U.S. Prioritizes National Security Over Democracy

“Is America the bastion of democracy in the world?” Political analysts do not definitely answer this question in the affirmative. Some answer “yes,” while others say “no.”

We asked this and other questions to Dr. Roshvan Ibrahimova, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Kavkas (Caucasus) University. According to the academician, democracy in the United States comes second where national interests and national security issues are involved. “People are even ready to go to war in order to defend their national security and national interests,” adds Ibrahimova. “In other words, democracy is, at best, an important element in achieving national security.”

We continued our conversation with Prof. Ibrahimova:

How would you characterize the election of the first dark-skinned president in the United States, then?

In reality this is not a coincidence. Five black senators have been elected to the United States’ Senate thus far. Both of the Bush Administration’s Secretaries of State, Gen. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, were African American. An African American by the name of Jessie Jackson was a candidate for the United States’ presidency. Even though he was not elected, the mere fact that he was a candidate made a difference. It is interesting that what used to be considered as imaginative is now becoming a reality.

There is also another issue here. The chance for Republicans to win was dismal in this election. Even if Hillary Clinton was the democratic nominee, she would’ve won.

Does this mean that the falling of the Republicans in the eyes of the American citizens made it possible for the Democrats to win?

The Democrats came to power four times during the 20th century: Woodrow Wilson, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton. In general Democrats come to power either when Republicans are in big trouble, or when they have a charismatic leader. Wilson, Kennedy, and Clinton were charismatic. Kennedy was even the first Catholic to win the presidency in the history of the United States. As for Carter, he came to power in the wake of the “Watergate” fiasco that Nixon faced. History repeated itself with Obama. The financial meltdown, coupled with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Bush’s inability to solve that problem, which are all the result of unwise foreign politics, created the atmosphere needed for Obama to win.

Obama promised lots of change in America’s internal and external policies. What would these changes be in your opinion?

In fact Obama built his whole campaign on the notion of change. He promised to empower all, to unite people, and to create consensus. He said that America is for all Americans. The rest of the nominees—even Hillary—were talking in terms of “we,” and “you.” Obama was saying “we all.”

However, Obama is not yet an expert in the realm of foreign politics. Even as a senator his forte was not international relations. He just visited the Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan as a senator. But America is such a country that its president doesn’t need to be an expert in everything. There is a set system that rules the country. Obama will let that system operate. From this perspective, the difference between a Democratic or a Republican administration is not that big. Let’s take Iraq and Afghanistan as examples. Most people say that America should exit these countries. This is not easy and not even possible.

Clinton’s administration acted more on the economic well-being of the country. Obama too will try to work in that arena as soon as time permits him to do so. That’s what Democrats usually do. Obama will not imperil the country with new wars. Clinton’s reign saw the Panama debacle and the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These were not things that Clinton wanted to do. They emerged out of necessity. Today, America’s most important priority is providing for its energy usage. If this sector is disturbed, America has no other choice but to go to war.

Will Obama recognize the so-called Armenian genocide?

Where America’s national interest starts, the voices of lobbyists are shut down. Therefore, it is only in areas where America’s national interests are not yet formulated that lobbyists have free play. For example, section “907” (i.e. no aid to Azerbaijan unless it solved its problems with Armenia) was adopted in 1992 because American national interest was not yet formulated regarding the Caucasus. America never wants to worsen its relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is apparent in its usage of the term tragedy when describing the so-called “genocide.”

There are those who say that America is not sincere in its quest to propagate democracy around the world. What is your take on this?

There are different opinions regarding this issue. Every region has its national interests. For example the United States first tried to advance democracy in the Caucasus. It soon found out that that was not what its national interest needed. When Georgia tried to re-conquer territories it had lost and Russia waged a counter-offensive against it, the United States did not interfere… American officials repeatedly stressed that America is after stabilizing the situation in the region (Caucasus) so that oil pipes can operate without any harm. This is as if to say that, for America, democracy is at best one of the important elements of national interest…

In his doctrine, Bush stressed that the propagation of democracy can come in different forms. That is to say that no size fits all. In Iraq and Afghanistan that was through wars, while in Georgia and the Ukraine it was to happen by broadcasting American influence into those countries. All these showed that in places where America is at war, democracy is not even in its agenda. This means that America never considered democracy as superior to its national interests. Its not interfering in Georgia is a direct indication of this doctrine.

How does the United States categorize Azerbaijan?

In general, America’s policies toward Azerbaijan began to be formulated during the rule of Haydar Aliev. In 1994, after the signing of the bilateral economic agreements, American oil companies started settling in Azerbaijan. It was these companies that started lobbying for us in Washington. The result was that we started to balance the Armenian Lobby’s actions…It was our oil that gave us such importance. Azerbaijan’s geopolitical importance started increasing after 9/11. Azerbaijan had a big role in the operations that took place in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Azerbaijan was considered important in any action against Iran…

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