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Kazakhstan should no longer be thought of as potentially the “next” Saudi Arabia. It already is. Its oil and natural-gas reserves are of sufficient quantity and quality to fuel strong economic growth for many years to come, and Kazakh society is largely open and welcoming to Americans.

Earlier this week, Angela Merkel led a high-powered delegation of Germany’s largest corporations on a visit to Kazakhstan that resulted in $2.6 billion worth of new business for them. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been busy lecturing Kazakhstan on its human rights record, which already is incomparably the best in the region, and tying U.S. credibility and prestige in Central Asia to a well-meaning but dangerously weak and incompetent government and collapsing political system in Kyrgyzstan.

It’s time for clear thinking and one of those “new beginnings” the president is so fond of talking about.

Martin Sieff, a senior correspondent for Central Asia Newswire, is a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times. His most recent book is “Shifting Superpowers: The New and Emerging Relationship Between the United States, China and India” (Cato Institute, 2010).