2168) The Push for Recognition Continues by Michael van der Galiën

Nov 2nd, 2007

Although the Armenian lobby was defeated a few weeks ago, it continues to push the US into labeling what happened to the Armenians during World War I as ‘genocide.’ We have spent considerable attention to this issue at this blog, and will continue to do so because it’s an important issue. There exists much disagreement about what whether what happened constitutes genocide or not; the evidence I’ve seen - and I’m spending time to this matter on an almost daily basis - has given me the impression that it does not. Many questions remain; several historians argue that what happened does constitute genocide, other - greatly respected - historians disagree. In short; to me, this should be researched by unbiased historians. They should ‘decide’ about this matter, politicians should not. . .

To some people, this makes me a ‘genocide’ denier, which means that they organize against me and against this blog in an attempt to bully me into shutting up. As you all could see in the past couple of weeks at this blog, some on the ‘other side’ are able to use arguments and facts, while others are merely capable of name-calling and twisting before mentioned facts when they contradict their storyline. This debate should not be about who is a good human being and who isn’t, it should be about whether or not the Ottoman government ordered the killing (extermination) of the empire’s Armenian subjects.

Anyway, as said, the Armenian lobby isn’t willing to give up just yet. They suffered a temporary setback, but seemed to be determined to have the US ‘recognize’ what happened as genocide within in a few months time.

Swarthmore College’s online students newspaper called on the US government to recognize the ‘genocide,’ and called Bush pure “evil,” which is a clear sign of the tone of the debate. The author of the article - one sadly and badly misinformed individual - also writes:

The Armenian genocide, which occurred from 1915 until 1917, involved the Turkish government’s deportation and massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent Armenian civilians.

It’s interesting to see that he leaves out the inconvenient fact that the Armenians organized themselves in militias that went out and killed hundreds of thousands of Turkish Muslims. It’s even more interesting to see that the author seemingly doesn’t know that Turkey as a state didn’t come into existence until 1923. If you don’t know that we’re speaking about the Ottoman government, you shouldn’t write about this issue at all Joel Swanson. It’s nice to be published as a freshman, I bet, but if you don’t know what you’re talking about you should, quite simply, not say anything at all.

In the debate, it’s also interesting to note that ‘the other side’ constantly tries to discredit the ‘let historians investigate the matter’ side. Dimitri Anastasopoulos writes, for instance, that those who argue that what happened was, perhaps just perhaps, not genocide rely on “a few fringe historian,” who, on top of that, work for, or are on the board of, institutes endowed by the Turkish government.” Of course, those who say that it’s up for dispute don’t rely on ‘fringe historians’ at all. A short list of those who deny that what happened constitutes genocide can be found in this article in the New Statesman. Furthermore, people like Norman Stone and Andrew Mango do indeed work for Turkish Universities but that’s completely logical since their expertise is Turkish and Ottoman history. If they work in Turkey they can do more research. Dimitri’s argument would only make sense if these historians couldn’t find a job at universities in other countries, but he too knows that not to be so. These people, Bernard Lewis as well, are experts. It’s fascinating to see how easy the Armenian lobby dismisses the opinions of experts that don’t agree with them.

Lastly, I greatly encourage all of you to read this article by Orhan Kemal Cengiz. I’m sure I don’t agree with him on everything, but his main point, that both sides should use a bit less rhetoric, let people honestly debate the issue and let historians do their job, I do agree with. Do away with the legal restrictions, stop accusing the other side of being ‘evil’ and start debating the issue.

O, and no, I’m not on the payroll of the Turkish government.

36 Responses to “The Push for Recognition Continues”
on 02 Nov 2007 at 11:50 pm
1 Armenians blame this to every one but the Armenians

There is a legitimate historical controversy concerning the interpretation of the events in question and most of the scholars who have propounded a contra genocide viewpoint are of the highest calibre and repute, including Bernard Lewis, Stanford Shaw, David Fromkin, Justin McCarthy, Guenther Lewy, Norman Stone, Kamuran Gürün, Michael Gunter, Gilles Veinstein, Andrew Mango, Roderic Davidson, J.C. Hurwitz, William Batkay, Edward J. Erickson and Steven Katz.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. A good number of well-respected scholars recognize the deportation decision in 1915, taken under World War I conditions, as a security measure to stop the Armenians from co-operating with the foreign forces invading Anatolia.
On the legal aspect, the elements of the genocide crime are strictly defined and codified by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1948. However, Armenians, claiming that “the evidence is so overwhelming”, so far have failed to submit even one credible evidence of genocide

on 02 Nov 2007 at 11:57 pm
2 Paul

“several historians argue that what happened does constitute genocide, other - greatly respected - historians disagree.”

It’s very interesting how historians agree, but GREATLY RESPECTED historians disagree. Is Justin McCarthy really an A-tier historian? He’s the number one go-to-guy after all. Just because greatly respected (though somewhat less of late after advising the neocons on Iraq so horrendously) Bernard Lewis says it was not genocide (but unequivocably has referred to them as the Armenian massacres, not the mutual genocide nor have I ever heard him endorse either McCarthy’s nor the Turkish government’s view no matter how often he is listed as their number one defender) does not mean greatly respected (plural) historians disagree. Even if we are going to throw in a few others (not sure whom, Stanford Shaw perhaps? Though his very strong Turkish connections does color his impartiality) as greatly respected historians does not somehow outweight the others, many of whom agree it was genocide being greatly respected as well.

“To some people, this makes me a ‘genocide’ denier, which means that they organize against me and against this blog in an attempt to bully me into shutting up.”

While this is the case, I don’t think saying it was not a genocide automatically makes one a genocide denier. I think it’s pretty self-evident that it was genocide but one is not automatically hateful because they think it’s not, there are semi-legitimate arguements that can be made against that (though I think they don’t necessarily stand up great if one really looks at them.) That said, what I’ve taken issue with is your blatantly one-sided approach to this- often quite uninformed. Not only do you act like there is absolutely no legitimate reason to think anything like a genocide occur and continuously back it up with claim after claim of a genocide of Turks. You constantly whine that Armenians have not proven a single substantial thing happened, and yet fawn all over Halacioglu’s extremely dubious number of 527,000 Turks killed by Armenians. Of course a brief perusal of this list show that it’s full of exaggerations and in some cases flat out inaccuracies (like turning 8 killed in Van into 80 plus another 80,000 all in one day and adding it all together into his count. In another case he takes 70,000 Azeris he claims died of disease during the winter of 1920 and added them to his list of “Turks killed by Armenians” despite the fact Armenians are not germs). Beyond that he has never demonstrated that his figures are true, he merely states them and you accept it as gospel. Anyone can claim anything!

I would not be against you if you merely thought it wasn’t a genocide but was honest with the situation and what happened. I feel you are far too willing to jump onto any type of even quasi-anti-Armenian propaganda and focus in on anything speaking of Armenian wrongs (whether accurate or heresay) but washover everything related to Armenian suffering. Just saying “Armenians suffered” is not enough if you are going to turn around and totally minimize well known Armenian parts yet accept dubious Turkish claims.

You need to consider what the Armenian experience was like, not just in 1915 but all the years after, being dispursed only doubled and tripled the pain. And just because some things are getting more open (extremely slowly) today, imagine how it was for those back in the 60s, 50s, etc. when it truly looked hopeless. They are completely gone from their ancient homeland, the few remaining structures were dynamited over the years or stand in ruin. 90 years of silence does a lot, unfortunately it has radicalized some but it has been the lack of appreciation of the magnitude of what happened has caused it and the quicker Turkey learns to do so instead of seeing admitting something wrong happened under another government is a sign of weakness the better.

Meanwhile, now that you are finally linking to a pro-Armenian side arguement, you pick one which is ridiculous. I read it too and saw the “Bush is evil” line, it’s totally reckless and idiotic and not even written by an Armenian.
Meanwhile you use the “It’s interesting to see that he leaves out the inconvenient fact that the Armenians organized themselves in militias that went out and killed hundreds of thousands of Turkish Muslims…” card AGAIN based on Halacioglu’s extremely dubious work. There is no doubt some Armenians killed Turks but first of all that does not equalize what happened to both groups and nor was it anywhere near the magnitude alleged by Halacioglu. It’s just insane, yet you use his work as an all-purpose easy way out from having to consider what happened to the Armenians more, instead seeing them as terrorists and not those who carried out their own persecution.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:03 am
3 Jason Steck

though somewhat less of late after advising the neocons on Iraq so horrendously

Appropriate recognition of historians derives from their scholarship, not their political views.

But you do win the daily award for the irrelevant insertion of “neocons” into an unrelated discussion! ROFL

Meanwhile, now that you are finally linking to a pro-Armenian side arguement, you pick one which is ridiculous. I read it too and saw the “Bush is evil” line, it’s totally reckless and idiotic and not even written by an Armenian.

Yet you yourself threw in a completely unnecessary swipe at “neocons”. I guess that makes your position equally “ridiculous”?

Though his very strong Turkish connections does color his impartiality

But Armenian “connections” do nothing to degrade your opinion of people who agree with you, do they? Double standards are so CUTE!

The really funny thing is that I think the argument that there may have been a “genocide” is strong (though not conclusive) but every time I read another intolerant, angry commenter pushing that view by throwing around name-calling, double standards, and abusiveness, I personally become LESS inclined to take their position. You guys are undermining your own position by your behavior.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:05 am
4 Paul

To “Armenians blame this to every one but the Armenians”,
I love how you can’t even do your own work on this. I love how that list of reputable historians has been circulated over and over again in that SAME EXACT ORDER. You clearly are just doing a copy/paste job from the work of others and probably can’t even say the first thing about most if not ALL of them. To portray each of those people as a greatly respected historian, when in some cases their work on the issue has amounted to an unfavorable review of a Taner Akcam book is absurd. Another user in a previous post (number 32 of the European Parliament one) on the issue rambled off each and everyone one of them and pointed out their close connections with the Turkish government or how what they’ve done has hardly amounted to extensive work on the issue and the fact most of them are barely even known. Apparently some of them actually believe it was genocide and yet are still on the oft-circulated list. And Michael you are guilty of it’s copy/paste too because you did the same thing, and yet I’ve seen the list in that same order from Turks for at least the past many months, it’s nothing new. It seems like, just like many on the Armenian side, YOU TOO instead of investigating the full history and historians yourself you are just rattling off what you heard instead of truly studying it. You should have verified everyone on that list and learned what they said before posting it.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:13 am
5 Paul

“Appropriate recognition of historians derives from their scholarship, not their political views.”

Umm, this had nothing to do with his politics. He was consulted by Cheney & Co. to give use his historical expertise and knowledge to gague how easy or hard an invasion would be and the prospects for it. He concluded based on history that we’d be welcomed as liberators. He was terribly wrong (and I know many regular people from Iraq who could have told Bush just that without the extensive historical knowledge, just common sense which comes from a general familliarity with the area.)

“But you do win the daily award for the irrelevant insertion of “neocons” into an unrelated discussion! ROFL”

This has NOTHING to do with the fact he sympathizes with the Republican side, and furthermore I AM a Republican so this tired old “oh he must be a liberal who despises the big bad neocons” dog and pony show is absurd. I don’t think anyone can defend Lewis let us down on this one and it affected his credibility, and that’s exactly what I was pointing out. Just because you’re respected doesn’t mean you’re infalliable. It very much is relevant.

“But Armenian “connections” do nothing to degrade your opinion of people who agree with you, do they? Double standards are so CUTE!”

Did I ever say that? What is Elie Wiesel’s Armenian connection? Yehuda Bauer’s? Samantha Power’s? I was merely operating on the fact that there are so many historians and scholars who recognize it as genocide, not just the big names above, that I had no need to write off those with connections to Armenia. This is much different than the Turkish side who only have about 10 to choose from, even less of them mainstream. Removing 10 or 20 from the list of those who recognize it as genocide merely because they have a connection to Armenia or Armenians hardly puts a dent in its supporters- taking that from the Turkish side leaves it with more or less no one.

I was not attacking you so why did you charge after me with snark turned up to 11 Jason? It’s unbecoming of a scholarly debate, or one that purports to be that.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:17 am
6 Michael van der Galiën

Paul: your comments on other threads are great and reasonable but on this particular issue you’re truly adhering to the talking points of the Armenian lobby.

“If you would ignore those scholare you’re only left with…” blahblahblah. You shouldn’t ignore them Paul, that’s the freaking point.

And I understand that you continue to act as if everybody agrees on this issue, but everybody doesn’t agree and the more open Turkey is about this issue and the more Turks speak out, the more people start thinking “well, perhaps there’s more to it than the Armenians say.”

You would be wise to stop arguing that the critics don’t have a case. They do. If you remember correctly, it’s your side that has used forged documents to back up their claims and who continues to use already discredited information time and again.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:30 am
7 Pat

Attention All Armenians

As an uninvolved human being, outside your supposed problem of getting Turkey to recognize its sins, you all are beginning to make the general public angry with you for off tracking our political leadership with things that have no relevence to the immediate problems in our lives.

Go solve the problem yourselves and stop trying to drag the rest of the world into it. Most of us don’t give a damn, made even more so by you folks being such an incessant noise.

Ordinarily I would far more charitable however I have a real problem with a group of people beating up on someone outside their borders, when within the borders of Armenia is the nexus of some of the worst instances (transfer points, sales, trading) of human females for use as sex slaves in both Russia and in some of the Gulf States

Don’t believe it! Well, check out www.cia.gov and the factbook statements concerning Armenia. Nevermind I”ve been directly involved in trying to stop this CURRENT horror.

Clean up your own back yard!

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:31 am
8 Michael van der Galiën

Ah, another perfect example of how the Armenian lobby operates. All those who question their version of events must be ‘paid’ by the Turkish government.

Keep it up please, I’m working on a bigger post about the tactics of the Armenian lobby, I can use more material.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:34 am
9 Michael van der Galiën

Ordinarily I would far more charitable however I have a real problem with a group of people beating up on someone outside their borders, when within the borders of Armenia is the nexus of some of the worst instances (transfer points, sales, trading) of human females for use as sex slaves in both Russia and in some of the Gulf States

Yes Pat, it’sfascinating to see that quite some Armenians seldom address the crimes and sins committed by their own people. You also never see them apologizing for the, according to quite some estimations, hundreds of thousands of Turks who were killed by Armenian militias. You never hear them about Armenia’s occupation of Azerbeidjani territory, you never hear them about Armenia’s less-than-tolerant-government. All they talk about is Turkey, 1915-1917 and art. 301.

And that’s sad.

Lastly, I think that more Americans would agree with you once they found out just what kind of pressure the Armenian groups put on American politicians and how this pressure influences politics and how, in the end, quite some of them really don’t care all that much about America today; they care far more about what happened (or didn’t happen) 90 years ago.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 1:01 am
10 Xel

While I am incapable of participating in this historical debate at a more-than-superficial level, I agree it is a matter for historians.

Reality cannot be political.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 1:10 am
11 Michael van der Galiën

Commenter #8 was in response to a comment that has been deleted.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 1:25 am
12 Paul

“While this is the case, I don’t think saying it was not a genocide automatically makes one a genocide denier. I think it’s pretty self-evident that it was genocide but one is not automatically hateful because they think it’s not, there are semi-legitimate arguements that can be made against that”

This is really adhearing to the Armenian talking points? I think it’s perfectly fine if you don’t think it was a genocide, Michael. It’s your reasoning and way you came to that conclusion (and seeming ease with which you jump to highlighting anything anti-Armenian but never pointing out anything perceived as anti-Turkish) which I take issue with. I’d say you’ve kept to the road precisely with the Turkish talking points while I hope you can notice how I’ve at least deviated a bit. I try to be objective on the issue, but the way you use “there were Armenian bands” (which no one disputes- but the amount of them and amount of damage they did is much in doubt. You choose to accept to totally ridiuclous Halacioglu “research” unquestioningly though) as a cure-all to ever having to say anything that could make anyone except the Armenians look bad. I don’t think you’re being fair with me here again and you cling to the Turkish view far more than I do to the set Armenian position.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 2:57 am
13 wj

Paul, you can only say that if you believe that anything which is not totally supportive of the Armenian is anti-Armenian, but anything negative about Turkey (which Michael has written a fair amount of) is not anti-Turkish. Fair?

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:05 am
14 sashal

Quite a generalisation there, Pat.
Scores of Armenians were killed then, no matter how would you like to call it, and regardless of the condition in the post soviet Armenia…
Michael, my reasonable friend, imagine if in your post # 9 we will substitute the word Armenian for the word Jewish, what do you think the reaction will be?. Seriously.

Disclosure: before someone can say about me being anti-whatever, I am Jewish

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:12 am
15 Jason Steck

In the case of the Nazis, there is clear evidence of intent to eliminate an entire race.

In the case of Turkey, there is evidence of massive killing, but no clear evidence of intent to eliminate the Armenians as an ethnic group. The term “ethnic cleansing” appears indisputable, but “genocide” is not as clear.

That is the basis for good-faith disagreement over the term “genocide” in a way that would not be possible with the Nazis.

That is the honest and calm answer to your question. So now hopefully we can STOP trying to link people that disagree on this issue with the Holocaust. This will be the LAST time that the response to such comparisons is civil.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:19 am
16 Paul

“The term “ethnic cleansing” appears indisputable, but “genocide” is not as clear.”

Well thank you for granting them that much, hah. I mean come on, ethnic cleansing is a weasel word. Ethnic cleansing doesn’t even necessitate a single death, just being forced out from an area. Merely saying ethnic cleansing doesn’t involve the fact that many hundreds of thousands died, many of them by violent means not just from the unfortunate conditions and diseases they found themselves in.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:23 am
17 Jason Steck

Ethnic cleansing includes both killing and forced relocation, as shown by examples from Bosnia to Baghdad.

But, hey, don’t let that stand in the way of your demand that people not only agree with you, but do so without even the smallest deviation. :rolleyes:

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:26 am
18 Pat


As gently as I can, I will ask, “What good is it to build momunents to the Holocaust of WWII and all the pogroms throughout history if we don’t act against what is happening today?”

As far as generalizations go, why is it then that all the dominant groups involved here want to drag eveyone into this? Hey, I’m not paying Ms. Pelosi to conduct foreign affairs, so as an American taxpayer, I’d rather have her concentrating on solving our issues and NOT delving into things that she really doesn’t know about.

As was recommended before in this blog, leave it to a panel of non-aligned “experts” to judge. I too have recommended this in a previous discussion concerning this issue. Get responsible representatives/scholars from both sides and allow them to present their case in front of a U.N. body or a panel of judges say from Iceland!

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:27 am
19 sashal

Paul, Holocaust happened just ones.
What some Turks did to Armenians, or Stalin/Russians to Chechens or shia in Baghdad to Sunnis we should call ethnic cleansing.
See Nazis wanted to exterminate all Jews, Stalin/ some Russians and some Turks just wanted to cleanse their countries from the presence of the hated people…

on 03 Nov 2007 at 3:37 am
20 sashal

Pelosi-Shmelosi, Human rights-Smuman rights.
I am sure you had the same position when the American Congress had a resolution regarding the treatment of Jews in the USSR, and you disapproved of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, right?
Interesting is the position from C.Hitchens, the guy who was advocating for the war with Iraq:
He writes about the Armenian genocide resolution and actually makes sense 9 for a change):

If the Turks wish to continue lying officially about what happened to the Armenians, then we cannot be expected to oblige them by doing the same (and should certainly resent and repudiate any threats against ourselves or our allies that would ensue from our Congress affirming the truth).

on 03 Nov 2007 at 4:02 am

When the two parties desagree on something, one saying one way and the other in another, a third party is needed. Thats why armenians have been pushing in the world’s congresses to reecognize this as a genocide. The Ottoman Archives are open, but its known that the strongest evidence on this could be found in US and Germany. So, turkey could open the ottoman archives, but it will do no good as the 1915 CHAPTER is erased from there.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 4:09 am
22 sashal

I did not “accuse” you of anything, did i.

As far as what I have done for the liberty and freedoms- you would be greatly surprised.
But this is not my personal blog, and I will not proceed boasting about it…

Paul, I know and many people know that you are correct, but political correctness c*p( God forbid we offend our allies-Turkey) stalled that recognition yet once again.

There was a joke in my old country:
Dying Armenian father tells his kids “Please, keep Jewish people safe and protect them, because if they will get rid of all the Jews we will be the next up”

on 03 Nov 2007 at 4:11 am

I Second that…

on 03 Nov 2007 at 4:16 am


on 03 Nov 2007 at 11:00 am
25 Harry Istepanian

This comment has been deleted by MvdG. It’s fascinating to see that some people from a certain side of the debate constantly personally attack the ‘other side’ and try to discredit them (by, in this case, saying that Turkish government pays us, which is quite hilarious).

on 03 Nov 2007 at 11:19 am
26 Michael van der Galiën

NORO: o sure there we go again. How about the Armenian archives huh? O, and the Ottoman archives are open for all to see. If you go somewhere you should go to their archives, not the archives of other countries (or, not just).

on 03 Nov 2007 at 12:11 pm
27 Harry Istepanian

Edit by MvdG: you don’t give up easily do you? No personal attacks allowed. You’re banned.

on 03 Nov 2007 at 5:53 pm
28 Gary

It’s funny to see people like MvdG (admin: personal attacks are not welcome) dispute the conclusions of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, who are the foremost experts on the subject.

MvdG writes: “many questions remain; several historians argue that what happened does constitute genocide, other - greatly respected - historians disagree.”

And yet, as Larry Derfner recently wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “there are probably fewer historians who doubt the Armenian genocide than there are scientists who doubt evolution. Maybe we should reserve judgment on evolution, too”.

MvdG writes: “In short; to me, this should be researched by unbiased historians.”

admin: accusing people who disagree with you of being Holocaust deniers can get you banned — knock it off

on 03 Nov 2007 at 7:45 pm
29 Gary

admin: request granted

on 03 Nov 2007 at 11:47 pm
30 Michael van der Galiën

the comment above is so filled with errors that I’m not even going to bother to respond.

on 05 Nov 2007 at 3:19 am
31 Alex

admin: posting the same comment on multiple threads is spamming and will be automatically deleted

on 05 Nov 2007 at 5:14 am
32 Gregory

This is a response to “Pat” who posted a comment on the “Open Letter” blog concerning islands that do not exist in the Black Sea.

Pat writes:

“This is a map of the areas where this event supposedly happened. Notice if you will the pink dots located in the Black Sea. Refering to a map more accurate than the one on the above website, I found there are no islands in these locations. Someone is fabricating data, or simply doing sloppy research.”

Pat, you are right that there are no islands in those locations. The arrows and the red dots indicate victims of the genocide who were drowned into the Black Sea.

In a report addressed to his superiors and dated September 4, 1915, Ernst von Kwiatkowski, Austrian Consul-General in Trabizon, Turkey, wrote:

“[…] All information coming from Turkish sources uniformly tell that in the months of July and August a few hundred local Armenian women, children and old men were transported to the high seas on barges and were drowned there.” (Source: The Widening Circle of Genocide; Genocide: A Critical Biographic Review, Volume 3, Israel Charny, editor)

on 05 Nov 2007 at 11:06 pm
33 Dimitri

I found my name referenced here on a search and so I decided to respond.

If you’re only to contest my estimation of the scholars in that entire article, that’s fine. I would note, however, that scholars of the first rank believe it was a genocide, Lifton being the foremost. You mentioned Bernard Lewis is notable. I agree, and that’s why I wrote “excepting” Lewis in the article. The others are fringe at best. The most well-known among the ones I listed is Gunther Lewy, but his book was thoroughly discredited and proven fallacious by Taner Akcam. In addition, it was rejected for publication at a university press 11 times. Experts are not rejected by their peers in this manner. In case you didn’t know it, there is a process of peer review for scholarship in the US, and these works have failed to pass muster. Ultimately, that’s the best standard we have in academia for deciding whether research is worthwhile or not. Otherwise we just get into political discussions about who has what agenda, etc., rather than looking at the actual research. As far as the vast majority of American scholars are concerned, it was a genocide, and all notable historians of the era agree–except Lewis.

It really is as simple as that.

on 05 Nov 2007 at 11:15 pm
34 Michael van der Galiën

That’s simply not true Dimitri and you know it. Andrew Mango? Fringe scholar? Norman Stone, fringe scholar? And Taner Akcam? Is he such an uberreliable source in your opinion?

Perhaps reliable are those who rely on forged documents? Or those who continue to refer to something Hitler is supposed to have said, but most likely never said?

on 06 Nov 2007 at 1:06 am
35 Dimitri

What isn’t true? I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

As for the rest, Mango isn’t credentialed as an academic (outside Turkey, anyway). His work has never gone through peer review. Not a single one of his publications. As for Stone, he has never written a book on either Turkish history or the Armenian genocide. He came out of retirement earning some big dough at Turkish universities. You want a man working at Bilkent to proclaim it a genocide? And what, be charged for his trouble like Orhan Pamuk?

And Taner Akcam’s books cite specific documents quite apart from the deliberate forgeries. He notes that they are forgeries. In fact, that’s why they are interesting, because they were designed to mislead. In his two books, I find it curious that genocide deniers focus on these documents instead of the 99% of other documents in there. Do you want me to cite specific documents he unearthed so that you can refute them? How about the orders given by Bayar, the third President of the Republic?

Regardless, there are a lot of first rank scholars that affirm the genocide (Fein, Lifton, Kupfer, etc. not to mention Nobel winners such as Wiesel and Pamuk), and I could point you to them if you care to do further reading. Akcam’s work, unlike McCarthy, Lewy’s, Mango’s etc., has undergone peer review, which is the gold standard for academia. That means he has been validated.

You look like a young man. The future of this discussion is one in which the Pamuk’s and Gocek’s of Turkey win out in the debate, and the country comes to a slow recognition. In fact, when Turkish historians gathered for a recent conference in New York, the minutes of the conference reported that they had come to agree with international scholars on the issue. It will be ironic then that people such as yourself will continue to deny the genocide while inside Turkey the liberals and intellectuals will have accepted it.

on 06 Nov 2007 at 8:19 am
36 Duke

Like many who are posting here, I too stumbled upon this blog while reading up on the latest debate in the U.S. Congress. To state upfront, I don’t know whether the tragedy that befell the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1918 constituted “genocide”–as a legally framed word–but I take strong exception to some of the characterizations and charges being made here about genuine and reputable historians.

As someone who has studied Middle Eastern history at the graduate level, I can unequivocably state that Bernard Lewis, Lewis Thomas, Geoffrey Lewis, Norman Itzkowitz, J.C. Hurewitz, Roderic Davison, Stanford Shaw, David Fromkin, Malcolm Yapp, Stanford Shaw, and others whose names escape me at the moment have long been among the top English-language sources of choice for matters pertaining to ANY inquiry into the Ottoman Empire or early Republic of Turkey. (This isn’t even to bring up the names of notable Turkish historians based at major U.S. universities, such as Halil Inalcik and Kemal Karpat.) This isn’t to say they are necessarily correct in their judgments, but as far as I can recall, all of these individuals either flatly dispute the genocide thesis or have stated that the matter is more gray than black and white and have refrained from making a firm determination either way.

From reading here and elsewhere, however, I understand that more than one hundred “genocide scholars” hold a countervailing consensus, but how many of them have done original work on the issue? I wonder how many of them would be seen as credible sources in any graduate-level investigation into the late Ottoman or Young Turk period? That is, assuming they have all even written about the period, are their notes littered with “ibid.” and “op. cit.” or are they chock-a-block full of references to primary research material? For example, Wiesel may be a great humanitarian, but how does that make him an authority on the period in question? Would any serious scholar consult with him or his works for answers on questions related to the Young Turks and events in early twentieth-century Anatolia? The same is true of Pamuk. He may be a celebrated novelist and his words may provide some insights into Turkey’s present condition, but he’s not a historian either. On top of that, from the quotes of his that I’ve found in recent days, he’s never used the word “genocide” in reference to the Armenians. In fact, from I what I’ve seen and heard, what he actually has said is in practice not much different from what many Turks fully acknowledge in online forums–that far-too-many Armenians died needlessly and callously on Anatolia’s soil.

As the above commentator correctly notes, Andrew Mango does not have formal training as an academic, but unlike Wiesel and other genocide scholars, he has done loads of primary research on Turkey and is widely held as an expert on the country and its history. In fact, he recently wrote the definitive biography of Ataturk. One can virtually guarantee that it and many of his former books on Turkey are currently used for tuition in universities across the globe. Even assuming for a second that Mango’s books were never peer reviewed (highly doubtful but possible if they were only published by commercial presses), that has no bearing on the merit of the books themselves. Peer review is important for getting a manuscript published by a university press and for getting tenure, but the ultimate judge of any manuscript is how it’s received by the author’s peers and how often it’s cited. The wide dissemination of Mango’s works, the postpublication reviews of them, and the respect with which he’s held by scholars of Turkey and the Middle East speak for themselves. Some scholars may honestly disagree with some of his interpretations and findings (as some may honestly disagree with the work of any scholar named here), but no one who studies history with a disinterested eye would rightly dismiss his work out of hand.

And frankly, the above commentator’s words about McCarthy and Lewy are patently false. What could his source possibly be for such claims? Since he admittedly is adept at Google searches, perhaps he can do a quick one, as I did just before posting this comment, where he can find ample evidence that both McCarthy’s and Lewy’s books were peer reviewed before publication by the University of Utah Press. In the course of doing so, he’ll also no doubt learn about active attempts by critics of their work to stop their publication. Additionally, he may also come across Norman Stone’s telling explanation for why the book was rejected by the Oxford University Press (New York) as a work of “Turkish denialist discourse.” (Incidentally, Norman Stone may not have written a book solely on Ottoman history, but he has written two highly notable books on the Eastern Front in World War I and to dismiss him as a credible historian on the matter is equally absurd.)

I say none of this to deny or affirm anything as relates to what happened during the final days of the Ottoman Empire or to even state that the aforementioned scholars are correct in their interpretations of facts and history. But those who make baseless, intellectually dishonest statements and who casually dismiss the work of, yes, “firstrate” historians out of hand without a rigorous study of their collected works or without offering a rigorous, scholarly rebuttal to their merits, clearly lack any authority or expertise of their own.

Source: The Van Der Galiën Gazette


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