Perplexing Military/Political Strategy

Keghart.com Board Editorial, 13 June 2011
 
When a state, which is growing in militarily might by the day, keeps threatening its hard-pressed neighbor on a regular basis, what does the threatened state do, especially when the threatened party is perceived, by some, to be militarily stronger than its bellicose neighbor? Most people would assume the state at the receiving end of the constant threats would take military action—while it still has the military advantage–to discourage its neighbor from turning menacing words into action.
 

Keghart.com Board Editorial, 13 June 2011
 
When a state, which is growing in militarily might by the day, keeps threatening its hard-pressed neighbor on a regular basis, what does the threatened state do, especially when the threatened party is perceived, by some, to be militarily stronger than its bellicose neighbor? Most people would assume the state at the receiving end of the constant threats would take military action—while it still has the military advantage–to discourage its neighbor from turning menacing words into action.
 

And when that belligerent state regularly shoots at the threatened state’s soldiers, who are in defensive positions, and even slays farmers tilling the fields, what does the harassed state(s) do?
 
Armenians know  the above are not academic scenarios or questions. For instance, between May 8 and 14 the Azerbaijani forces violated the Artsakh/Azerbaijan ceasefire protocol around 450 times. According to the Artsakh Armed Forces, in that one week Azeri soldiers fired 1,700 times in the direction of Artsakh forces. Since ceasefire was signed in 1994, instances of Armenian or Artsakh forces acting aggressively against Azeri forces have been few and far between while the Azeris have made a habit of attacking the Armenians—army and civilians.
 
One could attribute the Yerevan/Stepanagerd “restraint” on a plan to compile a dossier against Azerbaijan– a file that can be presented to the United Nations or to other international agencies, to demonstrate that Azerbaijan is not interested in peace with its Armenian neighbors. If such is the case, how thick should such a dossier be to make a credible case to international bodies? And as importantly, why assume that dossier-compiling is part of the Armenian strategy when Yerevan and Stepanagerd have been singularly lackadaisical in this aspect of their political campaign against Azerbaijan?
 
Frankly, we are perplexed. Confused by the inexplicable silence on the part of Yerevan and Stepanagerd, we are left asking, “What—if any—plans do the two Armenian capitals have to scotch the almost-daily Azeri aggression?” How many Armenian soldiers and citizens have to be killed before Yerevan and Stepanagerd decide that Baku has crossed the line?
 
A few weeks ago Richard Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center was quoted in PanARMENIAN.Net, saying that the resumption of hostilities [between the Azeri and Armenians] seems illogical because Baku “knows it will lose.” Giragosian went on to say, “Azeris will need eight to ten years to reach the level of Armenian armed forces, despite ongoing purchases of armament, which will produce no result in clumsy hands.” This is certainly music to Armenian ears, but what if Mr. Giragosian is unduly optimistic about the strength of Armenian military forces, especially in an impoverished country which is being depopulated—due to emigration–at an alarming rate.
 
Mr. Giragosian’s optimism sounds hollow, specially his allegation that the Azeri army is poorly trained and will remain so for another decade or so.  With sophisticated weapon imports from at least 17 countries, training by Turkish and Israeli military advisors, advanced Israeli anti-missile capabilities and security systems, the Azeris, with their bigger army, mercenaries hired through petrodollars and support from highly-motivated Afghan, Pakistani and Chechen Islamist fighters would become a serious threat to Armenians long before Mr. Giragosian’s sunny forecast.
 
We certainly are not advocating that Armenia and Artsakh attack Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian side should publicize the almost-daily Azeri aggression. Photos of the Armenian victims, of widows and orphans, of damaged buildings and infrastructure should be circulated to the international media. The Republic of Armenia foreign minister should make the rounds of major capitals and present a graphic image of Azeri mischief. World public opinion should become familiar with the endless Azeri threats and attacks. If following such an information campaign still Baku persists in ignoring the ceasefire, then Armenian and Artsakh armed forces should retaliate. It should be a limited but convincing retaliation. It should be tough enough to persuade Baku to pull back its snipers and other peace-disturbing elements.
 
It’s the least Yerevan and Stepanagerd should do. After all, their first duty is the security of their citizens. If, as security specialists say, Azeri forces are weaker than the Armenian forces, Baku would come to its senses and stop its violations of the ceasefire. If it’s stronger, all indications are that it would get even stronger tomorrow.     
 
27 comments
  1. I would also add

    I would also add that not retaliating despite Baku’s constant provocations could convince Azeris that the Armenians are weak. That conviction could encourage them to enlarge the attacks or even go to war against Armenians.

  2. We should retaliate now!

    We should retaliate now! When they are still weak (per Guiragossian), if this is the case.  We should not wait ten years when they are much stronger.  Hit them where it hurts; piplines, refineries, military bases.  Thus we would set them back 20-30 years.  This is not the time to be good Christians!  If they slap you once,  we should slap/punch them back ten times over.

    1. Retaliation

      I am all for massive retailiation someday… their refineries and oil wells, but I worry that they might hit our Medzamor. We know what could do that to Yerevan and to the rest of Armenia.

      1. Mesrob, Piplines, Refineries

        Mesrob,

        Piplines, refineries and, of course, military bases are legitimate military targets, but Medsamor is not, since it would cause massive civilian casualties. It is against the Geneva Convention to cause disproportionate civilian casualties. This will not be just "collateral" damage.

         

        1. Pipelines and Medzamor

          Dear Mr. K.,

          I hope you are right about Medzamor and the Geneva Convention.

          But I remember Israel ordered its nuclear bombs out of their bunkers, in 1973, in preparation for bombing the Aswan Dam, Cairo and Damascus. The story is that they reversed their decision when Kissinger promised and delivered an aerial weapons bridge from the US to Israel to guarantee the latter’s victory. And that’s what happened.

          Mesrob

           

          1. Mesrob

            Mesrob,

            Israel is a bad example.  Nothing they do is legal, but they get away with it because Israel is spoiled child of the West.  What they did in 1973 was just a bluff so that they could get American support and the U.S. caved in to their pressure and provided them with the weapons they needed to turn the war to their advantage.

          2. Do You Mean…?

            Do you mean Azeris are acting legally and will follow the so-called Geneva Convention? If Azerbaijan is ever on the verge of losing the war, it will do whatever it takes to harm Armenia, even drop a nuclear bomb–if it gets its hands on one.

            Remember, Azeris and Turks are barbaric people. They will not shy away from mass crime. After all, their culture is based on multiple genocides throughout their short history.

            As for Medzamor, can’t it be shut down completely once war starts?

          3. No, Yeghish

            No Yeghish, I did not say that. All I am saying is that there are rules even in war time– what you can and can not do. That does not mean people/nations don’t break the rules. If they do break the rules, there are consequences, i.e. war crime tribunals. Criminals break the laws all the time and that is why we have jails and courts. We can have thousands of "what if" scenarios until the cows come home. For example, we have over 50,000 fatalities in traffic accidents in the U.S. every year. By your logic, driving in the U.S. is dangerous so we should stay home and give up driving. Lastly, I don’t know if you have any military background, but I do. When we go to war, we first attack the enemy’s defensive capabilities and the communication systems and then their offensive capabilites so that they can not retaliate.

          4. After They Kill

            After they kill half of Armenians, tribunals will be useless and meaningless. After all "who remembers the genocide of the Armenians?"

            Can you show me a single instance when tribunals brought justice for any crime?  None whatsover, not even Hitler’s crimes were ‘properly’ brought to justice.

          5. You still don’t get it!

            You still don’t get it! Like I said earlier, driving in the U.S. is dangerous so stay home and give up driving.  What are you really suggesting here?  We should bend over and let them screw us?  I guess you missed the last part of my earlier comment.  We have to hit all their offensive and defensive capabilities so that they could NOT retaliate. Or like you are suggesting, do nothing and be slaughtered like sheep.  Thats what we did in 1915!  Losers will always be losers.

          6. Please Read

            Please read what I have written without changing the subject of Medzamor; we are talking about different things, perhaps just a communication issue? Here are my points:

            We must attack with full force. However you need to realize that, in case of defeat, Azeris will not abide by any Convention and will use every method available to them to cause harm to Armenia and Armenians.  They will not hesitate to destroy Medzamor, if need be. If you will reply to this, please do not claim that "otherwise there will be consequences." That’s B.S.

            They have bribed the UNESCO not to show, in Paris, the origins of Khatchkars. I will not be surprised to see the UN bribed as well to ignore their aggressions and crimes.

            This article, in itself, says a lot about the Azeri agression that is being ignored by the UN and most nations.

  3. Weak foreign policy

    This is not surprising and reflects one more example of sitting with crossed hands in the face of provocations. One could also ask why the governmetnt did not expel the British ambassador some yeras ago who denied in Yerevan the fact that the 1915 events were Genocide? Similarly with Sweden, whose prime minister actually apologised to Turkey because his congress had passed a resolution recognising the same genocide?

    No, the authorities are too busy with hostile moves against the genuine supporters fom among the Diaspora, as I can personally vouch.

  4. No more No less

    Armenians should only reciprocate  on same scale, lest the powers to be -like always – pin it  on us, that  is if we retaliate forcefully..

    Oh these Armenian  warmongers  again!!!! 

    I´ve said enough  I guess…

  5. Azeri attacks

     Why don’t we get into International Media – after all anything U hear these days is about Jews only. That’s how they had their Genocide recognized & still rave about it. No one cares about Artsakh or Armenia – we have to make them know & understand everything & we have to be aggressive same as other nations. We give warning & we educate world about it & then if no result we can retaliate & show the world we do exist & have Arstakh recognized also as an independent State – Why doesn’t Yerevan start this action? We are few and getting fewer unfortunately, we must stop migration of our people & get Diaspora to join with Armenia to achieve the absolute.

  6. Russia

    The role of Russia in Armenian policy is something that has not and is not being discussed as much as it should be.

    Please do not discount the possibility that Yerevan has to literally make a phone call to Putin everytime it wishes to fire a shot or make any move at all on the line of contact — or on any other matter.

    What are Russia’s goals in Artsakh? Probably to get the best deal it can from Azerbaijan — such as as the sale of future gas and oil to Russia instead of to the West. When Russia gets what it wants, it will try, and probably succeed in forcing Armenia and Artsakh into signing a deal, just as it did with the Turkish-Armenian Protocols.

    Russia is playing kingmaker. Let us consider the possibility that Russia may shaft Armenians without hesitation when the time comes, just as it has in the past.  Russia, after all, is the one that gave Artsakh and Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan in the first place. Russia is the one that has taken down the statue of Antranig in Sochi to please the bloody Turks.

    How can Russia get away with all this? Because it owns Armenia’s energy grid and much more, and supplies Armenia with most of its natural gas. And because Armenia is headed by corrupt officials.

    Get ready for a Russian sellout, just as happened so many times in the past. The point and the question is, to what extent are Armenia’s and Artsakh’s policies their own and to what extent are they dictated by Russia? Until we answer that question, we really don’t know what Armenia’s policies are.

  7. Please stop spreading the myth

    Please stop spreading the myth that Armenia is de-populating.  It is not.

    Russia has just stated that it will interfer on the side of Armenia in case the latter is attacked by azerbaijan.  So much for the Russians selling out Armenia.

    1. It’s Not a Myth

      There are scientific census studies that indicate the population of Armenia is decreasing (similar to most of the European countries) not only because of emigration but also new couples are not willing to have more than one child. To maintain a steady population (not a growing population) the birth/death ratio should be 2:2. For Armenia it is 1:2.

      It’s not like last century when married people used to have five children or more. In the next 50 years there will be huge changes in population concentrations in major countries in Europe and more specifically in Armenia. These changes might result in the disappearance of Armenia.

      So yes, realizing that it’s not a myth, we can work on ‘fixing’ the situation with the help of the Armenian government and the Diaspora.

      1. Article Did Not Specify

        The article did not specify which type of depopulation it meant. The one based on low birthrates is true and applies to many nations in Europe, as well as to Japan. I agree more MUST be done on this issue part of which is not just having more kids in Armenia but also repatriation by thousands of Armenians from the world-wide Diaspora.

    2. Russia’s Interests

      If Russia’s interests change tomorrow, it will not defend or support Armenia. We are just a game for their interests.

      To have power, we need to have people in high positions in the Russian government– the military, economy, etc. How do you think Israel is getting the help of the US?

       

      1. Unless Russia Wishes To See

        Unless Russia wishes to see Turkish expansion into the Caucasus, not just the South Caucasus mind you, but all of it, and then by extension into Central Asia, Russia will abandon Armenia. However, since Russia and Turkey are geopolitical rivals, that is geography dictates their relationship as much, if not more than politics, then they will continue to support an independent Armenia which acts as a hammer on any Turkish advances into the Caucasus.

        I agree that the Diaspora in Russia needs to get into high positions in business and government, but compared to our other Diasporas, especially in the US, the Armenians in Russia are leagues ahead in the influence game. Not least of which is due to Russia wanting Armenia to remain independent for Russia’s own strategic reasons, as partially outlined above. Whereas the US interest in the region is more or less energy based on transportation to Afghanistan, where the US will stay forever.

  8. Armenia Stinks at PR

    Serge Sargsian and his cronies are too busy filling their pockets with the peoples’ money to pay attention to stating the case for Artsakh. Typical sour-pussed, glum, Soviet-style apparatchik.

  9. Nation’s interest at heart

    I have followed with great interest the dialogue between John K. and Yeghish. I think both have the nation’s interest at heart. Both present valid concerns. However, what if in the event of escalating skirmishes and confrontations, and ultimately a war the Azeris do not comply with conventions and Medzamor gets hit with a collateral damage that could be detrimental to Armenia?

    Shouldn’t this concern be factored in whatever Armenia plans to do in retaliation to Azeri provocation?

    I think, as the editorial suggests, Armenia should document every single  provocative instance, compile and present them to the UN and circulate to foreign delegates and media as widely as humanly possible. Individual Armenians too have to do their part. Armenia doesn’t have the propaganda and information machinery like the ones Azerbaijan and Turkey posess. Armenians, wherever they are, should disseminate this type of information to all their odar friends and organizations that they have contacts with, thus assisting Armenia. Armenians talking to each other does not help at all. To start with, this editorial itself sent to odars may sensitize them, albight in a humble and in a small degree to the unlawful acts that Azerbaijan continues to commit.

  10. Retaliating?

    In this day and age there is no "an eye for an eye"; then we both become blind. You retaliate economically; the trillion dollar question is how……that is where smart nations rule. Our history showed us what we are…..

                                                                                      

    1. Retaliate Economically? 

      Retaliate economically? Very smart, indeed. I guess you can look at Armenia vs. Turkey situation another way. It is not Turkey that is blockading Armenia; it is Armenia that is blockading Turkey. Also, the Armenian Diaspora can boycot all Turkish goods. That will teach the Turks a lesson not to fool around with the Armenians! lol

      1. Retaliate

        Retaliate but only if our government wants to create an atmosphere where investors can invest in our country, creating employment without government thinking "what’s in it for me?" and compete worldwide. We can then see their goods all over. People will buy wherever it is economically reasonable. I do not think you can dictate someone to read and check the sticker forever.

        In respect to Azeris ignoring the ceasefire, if our government cares, it should make all kinds of noises. It’s about time we learned from U of A’s red-hair boy. They do not miss an opportunity. Only the  squeaky castor’s noise makes people pay attention because it bothers your ear.       

  11. Retaliate or not?

    I’ve been to Armenia three times  ’94, ’95, and ’97. When I went there in ’94 with the ARFYOC, I helped renovate a dormitory in a summer camp for kids who had lost their fathers in the war in Artsakh. The last thing I want for that dormitory is to have new kids show up. So even though retaliation does seem like the right thing to do, it is not up to us in the Diaspora to decide. 

    I think in a situation like this, where there is time to decide, the government needs to ask citizens what they want. If it is the people’s will to fight, by all means retaliate. If they do not want a long and frustrating conflict, diplomacy has to be given a chance. The governments in Yerevan and in Stepanagerd need to get their ducks in order and do what they are responsible to do.
  12. Just wait for a couple of days more

    We shall learn of  the outcome of today’s meeting at Kazan of the 3 presidents.

    If  nothing good and tangible comes  out  of it then remember  one thing  that  none above  have commented  on: The great  Turkey  factor. No one  has really stopped to think that  the main instigator/supporter in need and deed to little brother Azerbaijan is there  waiting and  may take advantage  of a war and spring  up with the real Turkish flare,  that  of their KHERS/wrath…….

    They may very easily cross  into RA and connect with little brother. By the time British, American and or Russian fighter  jets  intervene (take Libya’s  case) it will be  too late and those  fighter jets or bombers would  have failed  to stop the invader. Remember how  Erdogan  with that  wrath ordered  to tear  down the friendship monument  that a kind Turk  had the idea  of erecting, symbolizing  Friendship  between Kars  and Armenia across the border

    No we are  not dealing ONLY  with Azerbaboons  but  great Turkey also, unfortunately made great  by  you know  who.

    So we  must  move  very cautiously  amongst  these  people. Best  is to try to strike up some new  or  renewed  alliances, friendships such as with all Arab states, Iran and then some others…like CHINA….!!!!!!!

    Do not hesitate to find  new  allies. For  that  may be yet  another solution in light  of the West always backing  up  Turkey.

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