Imagine for a second that you are Azerbaijan. For decades, you have spent billions of dollars on building up your military and on lobbying in the international arena to realize your expansionist goals in the South Caucasus. You’ve laid siege to Artsakh and Armenia both militarily and diplomatically. Yet your efforts to penetrate the defenses of the Armenian side have failed. It’s becoming abundantly clear that the leadership in Armenia and Artsakh, through their military prowess and strong diplomacy, have built an impregnable fortress.
You now have a few options.
- Spend billions of dollars more on expanding your military, with the goal of launching a full-scale war and achieving a military victory against Artsakh and Armenia. A military solution will be complicated by the involvement of Russia, which will undoubtedly provide logistical, military, and political support to Yerevan and Stepanakert.
- Spend billions of dollars more on bribing politicians, paying for pro-Azeri content in international media, and other forms of lobbying aimed at strengthening Azerbaijan’s position on the negotiating table. Use the pressure from the international community to force Armenia and Artsakh to make unilateral concessions.
- Spend a small fraction of that money (likely tens of millions of dollars) to change the government in Armenia, removing the technocrats and security personnel and replacing them with an administration that will do your bidding for you. This administration will weaken Armenia’s ties with Russia and other key allies, cripple its security apparatus, damage the public’s trust in vital national institutions, polarize its society, and otherwise diminish its collective national immunity. By weakening the fortress from within, it will be much easier to launch a successful two-pronged military and diplomatic campaign. There will be minimal resistance from the Armenian side and less involvement from Russia, Iran, and the rest of the international community. Given the power vacuum, even the active involvement of Turkey will largely go unpunished by regional players.
Which of these options seems most attractive? You likely want to hedge your bets, so you invest in all three. But it’s clear that option 3 gives you the best bang for your buck. You just need to find a way to funnel money into Armenia to amplify the globalist, anti-national, anti-Russian voices that will destroy your opponent from within.
If only there was such a way…