Case 324 - Taking on Turkmenistan
Love, Maryann Cusimano
In 2003, Turkmenistan faced U.S. sanctions for failure to comply with two different U.S. laws: the Jackson-Vanik Amendment of the Trade Act of 1974, for not allowing people to leave the country freely; and the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, for severe violations of religious freedom. The country had a long history of dictatorial rule, dating back to before Soviet rule, but conditions had worsened after an attempted attack against President Saparmurat Niyazov the Great the previous year. This case study asks participants to assess how the new U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan handled these challenges when she arrived in Ashgabat to take up her duties. Many of the lessons students draw here could be applicable in other countries where American diplomats have limited leverage with which to persuade autocrats to promote democracy and good governance, and respect religious freedom and other basic human rights.