728) Armenian Lobby in USA and Armenian Diaspora in USA and Canada

The Formation of the Armenian Lobby in the United States and Lobby Activities

At 1830 the USA has signed its first commerce treaty with the Ottoman Empire and obtained "the most favored nation" status with this treaty. While trading with the Ottomans, Americans have chosen Armenians as brokers. Within time the number of the Armenians that were trading on behalf of the Americans have increased. Among a few took American citizenship.

The American missionaries have first arrived to Anatolia by 1820’s and they have chosen the Armenians as their "target" community. Some of the Armenians went to America for education and later on settled there. They all had in common extreme Turkish hostility. Armenian traders who have migrated to America displayed also anti-Turkish activities. The Armenians who have settled down in America during the years 1890-1900 are thought to be approximately 12.000. Shortly after, the Armenian Revolutionary Parties became active in America. In 1903 there were 36 Dashnak committees at the USA. By 1914 this figure went up to 77. From 1887 until the present, there has been 1228 Armenian organizations established in America among which 182 are churches. Almost all of them besides the activities for the preservation of their Armenian identity, displayed also Turkish hostility.

The Armenians who had settled in America had been successful in short time in their anti-Turkish policy. The first draft resolution that has been against the Ottoman Empire was handed in to the senate by 1894. Ever since then those activities continued and has reached its peak during World War I and in the afterwards.

The reason for the Armenians not having many lobby activities until 1965 is due to the fact that Turkey became an ally of America after World War II and had participated to the Korean War.

On 1965 the Armenian propaganda restarted. The years between 1973-1985 is the Armenian terrorism period during which Turkish diplomats were assassinated.

In 1984 some of the Armenian organizations at America have founded the Armenian Assembly of America. Meanwhile the political parties such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Hunchakian Social Democratic Party are continuing to carry out their activities. Today in America there are approximately 800.000 Armenians.

At present the Armenian lobby’s activities at the American Congress is concentrating on three fields: recognition of the Armenian "genocide" by the American Congress, financial aid to Armenia by the United States and sanctions to Azerbaijan and to Turkey. The Greek lobby helps the Armenians with their activities against Turkey. However Turkey’s strategic importance limits the Armenian achievements.

Armenians are trying to receive compensation from Turkey and for this they are following the tactics that the Jews applied for the holocaust victims.

* ASAM Caucasia Expert -
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- Armenian Studies, Issue 1, March -April - May 2001

The Armenian Diaspora in the USA and Canada

The main subject of this study is the Armenian efforts to manipulate the American public opinion in favor of the Armenian cause, and it further examines the evolution of how the United States has accommodated the Armenian question in its foreign policy and how it used the issue in its external policies. The article mainly focuses on the Armerian institutions and their activities. Apart from these organizations, the Armenian institutions in Canada are also given, consideration though their population is relatively small when compared with those in the United States. Almost all Canadian Armenian organizations have connections with their American counterparts. Even it can be said that they are like branches of those in the United States. In this framework, the study under different sub-titles looks at the evolution of the Armenian diaspora in these countries; the first Armenian immigration to the North American continent; the Armenian settlement regions in these countries; their population and the social, political and religious structures of this population; the most important Armenian figures known in the United States and Canada; the significant Armenian organizations, their aims and their activities; the Armenian political activities; their publications and broadcastings (newspapers, serials, TV and radio stations and programs etc.); the Armenian churches; the Armenian lobbying activities and the Armenian lobby’s efforts in the United States Congress and finally the September 11 and its reflections on the Armenians and the Armenian question. The most deficient side of the article is the Armenian terrorism against the Turkish diplomats in the United States and Canada. The author accepts that one of the most important dimensions of the issue is the Armenian terrorism, its causes and effects, yet he argues that this subject should be examined in a more detailed way in a separate study, and promises to do so in near future.

The article first of all provides information on how the Americans had perceived the Armenian issue from an economic perspective since the 1800s, and how they saw Ariatolia and the Middle East as an opportunity to maximize the American national economic interests. The 1830 Agreement, the American perceptions about the natural resources in the region, the transportation facilities and the American search to use the ethnic and religious groups in their trade relations with the region were also examined by the article. It is understandable that the Armenians played one of the most crucial roles in forming these relations since the Americans saw them as a suitable partner in entering the regional economic relations. As a matter of fact, like the l3ritish, French and the Russians, the American missionaries had started a religious campaign to convert the Armenians to Protestantism sect in the early years of the 19th century. Protestantism The British missionaries were following a policy based on Protestant beliefs, the French aimed to increase the number of the Roman Catholic Armenians while the Russian groups made efforts to make more Armenians Orthodox under the Russian influence. It was riot a secret that all of these great powers were using the religion card in their foreign policy regarding the ‘Eastern Question’. however, despite the American missionaries’ efforts, the United States had not used the Armenian question as a political matter against the Ottoman Empire. This was a result of the Monroe Doctrine. According to this understanding the United States had to concentrate on its own problems and not involved with the international issues unless the international powers damaged the American national interests, however, when the United States the First World War, the picture completely entered changed and the American policy makers showed great interest in the Armenian, Greek and other problems in the Ottoman Empire and Europe. Now the Americans were proposing solutions to the ethnic and religious problems, and the United States was trying to be more influential in the international arena. In this environment the Armenians saw the American interests in becoming an active actor in international problems as an opportunity to make their voice heart at the international level. Thus they started a campaign to convince the Americans to accept the Armenian cause.

Another important point this study underlined is that the claim of that the Armenians spread all over the world after the 1915 Re¬location Act and formed diaspora in different countries is a false and unfounded statement. When considered the archive documents, it is obviously understood that the mentioned claim was used in order to prove the Armenian arguments, Hai Tahd. As the article proves that the Armenians had always been an immigrant nation, and they had been forced to be re-located in many times as witnessed in the Byzantium Empire period, it can be argued that immigration has been one of the most natural characteristics of the Armenian history. In other words, the 1915 Relocation Act cannot be considered as the starting point of the Armenian immigrations or of the formation of the international Armenian diaspora. The situation in the US also proves this claim; the Armenians had immigrated to the US long before 1915 as a result of the economic considerations. When we look at the history of the Armenian churches it is understood that many Armenian churches had been established before 1915, and almost none of the Armenian immigrants were political refugees. They dreamt of being rich when they came to the US. That is to say they did not escape from the Ottoman Empire, but they intentionally and freely preferred to immigrate to another country. This fact is very significant to show an important tendency among the Armenian society in this period.

The article in this part moves to the foundation of the American and Canadian Armenian diaspora and their activities. The study, among these organizations especially focuses on the Armenian research centers and the compatriot organizations. The Armenian compatriot organizations are unfortunately named with the Turkish cities names like Arabkir Union, Inc., Armenian Aintabtz Association, Educational association of Malatia, Mousa Ler Association, Organization of Istanbul Armenians, Sghert Armenian Association, Union of Narash Armenians etc. As a well known fact that Istanbul, Nalatia, Marash and other mentioned cities are Turkish cities and Armenians have never been majority in these cities. The article argues that the naming of these organizations in this form had an aim; this can be considered as a brainwashing of the Armenian youth. When they perceive themselves from these cities, the Armenian youth is encouraged to see some part of the modern Turkey as ‘homeland’ which may cause irredentist and terrorist movements among these young generations.

Furthermore, the article provides a brief information about the Armenian publishing and broadcasting in the United States and Canada. The large amount of the study is also devoted to the Armenian churches in these two countries. The author also, having discussed the Armenian Church’s ‘unfortunate’ attitude towards the Armenian terrorism, pays attention to the disagreement between the Echmiyazin and Antilyas Churches.

Finally, the article examines the Armenian lobby’s political activities in general. Their efforts in the American Congress in particular receives a considerable attention. In this context, the study focuses on the Armenian lobbying’s impact on Turkish-American relations. In the assessment of the past and the current situation of the Turkish-American relations, the author argues that the Armenian lobbies have made great efforts to prevent improvement in the relations yet they could not success to put an end to the good relations although they damaged the relations for short periods. The reason for their failure, the author further argues, that is not their lack of efforts, but the American national interests regarding Turkey and the Middle East. Since the United States needs Turkey’s support in its foreign policy, the American foreign policy makers (the President, the secretaries and the Congress) did not allow the Armenians to prevent good relations between the United States and Turkish Republic. The American people also know that while the Armenian Republic has good relations with the Russians, Turkey, as a NATO member, has been one of the closest allies of the United States. It is also known that Armenia made agreements with Iran arid Syria. Moreover, Turkey’s strategic importance in the American polices has increased with the effects of the Gulf War and Afghanistan Operation. In both the Turkish people and the state fully supported the Americans while the Armenian state preserved its close position with Iran, Russia and Syria. Actually the Turkish-American good relations rooted in a long history. In the Korean War for instance both of these countries fought together against the communists. The Cold War circumstances in particular strengthened Turkish-American relations, and this continued in the post-Cold War era. Turkey in the post-Cold War era became one of the key countries in the American energy policy as it is in a location where it controls all the routes. It is also an important country regarding the stability and security of the Eastern Mediterranean rim and the Balkans. Apart from these factors, the American businessmen also have similar economic interests in good relations with Turkey as had been in the 1830s: They have investments in Turkey and their contacts with their Turkish colleagues are vital for their regional operations. In short Turkey cannot be sacrificed by the United States for the Armenian state.

Today, about 800.000 Armenians live in the United States. Though their number is lower than 2.5 million people in the Republic of Armenia, their influence is much higher than the Armenian state’s influence. It can be summarized that there is an organized, wealthy, well educated Armenian community in almost each of the American states. This community with its 182 Armenian churches and 1228 Armenian organizations implement an anti-Turkish campaign for years. Particularly the Armenian studies and research centers are more organized in this campaign. Apart from these organizations, 21 daily newspapers and weekly publications, 17 Armenian studies periodicals, 188 bulletin, newsletter and journals, 25 local radio and 10 TV stations continuously make propaganda against Turkey since the Armenians in the US established the Armenian national identity on hatred against the Turkish.

It would be seen unrealistic or very optimistic that the United States will not support the Armenian cause under these pro-Armenian publications and broadcastings. Because the Armenian campaign in the United States is quite different from those in the United Kingdom and France. In this country, the organized and planned Armenian propaganda was started in the 19th century and the problem was taken to the American Senate by the Armenian lobby, and the Armenian groups spent millions of the US dollars just in the 19th century for this campaign. Even it can be argued that the pioneering school of present Armenian campaign is the ABCFN, which established in Boston in 1810. On the other hand, there is a point it should not be forgotten by the Americans which clearly shown by the American Congressman Hubbard:

‘I would ask my colleagues again, as I did earlier today, what would the American people say if every year the Turkish General Assembly passed a resolution, house Joint Resolution 192 they could call it, intending to embarrass the United States because of our treatment of the Indians years ago or having blacks as slaves?’

In short, Mr. Hubbard underlines that if the United States will continue to embarrass the Turkish people, it will have to bear its cost as well.

Now, it should not be forgotten that, while France officially recognized the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’ claims and the other European countries imply that they will take the subject before their parliaments seeing the issue as a matter of religious solidarity (if not a Crusade), the reason why the United States has rejected all the bills of the Armenian ‘genocide’, despite a heavy Armenian pressure, is the American national interests in the region, where Turkey plays a crucial role. However, it is unfortunate that the United States keeps the ‘Armenian card’ in case it will need to use in order to maximize its regional interests.

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- Armenian Studies, Issue 3, September-October-November 2001


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