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RAND experts on U.S. strategy in the middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia
Material posted: -Publication date: 10-11-2012

During the seminar, devoted to the development of the methodology of the strategic analysis conducted at RAND in the summer of this year, the long-term analysis division (Long-Range Analysis Unit) National intelligence Council (National Intelligence Council (NIC)), the United States was voiced by a number of points that define the dynamics of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In particular, the interest, in our view, is the conclusion that the"velvet" revolutions in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan actually failed, as well as the whole "Arab spring" [1], which now threatens to break out of control. On the basis of interdepartmental contradictions and infighting in the intelligence community in the United States, concluded that American policy has failed, officially has not been made. The Agency did not want to be the bearer of bad news-makers policy decisions in Washington.

Also very characteristic and dubbed the abstract on the main points of U.S. strategy in the middle East. First is the thesis of the desirability of maintaining authoritarian regimes in the key countries of the region (in Egypt, Iran, Syria). Despite a revolutionary change of government in several countries in the region and the arrival of a new elite, the U.S. does not intend to contribute to the collapse of key countries, threatening chaos and loss of control over the regional processes.

In this context, it is interesting assumption about the possible loss of Turkey's secular character of the state. If American experts are right, it would require substantial changes in the regional politics of the Caucasus, when the Islamic factor will get a different quality of sound and the role.

It is interesting to note in this connection the statement of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the spiritual leaders of the Egyptian "Muslim Brothers", which some call the "Sunni Khomeini". He attacked with fierce criticism of Russian policy in the middle East. In one of his speech on QatarTV Sheikh said the following: "Brothers, Moscow these days has became the enemy of Islam and Muslims. She turned into the enemy number one of Islam and Muslims, because she spoke out against the Syrian people. ... The Arab and Islamic world must stand United against Russia. We should boycott Russia – our enemy number one".

Interesting also the conclusion that what is happening in the region today are shifts in favor of Iran, regardless of how it will advance in the development of a nuclear program [1], as well as the opinion that sanctions and the financial crisis fail to have a major impact on this shift. This allows you to note once again that Iran's nuclear program is merely a form of deterrence from the United States to the growing power of Iran. Slowing or even complete stopping of nuclear programs will not change the goals American policy and strategy towards Iran. From this point of view, passing a group (5+1) negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are viewed as dead-end, but a necessary element of the overall strategy, which should counteract the policy of Russia and China, which will attempt to lay the blame for the failure of the talks.

A similar approach is observed in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, when the background understanding of the limitations of the ongoing U.S. policy that solves the problem of how to exit the game, and on whom to shift responsibility for the failure of the former diplomacy. After policies will be concluded that the solution does not exist (including the format of the two States), the key question becomes: who will be found guilty of failure of negotiations and the destruction of structures on the basis of which attempts have been made to resolve the problem over the last decades.

From this point of view, interest is the concept of "reputation" geopolitical actor and a situation where decisions are dictated not only by objective factors but subjective, including reputation, which may encourage US to act irrationally.

USA, as an actor, you can't afford to falter its status as a superpower and a dominant force in the geopolitical arena. They therefore need to avoid a situation where the superpower is "cornered" and forced to solve the problem of saving face. This choice and the dilemma - the political calculation or reputation - is fraught with irrational decisions.

In this regard it can be noted that recently, "reputational risks" and stand in front of Russia. In particular the statement N. Naurazbaev about the "colonial yoke of Imperial Russia", the landing of the plane with Russian citizens on Board in Turkey, the Russian leadership put before the need to find a delicate compromise between the need to save face and not become involved in the destabilization of another game on unfavourable terms.

In General, analyzing the results of the RAND workshop, we can conclude that in certain circles of the USA are growing aware of the fact that many regional designs and projects, around which was built the U.S. policy, may collapse, as they no longer correspond to the security environment of the twenty-first century. This conclusion looks quite logical and leads to the formulation of a new challenge: how the United States could ride the inevitable wave of instability in the region, directing it in the desired direction?

In the USA there is the understanding necessary to drop some projects instead of solving the problem of preservation continue to hold the load bearing structures of regional security of the greater Middle East. The first step would be to focus on the use of the released energy of the collapse, pointing it in the right direction in order, ultimately, to be able to build a new structure region, in which the role and importance of certain actors will be radically revised, which will, eventually, create a new balance in the region at a lower level of regional tensions.


1. Treverton, Gregory F. and Jeremy J. Moscow. Making Strategic Analysis Matter. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, CF-287-NIC, 2012.


Grinaev S., R. Arzumanyan

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