BY LEONARD MANOUKIAN
Years ago, Aliyev and his government decided to openly support and actively engage in the U.S. campaign to isolate Iran, weaken its economy, and undermine its leadership—an already aggressive American undertaking under previous presidents that has, over the past two years, been taken to new heights by the Trump Administration and its National Security Adviser, John Bolton.
Now, of course, Azerbaijan’s choice comes with its costs and its benefits.
One benefit is increased security funding for Iran-facing initiatives, such as the longstanding Caspian Guard program to check Iranian influence along energy-producing regions of the Caspian coast. As expected, this category of anti-Iran aid to Azerbaijan has increased as the Trump White House has ramped up its pressure against Tehran.
On the other side of the equation are the costs. Among these, as you might expect, is increased hostility between Azerbaijan and Iran, two countries that will remain neighbors long after the Trump Administration has termed out and this particularly contentious era in U.S.-Iranian relations has come to an end. Armenia, for its part, hasn’t adopted America’s anti-Iranian approach, even though doing so may come with some rewards from Washington.
Amateurs and experts can argue about whether Azerbaijan or Armenia made the better choice in this regard, but what’s clear is that nations live with the choices they’ve made. To pretend otherwise is either painfully ignorant or willfully deceptive. Those trying to make hay of this issue for their own political purposes—foreign or domestic—probably exhibit some of both.
The good news is that serious Armenians know that the history of nations is not measured in tweets or news cycles, but in decades and centuries.
We understand that the short-term temptation of a few U.S. aid dollars—and the unfortunate second-guessing and speech-making that inevitably comes whenever Armenians take a pass on such enticements—is not worth sacrificing our long-term interests.
We witnessed the Georgian and Ukrainian experiences—cheered on by the U.S. government and NGO stakeholders—resulting in short-term aid packages, endless Washington, D.C., photo ops and, ultimately, the long-term loss of land, sovereignty and security.
We are smart enough to know the difference between those who posture as sophomoric score-keepers, as if U.S.-Armenia relations were some sort of game, and the true stewards of this enduring partnership and the abiding friendship of the Armenian and American peoples.
We have the patient, principled commitment to our homeland and heritage needed to not take the bait every time some attention seeker tries to play “gotcha” with our nation’s future.
In our homeland and across our Diaspora, there will always be those who try to score cheap points and those who make real progress.
Let us be among the latter.
Leonard Manoukian is an attorney, and former co-chair of ANCA-Glendale.