Joseph E. FALLON
The reality of ”international relations” remains as Thucydides first described them in his History of The Peloponnesian War – ”right…is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”1 To counter the threat posed by a neighboring strong state, the weak state must seek an ”alliance” with another strong state, one that is an adversary of the first, to neutralize that threat, following the maxim ”the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. A balance of power is, thereby, established insuring the continued political existence of the weak state and enabling that weak state to maximize its ability to conduct an independent foreign policy.
This is what Azerbaijan has successfully done for the past quarter of a century. Bordered by two powerful states to which it once belonged – Iran to its south ruled Azerbaijan from the 16th to 19th Centuries and Russia to the north ruled Azerbaijan from the 19th to 20th Centuries – Baku has countered the existential threat both pose by establishing relations with the European Union, Israel, but most importantly, with the U.S.
This paper consists of five parts.
First, it will examine how Azerbaijan has used its strategic location and natural resources to establish a de facto alliance with the U.S. as a means to maintain its political independence.
Second, it will explain why the U.S. supports Azerbaijan as part of Washington’s geopolitical strategy, domination of the Eurasian continent, as outlined by American scholar and presidential advisor, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski2, in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.3 It will examine Dr. Brzeznski’s Grand Strategy and consider the tactics proposed by Neo-Cons to achieve this goal.
Third, it will analyze why support for the independence of Iranian (Southern) Azerbaijan with or without its reunification with Azerbaijan would be a ”poison pill” for Baku.
Fourth, it will consider the repercussions of secession by Iranian (Southern) Azerbaijan on regional stability.
Fifth, it will conclude with a recommendation for the continuing advancement of U.S. – Azerbaijani relations.
Expert on Middle East, Central Asia, and Islamic Extremism, Center for Security and Emergency Management, Inc. (C4SEM), New York.
1 CHAPTER XVII, Sixteenth Year of the War – The Melian Conference – Fate of Melos, https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm
2 Zbigniew Brzezinski is a CSIS counselor and trustee and cochairs the CSIS Advisory Board. He is also a senior research professor of international relations at the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, in Washington, D.C. and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Atlantic Council. He is a former chairman of the American-Ukrainian Advisory Committee. He was a member of the Policy Planning Council of the Department of State from 1966 to 1968; chairman of the Humphrey Foreign Policy Task Force in the 1968 presidential campaign; director of the Trilateral Commission from 1973 to 1976; and principal foreign policy adviser to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential campaign. From 1977 to 1981, Dr. Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. In 1981, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in the normalization of U.S.-China relations and for his contributions to the human rights and national security policies of the United States. He was also a member of the President’s Chemical Warfare Commission (1985), the National Security Council-Defense Department Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy (1987-1988), and the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (1987-1989). In 1988, he was cochairman of the Bush National Security Advisory Task Force, and in 2004, he was cochairman of a Council on Foreign Relations task force that issued the report Iran: Time for a New Approach. Dr. Brzezinski received a B.A. and M.A. from McGill University (1949, 1950) and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1953). He was a member of the faculties of Columbia University (1960-1989) and Harvard University (1953-1960). Dr. Brzezinski holds honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Williams College, Fordham University, College of the Holy Cross, Alliance College, the Catholic University of Lublin, Warsaw University, and Vilnius University. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Most recently, in 2016, Dr. Brzezinski was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the department’s highest civilian honor. His many books include Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power (Basic Books, 2012); America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy (Basic Books, 2008), coauthored with Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius; Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower (Basic Books, 2007); and The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership (Basic Books, 2004). https://www.csis.org/people/zbigniew-k-brzezinski