08 August 2006

923) It's not the Power of the Lobby, But Righteousness of its Cause

In recent years, as Armenian Americans have been getting better organized in carrying out their political objectives, there has been repeated talk about "the powerful Armenian lobby." The most recent example is Julie Corwin’s report on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on August 2, titled: "Confirmation Row Shows Power of Diaspora Lobbies." . .

The analyst for RFE/RL expresses her surprise that a large number of Senators, Republicans and Democrats, challenged the Bush administration’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, during the confirmation hearing of Ambassador-Designate Richard Hoagland. The current U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, is being dismissed for speaking publicly and truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. On August 1, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed, for the second time, Amb. Hoagland’s confirmation.

Corwin wrote: "The prominence of the issue is due in large part to the efforts of two powerful lobbying groups – the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), and the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA). There are lobbying groups representing the concerns of nearly every diaspora community in the United States. The Armenian lobby is one of the most successful."

Another interesting article about the Armenian lobby, written by Heather S. Gregg, a doctoral candidate in the MIT Political Science Department, has been published a number of times in different versions and lengths (from 6 to 30 pages) over the past five years. The article is titled: "Divided They Conquer: The Success of Armenian Ethnic Lobbies in the U.S."

Various Turkish publications and websites have featured this article to explain why the Armenian lobby is "so powerful."

Gregg writes: "Within the last decade, Armenian lobby groups in the United States have achieved considerable success in gaining political and material support from Congress, the White House and other federal bodies." She explains this success by “the intense lobbying efforts of Armenian-Americans in the United States. The lobbying success of this small ethnic minority is largely the result of two factors. First, an inter-community rivalry within the Armenian-American population represented by two lobby groups in Washington, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and the Armenian Assembly of America (the Assembly), has led to hyper-mobilization of this ethnic group’s resources…. Second, the Armenians have formed key alliances in Washington including members of Congress, other lobby groups and organizations, and the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in the House of Representatives, which have rallied behind Armenian policy objectives. Together, hyper-mobilization and alliance building have allowed the Armenians considerable success in achieving specific policy objectives."

Why is there such a fascination, to the point of obsession, with the Armenian lobby? Why Turkish and Azeri publications and officials make frequent references to the "powerful Armenian lobby?" There are three possible reasons as to why Turkish and Azeri officials, political organizations and media outlets are interested in presenting the Armenian lobby as being all too powerful:

1) To help rally domestic and international support to their side;
2) To create sympathy among their supporters for having to face such a "powerful enemy;"
3) To cover up their errors and incompetence after losing a particular political battle.

One must not exclude the possibility that all those who are lobbying on behalf of Turkey and Azerbaijan, be they U.S. lobbying firms, Jewish organizations or Israeli government officials, are intentionally exaggerating the power of the Armenian-American community in order to exact a higher price from Ankara and Baku for their artificially inflated services.

It is simply amazing that a powerful country like Turkey and oil rich Azerbaijan, with their political clout, financial resources, lobbying firms in Washington, D.C., and the support of the highest officials of the Bush administration, are complaining about the political activities of the tiny Armenian-American community. Turkish and Azeri officials along with their U.S. cohorts, on a regular basis, pressure, censure and threaten, anyone around the world who dares to support an Armenian issue. And yet, they are the ones crying "wolf!"

While it is true that the Armenian American community has become politically more active and effective in recent years, the fact remains that no matter how many millions do the Turks and Azeris spend, they cannot whitewash their lies and present them as the truth. They are simply wrong on the issues.

What empowers the Armenian lobby is the righteousness of its cause!

Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier


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