BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Since H. Res. 296 passed, we’ve had quite the deluge of (mostly) positive publicity. Other than for the Genocide’s centennial, the last time we had this (though it wasn’t positive) was in 2007, when a Genocide resolution passed in its committee in the house.
Coupled with Turkey’s invasion of Syria and the negative press and Congressional responses that generated, things have not gone well for Turkey.
Now, take that and combine it with Turkish President Erdoğan’s domestic challenges, the biggest being the country’s economy, and it is easy to see why he desperately, pathetically, needed the boost of an invitation to the White House. He got it because President Trump is equally desperate to distract citizens’, and particularly voters’, attention from his impending impeachment.
This miserably-timed visit elicited still more criticism against Turkey. Even a noted Turkish NBA player, Enes Kanter (note: he is a strong Gulen supporter) teamed up with senators and the Committee to Protect Journalists to criticize Erdoğan. But not everything went badly for Turkey’s wanna-be Sultan.
While in the U.S., Erdogan not only once again caused a ruckus at a protest against him using his (Turkish embassy) staff, but he also tapped a senator who was bought and paid for by his cousin (through campaign donations). This was Lindsey Graham who was invited to a White House meeting with Erdogan and Trump where he became “convinced”, presumably, that passing an Armenian Genocide resolution was a bad idea. He objected to having the U.S. Senate voting on the Genocide resolution pending before it through an expedite procedure. This act overshadows his previous support of aid to the Republic of Armenia. I hope that his heavily evangelical support base remembers this, his denying the Genocide of the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion, when he is running for re-election next year. Armenians in South Carolina should make sure to remind their neighbors and friends of Graham’s malfeasance.
This temporary setback for us gave Erdogan bragging rights in Turkey where he boasted to have quashed the resolution. In the process he misrepresented its nature, confirming how thoroughly Ankara-controlled so-called Turkish grass roots efforts in the US are. A missive from the Assembly of Turkish American Associations to its supporters does the same thing. In it, we are treated to this gem:
“On Tuesday, October 29th, H.RES.296, was passed the House of Congress. This resolution opens the way for Senate vote on S.RES.150 to make it the policy of the United States to commemorate the so-called Armenian Genocide through official recognition. If the S.RES.150 passed the Senate and goes to President for signature and signed, it becomes legally effective. When S.RES.150 becomes legally effective, it would be illegal to engage in an activity to deny the so called Genocide…”
Everything in that statement other than the first sentence is false and demonstrates how desperate Turkey is to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
From The NY Times to The LA Times, The Jerusalem Post to Al Jazeera, Bloomberg to The Boston Globe, and much more, the process of passage of the House and Senate genocide resolutions has generated much coverage and commentary. But one item really caught my eye: “An American Resolution on Armenian Genocide Wrangles with History” by Edward J. Erickson, a retired professor of military history from the Marine Corps University.
Much of what he says is simply regurgitated Turkish denial-based talking points and outright falsehoods, e.g. “the removal and mass murder of Ottoman-Armenians in 1915 was localized and not systematic in eastern Anatolia” (note, too, the use of Anatolia instead of Armenian Highland). But it is VERY well presented. One theme stood out, that of insurgency by Armenians. Of course this is just another one of Turkey’s stale lines. Erickson takes it to another level. He posits the existence of a “large insurgency” (by Armenians) and perceives Ottoman-Turkish actions as “Operational security and counter-insurgency by relocation”. Thus, even from the outset, he sanitizes mass-murder through academic jargon. What’s most interesting is that he describes the Turks’ genocidal activity (specifically the “relocation” [deportation] part of it), as “the Ottomans were using a method widely used by other empires both before and after World War I”.
What does this mean? Either it is just another part of Erickson dedicated denialism, or, it means that students at the U.S. military academies are taught that indirect-mass-murder, through deportation, is an acceptable counter-insurgency tactic. If so, they are being taught to violate the Genocide Convention which defines genocide, in part as “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
Either way, this exposes another front on which we must do battle for our cause. The curricula and staff of the U.S. military academies must be reviewed for incorrect, Turkey-pandering, and ultimately denialist anti-Armenian content and bias. Otherwise, we will forever be dealing with a U.S. Department of Defense staffed with people who have been brainwashed to support and value Turkey to an unrealistic degree. This is where some of our compatriots who have served or are serving in the military can do a great service for our community and cause. If you know any, contact them and get them engaged in this process by connecting them with the Washington offices of the ANCA.