Monday, April 06, 2009

Genocide Is Genocide. Say So, And Damn The Consequences.

This falsification has already gone on long enough and has been justified for reasons of state. It is, among other things, precisely "for reasons of state," in other words for the clear and vital announcement that we can't be bought or intimidated, that April 24, 2009, should become remembered as the date when we affirmed the truth and accepted, as truth-telling does, all the consequences.


Blogger James O'Hearn said...

I guess now is the time, in this one case, and for this one issue. Obama has the wherewithal to say what he wants because Turkey doesn't have the US by the balls over Iraq anymore. Plus, with Turkey still strongly wanting EU membership, there is little chance they will protest issue much at this time.

Which is why I think this whole thing is less a "brave, principled stand" signaling a new direction in geopolitical discourse, than a politically expedient opportunity to be seen to do the right thing, which can only be done during this brief window of opportunity.

I agree it's a nice ideal, Terry, but as the UN has shown, time and again, genocide isn't genocide if Chinese or Russian interests are at stake. A declaration of genocide forces the the security council to act, and that just ain't ever going to happen in the real world, because once that Pandora's box is opened for the Armenians, the Kurds, the Tutsis, or whoever, it's hard to vote otherwise the next time round. It's why the Peppermint Twins stay so frosty on the issue...that and their hands have long been soiled by the very same acts.

I think that no matter what Obama says, it isn't going to come to much, other than (maybe) some sort of unilateral US action. The UN won't touch it, no matter how charismatic Obama is.

10:45 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

You'll call me contentious again, Terry, but I think Hitchens' note of reversal should have been added to his original column as well.

6:17 PM  
OpenID alakurda said...

Firstly, congratulations to Terry for pulling in a mea culpa from Christopher Hitchens. That is a rare feat. But in all fairness to Hitchens, he was not in possession of all facts and seems to have been taken in by the mainstream media's portrayal of the Galloway issue as one that concerns free speech. Hitchens, after all, defaced a Nazi symbol in Lebanon.

Secondly, as a Kurd, I'd like to offer my deep and sincere apologies to any Armenian reading this for the involvement of unrepresentative Kurds in the race murder of Armenians during the Ottoman era. Hamidiye Brigades, a tribal militia set up to protect the interests of the late Turkish Empire, took extensive parts in the genocide under the orders of the then 'Young Turk' government. (Why is it that "Young Turk" is an expression of endearment and not a shame? Because Kemal Ataturk himself was a Young Turk?) At this stage, my apology can only be personal but I hope to hear one day a formal recognition of the genocide from the parliament of an independent Kurdistan.

While the Turkish state and its people continue to deny the reality of Armenian genocide, there is no denial whatsoever on the part of Kurdish people, -ordinary people, intelligentsia and political parties alike- that a race murder of Armenians did take place. There is however a strong argument against ascribing to the stateless Kurds any culpability in the crime. The argument is that the Turkish state must bear full responsibility for the crime just as the Iraqi state was fully responsible for the genocidal Anfal campaign of 1986-88. Just like the Armenian genocide, the Anfal Campaign was also aided by a pro-Saddam Kurdish militia, better known to Kurdish nationalists as "Jash Brigades". (Jash = little donkey. )

As long as you don't have your own state, your people will always be used and abused by other states for all kinds of crimes, whether against other people or against your own.

It should also be noted that Armenians themselves ascribe the responsibility for the crime to Turks, not Kurds. The writ was issued from Istanbul and carried out by the state officials. Indeed, one of the first acts of the genocide was the murder of all Armenian soldiers conscripted into the then Ottoman/Turkish military.

And, finally, let me return to the current topic.

While I agree strongly with Christopher Hitchens and Terry Glavin that the USA and the entire international community must recognise the Armenian genocide as a historical fact, I differ with them on the issue of time and place for such a recognition. I assume neither Hitch nor Terry had the benefit of reading Obama's speech to the Turkish parliament, and the views of Taner Akcam, the leading scholar on the genocide.

Obama was the most vocal presidential candidate ever on the issue and he used the word 'genocide' repeatedly and pledged to sponsor its recognition. Now that he is the president of the US, he must balance not only the interests of the USA and Turkey, but also the demands of the Armenian diaspora in the US with the needs of Armenia.

Since its independence from Soviet Union in early 1990s, Republic of Armenia has remained isolated from the rest of the world. Despite its talented people, its economy has been severely underdeveloped. It has been at war with Azerbaijan over Nogorno-Karabakh. It is of utmost importance for Armenia's future that Turkey open up the border gates for trade and access to Europe, and limit the terms of its alliance with Azerbaijan. This ought to be the biggest priority for Armenian people over and above the recognition of a historical fact.

The fact that Turkey has strongly embraced Obama makes it more likely that Turkey will eventually come to accept the political realities it's facing. Not just on Armenia and the genocide, but also on Kurdistan's independence, re-unification of Cyprus, and other issues, such as democratic reforms. They need time for a face-saving acceptance and time to re-educate their people after decades of Kemalist indoctrination. Maybe they should be given another year or two to sort themselves out. Obama is here to stay for at least four years.

While I fully support the US congressional resolution on Armenian genocide, I believe the first official recognition should be made by Barack Obama, in Yerevan, on a 24th of April during his first term in the office. That'd be great.

Now a few links. For Obama's speech to Turkish parliament:

For Taner Akcam's views:

And for another great article from Christopher Hitchens:

Thanks for reading. Cheers. sHx

10:28 PM  
Blogger IceClass said...

Alakurda: Great Post; shit links.
Care to try that again for us interested readers?

"As long as you don't have your own state, your people will always be used and abused by other states for all kinds of crimes, whether against other people or against your own."

For myself and where I live, I'm really hoping you're wrong but admittedly, hope is all I have.

10:52 AM  
OpenID alakurda said...

Sorry, I.C., can't help you with the links there. Haven't worked out yet how to insert live links. I think the links have to be copy pasted into URL bar. Or you can just highlight them, right click, and then click on go to the URL/web address, etc.

I hope this is what you mean with the links being 'shit'; that is, they're not a click away. Well, they're three to four clicks away at most and they all work. A third alternative is that you may want to google some of the key words, eg, google Taner Akscam in the news. Best. sHx.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I am constantly surprised that we know so little about the Armenian massacre. In the book "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", Dorothy comments that she had to concentrate on the massacre of the Armenians to keep a straight face. Humourous or not, that indicates that the event was common knowledge in 1925 -- so ubiquitous that it could be written in a popular novel. How could we all forget so soon?

4:12 PM  

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