America Has Overlooked Nagorno-Karabakh, It’s Time To Get Back In The Ring

October 11, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: ArmeniaAzerbaijanTurkeyNagorno-karabakhRussia

America Has Overlooked Nagorno-Karabakh, It’s Time To Get Back In The Ring

Crisis denotes opportunity as well as threat.

A peaceful resolution to this conflict also creates a strong framework for resolving the competition among major powers.  This concerted diplomatic-economic-and if necessary military initiative would bring peace back to the region, create opportunities for constructive economic policies, reduce militarization (which in itself is antithetical to democratic governance), and also enhance U.S. influence and leverage in the region,  particularly as both parties would depend on the mediators to keep the peace and because both Georgia and Armenia are democratizing states.  Russia’s ability to fan the flames of this conflict as it has done by arms sales to both sides would also be reduced in a credible but unobtrusive way but remain sufficiently strong to protect its honor and quest for status, and Turkish adventurism would also be curbed.  In addition, the EU would now have an opportunity to formulate and implement a true Eastern policy rather than engage in rhetorical sideshows, as has been the case in the recent past.

This war began, in part, because of the abdication of the West from its interests and responsibilities in this crucial area, and now we must pay the price of our prior neglect.  Standing aside or making gestures in a fit of moralism that is not connected with existing strategic realities does not bring peace but rather ensures that the Caucasus will remain a crisis-plagued region where other actors fill the vacuum we created.  Moreover, in the future, such third-party initiated crises contain the inherent potential for escalation both in terms of weapons used and the involvement of other powers.  In the past major wars, like World War I, we began in just this fashion. We should not be complacent that analogous processes cannot occur if we abstain from involvement or pretend that the Caucasus is of no importance to us.  Crisis, as this war is, denotes both threats and opportunities.  Suppose we do not seize the day and the current opportunity. In that case, we can be sure that one fine day the threat generated, as the U.S. National Security Strategy states, by the involvement of great powers in critical regions like the Caucasus will arrive at our doorstep.  In 1913 Trotsky memorably wrote that you might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.  Likewise, politicians and analysts may profess that we have no interest in the wars of the Caucasus, but the fact is, as this war shows, that this war and the crisis underlying it are interested not only in Russia, Turkey, and other neighbors like Iran but also in Europe and the United States.

Dr. Stephen J. Blank is Senior Fellow at FPRI’s Eurasia Program.

This article first appeared at Real Clear Defense.

Image: Reuters.