The fall of the Soviet Union was rapid and unexpected, both inside and outside the country that for nearly half a century the United States had perceived as the defining influence on its foreign policy. By the time the Soviet Union broke up, the stand-off between Washington and Moscow had acquired the quality of a permanent feature of American policy toward a country that occupied nearly one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. Few in the U.S. foreign policy and national security community, whether inside or outside the government, could conceive of the vast Eurasian landmass in terms other than those dictated by Cold War competition. The rise of five new independent states in what used to be Soviet Central Asia therefore caught most, if not all, of the American foreign policy experts by surprise.