The U.S. has clearly pursued the policy aimed at preserving its super power position in the aftermath of the Cold War.(1). Thus, the U.S. aims to prevent the detrimental extent of strengthening of other international players. The aforementioned is apparent in the outlines of the U.S. national security strategy. Russia’s activity has emerged as a decisive factor for the U.S.’s South Caucasus policy in the 1990’s. American position towards Russia in the early years of the latter’s independence was cooperation oriented.(2) U.S.-Russia relations of the time were described as “strategic partnership”.(3) In the meantime the U.S. was aware of the Russian policy targeting the control over the energy sources in the post-Soviet space.(4)
The U.S. Draft Defense Planning Guidance has emerged in May 1992. The document focused on elimination of possible threats to American power and its interests. Accordingly, the attention was riveted to prevention of threats to the U.S.’s territorial integrity, country’s citizens and its armed forces, and also envisaged provision of military aid to the U.S. allies. It also stipulated that in line with the U.S. interests no hostile forces would be allowed to gain control over sensitive regions of the world.(5)
Notably, the U.S. has made negative assessment of the Russian oversight of the post-soviet space energy sources. In the following years the objective of increasing the clout in the post-soviet space has remained a key “problem” in the U.S.-Russia relations.(6) Russia’s policies in the given geographic space proved to be a crucial factor in the U.S.’s Central Asian, Caspian and South Caucasus policies.
For example the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. War College had published a report named ”Economics, and Security in Central Asia: Russia and its Rivals”. According to the report the U.S is described amongst the rivals of Russia in the Central Asia. Distinctive feature of the rivalry was believed to be the imposing of Russia’s will upon the Central Asian states.(7) South Caucasus was also mentioned in the report. It was noted that international attention riveted to the South Caucasus caused Russia’s discontent in the context of its interests in the region. Report also addressed the competition over the pipeline routes and portrayed it as the main factor of the rivalry in the South Caucasus. Report claims that selecting routes that bypass Russia would confine Russian power on the region.(8)
The same year, Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Department of the U.S. National Security Council had outlined the objectives of the U.S. Caspian Sea strategy. The Caucasus was distinctively highlighted among the objectives. Constraining Russian clout in the Caspian Sea region, including the Caucasus, was described as a priority. In the meantime, Western aspirations within the former Soviet republics of the South Caucasus were to be endorsed. The enhancement of the diversity of global energy sources was another significant matter. Pursuit and protection of the interests of the American companies was also consistent with the objectives.
In this regard, by the 1995 the support of the “Westernization” of the Caspian basin, inclusive of the South Caucasus, and ensuring the diversification of the energy sources were in line with the U.S. strategy of controlling regional energy resources.(9) Acting in compliance with the U.S. foreign policy objectives the U.S. companies were seen as vehicles of gaining control over the energy sources. In the security strategy documents of the U.S. in the 2000’s the South Caucasus region was mentioned yet again.(10) Those documents also discuss Russia and its policy aimed at its vicinity(11) and reveals the U.S. interest in the Caspian Sea direction.(12)
For instance, according to the National Security Strategy document of 2000, the international environment is uncertain, volatile, and full of threats. Attention is directed towards the spread of democracy in the regions outside of the U.S. but vital U.S. interests. Document described the need to establish a world order associated with the U.S. values.(13) Moreover document states that oil makes up for 40 % of America’s energy needs and that half of those volumes are imported. Therefore, issue of energy is emphasized in security strategy document.
Caspian region is mentioned in the context of energy security. The attention is drawn to reserves of some 160 billion barrels of oil. The U.S. import demands are satisfied by Venezuela, Africa, Canada, Mexico and other OPEC member states. Therefore, the Caspian Sea basin is apparently not among key oil suppliers for the U.S. In this regard, the significance attached to the Caspian region in the U.S. security strategy document may be related with rising global energy demands.(14)
On the other hand the U.S. reaffirms that its interest in oil rich regions of the world will be the fundamental for America. In this situation the South Caucasus’s rich oil regions and geostrategic location are notable. The U.S. interested to pursue the control over the energy producing regions and facilitation of exports to the world markets. Therefore, the U.S. aims to exercise control over the regions that are not direct providers of energy for the American market.
More so, the U.S. National Security Strategy published in 2002 revealed that comprehensive national strategy encompasses energy security issues. It specifically refers to the assortment of energy types and sources.(15) Apparently, energy security and Caspian Sea oriented interest is amongst the factors of the U.S’s South Caucasus policy. In the strategy of 2003 the Caspian Sea energy reserves were mentioned once again. The document highlighted the increased strategic importance attached by the U.S. to Caspian sources.(16)
Similar to the National Security Strategy consequent U.S. National Military Strategy of 2004 also focused on “global security objective”. Establishment of necessary security environment for ensuring international order, along with provision of security within the country itself is placed among the 4 defense priority concerns that may trigger the mobilization of U.S. armed forces. Apparently threats are again placed outside the national borders. In the meantime reliable access to strategic locations and global scale action capability is among 4 fundamental defense objectives.(17) In this context obvious objective of the U.S is to impose its “Super Power” position on the global scene.
According to the U.S. National Defense Strategy Document of 2005 Russia is a country with “strategic” position. Document also addresses the risk of renewed rivalry between the large powers, claiming that this may lead to confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. It reads that Russia’s decisions with regards to politics, economy and security would affect its relations with the U.S. Attention is drawn to the possibility of changes in Russia’s strategic position in line with the missions assumed on global and regional matters. The document asserts that this would lead to volatility for the security of the U.S. and that risks would ensue along with opportunities. Although as a strategic country Russia may pursue cooperation with the U.S. on certain issues there is a good chance that it may turn into regional rival or even a foe. The “key” countries that exert influence in the sensitive regions crucial for the American interests are regarded as a “threat”.(18) Given the reference to the Caspian Sea region in the U.S. National Security Strategy published in 2002 it is presumable that this location too is deemed sensitive. Thus, Russia’s influence in the Caspian Sea region may appear as a threat to U.S. interests.
In the National Security Document of 2006 there was an increase articulation of the energy issues. The idea of concerted activity between the U.S. and the energy producers aimed at the diversification of sources and types is once again reiterated. Delivery of energy resources to the open markets is described as a special initiative conducive to the provision of global energy demands.(19) Apparently liberalism means are exercised in the U.S. policy towards securing global energy demands.
Moreover, document refers to the global scales of the free market and trade facilitation in the context of the energy security. It is assessed as a “necessity” and any impediment in this regard is a “risk”. Along with the economic liberalization more comprehensive expansion of the democratic infrastructure is considered a major U.S. objective. In case of failure of ensuring the rule of law, resolution of problems in “transparency and state governance” are described as a must. This is also included in the energy security section.
This reveals the U.S. perspective on certain countries and regions in the context of energy. Since Caspian region and the South Caucasus precisely match the description it appears that U.S. policy here is economy and democracy oriented. Russia, a power in the energy area, is portrayed as a “principal regional partner”. The country is also viewed among the regional and global driving forces and yet another “important European country”. More so distinctively different from the previous security strategy documents Russia is investigated as a separate topic. Therefore, U.S. and Russia share common interests. Similar to influence exerted in Europe and the country’s immediate vicinity Russia, due to its geography and other power factors, enjoys clout in other locations with vital U.S. interests.
National Security Document of 2006 drew attention to the fact that Russia has great impact upon its surroundings. It also describes Russia’s influence in the Middle East, and Central, South and East Asia and calls for action to eliminate obstruction in the development of democracy. Thus, the U.S. admits that it aims to manage the oversight of democratic movements in the countries resting within the Russia’s sphere of influence. Main precondition for new active democracies to possibly gain power in the Immediate Vicinity is maintaining sustainable relations with Russia.(20) South Caucasus, being regarded as Russia’s immediate vicinity, may be encompassed by this approach.
Additionally, U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act was adopted in 2007. Accordingly, targets are the lessening of the U.S.’s energy import dependence and search of alternative energy sources. It defines an objective of establishment of strategic energy reserves and envisages diminishing of importing energy resources of foreign origins. In the subsequent National Defense Strategy of 2008 ensuring international security is mentioned as U.S.’s national objective.(21) Notion of security for the U.S. has gained global meaning. Means of achieving national objectives were “shaping of policies of the key countries, expansion of the U.S.’s alliances and securing U.S. strategic access and retain freedom of action in important regions”. Presumably strategic access and freedom of action is referred to the energy issues thus making it a national security issue. Continuous access to energy sources is a must for endurance of the global economy. Dominance of oil and dependence of global economy on energy resources originating from volatile regions is deemed a handicap. Thus, supplying oil to world markets becomes imperative. U.S. interest towards oil producing countries derives from global economy’s growth demands.
National Security Strategy of 2010 has summarized the U.S. objectives as follows: strengthening domestic security, ensuring comprehensive alliances, and promoting just and sustainable international order.(22) International order stipulates a “U.S. lead, just alliance established to confront global threats”. International order is viewed in the context of advancing U.S. interests. This serves as an idea to contribute to the pursuit of U.S. national interests.
Document acknowledges Russia as one of the power centers in the XXI century. Moreover, document suggests 3 countries to pursue the relations with, namely China India and Russia. Therefore broadening of cooperation based on mutual interests is recommended. In the meantime it reads that U.S. would support sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states in the immediate vicinity of Russia.
Thus, U.S.’s South Caucasus policy must be viewed as an outcome of energy security and global security objectives. In the context of energy security Caspian Sea region is important in terms of energy resources that compliment global supply. Hence, energy reserves of this region are crucial in terms of diversification of the supply.
On the other hand, another factor of the U.S. policy in the region is the retaining of freedom of action. U.S. aims to control the shipment of energy resources from the Caspian Sea. More so, it attaches significance to preserving the leverage on the global energy demands. Therefore, the U.S may use democracy and liberalization of the economy as means to achieve its goals in the South Caucasus. Global security factor is mentioned amongst other U.S. security objectives. In line with the objective any power that wields clout in certain part of the world is a threat, especially referring to Russia’s activity in the post-soviet space.
Acknowledged as an important power in the security strategy documents – Russia’s influence in the sensitive Caspian Sea region may entail clash of interest with the U.S. South Caucasus is not only endowed with energy resources, but is also lying along the energy transportation routes. Therefore, clashing interest in the Caspian Sea region only emphasizes the significance attached to the U.S.’s South Caucasus policy.
General Command of Turkish Armed Forces Command of Military Academies Institute of Strategic Studies MA in International Relations
1. Lind, M. (2007, Şubat 12). What Next? US Foreign Policy After Bush. Open Democracy. Open Democracy: http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-americanpower/what_next_4340.jsp.
2. Brzezinski, Z. (1994, Mart/Nisan). The Premature Partnership. Foreign Affairs. The Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/49687/zbigniew-brzezinski/the-premature-partnership.
3. Nichol, J., Cooper, W. H., Ek, C., Woehrel, S., Woolf, A. F. ve Hildreth, S. A. (2010, Ocak 29). Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests. Federation of American Scientists FAS: www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33407.pdf. p. 24.
4. Blank, S. J. (1994). Energy and Security in Transcaucasia. U.S. Army War College Strategic Researches Institute: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub171.pdf. p. 11.
5. U.S. Department of Defense. (1992). Draft Defense Planning Guidance. The National Security Archive. The George Washington University: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb245/index.htm.
6. Kharabi, J. (2010 , Bahar/Yaz). Rethinking Russia : U.S.-Russian Relations in an Age of American Triumphalism – An Interview with Stephen F. Cohen. Journal of International Affairs. volume: 63 issue: 2, pp. 191-205. Journal of International Affairs: http://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/us-russian-relations-age-american-triumphalism-interview-stephen-f-cohen.
7. Blank, S. (1995). Energy, Economics and Security in Central Asia: Russia and Its Rivals. The Defense Tecnical Information Center: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/doctrine/research/centasia.pdf. p. 1.
8. ibid., pp. 11-12.
9. Amanov, Ş. (2007). ABD’nin Orta Asya Politikaları. İstanbul: Gökkubbe Yayınları. p. 161.
10. White House, The. (2002). The National Security Strategy of The United States of America. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu.
11. Aral Tellal, Zümrüdüanka: Rusya Federasyonu’nun Dış Politikası. Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilimler Fakültesi Dergisi. volume: 65 issue: 3. Ankara Üniversitesi: http://www.politics.ankara.edu.tr/eski/dergi/pdf/65/3/9_tellal_erel.pdf.
12. (2000). A National Security Strategy For A New Century. Global Security: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/national/nss9912.htm. p. 19.
13. ibid., p. 5.
14. ibid., p. 30.
15. ibid., p. 31.
16. White House, The. (2002). The National Security Strategy of The United States of America. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu. p. 19.
17. Nichol, J. (2007, February 01). U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Centers Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Security Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests. U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/81353.pdf. p. 6.
18. U.S. Joint Chiefs of State. (2004). The National Military Strategy of The United States of America-A Strategy for Today A Vision for Tomorrow. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu. p. 1.
19. U.S. Department of Defense. (2005). The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu. pp. 4-6.
20. White House, The. (2006). The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu. p. 6.
21. ibid., pp. 38-39.
22. U.S. Department of Defense. (2008). United States of America National Defense Strategy. Military Education Research Library Network MERLN: www.merln.ndu.edu. p. 9.