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic and leading U.S. official working on the region. NCAFP President and CEO Ambassador Susan Elliott moderated the panel and also offered her insights as a former ambassador to Tajikistan.
Central Asia rests on a global crossroads. Lying along the historical Silk Road, ideas, people, and goods have made the journey from Europe to East Asia through this intersection for thousands of years. Presently, Central Asia continues to play an important strategic role for a number of major powers, including Russia and China. Furthermore, the United States maintains strategic interests in Afghanistan, and is keenly interested in maintaining a strong presence in the region.
The panelists spoke to these sentiments and also offered updates on such issues as the development of Uzbekistan, foreign investment in the region, and the possibility of advancing the smaller Central Asian nations. The discussion was followed by a lively Q&A that also featured additional comments from the Kazakh Permanent Representative to the United Nations, speaking candidly and off-the-record.