This chapter traces the evolution of United States' (U.S) policy in the Southern Caucasus since the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R). It begins by providing background on the region. It continues with a discussion of the major drivers of US regional policy. A periodization of that policy follows. The analysis concludes with a discussion of the directions being taken by the Obama Administration. The paper argues that US policy has displayed a lack of coherence for much of the period in question. On the one hand, policy towards the Caucasus is part of a larger effort to approach the former Soviet region as a whole. But, on the other hand, policy towards the three states in the Caucasus has been dominated in each case by a different logic: energy, US minority politics, ideological exceptionalism, and leadership preference. The lack of coherence reflects the weakness of systemic drivers (and in particular the role and capacity of Russia). The return of Russia to strategic activism in the region restores the significance of systemic underpinnings to US policy and is producing a more coherent American approach to the region.
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