Armenia and the changing world: indirect challenges and threats
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Armenia and the changing world: indirect challenges and threats


Over the past month, I had to write final articles for some international journals. It made me think much about the current state of the Armenian world and possible threats to Armenia on the eve of a big clash of the leading centers of power. The last two texts in the Russian version of Forbes were devoted to the recognition by President Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as to the introduction of new sanctions against Russia in connection with the problems surrounding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It may seem that these and other world political events have nothing to do with Armenia and the Armenian world. In the short term and directly, this connection may seem weak (although the issue is debatable), but in a strategic perspective, we will somehow get into the general course of future minor troubles and big problems.

The crisis of the US-Russian relations and the strengthening of the radical neo-conservative American elites that are more determined to act against Iran represent the indirect threats of a global nature to the Armenian world, centred on official Yerevan. In addition, we should note the dying interest of the United States in relation to Armenia and the Armenian factor. Washington continues to increase its pressure on Moscow by introducing new sanctions packages in the political, economic, energy and military-technical spheres. In the last year of Obama's presidency, a bipartisan consensus emerged in Congress about the need for consistent pressure in the Russian direction. Sanctions were adopted by a total majority of votes (97%), which cannot be ignored by any head of the White House. Moreover, the party leaders of both Chambers at the legislative level have banned the US President from lifting the sanctions unilaterally.

The military intelligence lobby (Mattis-Pence group), which has a strong influence on the Administration, also supports the tactics of pressure on Russia and advocates the strengthening of the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). This situation puts the Armenian side in a dead end. The national interests of the country are based on the importance of preserving the stability of the US-Russian relations or at least of not letting them roll into a deep interstate crisis. Many experts believe that regardless of the complications in the political dialogue, Washington and Moscow retain unified principles on the settlement of the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict. One could agree with this statement, but there are specific points to be taken into account. Firstly, we should not forget that we are talking not about the bilateral US-Russian state format but about the institutionally coordinated position within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group (in fact, we hear the voice of the organization, not of the individual countries). Secondly, since the Administration of George W. Bush, there has been a decline in America's interest in Armenia and Karabakh. The signs of this trend are more than enough: freezing of the Section 907 in relation to Azerbaijan and the annual reduction of external allocations to Yerevan and Stepanakert against the increased aid to Tbilisi and Baku. The current US Administration does not want to spend political and economic resources in the Armenian direction, and only from a pragmatic point of view, Washington does not object to Russia's activity on this issue.

It is necessary to calculate the potential consequences of the worst scenarios, in which both sides can transfer their conflict to the most painful issues for us. While analyzing all "possible", one should realize that for some objective and subjective reasons America has not used the existing arsenal of super heavy sanctions against Russia yet. In other words, we should understand that the recent "stable" turned into the "bad" stage for less than three years. Moreover, this is not the limit. It will be extremely difficult to conduct direct negotiations with such a hawk Administration in order to mitigate the future impact. Even in the period of George W. Bush's presidency, when there was a stable background in the US-Russian relations, and pro-Armenian lobby groups acted in a way, Robert Kocharyan failed to persuade the White House to keep the 907th Section to the "Freedom Support Act".  The situation is deteriorated by the fact that not a single bridge has been built during the last 25 years between Armenia and the USA to solve pressing foreign policy issues.

The Iranian issue is another reason for a headache. It is difficult to argue with the fact that Armenia's geopolitical wellbeing largely depends on the positive dynamics of relations with Tehran. Any decisions of Washington to close Iranian issues once and for all automatically are harmful and dangerous for Yerevan. However, unlike the Russian vector, discussions on the Iranian case continue both in the Administration and in the party elites of the Congress. For the Democrats, the agreement with Iran has a political and symbolic significance. It was under the Democratic Administration of Jimmy Carter that America lost Persia, one of the key allies in the region. Therefore, it is symbolic that the process of rehabilitation of the political dialogue began under Democrat Obama. There is no doubt that the "donkeys" will protect their foreign policy heritage in every possible way. Thus, they will indirectly defend the interests of Armenia in this direction (just coincidence).

However, this state of affairs also does not guarantee the preservation of the status quo. The main problems for Trump and neo-conservatives in Congress, wishing to solve the Iranian problem by force, are not Democrats (the minority) but the real and moderate wing of the Republican Party as well as libertarians from the Tea Party. The good news is the absence of prerequisites, signalling the imminent overcoming of the inner-party split. However, this does not mean that the neo-conservative bloc will put aside this issue. We must be cautious, taking into account the factor of pro-Turkish influence groups that actively work with key senators and heads of leading think tanks that are involved in the process of forming political decisions (especially RAND Corporation). Moreover, it is necessary to monitor the dynamics of the American-Azerbaijani dialogue - the measure of Washington's interest in Baku directly depends on the decisions concerning Tehran.

Today, the Armenian side has very little time and resources to respond to the consequences of formally indirect threats. A first airbag is the presence of influence within the United States. America is a complicated country in its political structure, where the final decision is made taking into account the multitude of institutional (branches of power) and non-institutional factors (ideology, influence groups, organizations, lobbyists, etc.). The principle of "Anglo-conformism" lies at the heart of the American nation. It means the Anglo-Saxon vision of the world and the Anglo-Protestant religious and ideological, spiritual existence. For decades, rings from various ethnic groups have been formed around this philosophical nucleus. All of them brought some new elements. The Germans diluted Anglicanism with Lutheranism, the Dutch added Baptism, Reformism and Moravism, and the Irish and Italians became bearers of Catholic religious values. These ethnoreligious groups were the ones to form the nucleus of the American political nation.

Other ethnic groups connected to one of these main "chargers" to obtain the necessary energy for the quick and efficient integration into the American national elite. Taking advantage of the religious factor, the Jewish diaspora connected to Evangelical America, becoming an essential element of the conservative elite (the Republican Party). Getting into one of the rings allows you to move to the second stage - formation of ethnic capital, which is urgent to nurture the new generation and provide its further integration into the socio-political, economic and cultural life of the country.

The third step is the final integration and transition from one of the rings to the core. It happens when an ethnic Jew that occupies the position of the Vice President (Albert Gore), the Secretary of State (Henry Kissinger), the Secretary of Defense (William Cohen) becomes a norm for the "Anglo-conformist" American society.

Similarly, the leaders of the Polish community connected to the Irish charger on the basis of the Catholic factor. Today, Turkish and Azerbaijani groups are seeking access to different networks. It should be noted that their groups have achieved some success so far. However, these achievements are temporary because they are based solely on financial instruments (the purchase of one-time chargers). There are no fundamental ideological foundations that could bring these ethnic groups closer to one of the existing rings of the national elite. Armenians that created their heritage in America back in the era of colonial domination of Great Britain have significant advantages.

Nevertheless, for some reasons that we will not be able to disclose even in several articles, Armenians could not create their charger, and we did not connect to any other (we were unlikely to think about it). This issue is again relevant now: either we will influence external elites through existing formats, or we will become an object of projecting their influence. In the current conditions, Yerevan, the political center of the Armenian world, which has the status of a subject of international law, and the communities - the elements of the future Armenian transnational nation - must radically change the attitude towards each other and the changing world.

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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