New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS)



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Afghan War News > General Info > Development > New Silk Road Strategy


The United States has launched an effort to facilitate economic integration and security in Central Asia - a program called the New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS). This program seeks to promote trade and economic links through negotiations and agreements with several governments in the region to include China, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and other countries. This strategy will provide for greater commerce, transport and energy links between Central and South Asia.

The Old Silk Road. The name 'Silk Road' comes from the time when trade routes criss-crossed Asia centuries ago.  To view some maps of these ancient trade routes go to the link here.

State Department Announcement of NSRS. On September 29, 2011 , Robert D. Hormats, the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State addressed the SAIS Central Asis - Caucasus Institute and CSIS Forum and spoke about the United States New Silk Road Strategy.  You can read the transcript here on the State Department website.

Incorporation of Afghan Railroads. An important part of this New Silk Road will be the tying of the Afghan railways currently being funded and built into the NSRS.

Other Efforts for the New Silk Road. The U.S. is not alone in its attempts to revitalize or establish a New Silk Road. Other nations, for instance Thailand, have been engaged in long-term endeavors to bring the Silk Road back. 1.

Northern Distribution Network (NDN). The NDN is the transportation system that the coalition uses to move goods and supplies into (and out of Afghanistan) via the northern Afghan border. There is the possibility that the transportation infrastructure and systems developed from the NDN will in turn help tie Afghanistan into the New Silk Road - at least that is what U.S State Department and military officials are saying.  2.  However, there are some dissenting views on how much value the NDN will have in tying Afghanistan into the New Silk Road. 3.  Learn more about the Northern Distribution Network (NDN).

How Goes the NSRS? A critical look at the success of the State Departments' NSRS will yield varying opinions. The State Department will say that progress is being made and US interests are being advanced. This "IO" campaign by State on the NSRS is very similar to the ISAF "IO" campaign that the Afghans will be able to provide its own security in 2014 and that governance and development is improving. However, there are dissenting views that believe the NSRS has not been sucessful and will likely end up on the trash heap of good ideas. 4.

Is U.S. Influence Important in Central Asia? Some advocate a strong U.S. position in Central Asia for security, economic, and humanitarian reasons. However, China and Russia are making a strong play for dominance in Central Asia. The U.S. because of distance and geography is at a distinct disadvantage. In addition, should the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) fail to be agreed upon then the reasons for the U.S. to maintain a strong presence and influence has diminished. 5.

Reports and Publications about the New Silk Road Strategy

October 2012. The New Silk Road and the Northern Distribution Network: A Golden Road to Central Asian Trade Reform?, by Graham Lee, Central Eurasia Project. Posted here on Open Society Foundations.

June 2012.  "Discussing the 'New Silk Road' Strategy in Central Asia", Central Asia Policy Forum, George Washington University. A PDF file accessed here.

November 14, 2011.  "Central Asia, Afghanistan and the New Silk Road: Political, Economic and Security Challenges", Conference Report.  The Jamestown Foundation. Accessed here on Oct 31, 2012.

November 13-14, 2013. Central Asia / Caspian Sea Basin Region After the Withdrawal of U.S. and NATO Troops From Afghanistan, Report by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. The report states (one of many recommendations) that the U.S. policy makers should anticipate collateral consequences and be prpared to offer security and technical assistance in such areas as border control, narco-trafficking, and money laundering. A PDF file that can be accessed here.

Blogs and Websites Postings about the New Silk Road

The New Silk Road: Where Will It Lead?, by Cornelius Graubner, Central Eurasia Project. Posted here on Open Society Foundations, November 4, 2012.

"Whither the New Silk Road and U.S. Central Asia Policy?", By Stephen Blank, CACI Analyst, October 31, 2012. Accessed here on Centrial Asia-Caucasus Institute, U.S. Army War College.

Videos about the New Silk Road

January 9, 2014. "U.S. AMB to Latvia talks about the 'New Silk Road'. Video is about the transforming of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) into a commercial network dubbed the "New Silk Road".

Graphics, Pictures and Maps about The New Silk Road

Graphic entitled The New Silk Road depicting the Trans-Siberian Railroad.  By Bloomberg News, December 20, 2012. Accessed here.

Pictures of the railway overland route from China to Rotterdam. "Riding the New Silk Road", The New York Times, July 21, 2013. Modern day route traveled by trian instead of by camel. Access here.

Map titled "About the Silk Road" by UNESCO.

News Articles about the New Silk Road Strategy

November 10, 2016. "Europe Finally Wakes Up to the New Silk Road, And This Could be Big",

September 2, 2015. "The Silk Road Through Afghanistan". Foreign Policy. M. Ashraf Haidari describes how Afghanistan can benefit from regional trade agreements.

May 7, 2015. "Afghanistan: Battle for the Silk Road". by Parviz Azizi, Geopolitical Monitor. Northern Afghanistan has erupted in violence and the Taliban are making a concerted effort to destabize the region. One author believes the Pakistan ISI are deliberately targeting the area to prevent the establishment of a China-Afghanistan "Silk Road".

May 5, 2015. "The Silk Road Never Really Existed". By Erin Blakemore, China is attempting to turn away from its isolated past with an immense new infrastructure project.

April 2, 2015. "A Fiber-Optic Silk Road". The Diplomat. One overlooked benefit of the New Silk Road initiatives taking place in Central Asia is the laying of fiber-optic alongside newly constructed railways.

March 24, 2015. "US New Silk Road Initiative Needs Urgent Renewal". By Richard Weitz, Internaitonal Relations and Security Network (ISN).

February 10, 2015. "The New Silk Road and the Power of Ideas". The Diplomat. While goods may travel China'a New Silk Road; ideas will also travel this route.

January 22, 2015. "The New Silk Road Post-2014: Challenges and Opportunities". U.S. Department of State remarks by Nisha Desai Biswal.

November / December 2014. "Powering a New Silk Road". USAID Frontlines. Article describes the CASA 1000 project which would export electricity from Central Asian states to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

November 4, 2014. "China Planning $16.3 Billion fund for 'New Silk Road'". Bloomberg.

October 22, 2014. "Following the New Silk Road". The Diplomat.

September 29, 2014. "The United States' Silk Road to Nowwhere". Foreign Policy. The New Silk Road has reached a dead end; and the U.S. has come late in the game - beaten by Russia and China - with little interest in the fortunes of Afghanistan.

May 17, 2014. "China's New Silk Road Vision: Lessons for India". The Diplomat.

May 13, 2014. "What impact will the New Silk Road have on global trade"? Sourcing Innovation. Examines the roles of Russia and China in the new silk road.

May 2, 2014. "Vast potential in Central Asia and the new Silk Road". The Straits Times.

December 27, 2013. "New Rail Links to Boost China's Western Access". The Diplomat.

December 18, 2013. "The New Silk Road to Nowhere". The Diplomat. The author examines the liklihood of the CASA-1000 project making a difference.

October 25, 2013. "The United States and the New Silk Road". U.S. Department of State. Remarks by Lynne M. Tracy before a conference by the Jamestown Foundation.

October 10, 2013. "China goes down Silk Road again". New Strait Times. China hopes to revitalize trade with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

October 7, 2013. "Has China Shanghaied Central Asia"? GMF Blog.

September 27, 2013. "China stakes out investments along new Silk Road". The Wall Street Journal Market Watch.

September 18, 2013. "New Silk Road Top of Agenda for next U.S. Central Asia Envoy". The Bug Pit, NSRS listed among top agenda items.

September 18, 2013. "China's new 'Silk Road Economic Belt' through Central Asia seeks to exclude both Russia and U.S." World Tribune. Venture with five Central Asian states.

August 5, 2013. "Missed Opportunities Along the Silk Road: China and Russia Neglected". Registan. Excluding China and Russia will have consequences.

July 30, 2013. "Why Central Asia Matters". Registan. Article by Nathan Barrick.

July 27, 2013. "Supporting Small Businesses and Building the New Silk Road". Philadelphia News. A blog post by the Department of State (reprinted).

July 26, 2013. "Prehistoric Civilization Along China's Silk Road Discovered". Huffington Post. An early civilization sets the date of east-west trade to an earlier time.

July 25, 2013. "HP's Modern Silk Road cuts Carbon, Costs, and Shipping Times". Environmental

July 20, 2013. "From Ramen to Rotini: Following the Noodles of The Silk Road". New Hampshire Public Radio.

July 11, 2013. "The New Silk Route: Linking J&K and Central Asia - Analysis". Eurasia Review. Article discusses and Kashmir and the Silk Road.

July 9, 2013. "Countering Terror with Trade: The Silk Route to Gilgit-Baltistan". The Atlantic Community. Article about China and sea-lanes in Indian Ocean.

June 27, 2013. "Silk Road railways link Europe and Asia".

June 25, 2013. "The Importance of IPR in the New Silk Road Initiative". Innovation Files.

June 19, 2013. "Why does Central Asia Still Matter? Because it Matters to China". A blog post about China's interest in the Silk Road.

June 19, 2013. "Uzbekistan Setting Up Checkpoints on New Silk Road". The Bug Pit.

June 10, 2013. "Kazakhs launch 'Silk Road" China-Europe rail route". Chicago Tribune.

May 28, 2013. "The US in Central Asia: Still an Important Balancer? - Analysis". Albany Tribune.

May 27, 2013. "Kazakhstan on track to be the hub of the new steel Silk Road". The Times.

April 20, 2013. "The strategy of the new Silk Roads - a peace model for Eurasia". Current Concerns. Europe should turn from the USA and direct itself to Asia.

April 16, 2013. "History Professor Busts Silk Road Myths". The Hoya.

April 1, 2013. "The Silk Road under a microscope". The Advocate. A review of a recently released book entitled The Silk Road: A New History.

March 28, 2013. "Is China pivoting to the Middle East?" The Atlantic. The Chinese people have begun casting their gaze westward; but will the Chinese government follow suit?

March 13, 2013. "The New Silk Road and Regional Economic Integration". U.S Department of State. Comments by Robert Blake (DoS) at Turkic American Convention.

March 8, 2013. "The US in Central Asia: Beyond Afghanistan?" International Relations and Security Network (IISN). A an article by Dr Stephen Blank - a professor of National Security Affairs at the Army War College - he says there is a gap between the State Dept's rhetoric and investment in the New Silk Road.

February 12, 2013. "From Exotic to Everyday: The New Silk Road Shrinks a Continent". Central European University.

January 18, 2013. "Can China and Turkey Forge a New Silk Road?" Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.

January 13, 2013. "Saving the Silk Road". Global Times.

January 10, 2013. "China's Latest Piece of the New Silk Road". China in Central Asia.

December 21, 2012. "Along the New Silk Road". DipNote, U.S. Department of State Official Blog. A blog post by Siriana Nair of the State Department.

Decembeer 20, 2012. "The Silk Railroad of China-Europe Trade". Bloomberg Businessweek.

December 4, 2012. "US has made a strategic bet on India, says US official". Business Standard. How the New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS) bets on commerce in Asia.

November 28, 2012. "Asian trade raises prospect of new Silk Road". Australia Network News.

November 26, 2012. "Support for US "Silk Road" Plan". Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

November 7, 2012. "Australia should be in 'new silk road': PM". Business News.

November 1, 2012. "US Silk Road plans spin fragile thread". Asia Times Online.

November 1, 2012.  "Lecture: The New Silk Road Between Dubai and China". Creighton University.

October 29, 2012. "The new Silk Road". Thailand to build network of land, sea and air routes.  Bangkok Post.

October 21, 2012. "Arabia-Asia: China Builds New Silk Road, But Is the Middle East Ready".

October 12, 2012. Remarks by State Dept on New Silk Road, Robert O. Blake, J.

September 26, 2012. "Cloud Paves the New Silk road for Kazakhstan in Central Asia".

September 5, 2012. "Xinjiang: struggle to revive Silk Road". China in Central Asia Blog.

June 18, 2012. "The New Silk Road: Can a U.S.-backed initiative Bring Peace and Prosperity to Afghanistan?" Time Magazine.

May 18, 2012. "Bumps on the New Silk Road". The Huffington Post.

May 1, 2012. "A Modern Silk Road Between Asia and the Middle East". The New York Times.

December 5, 2011. "Laying the Groundwork for Afghanistan's New Silk Road". Foreign Affairs.

November 25, 2011. "U.S. Plan for a 'New Silk Road' Faces a Big Speed Bump: Iran". The Atlantic.

November 22, 2011.  "New Silk Road Strategy: Problems and Perspectives". Interview with Professor S. Frederick Starr, Jamestown Foundation Blog.

November 11, 2011. "The New Silk Road?". The Diplomat.

September 29, 2011. "The U.S.'s 'New Silk Road' Strategy: What is It? Where is it headed?"  Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

August 1, 2011. "Washington's Silk Road Dream". Radio Free Europe.

June 7, 2011. "New Silk Road could revitalize war-torn Afghanistan". Global Research.

November 18, 2010. "Central Asia: Washington to Expand Traffic on Northern Supply Route", by Joshua Kucera,

July 2, 2010. "Gen. Petraeus, the Northern Distribution Network and the "modern Silk Road", The Bug Pit,




1. For more info on Thailand and the New Silk Road read "The new Silk Road", Bangkok Post, October 29, 2012 accessed here.

2. For more on the relationship between the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and the New Silk Road see "U.S. General Says NDN Will Lead To New Silk Road", The Bug Pit,, December 1, 2012 posted here:

3. For a viewpoint describing why the NDN and the New Silk Road are not mutually supporting see "NDN And The New Silk Road, Together Again", The Bug Pit, October 25, 2012 accessed here on

4. For a critical look at the NSRS see "Detour Needed: The 'New Silk Road' and False Hope for a Troubled Afghanistan", Small Wars Journal, By Joseph Cheravitch, June 20, 2013.





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