BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Imagine, the newspaper that exposed Watergate now condones corruption! That’s how bad things are in the media universe these days. I refer, of course to The Washington Post and the Matt Bryza loving article by Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page Editor, which appeared on Sunday December 18.
Unfortunately, this kind of lapse is what gives the right-wing, anti-reality propaganda machine the real instances of impropriety to feed their constant, ginned up transgressions. Why Hiatt goes so far out of his way to speak up for a compromised candidate for the position of U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan is a mystery. Perhaps they struck up a friendship when he was working in Moscow for The Washington Post while Bryza was there in a diplomatic capacity (their Moscow stints overlapped in 1995, based on their biographies).
What a difference four decades can make (Watergate to Bryza). Someone charged with the serious responsibilities of an editor of a newspaper of The Washington Post’s condones the clear conflicts of interest and, at the very least, the appearances of such conflicts. I won’t waste readers’ time listing all the questionable associations and actions attached to Bryza, since to readers of Armenian publications, these are common knowledge.
In the capacities that I serve in, on local and state agency boards, I’m required to take a biennial course on conflicts of interest. Admittedly, this training focuses on financial conflict, gifts, etc. but it certainly creates sensitivity to the issue. I have no doubt the federal government has similar trainings. How can somebody like Bryza, who works in the federal government not be cognizant of the conflicted situation he’s in? Add to it the fact that he works for the State Department where everything is about appearances, protocol, tact, finesse, etc., and the improbability of his not being aware of his conflict of interest (or, once again, at the very least, the appearance of it) becomes mind-bogglingly monstrous.
With all this being so self-evident, how can Hiatt defend and advocate Bryza’s appointment? Somehow, even personal friendship seems insufficient to account for it. I am left to conclude he has some agenda or ideology dictating such a position. Otherwise how to explain:
– the fact that he leaves unremarked in his article the oddness of the fact that the two Senators who placed a hold on nominee presidential nominee Bryza are from the president’s own party;
– mentioning that Bryza’s wife is Turkish and insinuating her nationality is the reason for the ANCA’s (in Hiatt’s world, an organization to demonize) opposition to Bryza, rather than her actual doings, writings, and affiliations which indicate a very understandable bias on her part which can’t help but manifest through their domestic connection;
– comparing the Armenian Diaspora to that of Cuba, Israel, and Latvia; I know not what the Latvian reference entails, but we are hardly like the Cubans who are (largely) driven by an anti-Castro mindset that espouses a very hard line towards the current regime; Neither are we like the Jewish Diaspora which has a much more nuanced, mixed, and evolved approach towards Israel;
– citing as Bryza’s supporters “the heads of the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute”, relying on most readers’ lack of awareness of these organizations— they are what would best be described as American propaganda operations (obviously, not unnatural to have), hardly the people you want speaking up for you when issues of credibility arise;
– claiming “the larger U.S. national interest can fall victim to special-interest jockeying and political accommodation” when the bases for questioning Bryza’s propriety are among the most American of considerations.
– the cynical use of the reconciliation fetish that attends some discussions of Armenia-Turkey relations as evidenced in the crocodile tears shed by Hiatt lamenting that “one reason for the sub-par (economic, GY) performance has been Armenia’s inability to settle grievances with neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey” and later “the biggest losers in all this won’t be Americans or Azerbaijanis (who, by the way, enjoy about twice the per capita income of Armenians), but Armenians — poor, isolated and once again victims of a power play that has nothing to do with their well-being.”
Fred Hiatt should be utterly ashamed of his naked obsequiousness! If Bryza is such a competent diplomat, let him be assigned to posts that are not rife with the sorts of conflicts he finds himself in when called upon to serve in the Caucasus, Armenian Plateau, or Anatolia.
Those reading this should go to The Washington Post’s website and post their comments. There are over 130 already, and relatively few represent the decent position to hold on this matter. Of course, Azeris are posting, but so are otherwise un- or under-informed citizens. We should be correcting that imbalance and filling the gap. Get to work.