Post-Soviet strategic alignment : the weight of history in the South Caucasus
MacDougall, James Charles.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. The South Caucasus states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have shared, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a common strategic environment. To survive as independent states in a turbulent region bordered by Russia, Turkey and Iran, each state has chosen to align themselves with external powers. This study seeks to explain why, despite the many similarities among the three countries, each has taken different alignment decisions, resulting in differing strategic trajectories. Combining elements of Stephen Walt's "balance of threat" theory with elements of decision-making theory, the study argues that both material and perceptual factors are necessary to understand regional alignment behavior. Specifically, the role of history and historical analogy in the development of threat perceptions is analyzed. Official documents, public statements and interviews with current and former high-ranking officials in each of the three countries are used to analyze the foreign policy alignment decisions of successive presidential administrations in the three South Caucasus countries. The study concludes that lessons of history learned through analogical reasoning are a central element in the development of threat perceptions and, in turn, in alignment decisions. In an effort towards bridging the gap between theory and policy, the concluding chapter addresses both the theoretical and policy implications of the study's findings.
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