by Gayane Novikova

The basic aim of the U.S. National Security Strategy of 2006, like any such document is supposed to, is protection of security of the American people and American interests. Unlike the previous strategy presented in September 2002, i.e. a year after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, when the shock from what had happened, was still strong, – the new version of March 16, 2006, is more cut-out, tough and has absolutely clear setting: “We choose to deal with challenges now rather than leaving them for future generations.” The document starts from the President’s address and statement that “America is at war”, and the U.S. is ready to make preventive strikes practically by all front-lines. President George W. Bush stresses: “We fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country.”

The main basic goals of the Administration are:

-promoting freedom, justice and human dignity; developing of the effective democracies;

-confronting the challenges of the time by leading a growing community of democracies.

So the document is completely built on proving the leading role of the USA, which has totally thrown away its isolationist policy.  However, it is necessary to note that the National Security Strategy is first of all an overall guidance to act: the details and mechanisms of realization are defined in some other documents. By the way, the Administration is already being criticized for an excessive openness…

According to the “Strategy,” the basic threat to the U.S. security is the weapon of mass destruction, which can be found in the hands of terrorists. The document suggests that the threat is to be tackled, first, by promoting “effective democracies.” However, if the previous version had some ambiguous statements that the democratic development should be welcomed, the current version welcomes “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan; stresses the intention to use its own possibilities and those of the allies supporting development of free and fair elections, “democratic reformers in repressive nations, including by holding high-level meetings with them at the White House, Department of State and U.S. Embassies”, “encouraging other nations not to support oppressive regimes,” “applying sanctions that designed to target those who rule oppressive regimes,” “strengthening and building new initiatives such as the Broader Middle East,” etc. So the increasing U.S. engagement, including in the internal political processes of individual states, is apparent.

The authors of the “Strategy” now do not consider poverty, corruption, etc, as sources of terrorism, but rather the political estrangement of masses, dissatisfaction and blames addressed to others, insufficient awareness, cultivation of ideologies, justifying murderers, i.e. again all stems from the lack of a required level of democracy. Unfortunately, the ways of combating terrorism, accompanied with “pushing” toward democracy in the same Broader Middle East, lead to the contrary results. The authors of the new version of the National Security Strategy admit that the network of terrorism organizations is only widening, they are more dispersed and less centralized, so the combat against them becomes more complicated. No surprise that Afghanistan and Iraq are singled out in the document as a separate bloc – as the front-lines in the war on terror.

Iran is in the special focus in the document, which is understandable, taking into account the developments around that regional power. Iran (as well as Syria) is described as a state sponsoring terrorism, threatening Israel, hampering establishment of democracy in Iraq and peace in the Middle East; Iran is called “enemy of freedom.”   The main goal of Washington’s policy as regards to Iran is forcing Tehran to adopt a strategic decision on changing its nuclear policy, openness of its political system and granting freedom to the Iranian people, i.e. all is aimed at changing of the “illicit behavior” of Iranian leadership and their “bad conduct” of the country: “our strategy is to block the threats posed by the regime while expanding our engagement  and outreach to the people the regime is oppressing.”

However, its is worth paying attention to the fact that, first, M. Ahmadinejad’s coming to power, in a democratic way, was rather an objective reaction of Iran to the toughened policy of the United States in the region, i.e. in the geostrategic area that Iran considers as its own and has no intention to let someone else in. Second, the same United States understands well that it will be difficult for it to stabilize the situation in the Middle East without Iran. In particular, according to “The New-York Times” (March 17, 2006), a meeting of the U.S. representatives in Iraq with a delegation of Iranian experts is expected in the nearest future to discuss the violence in Iraq, and by the way, it is the Iraqi side initiated such meeting. The U.S. Secretary of State C.Rice said that the meeting may be useful.

Approaches toward Russia are also toughened. However, it is absolutely obvious that the United States is unable to ignore that state, which is described in the document as one of the centers of the global force.  At the same time there is a real clash of strategic interests of the USA and Russia along the entire longitude of the Russian borders. Therefore, the U.S. sees its task in increasing presence, including by means of “ousting” of Russia from the regions, posing the military and economic components of its security. One of the mechanisms used is the thesis of the insufficient democracy in that state. The Strategy puts that “strengthening of our relations will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts.” Stability in the Russian periphery will enhance deepening the U.S.-Russian relations, but it is worth mentioning that such rhetoric to some extent deviates from practical actions aimed at weakening Russian positions in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan (by the way, democracy has nothing to do with the last case). However, there is understanding that without taking into account the Russian interests the USA will not be able to pursue their own national interests in the regions adjacent to Russia, including in the South Caucasus. The most recent example, quite important for both counter-partners, was the U.S. consent on the Russian proposals on the Iranian nuclear program.

The new “Strategy” has one more section “Work with Others to Defuse Regional Conflicts,” which is very urgent for Armenia. It starts from summing up of the results achieved by the Administration in the first period of its government. Unlike the previous version with the detailed analysis of the existing conflicts in the world, the new one points out settlement of the situation in Sudan, Northern Ireland, improvement of the Indian-Pakistani relations, and the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. This time “Strategy” suggests a conceptual approach with three levels of the US immediate participation:

-conflict prevention and resolution (by means of democratic transformations, but in the regional context, which is important); progress mainly depends from the regional actors;

-post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction (a special office is to be created in the State Department), based on the consolidated rule of law, free market economy, which, according to the authors, will contribute to long-term stability and prosperity.

The sub-section “Genocide” is new in the current version of the “Strategy;” approach is outlined very concretely here: there is no need to search for definitions to avoid explanations of inactivity in concrete cases by their absence.

In accordance with the new National Security Strategy, a significant increase of the U.S. diplomatic activity in settlement of all three conflicts should be expected in the South Caucasus. However, while in the Abkhazian and South-Ossetian conflicts this activeness will be expressed in complete support of the Georgian authorities, including in reviewing of the format of the peace-keeping forces, then in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict the United States will prefer acting within the Minsk Group format, trying to gradually pull the rope towards itself, testing the public opinion in Armenia and Azerbaijan, including in the issue of the probable deployment of the peace-keepers in the zone of the conflict. The results of the negotiations in Rambouillet, though indirectly, show that.

March 20, 2006