The sourcing is questionable and the commentary is laughable, but it’s still interesting…
Crude crossroads: Azerbaijan is not only a major oil producer and port but also sits in a strategic and volatile place on the Caspian, bordered not only by its bitter enemy Armenia but also by Russia, Iran, and Georgia.
HARDLY ANY COUNTRY on the planet sits in a more crucial spot than the harsh dictatorship of Azerbaijan, so that’s probably why Don Rumsfeld sneaked off to its rowdy capital, Baku, earlier this week.
Do you hear the neocons beating the oil drums of war?
Rumsfeld’s visit this week to Iraq generated some smoke, especially his laughable warnings to the Iraqis about “government corruption.”
But then, like the mysterious Mr. Arkadin, Rumsfeld left Iraq, flew to Baku for meetings, spent the night, and then sneaked out the next dayâ€”with no announcements from the Pentagon and (as a result) no notice from the U.S. press.
Roughly, U.S. policy toward a regime can be in one of four categories: improvement, maintenance, transformation, and revolution (“regme change”). Azerbaijan naturally falls into the transformation category: it’s a dysfunctional regime we wish to make better.
Of course, there are natural security concerns, like Azerbaijan’s opposition to Iran’s satellite Armenia. But geopolitically Baku is closer to Moscow than Tehran. Russia is not a future pillar of Asian security – it can never be strong and integrated enough to carry the load.
Connecting Azerbaijan to the outside world, and preventing a premature connection with Moscow, is important to the security of Asia, America, and the world.