Sins of omission: Constructing negotiating sets in the Aral Sea Basin
Following the Soviet Union's collapse, the Central Asian states introduced new institutions for interstate environmental cooperation in the Aral Sea basin. This article examines why Central Asian elites and the international community could not choose the optimal negotiation set for environmental protection when designing postindependence solutions for cooperation. How the negotiation sets were constructed hinged on how issues were linked, added, and subtracted. This article explores the three negotiation sets available to the Central Asian states at independence: a water set; a water and energy set; and a water, energy, and agriculture set. Although the third set was the most environmentally effective, it was not included in the set of feasible solutions for domestic political reasons related to the importance of cotton as a system of social, economic, and political control. Short-term economic and political interests prevented the leaders from shifting agricultural production away from cotton to less water-intensive crops.
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