13 November 2006

1227) Dr. Malcolm Yapp's Review of Dadrian's Genocide History

We owe British historian Prof. Malcolm Yapp an enormous debt of gratitude for daring to expose that "foremost authority on the Armenian genocide," Vahakn Dadrian, for the pseudo-scholar that he is. (Remember: a real scholar rounds up all relevant information to wind up with a scientific conclusion. When one starts with the conclusion first, and gathers whatever seeming facts to support that conclusion, then we are dealing with a "propagandist.")

These days, more scholars are daring to expose Dadrian for the propagandist that he is, even — shockingly — a couple of "genocide scholars." As Prof. Guenter Lewy put it in a Zaman interview, "Many Armenian scholars use selective evidence or otherwise distort the historical record, but V. N. Dadrian is in a class by himself. His violations of scholarly ethics, which I document in my book, are so numerous as to destroy his scholarly credentials."

Such criticism is a relatively new phenomenon; that's why Dadrian felt free to get away with the murder (in the form of "Rufmord") that he has committed so ruthlessly and repeatedly. And that is why mediocre and often bigoted scholars have simply accepted whatever Dadrian has had to say. Some, such as Robert Jay Lifton, did not like it when their lack of scholarly responsibility was pointed out to them, and they engaged in the underhanded practice of trying to ruin the reputation of the genuine scholar pointing out the error of the mediocre scholar's ways.

Since there was such a dearth of genuine scholars calling Dadrian for the fraud that he is, one must truly appreciate Prof. Yapp for being one of the very few who examined Dadrian's work with a real scholarly perspective. Of course, Yapp was kind and paid professional courtesy, but it does not take much reading between the lines to see where he really stood.

A good chunk of what's below had appeared in the "Dadrian" section of TAT's "Armenian Scholars' Disregard for the Truth" page, and it sure came in handy time and again, when Dadrian needed to be debunked. The full version is now available; the review appeared in the Middle Eastern Studies (MES) journal.

(Pay note to this reflection on Dadrian's style of excessively using big words: "a sentence in which words average very nearly 2.5 syllables each and which contains at least one word which is wrong.")

The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus
by Vahakn N. Dadrian.
Providence, Rhode Island, and Oxford: Berghahn Books. 1995.
Pp. xxviii + 452 28 pounds.

Oct 96, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p 395, 3p

The argument of this book is that the Armenian massacres (“the Armenian Genocide”) were an attempt by the Ottoman Turkish authorities ‘to terminally resolve’ the Turko-Armenian conflict. The key issue, Dadrian contends, is the ‘genocidal nature’ of the massacres, and this issue supersedes all others. The book is, therefore, a further contribution to the campaign waged by Armenian writers in recent years in an endeavour to persuade the public that a major crime against humanity was carried out by the Ottomans before and especially during the First World War and this crime has gone unpunished and unacknowledged at least in its full dimensions. It is probably unnecessary to remind readers of MES that the contrary view, maintained by Turkish historians and by many other historians of the modern Middle East, is that although massacres of Ottoman Armenians undoubtedly took place, the available evidence suggests that those chiefly responsible were local Kurdish tribes and brigands and that there were some connivance, even participation by local Ottoman officials, but that the central Ottoman government did not order or plan 1915 massacres; what it did was to order the deportation of the Armenians from areas made sensitive by the progress of the war without adequate arrangements for their transport, food or security. The question is: has Dadrian produced sufficient new evidence to turn the debate decisively in favour of the view that the massacres were planned by the Ottoman government with a view to the extinction of the Ottoman Armenians?
Vahakn Dadrian

The renowned one: Vahakn Dadrian

Without doubt this is a serious book based on long and detailed search in Austrian, British, French and German archives and on publications in all those languages together with Turkish. Readers should not be put off by the unfavourable impression made by the portentous chapter titles and by some early sentences such as “the cataclysmic culmination of a historical process involving the progressive decimation of the Armenians through intermittent and incremental massacres” (p. xv), a sentence in which words average very nearly 2.5 syllables each and which contains at least one word which is wrong. Those who pass on to the main text will find that things get much better. There is a great deal of information and some interesting legal arguments about the developing character of international law, the idea of international intervention on humanitarian grounds and of the concept of crimes against humanity. The author does not, however, consider fully the links between historical events and law: he suggests the failure to implement international law may encourage regimes to indulge in crimes against their citizens but he does not examine how the existence of a legal basis for international intervention may persuade those opposed to the regimes to manufacture the conditions which will provoke such an intervention. The history of Eastern Question in general and of the Armenian Question provides many examples of attempts to provoke international intervention by the perpetration of outrages intended to call down punishment by the regime concerned, punishment which under many regimes, including the Ottoman, tended to be barbaric and indiscriminate, partly because of the lack of adequately trained forces. Of course, in recent years, the confident hope of favourable press treatment and global television coverage, such attempts have multiplied and now constitute a major threat to the whole established system of international relations; it is ironic that a hundred years after the dreadful events in which Kurds were the principal enemies of the Armenians the PKK should pursue precisely the same tactics as the Armenian terrorist groups of the late 19th century, and with similar consequences.

(Below, Dadrian will apologize for Dashnaks and other terrorists:) “One may assume that the nature of revolutionary idealism is such that it creates its own norms and that in this sense terror is a means of making a statement for which other channels are long denied” (p.143.). (Yapp:)

It is not quite the sort of statement one expects from a writer so insistent on obedience to international law.

("The failure to implement international law may encourage regimes to indulge in crimes against their citizens," is a Dadrian concern, as you have read above. This, of course, is the standard argument used by genocide scholars as to why it's important to "study genocide"... not telling us they only choose the episodes they deem as genocide, frequently for political purposes, and ignoring all others not fitting in with their agendas. Here Dadrian has been busted for his own hypocrisy.)

The book begins with the emergence of an Armenian question in 1878 when the Treaty of Berlin provided for internationally supervised reforms in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire and Armenian hopes and expectations were accordingly raised. From then on the Ottomans feared that the same process which they had witnessed in the Balkans would be repeated in eastern Asia Minor; autonomy would be demanded, found to be inadequate, and eventually full independence would be demanded and conceded under international pressure. But there was one major difference between eastern Asia Minor and most of the Balkans; in eastern Asia Minor the Armenians were a minority in a Muslim majority region. Moreover among the Armenians only a small minority wished for independence; it's a weakness of this book that there is no adequate analysis of the very varied Armenian population of the Empire. The Ottoman authorities determined to resist Armenian demands and the Armenian nationalists, many from Russian Armenia, strove to bring about an international intervention which would overcome Ottoman resistance. Dadrian describes in some detail the various incidents of the 1890s, usually contrived by the Armenian terrorist organizations such as Dashnak and Hunchak, which led to the first major massacres of the Armenians. The author puts the matter rather differently: He refers to “the [Ottoman] practice of exacerbating a crisis by acts which are intended to aggravate it; the Armenians are driven to some kinds of counter-actions in the face of deliberately engineered excesses” (p. 124.). Furthermore, he claims, the Ottomans allowed acts of desperation to take place so as to take advantage of them. Considering the indiscriminate terrorism of the Hunchaks in Van in 1896 and the Dashnak raid on the Ottoman Bank in the same year he reframes his comments: “One may assume that the nature of revolutionary idealism is such that it creates its own norms and that in this sense terror is a means of making a statement for which other channels are long denied” (p.143.). It is not quite the sort of statement one expects from a writer so insistent on obedience to international law.

Dadrian’s account of the earlier massacres is intended to establish his argument that the Ottoman authorities, long before the First World War, had meditated the destruction of the Armenians, provoked acts of terrorism by Armenian bands and then used the excuse to launch massacres. This planned annihilation of the Armenians culminated in the 1915 massacres which are discussed in Part 6. Although Dadrian produces many reports tending to suggest that members of the Ottoman government wanted to destroy the Armenian, he fails to find any document which constitutes a definite order for massacre. He lays considerable stress on the role of the Special Organization and argues that these were set up by the CUP to carry out massacres outside the realm of government. The writer also makes out a case for German complicity; not merely that Germans turned blind eye to the behavior of their of their ally and refused to intervene on behalf of the Armenians but that Germans suggested the massacres. Dadrian assembles much evidence about the views of various German officers serving in the Ottoman territories but no item is conclusive. Dr. Lepsius, he complains, sought to exculpate Germany from responsibility although he collected so much evidence against the Ottomans: “As with the rest of the material relative to the issue of culpability in general, one has to learn to make the best out of what can only be circumstantial evidence” (p.277). He himself, is wholly convinced: “the wartime destruction of the Ottoman Armenian population clearly involved a secret scheme”(p.291).

The author's approach is not that of an historian trying to find out what happened and why but of a lawyer assembling the case for the prosecution in an adversarial system.

In the last sections of the book, Dadrian describes the various post-war efforts by the Ottoman and Allied authorities to bring those responsible for the massacres to book. The 1919 courts martial, however cannot be taken entirely at face value because they were conducted by a government which was anxious to pin any blame on the CUP leaders. As for the Allied attempts to try offenders, these were abandoned as the political situation changed and the Turkish Nationalists upset the Sevres Settlement. The author also discusses the Ottoman campaigns into Russian Armenia in 1918 and 1920 and claims that behind these campaigns lay an intention to destroy the Russian Armenians as well. The document on which he places most reliance refers to the annihilation politically and physically of Armenia, not the Armenians. What meaning one is to read into term “physically” (maddeten) is unclear.

Despite the numerous documents cited and the careful assembly of information about individuals and organizations, there is no decisive evidence to support Dadrian's case. Dadrian more or less recognizes that this is so but suggests that this circumstance is the result of deliberate deception and concealment on the part of Ottoman leaders from Abdulhamid II to Enver and Tal’at. Of course one may argue that even without clear unambiguous documentary evidence the weight of so many pieces of indirect and circumstantial evidence brought together could be persuasive, even conclusive, but one must enter a caveat. The author's approach is not that of an historian trying to find out what happened and why but of a lawyer assembling the case for the prosecution in an adversarial system. What he wants are admissions of guilt from the defendants, first Germany as the easier target and then Turkey. What is missing is any adequate recognition of the circumstances in which these events took place; the surge of Armenian nationalism, the ambitions of Russia, the fears of the Ottomans and the panic and indiscipline of war. The 1915 massacres took place when the Ottomans were being driven back by the Russians (supported by many Armenians) in the east and were being threatened by the operations in the Dardanelles in the west. Dadrian is so obsessed by his theory of the long plan that he too often overlooks the elements of the contingent.

To question whether Dadrian has made out his case and to suggest that he has given insufficient weight to the share of responsibility to be attributed to Armenian terrorists and to the flow of historical events is not, of course, to deny that Ottoman Armenians were murdered on a vast scale. It is indeed the dimensions of that tragedy which have led many to feel that the massacres must have been planned by government. But the scale of the horrors doesn't necessarily point to genocide. Some mass murders of the twentieth century have indeed been the result of deliberate government action; some have been the result of panic, indifference, ignorance or a combination of circumstances. To which category the Armenian massacres belong is still unknown.


(Thanks to Hector)

Prof. Yapp served as advisor on the one Western movie/TV show that treated Turks with a fair shake, the YOUNG INDIANA JONES series. (Two episodes I'm familiar with used the history of Prof. Stanford Shaw. The one Prof. Yapp was involved with, called "Daredevils of the Desert" and using actual Turkish actors, apparently dealt with Lawrence of Arabia.) Obviously, the George Lucas organization is aware of genuine scholars of integrity to use as consultants, in marked contrast to the bulk of the academic world, accepting of what those as Dadrian and the genocide scholars" have to say. Frightening!


© Holdwater

The source site of this article gets revised often, as better
information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and
the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing
the direct link as follows:



...Is to expose the mythological “Armenian genocide,” from the years 1915-16. A wartime tragedy involving the losses of so many has been turned into a politicized story of “exclusive victimhood,” and because of the prevailing prejudice against Turks, along with Turkish indifference, those in the world, particularly in the West, have been quick to accept these terribly defamatory claims involving the worst crime against humanity. Few stop to investigate below the surface that those regarded as the innocent victims, the Armenians, while seeking to establish an independent state, have been the ones to commit systematic ethnic cleansing against those who did not fit into their racial/religious ideal: Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Armenians who had converted to Islam. Criminals as Dro, Antranik, Keri, Armen Garo and Soghoman Tehlirian (the assassin of Talat Pasha, one of the three Young Turk leaders, along with Enver and Jemal) contributed toward the deaths (via massacres, atrocities, and forced deportation) of countless innocents, numbering over half a million. What determines genocide is not the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecutions, but the intent to destroy a group, the members of which are guilty of nothing beyond being members of that group. The Armenians suffered their fate of resettlement not for their ethnicity, having co-existed and prospered in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, but because they rebelled against their dying Ottoman nation during WWI (World War I); a rebellion that even their leaders of the period, such as Boghos Nubar and Hovhannes Katchaznouni, have admitted. Yet the hypocritical world rarely bothers to look beneath the surface, not only because of anti-Turkish prejudice, but because of Armenian wealth and intimidation tactics. As a result, these libelous lies, sometimes belonging in the category of “genocide studies,” have become part of the school curricula of many regions. Armenian scholars such as Vahakn Dadrian, Peter Balakian, Richard Hovannisian, Dennis Papazian and Levon Marashlian have been known to dishonestly present only one side of their story, as long as their genocide becomes affirmed. They have enlisted the help of "genocide scholars," such as Roger Smith, Robert Melson, Samantha Power, and Israel Charny… and particularly those of Turkish extraction, such as Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek, who justify their alliance with those who actively work to harm the interests of their native country, with the claim that such efforts will help make Turkey more" democratic." On the other side of this coin are genuine scholars who consider all the relevant data, as true scholars have a duty to do, such as Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Erich Feigl and Guenter Lewy. The unscrupulous genocide industry, not having the facts on its side, makes a practice of attacking the messenger instead of the message, vilifying these professors as “deniers” and "agents of the Turkish government." The truth means so little to the pro-genocide believers, some even resort to the forgeries of the Naim-Andonian telegrams or sources based on false evidence, as Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Naturally, there is no end to the hearsay "evidence" of the prejudiced pro-Christian people from the period, including missionaries and Near East Relief representatives, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and so many others. When the rare Westerner opted to look at the issues objectively, such as Admirals Mark Bristol and Colby Chester, they were quick to be branded as “Turcophiles” by the propagandists. The sad thing is, even those who don’t consider themselves as bigots are quick to accept the deceptive claims of Armenian propaganda, because deep down people feel the Turks are natural killers and during times when Turks were victims, they do not rate as equal and deserving human beings. This is the main reason why the myth of this genocide has become the common wisdom.


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