Skip to comments.Recognizing the Armenian Genocide
Posted on 10/17/2007 5:13:34 AM PDT by Kaslin
It's an old phenomenon: When the dispossessed get clout, the past becomes a battleground. Often the stakes in the present are extraordinarily high.
An exemplary skirmish over very bad history is taking place in the U.S. Congress -- in this case, the World War I slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey.
Whether or not the Ottomans' mass deportation and murder of Armenians in 1915 and 1916 reaches the formulaic, industrial magnitude of the Nazis' genocide or Stalin's decimation of Ukraine is a debating point for lawyers and apologists. The Ottoman "Young Turk" government took a systematic approach that stinks of classic tribal "ethnic cleansing." The Ottomans disarmed Armenian soldiers and removed them from the ranks of the Turkish army. Suspect loyalty and connivance with the Orthodox Christian enemy, Russia, was the ostensible rationale.
After confiscating Armenian guns, Ottoman knives appeared. Mobs murdered Armenian intellectuals and leaders -- killing communicators silences a community. Then the deportations began, featuring long marches where starvation and sunstroke killed as many as the attacks of "thieves and raiders." One-and-a-half million Armenians (out of a population of approximately 2.5 million) died in this directed chaos. Darfur and the Congo are contemporary examples of this hideous technique.
WWI ended. After a bout of internal chaos and a war with Greece, republican Turkey emerged from the Ottoman wreckage. Its political architect, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, launched political and cultural revolutions, creating a secular Turkey and with it a possible Islamic bridge to modernity. Turkey adopted Latin script, a visual, literary break with the Ottoman Empire and caliphate. It's one reason al-Qaida fanatics despise Ataturk more than they do George Bush.
Modern Turks can make a case they aren't the Ottomans.
Diaspora Armenians, however, now have influence and a voice. The once dispossessed have earned it. Armenians have had extraordinary political and economic success in Western Europe and the United States.
Only the heartless would dismiss their desire to recognize the great wrong. Yet historical verification and vindication aren't the only goals -- the U.S. House resolution backed by Armenian-Americans demands punishment of the perpetrators.
The perpetrators, however, are long dead. The Turkish government thus sees the resolution as a political attack on Turkey.
At a less volatile moment one can imagine Congress passing the nonbinding resolution. I would support it, particularly if it promoted Turkish and Armenian reconciliation.
But find the less volatile moment. The Clinton administration judged the year 2000 as too volatile to pass the House resolution. President Clinton valued U.S.-Turkish relations, and the United States needed access to Turkish airbases to enforce the U.N.-mandated northern no-fly zone that helped protect Iraqi Kurds from Saddam. Clinton got then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert to kill the resolution.
Those Turkish bases now supply and support U.S. troops in Iraq. No matter one's opinion on Iraq, antagonizing Turkey when it provides air and logistical bases supporting U.S. troops actively deployed in a combat zone is foolish and craven. A Turkish decision to shut down these facilities would cut a major coalition supply line. U.S. troops in Iraq would face increased risks.
This is reason enough to delay passing the resolution. There are others. For two years, Turkey has threatened to invade northern Iraq in order to destroy Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases. The Iraqi government and Washington have both promised Turkey they will "act against the PKK." Turkey says it is tired of waiting -- and has an army on the Iraqi border prepped for action.
Cynics suggest Turkey has been waiting for an opportunity to slip U.S. calls for military restraint and launch a decisive attack to finish off the PKK. The resolution provides Ankara with just this opportunity. Conceivably, Washington could "trade" a deferred resolution for a Turkish promise to restrict its operations in Iraq to "hot pursuit" situations, special-forces actions and surveillance. Diplomats on both sides might structure such a transparent but useful give and take.
Note I said deferred resolution. 2015 may be as volatile as 2007. Historical horrors like the Armenian genocide really don't have anniversaries or centennials, or at least they shouldn't. They do deserve recognition and remembrance as instructive history, but recognition should not do damage to the present. 2015 -- a hundred years after the Armenian massacre -- strikes me as the perfect time to pass the resolution.
We don't need no stinkin' resolution, says prominent member of the Armenian Diaspora.
Let's set aside the B.S. about the resolution -- and reconciliation? Mr. Harut Sassounian is a prominent public figure, author, publisher of The California Courier newspaper, President of the United Armenian Fund, Lincy Foundation Vice President 'splains.
". . . the admission of the Armenian Genocide is of no value. Our demands are: Turkey must compensate for the damages and return our lands. Our demands do not depend on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide before going on to the next steps. This is the reason that a symposium recently was held at the University of Southern California. Renowned specialists in international law were invited. They explained the rights the Armenian people have under international law, and to which courts Armenians could apply to settle this issue. Now specialists must study the lawyers advice and decide which issue should be submitted to which court, as there is the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, US Federal Courts, etc. This is a most important issue. It must be studied with all seriousness, because, if we lose in court, Turkey will claim that Armenians have no legal demands."
The Armenian Diaspora has political connections, especially with the Pelf Party a.k.a. the Rat Party (formerly the traditional, patriotic Democratic Party), and the question now is, will the Armenian National Committee of America and the Congressional Armenian Caucus acknowledge U.S. national security interest or will the ANC continue to demand Resolution 106? And what say the Armenian Diaspora here in the "host" country?
My grandmother came to America on a boat where she met an Armenian woman who spoke Greek. The woman told my grandmother she saw people impaled on sticks... That kind of positively medieval stuff went on... and worse, if you can imagine. Train loads of people were taken out into the wasteland and left to die of starvation and exposure to the elements. The whole world looked the other way. I think the Greeks were not even worth killing outright because they were not as wealthy as Armenians. The Armenians there were merchants, attorneys, professors... very wealthy people...and their wealth was gold and property. I grew up hearing these stories from many eyewitnesses. Now I am told it did not happen???
The Ottomans were Muslim and I don’t think many people understand that. The Ottomans took Christian children and raised them Muslim during wars with Christianity. Eastern Europe didn’t throw the Muslim Turks off their backs too long ago in terms of history.
Centuries ago the Armenians were the first nation to fight for Christianity against Islam. In fact Armenia was the first Christian nation, long before the Vatican was established as the center for the Catholic Church.
Christianity needs to come together and recognize these important facts and establish a firm footing to appose the global conquest of Islam that has been going on since the 7th century. Why? Because Islam has no interest in being an equal in the world. Only dominant.
Correct. Letting the Turks continue to slide on this is just appeasement from the remove of about 80 years. Appeasement just the same!! The Turks want to blackmail the US over this so we will comply with their âinterferenceâ in the ME, and at a time when we need the allegiance of all non combatants in the area. It is just the same old game of taking unfair advantage of the US when the US most needs support. Only this time, the Turks hope to erase cold hard historic fact.... once and for all. The US does not see that overlooking this documented historic fact will put the seal of approval on the shameless slaughter which took place... and will all but hobble further and continued challenges to such acts of terror and genocide... by Turks or ANYONE!!!
Can't we just wait until a better time? A time when there is no impact on our armed forces engaged in combat?
The U.S. has not overlooked anything. I grew up accepting that it was a genocide and I've been around since a little before W.W.II. No one I know and nothing that I remember in the MSM even comes close to "letting the Turks continue to slide."
After working with Turks for about three years including almost one year living in Ankara, I have a great deal of respect for the Turkish people; and I do understand why the modern democratic republic of Turkey is wary of the issue being mostly over one word, genocide. I do not know the precise official position but they do not deny that it was horrific and victims numbered in the hundreds of thousands; there were hundreds of thousands of others besides the Armenians who suffered and died, Turkey wants those victims recognized as well.
My own research however convinces me that "genocide" is the correct word -- but how will calling it genocide make a difference for the victims who suffered horribly?
Also, There is more than ample proof of Germany's complicity why not include Germany? One source is 'German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity' by Vahakn N. Dadrian.
Key word, complicity; no one is trying to shift the blame.
“Can’t we just wait until a better time? A time when there is no impact on our armed forces engaged in combat?”
That’s a really good question. And I don’t know the answer. However, is there ever a wrong time to call a thing by it's right name? I am sure the Turks regret that part of their history. Who wouldn't? But what happened then is just what comtempoary Muslim extremists would like for their 'enemies' now... That's the thing I can't get past Have the Turks sufficiently distanced themselves from THAT kind of thinking? Last I heard they denied it altogether when it became an impediment to their entry into the EU. How hard do you have to scratch your average garden variety Muslim to find a radical extremist? So I don't know... what do you think?
There seems to be three main categories of people -- according to Internet sources: ordinary everyday Turks who are Western-oriented, then there's the Kemalists and the Islamists. My time in Turkey was almost entirely in Ankara with a little time in Istanbul. So I do not know anything about rural areas where, I suppose, the Islamists are likely to dominate.
I suppose I could say that I met a Kemalist at Ataturk's Museum. They worship that guy and almost all Turks revere him, as well they should.
I sincerely believe that Ataturk put Turkey's Islam through a reformation, created a Western-style republic, and it's the Army's responsibility to protect the republic from Islamists. They've done that five times, I believe, including in the mid-to-late 1990s.
The military purges Islamists and Islamist sympathizers from the ranks. I am pretty sure that they still do that. In fact, one of the warnings that the military directed at the (Islamist?) AKP recently was to stop appointing the purged military personnel to government jobs.
If you read the linked article in my first reply I think you'll agree that the resolution could be superfluous -- the goal is recovery of territory and other compensation. Armenia claims much of eastern Turkey -- so do the Kurds.. interesting. :)
RE: "dress rehearsal for the holocaust"
Germany personnel assigned to Turkey did hold key positions in Hitler's National Socialist government.
RE: :comtempoary Muslim extremists"
I don't believe that there is one Islam, in the manner that there is one Catholic Church and one Pope. There are of course radical Muslims in Turkey and the public knows it. Just a couple of months ago literally hundreds of thousand took to the streets to make clear to the AKP that they will protect their constitutional democratic republic from Islamists. The Army has made it clear that they will see to it.
RE: "How hard do you have to scratch your average garden variety Muslim to find a radical extremist?"
Let me ask, how hard would you have to scratch the average Joe and Jane here to find a Christian Identity connection?
Let me add, Muslims here in the States? I don't trust 'em. Turkey, even the "Islamist" AKP government is helping us, what are 99% of the Muslims here doing to help us?
That is the crux of the problem. If radical Islamists can drive a wedge between pro-Democracy Iraqis and ‘anti-Coalition Iraqis IN Iraq, wouldn’t the same divide-and-conquer tactic work in Turkey ... and frankly ANYWHERE the the extremists take themselves and try to transplant their hate and violence? The Turks are not immune to THAT contagion! No place is, and that is what makes Turkish intransigence on this old charge of genocide and terrorism so disturbing. It is not enough that the military and government want to stand firm against the extremists and publicly disclaim association with them. Heck, the Iraqi government says they want extremists out and look what they are going through. The very nature of Terrorism is so insidious that US cannot and does not name an end date for hostilities, we see homeland security as a permanent fixture of our government, US internal politics is probably forever marred by this issue and we expect Turkey to remain untouched??? It would be naive to think that Turkey is forever secure against this contagion.
No. Turkey has many decades as a Western-oriented democratic republic. The Army has the responsibility to keep it that way; however, it is true that the EU demands that the Army stop "interfering" -- that of course could lead to Islamists remaining in power and therefore the EU would deny Turkey entry to the EU for being "Islamist". Go figure. See below how Islamists may never take power regardless.
Also Turkey is a mature NATO member and a decades-old friend and ally. Turkey has fought side-by-side with our forces in Korea and during the Cold War accepted the responsibility to counter a Soviet invasion of Europe by immediately taking on the Soviet forces on their eastern borders (that'd be the USSR "republic" of Armenia) and elsewhere. Today as a NATO member Turkey has forces in Afghanistan and has taken turns as the NATO forces commander.
(BTW, there's a lot more to that denial by Turkey of U.S. forces to use Turkey's territory to enter Iraq than is generally discussed. And, second, Turkey is not getting ready to invade the Kurdish Regional government's territory -- not for a few years when it may become the only thing to do about the Kirkuk and other problems. It's the Marxist PKK terrorists just across the border that they are after.)
RE: "Turkish intransigence"
Again, if you read the linked article I mentioned you'd see that all along the goal of Armenia was to get territory and compensation, eastern Turkey is the territory -- which Armenia describes as western Armenia. Turkey did not, I believe, take the land from Armenia. European nations set the borders -- and I believe also that at that time the Bolsheviks had grabbed control in Armenia leading to Her becoming a "republic" in the USSR. Maybe that's why Armenia lost the land?
It is IMO as much a legal tactic as anything else to refuse to call it genocide as well as a long-standing principle (I believe) -- Turkey does not deny the horrific suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children. I ask again, what difference would it make to the victims?
RE: "we expect Turkey to remain untouched [by insidious Islamists]???"
To date, I believe, Turkey ain't got a ACLU and PC ain't the be all and end all. Also, I mentioned above the Kemalists. I'd have to research it but I am going to guess that they are the real power above all else -- and I mean all else. They'd have to permit Islamists to have power and, I believe, that ain't going to happen.
I don't have the money to bet much (I'll go as high as a dollar) but I bet we have more sharia law-based ordinances in ten years than Turkey will have. There's difference between a Muslim country and a country of Muslims; i.e., Turkey. You do know that Turkey is not an Arab country I'm sure.
Our local governments, et al will submit to radical Islam for PC reasons and we don't have an all-powerful Kemalist class nor a military that protects us from domestic enemy-dominated government, yet.
If you read MorOn.org and dailycuss and listen to George Norry you'd find out about one such all-powerful evil domestic enemy called Cheney Halliburton, I think they recently changed it to Cheney Halliburton-Blackwater. :)
I wasn't aware that the Clinton administration canned this thing. So the very same reason that Clinton stopped this from being voted on is why Pelosi is trying to bring it to the floor for a vote.
“So the very same reason that Clinton stopped this from being voted
on is why Pelosi is trying to bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Actually, I go along with Thomas Sowell’s analysis.
The Democrats are bringing up this particular resolution at THIS time
as a way to stop/cripple the Coalition efforts in Iraq.
The Democrats realize they run a very real risk of not taking
The White House if seen to stop the effort in Iraq by denying funds
to the US Military.
Instead, they are trying to cloak themselves in humanist glory by
bringing up a resolution about a genocide...
thus cutting off the easy route of getting supplies to our troops in Iraq.
Sabotage in Wartime (Thomas Sowell)
Townhall.com ^ | October 15, 2007 | Thomas Sowell
Sowell is spot on.
The Armenian genocide has actually already been acknowledged. In 1981, Ronald Reagan recognized the Armenian genocide in a speech about the Holocaust. In 1984 Congress passed a resolution setting April 24 as a day of remembrance of the Armenian genocide. In 1996 and 2004 resolutions were passed that limited the usage of U.S. aid to Turkey that was being used to fund the Turkish lobby in the United States.
Pelosi’s latest ploy is all about undermining our military efforts in Iraq.
Exactly. They do anything to make it fail. But it won't