Russia Gained from the Caucasus Conflict, but Now Faces an Emboldened Turkey

Thanks to the Kremlin’s mediation, Azerbaijan and Armenia reached a ceasefire earlier this month, ending a six-week war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh to Armenians), which Armenia seized from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Amir Taheri analyzes the current situation:

[S]uccessive Armenian governments, thinking that Russia will always . . . protect Armenia. as it had done since the 18th century, had neglected the new nation’s defense needs. Just over a month of fighting drove the Armenians onto the defensive, and then to defeat, on various fronts. But when the Azeris and their Turkish allies were about to swoop in for the kill, Russia intervened by calling the leaders of Baku and Yerevan to Moscow to agree to a confused ceasefire that, while stopping the fighting, left the deep causes of the conflict untouched.

In typical fashion, . . . Russia used the occasion to extend its military presence, already significant in Armenia, to Azerbaijan as well. Under the Moscow accord, a Russian “peacekeeping” force will seize control of the ceasefire line plus the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia with Iran.

On balance, the Azeris didn’t gain much. Most of the disputed enclave . . . remains beyond their control while a good chunk of their own territory, notably the land route between Azerbaijan proper and its “autonomous” enclave of Nakhichevan, fall under Russian control. [For its part]. Yerevan will now have to consult—read obey—Moscow before attempting any revenge in the future. The message is clear: Transcaucasia was a Russian protectorate for two centuries and is again becoming a Russian glacis.

And, yet, Putin may turn out to be one of the losers in this deadly game. To start with, the mini-victory [over] Armenia may have whetted Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appetite for further conquests. . . . Forty-eight hours after the ceasefire, Erdogan asked the Turkish parliament to let him send an expeditionary force to Azerbaijan. A Turkish military presence in Transcaucasia could entail the risk of direct confrontation between Moscow and Ankara which are already in conflict in a number of other places—notably Syria, Libya, and Kosovo.

Read more at Asharq al-Awsat

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus