George Bush‘s personal interest in Mongolia might be thought limited. Yet, when the country’s then leader visited Washington last year, the US president enthusiastically declared “a new era of comprehensive partnership”.
Mongolia’s 2.6 million people occupy an area of 604,000 square miles (the UK has nearly 60 million people in 95,000 square miles). While Mongolia has oil, its main resource is 20 million sheep and goats. But ruminants were not the reason Mr Bush was all riled up.
Mongolia is geographically sandwiched between China and Russia. And it has been steadily drawn into what Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York calls the “strategic net” being woven by the US in Asia to “persuade China to keep its ambitions within reason”.