Genocide Recognition: Continuing a Flawed Political Strategy By Michael Mensoian
I want to believe that every Armenian hopes for the day when the Turkish leadership acknowledges that the uprooting and murder of some 1.5 million Armenians was a genocide. (1)
Good men and women, highly motivated and dedicated to Hai Tahd (Armenian Cause) and the best interests of the Armenian nation are working to achieve this objective. However, on Dec. 22 the latest fiasco in this annual drama occurred when the House democrat leadership in which our good men and women had placed their trust decided to fool the Armenian American community once again. (2) Specifically, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrat Leadership simply decided, without warning, to pull the rug out from under the feet of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) ostensibly because a favorable vote for passage of H.Res.252 (Armenian Genocide Resolution) was not likely. Behind the door machinations by the Turkish lobby aided by President Obama’s refusal to act on his stated beliefs on the genocide are the usual suspects. Maybe this is the moment when the ARF/ANCA finally realizes that while this annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill may capture the emotional support of the Armenian community, it represents an inefficient and ineffective use of resources. . .
It was interesting to compare the response by the ANCA with the obsequiousness of the Armenian Assembly. Rightfully so, the ANCA conveyed the anger and disappointment of the Armenian American community, whereas the Armenian Assembly issued an immediate press release praising Pelosi and her leadership team for providing invaluable assistance and guidance during the process. The ANCA had every reason to believe that the vote would have been taken under the most favorable circumstances possible. An unconfirmed report attributed to the Assembly accepted Pelosi’s judgment that the vote would not favor passage. (3)
If genocide recognition encompassed all that was represented by Hai Tahd, there would be no cause for concern. Or if genocide recognition could solve the problems facing the Armenian nation, there still would be no cause for concern. Unfortunately neither is so. The Turkish leaders in Ankara once again must be savoring their victory and it must cause thinking Armenians in the homeland (Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk) and the diaspora to question how priorities are being established and resources are being allocated. (4) Difficult as it may be to accept, while passage of a genocide recognition resolution is important, it is not so important as to neglect other issues that have immediacy and are of greater importance to the future viability of the Armenian nation (see “Genocide Recognition: A Misguided Political Strategy,” the Armenian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2009).
For a moment consider what effect passage of the non-binding H.Res.252 could possibly have. Would it cause the Turkish leadership to recant and finally confess to the world and its own citizens, after a 90-year policy of denial, that a genocide did occur? (5) Would the average Turkish citizen willingly accept the moral, economic, and political burden for the crimes some ancestors several generations removed may have committed? Would Turkey relent and open its border with Armenia? Would it result in Artsakh being recognized as an independent political entity? Would Georgia cease its discriminatory policies against the Armenians of Javakhk? Other questions could be asked, but the answers would all be a resounding no. (6)
Furthermore, passage of a resolution would not cause Turkey to implode for the benefit of Armenians and Hai Tahd. Genocide recognition by some two dozen foreign governments has not lessened Turkey’s stature in the world. Presently it holds one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council. Having said that, should a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide pass, it would only serve to harden the resistance of the Turkish leadership and the average Turkish citizen. (7) And why not, when President Obama fails to honor his campaign rhetoric recognizing the Armenian Genocide? The president’s need to cajole Ankara by equating its interests and values with those of the United States or elevating Turkey’s contribution as more important than ever should be more than sufficient reason for the ARF/ANCA to reassess its strategy. In addition, many Armenians delude themselves by misreading what Turkish academics and others mean when they say that the Turkish people must face their past. Facing their past is a purely psycho-moral exercise that is unrelated to the political and economic ramifications that genocide recognition has for the Armenian people. (8)
Granted, a resolution recognizing the genocide would be an appropriate and significant moral and psychological victory for Armenians. It would go a long way in assuaging the emotional scars that Armenians have borne these many years, not only for the loss of ancestors they never had the opportunity to know, but for the generations forever lost to the Armenian nation. (9) However, now is the time to realize that following the same flawed strategy year after year will invariably yield the same result.
Valuable resources in political capital, money, individual commitment, and moral support from the Armenian community are being diverted from significantly more important objectives facing the Armenian nation. We need to look no further than Artsakh where some 7,000 of our people sacrificed their lives to liberate these historic Armenian lands. (10) They are no less our martyrs than those whose lives were taken during the genocide.
Myopia is a dangerous political affliction. It has allowed genocide recognition to be raised to the level of a cause celebre, an apparent moral obligation that is given precedence over every other issue. While genocide recognition may meet the legitimate expectations of the diasporan Armenians, the need to respond to issues whose solution will contribute to the viability and security interests of the Armenian nation are wanting. There is a failure to see the forest because of the trees. Theoretically, a genocide recognition strategy might be effective if a critical mass of countries (somewhere in the vicinity of 90 or 100 countries) not only supported the Armenian position, but also agreed to apply economic sanctions to pressure the Turkish leadership to finally accept responsibility. In the world of realpolitik this is an unrealistic expectation. (11)
http://www.armenianweekly.com June 2,2011
Counter notes – Comments by Sukru Server Aya:
1- I will believe the fantasies of the writer when he or some one can explain to me after reading: Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html – how is it possible to murder 1.5 millions out of 1.3 millions and still have a balance of 1.414.000 living Armenians on 31.12.1921. If you can answer this question, you must also convince that Turks killed 10.000 Armenians per day for 150 days to total to 1.5 millions, and that those bodies were buried in 150 stadium size graveyards dug by hand, but not even one mass grave has been ever found!
2- Who is fooling whom? Cannot be that the diaspora pipe blowers are fooling the US Congress who are not even aware of their past resolutions in 1919, 1920 and 1922?
3- The writer as an advocate of ANCA is carried away beyond logic, with his propagandist fantasies!
4- I do not think that the Turkish leaders in Ankara, ever understood “what is going on and what is the gain of this game”, nor the reasons, such as why, when, how, what the truth and practical solutions are!
5- “Genocide” is an unproven serious crime, but has no legal or logical dependency by any measures (other than slanders and propaganda) and hence it cannot be used as a “verdict or conviction” unless it is produced by authorized legal court.
6- Does Armenia respect the borders drawn by four treaties or think to revoke the excessive claims in her constitution? How can you come with so many endless claims against your neighbors and expose your continuous hostilities at the same time expecting your neighbors to give in to all these claims, just because you “use the leverage of super powers”?
8- As a honest man with many friends of Armenians ethnicity in the past and present I am facing my past with three books and over 300 articles all posted in this blog site. I am still waiting for some one who can “show that my verbatim excerpts are untrue” and that my evidences are untrue, but his words or palavers are true!
9- Victimization scenes by ballast literature!
10- Sure, when “you grab lands, massacre thousands and exile nearly one million Azeries from their homes with the support of Russians, your murders are “heroes and martyrs” and the innocent victims are presented by you as “criminals” who have stolen your “biblical rights”!
11- Oh My GOD, finally ONE WORD of LOGIC amidst so much trash thinking that readers are retarded ignorants!
Hai Tahd’: New Priorities for a New Agenda By: Michael Mensoian
Part I discussed the seven injustices that are represented by Hai Tahd. Part II will suggest new priorities for a new agenda for the ARF and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) in the United States. The bedrock of Hai Tahd is the genocide. No one can dispute that statement.(1) However, the level of priority and resources that are dedicated to it can and should be disputed. The latest disappointment in failing to obtain Congressional approval of a genocide recognition resolution, as well as President Obama’s obstinate refusal to use the word genocide in his April 24th message, would suggest that something is amiss. (2)
The something amiss is having elevated genocide recognition as the sine qua non of Hai Tahd. No one questions that passage of a favorable resolution by the United States Congress or any national legislature is an important moral victory. However, there is a significant distinction between legislatures simply recognizing the Ottoman-Turkish government’s systematic murder of the Armenian people as genocide (3), and recognizing the Ottoman-Turkish government’s systematic murder of the Armenian people as genocide and Turkey’s legal and moral obligation for reparation and restitution. (4).
More immediate and pressing issues exist that must be confronted. This does not refer to increasing economic, military, or humanitarian aid to Armenia or to Karabagh by a few million dollars annually.(5) This amount, given the billions of dollars in foreign aid routinely budgeted by Congress, is the result of intense lobbying by the ANCA supported by the Congressional Armenian Caucus duly reported in press releases each year. Are we being overly critical if we question our effectiveness? (6)
Mission one of a new agenda
The ARF in the United States and the ANCA occupy a unique position within the organizational and geographic framework of Armenians worldwide. The one million-plus Armenians in the United States represent the second largest concentration of Armenians in the diaspora after Russia.(7) In terms of per capita income, education, and professional achievement, they represent an important segment of the Armenian demographic universe. Unfortunately a high percentage of these Armenians are either ambivalent with respect to Armenian issues or completely detached from the Armenian community. (8)
An important mission that the ARF and the ANCA can undertake is to develop programs that seek to energize targeted segments of this population. This requires something more than press releases, emails, mailings, and events that appeal primarily to the very small percentage of the population continually relied upon for support. That there is a need for intensive outreach programs is obvious. (9)
Observation one: Our fund raising results are less than stellar. Is it beyond belief that we should be able to raise at least $5 million annually? People give when they accept the urgency of the cause. They give when they can accept how the solicited funds will be used. And they give based on the results achieved or effectiveness. (10)
Observation two: We attract very few “new” Armenians from this one million-plus universe to our various events whether at the local, regional, or national levels. More telling has been our limited success in connecting with that segment of the population from their late 20′s to mid-40′s who identify themselves as “young professionals!” A recent panel discussion co-sponsored by the AGBU Young Professionals and the ARF “Sardarabad” Gomideh in Watertown, Mass., was an excellent beginning bringing these two groups together for the first time. Few of these young adults knew what the ARF was about. (11). Do we consider it important to inform and educate our people as to our philosophy, our purpose, and our methods in confronting the issues facing the Armenian nation both internationally and domestically? Is it remotely possible that most Armenian Americans are not cognizant of these problems? (12))
Observation three: Have we noted the lack of interest by our youth in becoming involved? Or the number of AYF Juniors, AYF Seniors, and Homenetmen members who opt at some later time in life to join the ARF Gomidehs or the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) chapters? Is it possible that we lack a compelling message? Or that we do not have a relevant one? Today is a far different world for our young people than, say, 20 years ago. Have we as an organization accommodated these changes? The strength of the ARF comes from the support derived from our people, and that support is directly related to their understanding and acceptance of the ARF. (13)
A question of revolutionary fervor
Could it be that we have lost the revolutionary fervor that was the hallmark of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation? (14) Historically we were a party of action and a party of ideas and ideals. It was never a question of whether we could or could not. We believed that we could right the wrongs that the nation had suffered. We believed that we could protect the interests of the nation. We believed that we could create a system of justice and equality for the Armenian worker and his family. It was the faith we had in ourselves individually and collectively that fueled the passion to serve and to protect the interests of our people. The ARF had a vision to fulfill, a vision that literally saved the survivors of the genocide from oblivion in the diaspora. I do not believe that same vision or passion currently exists. (15)
Mission two of a new agenda Our people must understand exactly what Hai Tahd represents and the role the ARF has in protecting those interests. The ARF in the United States has an opportunity to influence the policies and objectives ultimately adopted at the highest level of leadership. We must strive to transform the ARF in the United States into a dynamic, cohesive political organization capable of influencing the leadership because of our successes in outreach programs, fundraising, and in expanding our base of support. Continually having our admirable efforts at genocide recognition rejected does not inspire confidence in our operation. Not only are Artsakh and Javakhk of greater concern, but their favorable resolution will have an immediate and positive impact on the Armenian nation, Hai Tahd, and the ARF. (16)
Mission three of a new agenda
To define the Karabagh issue. What is the geographic relationship of Karabagh to Artsakh, or why are the Madrid Principles that are proposed as the basis for a negotiated settlement biased against Karabagh’s interests? Have we done all we can to acquaint our population in the United States with the history of this region and the inequities our people suffered during the 70 years under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan? (17)
We have allowed Turkey and Azerbaijan to frame the issue as Armenian irredentism. Artsakh gainingde jure independence (at the very least, not losing its present de facto independent status) is one of several immediate issues facing the Armenian nation and the ARF. Dashnaks were members of the Karabagh government that declared independence and the ARF was an active participant in Karabagh’s war for independence. The reversion of Artsakh to Azeri control would be a serious defeat for Armenia and the ARF. If Artsakh is beyond saving, what of the remaining injustices represented byHai Tahd? The various interests that represent American society—business leaders, educators, journalists, advocacy groups, and the Congressional Armenian Caucus, to name but a few—must be made aware of all aspects of the Karabagh issue if success is to be ours. (18)
Mission four of a new agenda
To monitor and publicize the deplorable situation of the Javakhk Armenians and to seek assistance not only to alleviate their condition, but to support their legitimate demands as citizens of Georgia. Again, the plight of the Javakhkahayer (Javakhk Armenians) is not well known within the Armenian community. Conflicting reports define the situation in terms that benefit Georgia. An International Crisis Group briefing dated May 23, 2011 states: “Although Tbilisi has significantly invested in infrastructure and acquiesced to the use of the Armenian language in schools and public administration Javakheti still faces serious problems.”
A Yerkir Union of NGO’s for Repatriation and Settlement press release dated April 18, 2011 challenges the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Human Rights Report on Georgia, claiming that “…the facts of violation of the rights of the Armenians of Javakheti have been presented in an incomplete and distorted manner.” The areas that the Yerkir Union press release noted cover a range of economic, political, and cultural violations that are more serious than those mentioned in the 2010 report on Georgia or in the International Crisis Group Briefing. If this policy of forced acculturation, population resettlement, and economic and political marginalization continues, historic Armenian Javakhk will be irretrievably lost within several generations. (19)
Genocide recognition within context of ‘Hai Tahd’
The demand that Turkey should, as the successor state to the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, recognize its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide must continue. (20) However this demand may be articulated in the future, it should be presented within the framework of Hai Tahd, not as an isolated injustice that can be resolved by passage of a Congressional resolution recognizing the murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children as genocide. (21) The ARF and the ANCA should set their agendas to undertake those missions that have greatest urgency and significance to Hai Tahd and the nation.
The historic role of the ARF
The ARF is the principal counterweight to the government of the Republic of Armenia. Whether in Armenia or in the diaspora, it fulfills the role of the loyal opposition. During the century from its inception in 1890 to the founding of the second independent Republic of Armenia in 1991, the ARF ably and singularly represented the interests of the Armenian people. (22) Whatever shortcomings or failures it may have experienced, the dedication, vision, and accomplishments of the ARF during this period cannot be legitimately challenged. (23)The ARF and the ANCA has served its people with distinction, but both entities should take the opportunity to set agendas that not only address the immediate issues confronting our nation, but seek to expand its influence well beyond its traditional base of support. (24)
http://www.armenianweekly.com June 8,2011
Notes and counter comments by Sukru Server Aya:
1- If there were “no dispute on the genocide statement”, why would you need to reaffirm “yourself”! Why are you afraid of questioning? Billions of people believe in hell and paradise, but is this enough for this being the “intelligent truth”?
2- Wouldn’t you like to remind President Obama and House speakers to first have a look into the following documents?
3- Systematic murders? By whom? : Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2010/07/3116-niles-and-sutherland-report.html
4- Crime and punishment is not hereditary. Apparently the writer is not aware even of the settlement between USA and Turkey! See: Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2010/08/3132-free-consolation-versus-frail.html
5- Economic and military aid to Armenia? See above two reports under note (2). Huge RELIEF AIDS to Armenia included even three airplanes! Were they used for “ambulance purposes”? Grabbing Karabagh and 20% of Azerbaijan territory apparently was not sufficient! You need more to grab from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey in case Russia does not help!
6- From Leslie A. Davis’ book “The slaughterhouse Province”, p.183: “…lying and trickery and inordinate love of money…Every trick and devices are resorted by those who are not in need as well as by those in need”!
7- Concentration of Armenians is less than one million and only about one third of them accepted to be called “Armenian”.
8- Attachment to community costs money and escalating obligations or liabilities to ARF solidaritarian measures.
9- It is still a mystery from day one, if ARF (ANCA) needed funds to reach certain targets, or targets had to be fabricated to justify collection of “un-audited funds”. Watch: Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2007/08/1859-video-nbc-special-armenian.html and hear Mourat Topalian speaking of “receipt copies” for money collected to send terrorists to Lebanon for training as ASALA or Justice Commandos!
10- How come? ANCA asks for on-line donation practically with every letter they send out!
11- So, you still market ARF principles which brought nothing but calamities to the “well to do Armenians, who were the cream of the Ottoman society” by dragging them into revolutionary dreams by taking their money!
12- Good! So they start to realize that U.S. citizenship counts first in relation to ethnicity!
13- Is that warming state policies or putting a stick in the bee hornet to drag the community into new adventures?
14- “Revolutionary Fervor”? In this era of globalization? Revolt against whom, why? What a mental sickness!
15- ARF saved no survivors except they arranged immigration of some 22.000 Armenians in the Nazi Army to be accepted in USA as “displaced persons” of course if they paid the fee! See “Armenian Affairs”, 1949, 50.Vol.1, No.1, Roy Carson!
16- Empty ballast words to boost morale and inject new adventures by brainwashing youn generation!
17- Why do you advocate against the United Resolutions? You have grabbed (by bribing Russia with military bases) Karabagh and also some 20% of the Azeri land. Thousands were murdered by ARF leaders some now heading the Armenian Republic and about a million have been thrown out of their houses still living in provisional camps!
18- Wow! Still grabbing land by force for more and praising ARF banditry which brought nothing but disasters!
19- Human Rights, for Armenians only? How many Jews are left (a few hundreds) in Armenia? How many Moslems are left in Armenia (NONE) nowadays? In 1850s, 70% of the population of present Armenia was Muslims!
20- Above referred documents prove the opposite.
21- Wow! I invite the writer and readers to refer to my essay: Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html and give a logical explanation as regards “how is it possible to kill 1.5 millions out of a total of 1.3 millions and have a balance of 1.414.000? Who is lying? Which document of mine is untrue?
22- Whose interests? Armenian people or the ARF leaders’?
23- Why it cannot be challenged? May be too much trash hidden piled under the carpet? Even Medicare fraud must be investigated!
24- ARF and ANCA have always cared for their own income and interests and not the community’s!
Note: My book : Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/04/2429-new-e-book-genocide-of-truth-based.html has been on the internet since 2008 free for loading or reprints! I am still waiting for any comment to refute any of my sources!
Sukru S. Aya, Istanbul, June 10, 2011 .
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