Irresponsibility and futility of US policy in the Caucasus
    Imperialist deadlock

    ANALYTICS  27 November 2023 - 15:34

    Serhey Bohdan

    On November 21, Samantha Power, director of the American state organization USAID, published a note on social networks. In it, using plausible language, she hinted at the sabotage of the peace process in the South Caucasus. This was the American government's response to Baku's desire to independently negotiate with Yerevan without the intervention of external forces.

    The response of the Azerbaijani side was proportional - Hikmet Hajiyev, Assistant to the President, Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration, responded with a tweet to the tweet, noting that there is no place for USAID in the country anymore.

    It is hard to call it a surprise. It's not just Power's statements, USAID itself was at the centre of the scandal in Baku due to suspicions of funding the media, while extracting the necessary information and promoting the necessary messages.

    Deciphering the tweet

    At first glance, such a tough foreign policy line of Power as the director of the US government's humanitarian agency looks strange. Doesn't USAID stand for the Agency for International Development? But everything is logical; USAID assistance has already been rendered many times by an office with a "double bottom" and far from humanitarian issues, but close to power and military affairs - especially when they try not to publicize them. The agency does not hide the fact that it operates in coordination not only with the State Department, but also with the US Security Council.

    Therefore, it should not be surprising that Power's tweet looks like a veiled threat to disrupt the peace process in the Caucasus under plausible pretexts. It begins by misrepresenting the facts: “Two months ago, Azerbaijan’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh forced more than 100k people to leave their homes & move into neighbouring Armenia." Let us not cling to the figures, although the attempts to increase the problem arithmetically look ridiculous.

    However, another thing is more interesting: the causal link imposed on us, saying that the operation of the Azerbaijani army forced people to move to Armenia. Although Armenian sources also recognized that the military was concentrating its fire on the strongholds of Armenian armed formations, the troops were in no hurry to enter populated areas to avoid provocations, and the proportion of civilians killed in the fighting was uniquely low for any armed conflict in recent decades.

    There is no evidence that the army or any Azerbaijani forces drove civilians out of Karabakh. People left under the influence of Armenian nationalist propaganda and as part of a desperate attempt by revanchists to create the appearance of a "humanitarian catastrophe" in order to get outside forces to intervene. It did not work.

    Against this background, the following phrase in Power's tweet - " The US continues to stand with the ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh" - looks not at all like a display of humanity, but at least like an emphasized unwillingness to hear about the non-Armenian and much more numerous real refugees of the 1990s, who are still suffering from the consequences of the war unleashed by Armenian nationalists.

    Moreover, it is a direct hint of readiness to once again contribute to the resuscitation of separatist structures. The tweet is dedicated to the allocation of 4 million dollars in aid to the residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan who have moved to Armenia. The American official could have simply told about the aid and not gotten involved in political assessments. But she does exactly the opposite and again inserts a meaningful reference to separatist structures, announcing - " US humanitarian assistance for the NK response now totals $28 million since 2020".

    You will say that she is just promising humanitarian aid to migrants from Azerbaijan. But a recent story comes to mind. There was such a radical separatist organization in Sri Lanka as "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam", which the Tamil government tried to kill several times. Each time it was rescued under humanitarian pretexts, through the intervention of the Tamil diaspora and the howls of civil society.

    All to the accompaniment of exclusively humanitarian rhetoric, and again the slaughter continued on the island - until the catastrophic tsunami of 2004 dealt the Tigers a blow from which they have not recovered. So humanitarian aid, too, lends itself to dangerous manipulation. Moreover, in the case of USAID, the agency itself does not hide the fact that it has always been and is engaged not only in humanitarian aid, but also in security issues - moreover, Power recently flew to Yerevan to promise Pashinyan military aid, among other things.

    This is worth keeping in mind when analyzing Power's tweet. There is no room for unnecessary words in the tweet. Therefore, Power's text looks like a concentrated threat to sabotage the peace process in the region.

    The solution from hell

    The author of the scandalous tweet, however, is known for her militant approach to political issues. For her militarism and calls for the use of US military power - allegedly to stop human rights abuses and genocides - the US media once called her the "Harvard University Brainiac" - after the monster who feuded with Superman in popular American comic books.

    Once upon a time, she wrote a book, "A Problem from Hell," which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, about "genocides not prevented by the West" - like the Yugoslav war massacres of the 1990s. She obviously did not write about the fact that the West contributed to the outbreak of the war itself. She found such genocides everywhere - of course, she did not include the massacres committed by Armenian nationalists in the 1990s in the Caucasus in this category - and ironically called herself a "genocide chick”. And more balanced observers, analyzing Power's actions, noted that in response to the "problem from hell," she offers a "solution from hell”.

    Power actively promoted American military interventions in Libya, Syria and Yemen, ostensibly on humanitarian grounds. The consequences were equally inhumane everywhere: you can still admire them to this day. As Shireen Al-Adeimi of the Washington-based Quincy Institute aptly puts it, "These interventions, however, were anything but humanitarian: They led to a sharp increase in the loss of human lives, exacerbated a refugee crisis, enabled extremist groups, and caused an overall exacerbation of already-tenuous civil conflicts."

    That is why it is worth paying close attention to Power's words and deeds - she is not just another official in the US state administration, but a lady with a reputation, a known supporter of destructive policies under imaginary humanitarian pretexts. And now she should be looked at especially closely. She influenced the policy of even US President Barack Obama.

    The latter, as we remember, was active, proactive and quite capable of independently sorting out the affairs of his government. Therefore, he simply took the idea of "official recognition of the Armenian genocide", initially imposed on him by Samantha, off the table, recognizing in it a crazy global tendency to reshape history by political measures and to put Washington and Ankara at odds. Armenian nationalists then attacked Power for having promised (!) them this recognition, but she did not keep her word.

    The current US President Biden is the complete antipode of Obama, and this is what gives Samantha new opportunities for influence. Biden is weak in the domestic political arena, with a rating at the level of Yeltsin-95, his team is constantly struggling with financial difficulties and lawsuits, in addition to the dubious decision to seek re-election of the already unpopular Biden for another term next year. Those who remember the late Brezhnev are now experiencing a sense of deja vu as they watch the US president struggle to fulfil his most basic duties.

    As a result of such weakness of Biden, even serious policy decisions of the US government are increasingly influenced by other officials of his administration, in particular Power, who is known for her belligerence, which makes the White House policy even less transparent. And here we should remember that the above-mentioned tweet is not an isolated episode, but a confirmation that Power's position on South Caucasus issues has not changed. The fact is that she has previously clearly taken the side of Armenian nationalists and their aspirations for expansionism. One need not go far for examples - immediately after the start of the final operation of the Azerbaijani army in September, she called on Azerbaijan to "maintain the ceasefire regime".

    How Vardanyan and Clooney saved humanity

    This position is complemented by her interesting contacts, we would even say "dangerous ties" with the revanchist circles of the Armenian diaspora. The fact is that in 2018-2020, Power was a member of the selection committee for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanism. This award was established on behalf of "survivors of the Armenian genocide" - a bizarre attempt to speak on behalf of the long-dead to instrumentalize the bloody events of World War I by highlighting the suffering of some, deleting the suffering of others and painting everything in their own political colours.

    The objectives of the award were clear from the beginning - by handing out titles and money, the Armenian Diaspora tried to find in the global liberal establishment support for the salvation of Armenian statehood, which the Diaspora had brought to a dead end with its racism and expansionism at the end of the Soviet Union. At the inauguration, the famous Russian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan persistently photographed himself against the backdrop of film actor George Clooney, and together they taught humanity about morality and ethics.

    Samantha Power emphasized her personal relationship to the founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, speaking about her participation in it: “My reasons to join the initiative are obvious. These people, the founders of Aurora – Ruben [Vardanyan], Noubar [Afeyan], Vartan [Grigoryan]… If they were tasked with solving the Syrian crisis or establishing peace in the Middle East, we would not have those issues now.” To say that Power in the late 2010s did not know how Vardanyan-like fortunes were being made in Russia is ridiculous. But she continued to follow Clooney in talking about noble impulses and participating in Vardanyan's venture right up to her current position, which included a renunciation of public activities.

    Here we can clearly see a serious problem in the decision-making system in the United States, and in a number of other world powers. On the one hand, they seem to have serious means to implement the most ambitious political decisions around the world. But on the other hand, their policies are often influenced by diaspora activists, commercial lobbies and simply corrupt businessmen.

    The relations between the United States and Azerbaijan are a vivid example of this. Here we see how Vardanyan, despite his obviously murky past and present, was operating among the American establishment and was assisted by honourable gentlemen - big businessman Noubar Afeyan and now deceased professor-historian Vartan Grigoryan. The former is from Lebanon, the latter from Iran. They, like many members of the Armenian Diaspora, have never lived and never intended to live in Armenia, but it is they who are trying to realize the fruits of their imagination with American hands.

    On behalf of the dead, they teach humanity how to live, on behalf of the real Armenia, to which they travel as tourists and "philanthropists", they teach the Washington establishment how to organize the Caucasus! The interests of large corporations, particularly those involved in the sale of energy resources and the military-industrial complex, help them in the shadows. More openly, they are aided by politicians with dubious connections like Power or another friend of the Armenian extremists, Senator Bob Menendez.

    Recently, the US law enforcement agencies have been closely involved in the latter, and one of them, commenting on the recent investigation into Menendez's corrupt dealings for the media, quipped that the senator "sold his soul for the opportunity to lead a lifestyle that he could not financially afford. This time, the weakening administration of Democratic President Biden is apparently unable to save his fellow Democrat, who has been unsuccessfully tried more than once for bribery, corrupt ties to foreign governments, or trying to excuse his wife, who killed a man in a car accident in 2018.

    An imperialist impasse

    Manipulation of the current American administration's policy towards Azerbaijan (though not only Azerbaijan) exposes its dubious nature, imperial arrogance, which harms both Azerbaijani, Armenian and American peoples. Let us recall that Samantha Power's ill-fated tweet was preceded by the November 15 congressional hearings, which vividly illustrate the absurd and illogical imperialism of US policy toward the peace process in the South Caucasus.

    At the hearing, the US Assistant Secretary of State blackmailed Azerbaijan by "suspending aid" and demanded that the Azerbaijanis 1) actually refuse to create the Zangezur corridor (since the conditions he proposed would be guaranteed to be used by Yerevan to do nothing) and 2) refuse contacts with Iran on transit issues. Translated from political language into human language, Washington demanded that Baku abandon its plans to reliably connect Nakhchivan with the rest of the country and all hopes for the restoration and full development of the South Caucasus. In case of fulfilment of these absurd for any sovereign state demands, the Americans promised to send further "assistance".

    Not surprisingly, after this incident, Baku refused to hold another round of peace treaty negotiations on the American platform. That's when Samantha Power entered the arena. But the main reason for the American attacks on the Azerbaijani government was and remains Baku's unwillingness to agree to the manipulation of the peace treaty.

    Baku insists for a reason that peace must be concluded on a bilateral basis. This does not mean a "woe to the vanquished" style diktat; Baku could have applied such an approach to Yerevan more than once, but did not do so. For peace in the Caucasus to be strong and stable, it must reflect the real balance of power and interests in the region between the contracting parties. The participation of an engaged mediator means that the peace treaty will not reflect the balance of power and interests of the contracting parties, but will also be the result of the influence of outside forces and reflect their interests.

    Even if these outside forces are benevolently disposed (which is not a fact, given the hostile escapades of well-known representatives of the American establishment towards Azerbaijan and Türkiye), this is a dubious undertaking in a situation where the countries in the region are by no means failed states with collapsed government structures that need “blue helmets” "to build the world.

    It is doubtful if only because no external force (world power) can ensure the implementation of such guarantees, especially in a region remote from their borders - the story of the Budapest Memorandum is extremely indicative. Let's say even more - not one of them is immune from decline.

    Even “eternal Rome” quickly fell in its time, despite its seemingly undisputed hegemony. And the history of the decline of Rome is notable precisely for the increasing inability of its leadership to cooperate with allied non-Roman forces - disparagingly called barbarians. Even the notorious Attila and his Huns had no intention of opposing Rome; Rome left them no choice.

    By the way, the logic of imperialism was very similar, simply the “authoritarian regime” was translated into the language of the ancient Roman politician as “barbarian”, and “democratic” - as “civilized”. This arrogance ended in a well-known way.

    The people of the South Caucasus can build the only reliable future for themselves only together and without tying it to the guarantees of the superpowers of the West or East. And it’s time for these superpowers, especially Washington’s contenders for world domination, to understand that their future also depends on respect for other states and realistic policies, and not the ridiculous ultimatums we have heard from the American side in recent weeks.

    There is no point in playing at being an “indispensable nation,” whose supposedly unique democratic structure gives it the right not only to teach others, but also to attack them or at least try to arrange “democratic changes”, “Maidans”, etc. in them.


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