“Azerbaijan must be dismantled from within.” Appo Jabarian
Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
Being a beleaguered country in the throes of challenging circumstances, Armenia finds itself currently between the devil and the blue sea: Firstly, it is facing an existential enemy double threat of annihilation, which would catapult it into a collision course with the complot of Azerbaijan and Turkey; secondly, Armenia is presently battling a pandemic virus whose cure or vaccine discovery still lags beyond the horizon.
While Armenia finds itself ready to face the military aggression of Azerbaijan, in terms of human lives, the outcome of war has been devastating to both the victor as well as to the vanquished. Therefore, in this article, a nonmilitary weapon will be presented and it will show us how Armenia may sometimes “win the war” with Azerbaijan without fighting it on the battlefield.
But, first a little bit of history for a background to our discussion is necessary. In 1884, major European nations met in Berlin to split and divide
Africa primarily for exploitation of resources through colonization –without even asking the natives over which they planned to rule. Partitioning the dark and mysterious continent proved to be more than a mere challenge. The Europeans took the path of least resistance. When there were no clear natural borders, like mountains or rivers, the Europeans simply drew a line on the map to demark the boundaries of each nation’s a lion’s share.
Before the colonial division, which affects Africa to this day, the continent was comprised of more than 10, 000 states, each with their own distinct languages and customs. Presently, the United Nations, however, recognizes only 54 states in the continent of Africa. Hundreds of different ethnic groups have been lumped together in each state. As a result, every decade, one or two states are born out of conflicts for self-determination of various ethnic groups within arbitrarily drawn national border lines. For instance, south Sudan declared independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011 (after a protracted and a bloody civil war with Sudan’s ethically Arab northern region which had lasted for decades). Even genocides took place in Africa on account of minorities clamoring for either self-determination or for a better position such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide perpetrated by the Hutu majority (90%) to kill the country’s well-endowed Tutsi Christian minority consisting of 10 percent of the population.
In this day and age of self-determination for minorities, many “tiny empires” consisting of various ethnic groups are doomed to be dismembered. Take for example, The Republic of Georgia. Within its sovereign state, there lived the South Ossetians, the Abkhazians, the Adjars, the Javakhk Armenians, the Borchaly Azers to cite the main ones. Where are the South Ossetians now? What about the Abkhasians? These two large minorities have separated themselves from the “imperial” rule of Georgia with the Russian military assistance. Right at this moment, there are dozens of minorities around the world championing on and off for their independence and freedom such as the Basques in Europe and the Tamils in Asia. Those “tiny empires” are, therefore, doomed to be broken up internally by their own minorities.
In a similar vein, as was done to Africa in the colonial period, in 1918, when the Soviet Union gave birth to a new state in the
Caucasus, paid little attention to the indigenous people living there since time immemorial. The government arbitrarily drew border lines in all directions, mindless of dividing or splitting the territories of ethnic groups and created artificially “Azerbaijan” which was never ever a state. Consequently, there are now more than 150 ethnic groups living in the confines of this recently minted country so-called Azerbaijan.
Of these 150 some ethnic groups populating Azerbaijan, 20 are very large ones and most of their people are divided between two countries. For example, half of the Lezgin people are located in Dagestan and the rest are living in northern Azerbaijan. Nothing separates the two groups belonging to the same culture and heritage except an artificial political line. Being a divided nation has created a lot of social, political, and cultural problems for both the Lezgins and the Azerbaijani government.
Knowingly or unknowingly, or simply following the principle of divide and rule, the Soviet Union created Azerbaijan as a cauldron of imminent and intractable conflicts for either autonomy
or independence. What makes the various ethnic minorities rise up to protect and promote their culture is the fear that Azerbaijani forced assimilation schemes will sooner or later render their race extinct. Minorities are refusing to become human “dodos” in the present century when authoritarian regimes must be replaced by respect for human rights. For example, the Udis, the Caucasian Albanians, the Chrisitan natives of present day Azerbaijan, have been forcefully converted to Islam; otherwise, they would have stayed landless and jobless to starve had they resisted conversion to Islam.
Of the once large population of the indigenous people, only three small villages remain in Udis homeland consisting of predominantly a few thousand natives with a single working church. Two of them are in Azerbaijan and one is in Georgia. Once Udis’ population was in the millions, but Azerbaijani forced assimilation has reduced them to a mere 3,500 persons. According to some Udi leaders, within a couple of decades the entire Udi race will become extinct due to Azerbaijani forced assimilation assaults on their own minorities. So, the other minorities have become very apprehensive about the future of their culture and heritage.
Over twenty-five years ago, one large minority which was put callously under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan was the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). Mainly due to untenable discrimination and oppression, the natives of this historical Armenian province stood up to preserve their cultural identity and heritage by declaring themselves independent of Azerbaijan through the principle of self-determination. Now, they have become masters of their own destiny and have created an exemplary democratic republic unlike the totalitarian regime of Azerbaijan.
With so many other minorities other than the Armenians, the political horizon of Azerbaijan will be clouded by the scramble and rumble of other minorities clamoring for either autonomy or independence. Some of them have already begun the campaign for freedom and independence.
In my next articles, we shall see how these large minorities which include the Lezgins, the Avars, the Talysh, the Kurds to name a few are on the path to stop Azerbaijani government’s program of forced assimilation. Moreover, there is a movement for freedom and independence in every corner of Azerbaijan. It would not be farfetched to forecast that in the near future Azerbaijan will implode by its organized and vociferous minorities. It is a matter of time and motivation of the people. The end result will be the dismemberment of a “tiny empire” consisting of many ethnic groups ruled by the dictatorship of the Azerbaijani government.
As you well know, ideas have changed the world. Ideas should help improve the lot of Armenia as well. So, let us approach my proposal with an open mind. When you read about warfare, invariably you encounter two strategies: Offensive and Defensive. The duality approach is restrictive and even unrepresentative of the real world. There is also a third strategy and let us call it “Substitution Strategy” for lack of a better term to stand for “a person (a solider or an army) or a thing acting or serving in place of another.” Although the naming of the strategy is new, its practice has been around for the millennia.
Weapons are constantly changing. However, there is one weapon which has not changed over the years. It has been successfully used to overcoming the enemy without fighting it on the battlefield and that is the enemy within, the enemy of your enemy. The Chinese war guru known as Sun Tzu called it “Killing with a borrowed Knife.” Sun Tzu was a 6th century B.C. Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in ancient China. Most people know Sun Tzu on account of his seminal book called The Art of War. The United States Military Academy at West Point includes The Art of War in its curriculum of preparing cadets for a career of professional excellence and service to the United States as an officer in the army.
It is worth noting that “killing with a borrowed knife” may sound the same strategy as “divide and conquer.” Although the two concepts are related, killing with a borrowed knife means a third party (i.e., Substitution Strategy) does what you are supposed to do against your own enemy, while divide and conquer (Latin: divide et impera), same as divide and rule or govern, in politics, sociology, military strategy stands for gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. Thus, the first strategy is to enlist someone else to do the fighting (i.e., killing) for you, the second strategy involves the fragmentation of your opponent into a weak group of a number of opponents fighting among themselves.
Based on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, 36 “stratagems” have been compiled on his military experience and wisdom; “killing with a borrowed knife” is the third stratagem, which basically proposes to “Cause damage to the enemy by getting a third party to do the deed or causing an ‘enemy civil war.'” This stratagem is also called: “Find someone else to do your dirty work.”
The benefits of Substitution Strategy are self-explanatory. Armenia’s war would be fought by someone else against Azerbaijan, which has been spending an unprecedented amounts of money on military preparedness. As of 2019, Azerbaijan has begun to spend about $14.8 billion per year. In comparison, Armenia’s lean GNP last year was a mere $12.4 billion. The disparity is staggering, if not disheartening, to say the least. We do have to come up with ideas to close the military power gap by other ways than fighting them on the battlefield. To strengthen its military, Azerbaijan has been pumping most of U.S. foreign aid into beefing up its arsenal of modern war weapons as it became evident on September 27, 2020 unprovoked attacks on Armenia and Artsakh.
The following four of Sun Tzu’s stratagems testify to the fact that this general was highly sold on the idea of defeating one’s enemy without directly fighting it:
– “Killing with a borrowed knife”
– “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
– “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
– “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
As you may have noticed, the reoccurring themes of his four stratagems are based on the idea of winning the war without fighting directly with your enemy.
We just cannot leave matters of war to our generals alone. It is everybody’s business to make sure we win the war. War is life, death, love, country, father, mother, brother, sister and all of the things that are not listed above. In other words, war is everything; so, when we lose the war, we lose our culture and heritage in due time, we become extinct, for we are dealing with genocidal enemies.
The belligerence against the Armenians is mounting by the day. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently threatened to eliminate the “remnants of the sword,” (namely, killing those Armenians who had survived the Genocide of 1915-1923). Moreover, Azerbaijan has threatened last month (July 2020) to blow up the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant, causing apocalyptic death and destruction. Armenians should not perceive these threats of annihilation as idle talk because these threats have been carried out against the Armenians before –to the tune of 1.5 million Armenians decimated in their own ancestral lands.
The reality of the matter is that both Turkey and Azerbaijan are eager for war with Armenia until they get their way. We need to remain vigilant and work toward being self-reliant when it comes to matters of national security. One way is to apply the Substitution Strategy proposed in this article to defeat Azerbaijan by motivating some of its minorities to rise up and demand self-determination given to them. This would be a great strategy to weaken the resolve of Azerbaijan by its own minorities without fighting it head to head and to stop beleaguering Armenia and Artsakh day in and day out when striving to quell nagging, debilitating civil wars within its multicultural ethnic population.
One can easily argue in favor of the proposed Substitution Strategy, winning without fighting, since it is the kind of situation wherein the end results would be of mutual benefit. Anyone fighting your enemy is already set to do that for his own benefit; that is why this strategy would be the ultimate weapon against Azerbaijan to win the war without losing any Armenian soldiers.
In the arena of politics, multiple avenues are usually pursued in order to weaken or to bring down one’s adversary. Lezgins should know that we are simply trying to help them, to motivate them toward the attainment of their own cherished ideology of the unification of the Lesgin people and, at the same time, Armenia would benefit from their liberation activities. Most likely, Russia has already plans to help Lezgins achieve their goals, but are waiting for the opportune time.
We need to reach out to a minority of Azerbaijan, such as the Lezgins, who are organized internally and externally to be unified with Dagestan where the rest of the Lezgins live. How to motivate them to rise up again to fight for independence and freedom will be the topic of another article. Suffice it to say that there are ways to stir up dissent and launch a minority into a civil war. The important thing here is to convince you that we should explore all sorts of avenues to win the war with Azerbaijan and Turkey without jeopardizing the lives of our soldiers.
No one has so far stated succinctly, but compellingly, about the idea of making a third party fight your wars than the renowned German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who is often quoted for saying: “The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.” By the same token, the ultimate weapon against Azerbaijan is to follow the Substitution Strategy, the motivation of its minorities to begin fighting for their self-determination by emulating the brave Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) as a role model determined to safeguard their cultural heritage by staying independent of Azerbaijani imperialistic rule.
Note: This article is humbly dedicated to Mr. Appo Jabarian for his prescience on winning the war against the Azari/Turkish team’s crimes of aggression and for his belief that Azerbaijan should be “disentailed from within.” Andrew Demirdjian