Messing With History

As those who have tried to change history can attest, it doesn’t work. Check with Holocaust deniers, ex-Soviet leaders (and their counterparts in Animal Farm), and even Turkey.

Serzh Sarkissian’s statement during his visit to Russia’should have been informed by this knowledge, but was not. Alas. Not only did he come off as being ready to negotiate away the Genocide, but, it seemed like he was brownnosing to the genocidal state. How demeaning! I was going to critique just this gaffe, but he’s made it worse, as you’ll see below.

As a contrast, take the LA Times’ reporting on the example of Israel’s Wiesenthal Center (for two consecutive days as of this writing). It has put up a $450,000 bounty for Aribert Heim, Dr. Death (not to be confused with the good guy of the same moniker, Jack Kevorkian, of assisted suicide fame). The guy, if alive– his family says he died in 1993, would be 94. Nazi hunters have landed in Chile to look for him in Patagonia. It’s 63 years after WWII and the Holocaust ended, and these guys are intently pursuing the guilty. That’s dignity.

Interestingly, one of our SpitRain Award winners, Abe Foxman of ADL infamy, after a visit to Turkey, remarked that he thought the fallout (with Turkey) from the controversy over his “tantamount to Genocide” and related commen’s is “behind us”. He also reported advising the Turkish leaders he met with to focus on current issues with Armenia (including opening borders) as a way of creating relationships that will ease the way to dealing with more sensitive issues. I read this as “divide and conquer” and nothing else. Is the timing just coincidence, I wonder?

But, back to Serzheeg, who had an op-ed piece in the July 9, 2008 Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Here, he seemingly corrects his gaffe, but really digs the hole deeper by avoiding calling Turkey’s border closure by its proper name, a blockade. He focuses instead on the allegedly beneficial economics of open borders. Think of what NAFTA has done to Mexico’s peasantry and lower middleclass workers in the U.S. before you buy that pile of hooey.

Then Sarkissian seems to laud the circuitous (via Georgia) trade that is ongoing between Armenia and Turkey. He seems to miss the point that the increased cost of this routing enables Armenia’s fledgling economy to produce some goods. Were trade direct, agriculture and small manufacturing products wouldn’t stand a chance against Turkey’s industrial/agricultural juggernaut. By implementing its Pan-Turkic policy of assisting Azerbaijan, Turkey has actually helped Armenia with the blockade. We should be making it politically more difficult, not easier, for them to relent and open the border. I have to wonder if, given the pervasive corruption in Armenia, some fatcats have come to an agreement with their Turkish counterparts that, if successful, would lead to the further fleecing of Armenia’s people.

Then Serzheeg makes a ridiculous analogy of our situation with the ping-pong diplomacy of the early 1970s. How can that pre-Nixon/Mao-meeting goodwill-building phenomenon be compared to the Armenia/Turkey situation? Had either China or the U.S. committed genocide against the other and persisted in denying it? How absurd! He almost seems to beg for normalized relations with Turkey, once again demeaning his office, our landlocked country, and our whole world-dispersed nation.

Of course there’s the invitation for Turkish President Abdullah Gul to join Armenia’s president in watching the Armenia-Turkey soccer match. On its own, that’s not such a bad idea. It could have been on our turf, on our terms. If nothing else, it would have provided an opportunity to organize a massive protest. But in the present context, it’s enough to make even the most stolid person squirm with unease.

What’s going on? Serzh Sarkissian is the guy who stood up to and fought Turks to our east. Why is Sarkissian being so accommodating of the (even more directly genocidal) Turks to our West?

By the way, you can, and should send commen’s to the WSJ by clicking here

I did, and it was posted, though I know of at least one person whose submission was not accepted. This is what mine read, and it has already been criticized as being too weak, though a foremost concern of mine was appearing in WSJ space about the Genocide while tying Turkey legally to the Ottoman Empire:

President Serzh Sarkissian seems to be back-peddling from his earlier commen’s (during a visit to Russia two weeks ago) regarding the matter of a "commission".

Turkey has sought the establishment of such an entity as a means of forever delaying admission of its culpability for the Armenian Genocide committed 1915-1923 by its legal predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire.

Sarkissian’s more nuanced and broadened approach to this matter is a welcome correction, though still suspect to most Armenia’s worldwide.

Is something cooking? It’s very fishy. Sarkissian’s comment in Moscow followed by Gul saying they’re evaluating the invitation, contemporaneous with Abe Foxman’s commen’s and capped with the WSJ piece. If he’s running a deft ruse, Sarkissian should at least come clean with our leadership. Similarly if he’s just trying to divert external pressure. Regardless, we should keep up the public heat on him. This simply enables his game, strengthening his bargaining position. Conversely, if it’s simply a matter of poor judgment on his part, our outcry will drive him back to more appropriate policies. The very possibility that something has been cooked up to ease pressure on Turkey is proof of the value of the heat we maintain on Turkey through our Genocide recognition and other Turkey-oriented actions in the Diaspora. Given Matthew Bryza’s recent visit to the area, Foxman’s Turkey trip, the lame-duck period of Bush’s presidency with its traditional focus on foreign policy, and the op-ed’s publication in the WSJ (bastion of the U.S. establishment’s right wing), makes me

Write the WSJ, Armenia’s Consulates and Embassies, expressing your dismay and opposition to the dangerous path Serzh Sarkissian has started following.


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