BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
With the submission of this column to Asbarez, I’ve now officially been un-retired more times than Michael Jordan and Barbara Streisand combined. Most of the people reading this probably don’t even know that I had a semi-regular column in Asbarez. It has been a while since I actually had the energy and wherewithal to sit down and put together a piece or updated my own defunct blog. But if there ever was a year to comment on, isn’t 2009 that year? This was a year that was so calamitous for Armenians and Armenian interest issues that it numbs the whole body just to try and piece together what happened. Starting with the “hopeful” victory of President Obama and ending the “back alley beatdown” that Armenian foreign affairs took during the Armenia – Turkey protocols, I haven’t seen such a rapid descent of such promising circumstances since I had my broker liquidate my retirement and put it all in Bear Sterns and Fannie Mae stock options.
First of all, let’s look at local news. In Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Glendale, Armenian American political interests were sent packing as we saw the Armenian leadership in Glendale dwindle from three voices to one and in Burbank we saw know-nothing candidates beat well prepared and funded Armenian candidates. In Crescenta Valley’s Water Board race, the loss was particularly significant because the Armenian who lost was not only an incumbent but the most qualified person and President of the Board he was sitting on. We can sit around and blame each other or blame the so-called anti-Armenian sentiment that seems so popular to blame. But the reality of it is that there’s a serious vacuum in local politics and we have yet to see someone step up and take the lead in organizing this community. Glendale, which was once the epicenter of Armenian grassroots political activity is now in a desperate search to find a viable candidate for the next council elections – preferably not one that is either a self proclaimed Marxist, a former domestic violence counselee or a real estate agent with deep pockets and a penchant for billboard style self promotion. The one bright spot in all of this was State Assembly member Paul Krekorian’s hard fought victory for the Los Angeles City Council seat in District 2. The North Hollywood, Valley and Tujunga Armenians actually woke up and voted. Krekorian overcame numerous obstacles from Azeri and Turkish propagandists funding his opponent to an organized downtown political machine that chose to support a no-name newcomer over one of the most experienced and knowledgeable legislators this state has seen in a long time. Well, Sacramento’s loss of Krekorian will be hopefully Los Angeles’s gain. Maybe now we’ll see someone in LA City Hall really speak up for the little guy.
Unfortunately, when you’re Armenian not all politics is local. The ground we gained in Los Angeles City Hall doesn’t make up for the serious backhanded slap the community received from the White House as President Obama took that prematurely conferred Nobel Prize for Peace and used it to smack the Armenian community over the head like we were a broken ‘wack-a-mole” carnival game at the local Chucky Cheese. President Obama became the undisputed recipient for this year’s “Et tu Brute” Award. After the Armenian community came out in full fledged support of his candidacy and bought his line of “Hope” and “Change” hook, line and sinker, Obama turned around and during his first official visit abroad, went to Turkey and not only avoided addressing the issue of the Armenian Genocide and its denial by Turkish authorities but highlighted Turkey’s supposed importance in international politics with such a high profile visit.
Look, I’m not expecting him to have visited Yerevan, Armenia and the Genocide Monument in his first year in office. (I’m realistic after all, even if George W. Bush did visit Tiblisi, Georgia.) But I do expect Obama to call it the way he sees it when visiting Turkey. I still think he’s an intelligent man and can redeem himself in the time he has left in office during his first term – but subsequent actions like the State Department led arm twisting on Armenia to negotiate with Turkey is making my hope for the President of Change make me wish I’d never voted for him in the first place. This is a perfect example of how Democrats come to power and then upset their base to the point where some Green Party candidate costs them the next election.
But Obama and the Department of Hillary Clinton (a.k.a. Department of State) aren’t the only ones to blame. After all, our insipid and ridiculous Presidential cabinet and Foreign Ministry in Armenia has the guts and negotiation skills of a five year old trying to understand the rules of a complicated strategic board game like Monopoly or Risk. Only recently have they shown any semblance of a backbone in regard to Turkey’s bellicose statements regarding protocols being tied to a settlement on Artsakh. And even then, one can’t help but think that they are feigning their displeasure and their protests are just an act until their personal Swiss bank accounts receive another injection of dollars from whichever companies will benefit from an open border between Armenia and Turkey.
My blood pressure is high enough having written just this much. I know that it’s only after you’ve hit your lowest point that you start climbing out of the muck up towards the light. But let 2009 be a strong reminder for Armenians worldwide of what can happen when we take our past successes and rest on our laurels. We can’t afford to make 2010 seem like a rerun of 2009. History is not kind to the complacent and weak. I can’t remember who said it or what fortune cookie I read it on but I can’t forget the saying “a smart man learns from his mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others” 2009 proved that Armenians aren’t very wise but hopefully 2010 will prove that we’re at least smart.
Skeptik Sinikian is still in retirement and under heavy dosages of anti-depressant medication. He is under Doctor’s orders to only watch YouTube videos of babies and kittens and avoid reading any Turkish or Armenian news until the year 2011. You can send him a get well e-card at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com.