The Armenian Genocide

Remember back in October when a resolution to acknowledge and remember the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 was blocked because Turkey threatened to cut off relations with the United States if it was passed?

Well, the resolution did not go anywhere. It was adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 10, and could be brought back to life if a majority in Congress could overcome their terror of Turkish temper tantrums.

The deliberate extermination of roughly 1,500,000 Armenian men, women, and children was widely reported and acknowledged as genocide while it was happening and in the years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Whether or not Hitler explicitly pointed to the Armenians as evidence that mass murder on such a scale could be done with impunity, there is no reasonable doubt that the Armenian Genocide was used by Nazi Germany as a template for the Holocaust. Germany and Turkey were allies in World War I. German military officers were in Turkey while the genocide was going on. Most of the vast collection of photographs documenting the atrocities were taken by a German national, Armin Wegner. And when you read about the logistics of how the Armenian population was rounded up, deported, and murdered, the influence becomes very clear.

The argument that our present-day political alliance with Turkey is too important to our national security to risk alienating the Turks over something that happened 90 years ago is unpersuasive, to say the least. The Turkish government has been denying that a genocide took place for those entire 90 years, and for almost that length of time, the major European powers and the United States have gone along with that denial, because the West did not want to jeopardize its oil interests in what came to be called the Middle East. The oil addiction began almost immediately after the first world war ended, when Britain and France carved up the old Ottoman Empire between them. The absolute inviolable priority of European and American economic interests in that region began then, and has gone on continuously since then. The United States does not want to piss off Turkey now; it did not want to piss off Turkey back then; and as long as there is oil in the Middle East, that is going to be more important than even a simple statement of acknowledgment and remembrance. Memory takes a back seat to money.

Clearly, many people both inside Turkey and elsewhere in the world believe this to be appropriate and understandable. I do not. It’s neither appropriate nor understandable. It’s evil and immoral. It’s appalling that one country has persisted in denying, for almost a century, the intentional elimination of an entire people, through mass murder and forced removal, and that the world has allowed that country to get away with such a crime.

The time is long, long past to stand up with the remnant of the Armenian people, and the very few survivors still alive, and say: We acknowledge this genocide, we call it by its proper name, we remember that it happened, and we commit ourselves to do all we can to prevent its ever happening again.

The summary of the Armenian Genocide Resolution reads as follows:

A resolution calling on the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.

The full text (of the Senate version) is here. The House version is here. To send a message to your representatives in the House and Senate urging them to take up this resolution again and pass it, go here.

There are mountains of documentation of and information about the facts of the Armenian genocide. If you want one source that is reliable, exhaustively and meticulously researched, readable, and readily available, I recommend Peter Balakian’s The Burning Tigris. It’s out in paperback, and it’s also easily obtainable at public libraries.

One Response to “The Armenian Genocide”

  1. daveinboca says:

    I was Mondale’s “Armenian Expert” in his ’84 Presidential Campaign and the evidence is overwhelming that the Turks at best allowed and worse, actively encouraged, Armenian persecution and mass murders after huge populations were deported from the region of fighting on the Ottoman/Russian Front in N.E. Turkey. The Armenians were deported and left to the tender mercies of their hereditary enemies, the Kurds, and the few survivors who made it to Arab countries [who were well-disposed to Armenians, particularly in Beirut], had tales of horror which I heard while an Officer in the US Embassy in Beirut in the seventies.

    Bush’s pro-Turkish stance derives from the Turkish support of Israel [The Holocaust Museum in DC was originally planned to have a wing with the Armenian genocide, but the Jews scotched it as muddying the “unique” genocide that Hitler inflicted on their people.]

    I’m familiar with the Fresno & Watertown MA Armenian communities and the DC lobbying community. Remember how the Turks hired Barry Zorthian to push their DC agenda forward in a clever way of dividing Armenian sentiment?

    As more genocides, demoncides, and mass murders [like the passive one in Myanmar/Burma recently when relief organizations were kept from afflicted areas] proliferate, this will become a huge issue in a world where global communications cannot allow these to happen unattended [although in N. Korea, over a million starved in a late ’90s famine without a peep from the MSM.]

    The Armenians should have their own memorial in DC and get it funded from Congress as the Holocaust Museum was [although the original project was bait/switched to a Jewish Holocaust after the funding was voted.

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