“Azerbaijan won the geopolitical prize of bordering the three great regional powers.”

That’s from a Stratfor piece on the geostrategic importance of Azerbaijan to the US (the three great powers are Russia, Turkey, and Iran). It’s typically unsentimental, which is one of the reasons why everyone should read Stratfor:

Specialists in U.S. foreign policy divide into two camps. One camp is the realists, who argue that the United States should pursue its national self-interest. That seems reasonable until you ask them to define what the national interest is. Another camp consists of idealists, who want to use American power to do good, whether building democracy or stopping human rights abuses. It’s a good idea until you ask them how they intend to do it. Usually the answer is to intervene but only kill bad people. I assume they will wear signs.

Part of this lack of sentimentality is that they are rather blunt in their assessment of situations and alternatives:

Human rights advocates, including those in the State Department, have said that the Azerbaijani government is repressive and corrupt. Therefore, they have opposed arms sales to Azerbaijan.

I am not in a position to have seen repression or corruption.

(because he moves in circles who wouldn’t experience this) but

Whatever criticism might be made of the regime, it is difficult to imagine that the alternative would be either more liberal or transparent. An Iranian-sponsored alternative would look like Iran. A Russian-sponsored alternative would look like Russia.

That’s a point that they’ve made repeatedly w.r.t. the so-called Arab Spring: that it’s unrealistic to assume that what follows current distasteful regimes is going to be less distasteful (an argument they’ve also made regarding the US intervention in Iraq, for instance).

So yeah, one can argue with the prescriptions but then one needs to argue about the current climate in “Western democracies” but one cannot argue with the descriptions without appearing hypocritical.

Read the whole piece.

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