"Undoubtedly Central Asia's strategic importance in international affairs is growing. The rivalries among Russia, China, United States, Iran, India, and Pakistan not to mention the ever-changing pattern of relations among local states (five former Soviet republics and Afghanistan) make the region's importance obviously clear. Central Asia's strategic importance for Washington, Moscow, and Beijing varies with each nation's perception of its strategic interests. Washington focuses primarily on Central Asia as an important theater in the war on terrorism. Additionally, it is viewed as a theater where America might counter a revived Russia or China, or a place to blunt any extension of Iranian influence. Moscow and Beijing view the region as a vital locale for defending critical domestic interests. This asymmetry of interest is a major factor in the competition among states for influence in the region."
U.S. Army War College, Parameters: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/
Parameters: United States Army War College Quarterly (Spring 2008), v.38 no.1, p.73-87