Again at the crossroads of history: how can we survive in the changing world?

Again at the crossroads of history: how can we survive in the changing world?

The recent global processes, namely, the dialogue between the leaders of the DPRK and South Korea, the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the "nuclear deal" with Iran, the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (you can find my material for Forbes Russia on the topic), the attempts of Germany and France to return foreign policy subjectness to Europe, Turkish and Israeli factors in the Middle East, and the victory of President Vladimir Putin with preservation of the policy of building a new Russian Empire suggest that the world is entering a zone of prolonged geopolitical turbulence. The roots of the current world political crisis go back to the late 80's and early 90's of the 20th century. The fall of the Soviet Union - the bearer of the socio-communist ideology and one of the guarantors of the Yalta-Potsdam system of world order - marked the end of the Cold War and the bipolar order in international affairs. On these ruins, a new system emerged that was based on the total global hegemony of the winning subject, the United States. 


The central narratives were built on the concept of democracy and market relations. The retreat of realism in international relations gave rise to a vacuum that was filled with neoliberals' ideas about global and open capitalist jungles and neoconservatives' perception of the world through the prism of American exclusiveness based on Christian-Jewish values. In fact, we were in a wild forest. There were no rules and order, and non-standard solutions and approaches determined one's success in the struggle for survival. History shows that the strengthening of large predators (great powers) is always due to the absorption of small herbivores (small countries and peoples with weak state immunity). The battle of these powers, the breakdown of the international system and geopolitical cataclysms have always been painfully reflected in the Armenian world. We have always been in a losing position due to the lack of a unified strategic long-term vision.


History is not about a subjunctive mood, but it would be interesting to witness the fate of our nation had Tigranes the Great taken the side of Rome in the war with the Pontine kingdom. Personal family relations with Mithridates VI influenced that political decision, which resulted in vassalization of Greater Armenia. There were plenty of such situations - the non-alternative orientation of the Cilician kings to the Catholic world of Europe, the excessive political trust to Great Britain and France after the First World War, etc. The superficial attitude towards big politics and hope that the money of some oligarchs (Gulbenkian, Mantashev) will help defeat the strategy of the opponents led to the loss of a significant part of the historical territories with the tacit consent of the international community. The tragedy was that neither Boghos Nubar nor Galust Gulbenkian and Aram Manukyan could become Kemal Atatürk, Georges Clemenceau or Joseph Stalin. We lost our independent Armenia in large international political corridors and the preservation of a small part of Eastern Armenia (that became Soviet) turned out to be possible thanks to the fanaticism, courage, and recklessness of individual military leaders: Garegin Nzhdeh, Movses Silikyan, Andranik Ozanyan, Drastamat Kanayan and others. Nations that passed through such shocks (Jews, Irish and Poles) came to the same conclusion - they need to create and strengthen state and national immunity.


It seems that we need additional lessons because we do not want to draw the necessary conclusions. As a result of the end of the USSR, we have formalized territorial borders, which are legally recognized by the international community as a sovereign of the Armenian people. So history repeated. The national army represented by collective Monte Melkonyan succeeded in the liberation of Artsakh - one of the strategic zones of Greater Armenia. This victory was significant not only from the military standpoint but also from the psychological point of view. It was crucial to break the thinking of the people that always loses lands and replace it with the concept of a nation that collects its physical and metaphysical historical heritage. Unfortunately, like a hundred, five hundred and a thousand years ago, officials sold this victory, and the state was turned into a territory for the realization of their ambitions.


The people (unorganized majority) was engaged in solving social problems and did not demand from its "elite minority" to create state institutions and a system of checks and balances. As before, we began to associate the state with the images of personalities that were elevated to the political absolute by ourselves. Our officials did not become state agents. The principal difference between the first and the second is that an official serves the boss and the narrow bureaucracy while the statesperson is always loyal to the two metaphysical attributes-the national flag and coat of arms. Today's tragedy is the same as it was always - we experience lack of a political nation and state agents and have the orientation toward external centers. Let's try to consider some specific examples that will allow us to reveal fundamental problems that put the Armenian state in mortal danger.


Let us take the leading foreign policy priority - the negotiation process on the Artsakh issue. Being a realist, I realize that any foreign policy ambition must be backed up by a suitable resource base. Not only we won a military victory in the 90s, but also questioned the physical existence of Azerbaijan (if there had been strategists at that time, this task would have been completely solved with the support of external centers). The only global power - the United States of America, through the Administration of George Bush Sr. - considered Armenia as its ally in the region. Again, if we had had statists, the theoretical project "Caucasian Israel" could have become a reality (unfortunately, we have to use subjunctive mood again). Besides that, European countries (notably France) were ready for serious strategic dialogue, Russia was in the wake of Western influence, and our lobbyists were at the peak of their power. In other words, during the first ten years of independence, we could achieve greater opportunities both on the domestic front and in the direction of foreign policy diversification.


How were these opportunities used? Instead of demanding the unconditional surrender of Baku, the ceasefire agreement was signed. It was impossible to think of a better gift for the Azerbaijani side. The victorious party suspends a successful movement (being afraid of external reaction) and gives the enemy time to secure political and economic background and prepare for inevitable revenge. The political process, which initially began with the factual recognition by all parties of the subjectivity of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), subsequently became a geopolitical blow-out. Having strengthened its position, Azerbaijan began its consistent strategic campaign not only against Armenia and Artsakh but also against all ethnic Armenians around the world. The NKR was turned off from the negotiation process, and the world began to get used to the extremely favorable version for Azerbaijan that there is no Artsakh side, there are only 20% of the territories occupied by Armenia.


Moreover, all this took place together with the massive outflow of the population from Armenia. The Armenian lobbying resource was wasted for the adoption of useless resolutions on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. No matter how we treat the official Baku, their position is characterized by consistency, constancy, and transparency at least. Even their banal and simple narrative that any Armenian is their enemy helps to support the country in a mobilized state. Over the past ten years, Azerbaijan has seen two things: political decisions can always be bought (Safarov's case), the international community and even allies of Armenia still refrain from using real tools of pressure (neither sanctions nor embargoes). To date, they are accustomed to seeing only rhetorics that covers another reality: Russian Solntsepek systems and energy interests of the West. If we want to change the situation, we have to accept and digest this reality at all levels of the Armenian world.


What is our strategic approach? We still do not know what our conceptual interest is. In general, there are three potential scenarios for the further development of the whole process connected with Artsakh. First one is that the Armenian side adheres to the "Miatsum" strategy at all levels and initiates the process of including the NKR in Armenia. This step will not only be a preventive response to the aggressive policy of Azerbaijan, but it will also show who our long-term allies are and who imitates the partnership to solve their problems. The second one is the narrative of "not a single inch of the earth," which is gradually being blown away by the Armenian officials themselves. There is slow recognition that the real subject of negotiations is the surrender of territories in exchange for political illusions. However, in a situation when the international community turns a blind eye to Aliyev's statement that Syunik, Sevan, and Yerevan belong to Azerbaijan, it is even death to think of any territorial concession under any sauce.


The third scenario is that we say "no" to all external forces that require concessions from us without guarantees of immediate international recognition of the NKR and begin preparing for war. Taking a national strategic decision, we must clearly understand that if we choose the second option, the nation will receive not only shame but also war that will unfold on all fronts. Undoubtedly, in theory, one can consider expectant tactics. However, only a completely different Armenia can afford this variant - with a population of five million people, with a developed economy, with its military-industrial complex and an extensive international lobbying network. The opportunities for the phased creation of these conditions were missed in the 90s. Now, there is no time for our accelerated reorganization, especially against the backdrop of internal squabbling for the power among small party and opposition groups. At the same time, the choice in Artsakh direction is only the beginning (although essential). There are still significant problems coming from the depths of the American-Russian and Iranian-Israeli crises.


No analyst will give open recommendations in the public domain, so I will limit myself to a number of fundamental areas. In the short term (1-3 years), it is necessary to reach national consensus and reconciliation in order to complete the phase of fatal internal crisis and uncertainty. In the coming months, all institutions that are responsible for drafting and adopting foreign policy decisions must be reorganized. The current institutions and ministries, which are built according to the Soviet bureaucratic pattern, are grounded on conducting failed policy (just analyze the personnel policy of the last ten years in the main ministries). While consulting with the leading think tanks, it is necessary to start the development of the National Security Strategy (not updated since 2007), the Foreign Policy Concepts, the Economic Development Strategies, the Intellectual Security Concepts and, most importantly, the National Doctrine, in which the priorities of the Armenian world will be determined for five, ten, twenty and fifty years. Multimillion communities should be institutionalized into a single political Diaspora institution (I posted my vision on this issue in one of my columns in Mediamax).



In the medium-term period (3-6 years), it is necessary to begin the construction of the Armenian state lobby in Protestant America. The United States will retain the status of a global hegemon for a long time to come. Access to the economic, military-political (NATO) and technological tools of America will determine the success of a particular country and nation. Using the support of Israel and pro-Israel lobby, Azerbaijan is gradually creating broad lobbying networks in the United States. Concentrating on some democratic states (California, Massachusetts), the Armenian side runs the risk of losing the Republican South, which is the engine of American policy. Due to the lack of serious lobbying, Armenia loses a significant part of American external appropriations every single year. Since the 2000s, the total volume of gratuitous assistance declined from 80 million dollars (average sum) to 6 million dollars. Besides, the current Armenian organizations failed to use the fact of April aggression of Azerbaijan to advance the issue of the resumption of Section 907. It is necessary to restart the American direction completely. Otherwise, our opponents will fill this vacuum.


Areg Galstyan - PhD, regular contributor to The National Interest, Forbes, The Hill and The American Thinker. These views are his own.


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