17 October 2007
I am a United States veteran and served in The US Air Force.
I still have friends in Iraq fighting for our freedom. I can tell you that I have never known a nation more underrepresented and discredited more than Turkey. Turkish troops were clearly the heroes of the Korean War, ask any Korean veteran but yet when the 50th anniversary of Korean War was being celebrated noone heard Turks getting credit for their bravery. Greeks and even the Colombians were remembered but not Turks. Why not? I tell you why. Armenians and Greeks have done a wonderful job on preventing any positive image of Turkey in The United States. I am an Irish-American who happened to dig deep since I have noticed what Turks have been facing due to having some close Turkish friends. Once I started digging and conducting a lengthy research I was shocked to find out how well Armenians have been playing that Christian card. Anyways, this resolution shouldn't pass because there was no government-ordered genocide. I am not denying that Armenians didn't suffer as a result of the war but also many Turks suffered, too. Also did anyone know why Antonio Banderas planned on playing Ataturk in a Hollywood movie and backed out in the last minute? Well, research it like I did. It will open your eyes and give you an idea what Turks face. I can recommend a website which i would call a one-stop shop with full of unbiased information. www.tallarmeniantale.com Yes Pelosi indeed puts her personal interests above American interests by pushing for the passing of this resolution just like Armenian-Americans who I think are Armenians first and Americans second unfortunately.. Flanagan 10/16/07
Sardian at 10/17/07
There is no question in my mind, or in anyone's mind that the events in 1915 were tragic events, both for Turks and Armenians living in Turkey at the time. I am not a historian by profession, but based on what I know through books, documentaries etc, I will attempt to convey my understanding of the situation at the time.
The Ottoman Empire found itself in WW1 thanks to the idiocy of Enver Pasha, and was under attack from practically all sides. Armenians, influenced by the nationalistic movements of the era, decided they wanted to establish an independent Armenian state and this was a golden opportunity for them to accomplish that dream. So they collaborated with the Allies, especially the Russians and later with the French, and attacked Ottoman forces from within. Tashnaks had been a relatively powerful guerilla group and, emboldened by the weakness of the Ottoman Empire, the so-called sick man of Europe, they cooperated with the Russians. The Ottoman Empire comprised of dozens of nationalities, who co-existed relatively peacefully for centuries. Talat Pasha, the Interior Minister, was understandably furious about the Armenian betrayal, especially because Armenians were long regarded as a "faithful nation."
Furious, he ordered a temporary relocation of Armenians to the southern provinces of the empire, away from the Russian border. Many Armenians were killed on the way by thugs, and many died in the deserts from starvation, poor living conditions, epidemics etc. If one sees only the sufferings of Armenians, one immediately concludes this was genocide, period. But if one also considers the sufferings of the entire population, then one begins to get the real picture. Just to give a sense of how bad the conditions were in the Ottoman Empire at the time, in 1914, 90,000 Ottoman soldiers froze to death in a single night in Sarikamis in northeastern Turkey, because they didn't have winter clothes in mid-December in -30 degree weather. And their commander who forced them to march was none other than Enver Pasha, one of the three pashas that ruled the Ottoman Empire at the time. Enver was a total incompetent, a total idiot who put the Ottoman Empire into WW1, eventually causing it to completely collapse. I suppose no one would claim that Enver was performing genocide on his own army. When asked later how his 90,000 soldiers died, he is rumored to have said, "What difference does it make. They would have died some day wouldn't they"
The relocation of the Armenian population to the southern provinces, was, entirely in the spirit of the internment of the Japanese in the US and Canada during WW2.
The big difference was that Ottoman Empire was in ruins, so much so that it could not supply winter clothes to even its army. So logistics was out of question, and the three Pashas were just too indifferent to the needs of people anyway, be they Turks, soldiers in the Turkish army or Armenians. I think this is the hardest part for Armenians to accept. They think they were systematically murdered, when in fact nothing, nothing in the Ottoman Empire was systematic in those days. There was poverty and chaos everywhere.
Those Armenians, who, despite the odds, were able to make it to Syria, either enlisted in the French army to fight the Ottomans, or left for America or Europe. Some who were able to survive, did indeed come back to Turkey after the war. There is an interesting book titled "The World is enough for all of us" by a Turkish-Armenian writer Sarkis Cerkezyan, who returned to his hometown after the war. I especially recommend the book, because it conveys a very good sense of the chaos of the time and shows that things are not as black and white as some people are led to believe.
There was quite a bit of suffering on the Turkish side as well. Picture this: Suppose you are a native American living in a reservation, and suppose skinheads, KKK and sick people of that vein from neighboring towns decide to attack the reservation, late at night. The men in the reservation grab their arms and a gunfight begins. They are attacking from every which direction. You begin feeling overwhelmed because they have better guns and they are so many. Suddenly, you see that your neighbor isn't shooting at them but he is shooting at you. Remember it's a life-and-death fight. So you storm your neighbor's house because this guy is killing your people. But during that fight your traitor neighbor's little babies get killed too.
Obviously you didn't mean to kill the babies, but that's what happened. If somebody calls you a "baby-killer" how do you react? Technically, the bullet in the baby's head is from your gun so you killed the baby. But are you a "baby-killer" ? You definitely feel sorry that the babies got killed, but then you know that you had to defend yourself. You also know that you'd never kill your neighbor's baby, so you feel you don't deserve that characterization.
It may be very tempting to simplify things to the "good guy bad guy" scheme where madmen like Hitler & Co exterminate defenseless Jews. Add the few hundred thousand votes that could be won/lost in next year's elections, and you have the recent theatrical voting in the US congress.
So should those tragic events be labeled genocide? I am not a lawyer and I don't have a sense as to what, technically the word genocide means. They were certainly tragic events, but seeing only one side of the tragedy and ignoring the rest, is not a stance, that I would characterize as fair and ethical. The Ottoman empire collapsed as a result of WWI, nearly half the territory was lost, millions of Turks died, 250,000 just in Gallipoli, coincidentally enough in 1915 as well. My father was born in 1908 in Saloniki near the Dojran lake, now in Greece, and they too were forcefully emigrated to Asia Minor and lost all their lands in Saloniki. My grandfather fought for nearly 10 years and died penniless. WWI brought disaster to millions of people.
Americans interned some 120,000 Japanese-Americans, Canadians interned 20,000, even though, to my knowledge not a single case of betrayal was documented by these people. After the war, the Japanese-Americans were released of course and returned to their homes.Personally I believe a similar scenario would have taken place for Armenians, had the circumstances been suitable after WWI. But imagine how Americans would have reacted, if the Japanese had invaded mainland US and the Japanese-Americans had joined the Japanese army to establish an independent Japanese state, say in Seattle and California!
Trying to draw a parallel between the Hitler/Jews case and Ottoman/Armenian case is absurd. Turks NEVER thought of Armenians as "inferior" people. On the contrary, Armenians enjoyed the esteemed sympathy of Turks in the Ottoman empire. Had the purpose of internment of the Armenians been genocide in order to accomplish the "Turkification" of Anatolia, then why wasn't the same internment applied to the Greek and the Jewish populations in Anatolia? Sometimes a little logic goes a long way.
I have several Armenian friends and they are as dear to me as anyone else. I am 49 years old, and I haven't personally met anyone in Turkey who hates Armenians, although this is not to say there are no Armenian-haters in Turkey. I can understand the frustration of Armenians, especially those that had to emigrate to the US. But I also have to add: Sorry folks we really don't hate you, really. There is no point in living the events of a 100 years ago, every day, over and over again. All the Armenian diaspora is doing is promoting hatred, and making reconciliation between the two nations harder and harder every day.
Turks and Armenians are old friends: They lived in the same lands for 900 years.
They shared the same food, the same land, and even the same songs for centuries. For the old times' sake, I think the diaspora should think twice before acting with an arrogance and let the centuries old friendship between the peoples rejuvenate.
The Above 2 Comments Were For The Article Below:
Pelosi stumbles over Armenian resolution
By DAN K. THOMASSON COLUMNIST
It is not unusual for members of Congress to put their own political welfare above the nation's interests. It happens all the time to one degree or another. But every time it occurs, it punctuates the fallibility of the system.
Take the current brouhaha over a congressional resolution that would declare 92 years after the fact that the death of a million Armenians at the hands of what was then the Ottoman Empire was genocide, as if anyone who was aware of the 1915 slaughter had any doubts about it. After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a sure bet it's a duck. But what might seem like a harmless gesture to appease Armenian Americans by officially declaring it so all these decades later is threatening to cause a serious break in relations with Turkey, an ally we can't afford to lose.
One expects the Speaker of the House to be far more responsible, particularly when it comes to dealing with irresponsible, emotional demands of constituents. But what Nancy Pelosi seems to have forgotten is that her position makes her the next in line to be president of the United States after the vice president and that at times that may require putting the national interests ahead of political expediency no matter how many Armenian Americans are in her district.
So ignoring the possible consequences of a diplomatic break, which both Turkish and U.S. authorities warn is a real possibility, Pelosi has allowed the politically mischievous resolution to be voted out of committee and has further inflamed the situation by promising the issue would be taken up by the full House. The result of this, among other things, has been to increase the possibility of a Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq to quell Kurdish separatists who Turks regard as terrorists and the cutting off of vital supply lines and bases for U.S. troops.
Short of calling for actual reparations to the descendents of the 1915 victims at the threat of bombing Istanbul and sending a nasty letter to every Turk over there and here, Pelosi and the resolution's sponsors couldn't have done more to undercut American interests. Nothing apparently said by a desperate White House backed up by the last nine secretaries of state has so far been able to dissuade the speaker who came to the high office promising to quell the incivility of a place that often more resembles a juvenile detention center than a legislature. Well, how does one spell bipartisanship now that it is needed. No wonder the only approval rating lower than Bush's belongs to Congress.
Even if the process were halted now, experts believe, the committee vote alone has caused severe harm to relations between the two countries. There are, they say, enormous hard feelings among Turks who increasingly believe that the United States is a one-way ally. As a result U.S. influence over actions that could be devastating to this nation's interests has diminished dramatically. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan already is taking considerable heat from his own military over what is seen as acquiescence to Washington over the Kurdish situation and now he faces a public that is enormously angry over the genocide resolution. A recent poll shows that Turks are more and more hostile toward the United States.
What seems terribly disappointing here is that the speaker's extreme partisanship continues to pervade the atmosphere in the House. She cut her teeth on the partisan ward politics of Baltimore where her father was mayor and has shown that side of her nature throughout her congressional career, especially when she was Democratic leader before ascending to House Speaker. If ever there were a time to put that aside, it is now. She is a smart, capable politician who certainly knows the consequences of such an irresponsible action.
That is why it seems inconceivable that she would allow it to go forward. The only explanation seems to be that she is concerned about her own reelection in an extremely liberal district where there is a strong Armenian American presence. Her inability to change the direction of the war in Iraq has been criticized by liberals. Her San Francisco opponent is Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist whose son was killed in Iraq, and whose shrill campaigning has made some inroads on Pelosi's popularity.
Even if that is her worry, it is time for her and those with similar concerns to dump this resolution in the Potomac and pray it is not too late to put things right with a much -needed ally. Hopefully, there are a few statesmen left in Congress.
Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.