The Armenian Resolution: Pure Grandstanding





Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005). He is the proprietor of www.mahdiwatch.org.

House Resolution 106, first proposed when the Democrats took over control of Congress back in January 2007, was just voted out of the Foreign Affairs Committee last week and, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), will pass before Congress adjourns next month.  H.R. 106 puts the government of the United States on record as affirming that the Ottoman Empire pepetrated “genocide” on its Armenian subjects, killing at least 1.5 million of them between 1915 and 1923; furthermore, it “calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide….”1   

The Republic of Turkey recalled its ambassador, Nabi Sensoy, and “warned the vote threatens its strategic partnership with the U.S.” 2   A senior Turkish general officer said that passage of this resolution could permanently harm U.S.-Turkish military relations.3 Yet the Democrats are plunging ahead with this legislation, willing to risk further alienating our major ally in the Islamic world at a time when our list of allies there has grown quite thin and just when we need them most.   Why?

For one thing, the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), represents the district with the highest concentration of Armenian-Americans in the country (California’s 29th, which includes Glendale, with the largest Armenian-American population of any city in America: 85,000, or about 40% of the urban headcount4 ). The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, of course hails from California herself and knows full well the political power of the Armenian-American lobby.  (And over in the Senate, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has co-sposored the resolution,5 despite the fact her own husband, while in office, opposed it.)

No doubt  the resolution, in no small measure, is aimed at further embarrassing the Bush Administration (“See, the same folks who brought you Gitmo and Abu Ghrayb support what the Sultan did to the Armenians!”), even as the Democrats claims that it has primarily an apolitical, utilitarian cast.  According to Rep. Schiff, “How can we take effective action against the genocide in Darfur if we lack the will to condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs?" 

This logic is really quite unconvincing.  Must Congress pass a resolution retroactively condemning slavery in the Old Confederacy before we are morally justified in opposing modern human trafficking?  But even giving Mr. Schiff and the Democratic leadership the benefit of the doubt and not chalking up  their fervent support for H.R. 106 to anything as crass as making political hay, or raking in Armenian-American campaign contributions, we are still left with a major problem.

The whole basis of the bill—the “genocide” alleged—is historically unverifiable as such.

Of course, questioning the Armenian “genocide” is a politically-incorrect sin today, on a par with questioning global warming.  After all, we are continually told that the “consensus” of experts—historians or scientists, respectively—supports each claim, er, unvarnished truth.  H.R. 106 has no fewer than 14 points alleging to corroborate historically the genocidal nature of the very real Ottoman massacres of Armenians around, and after, World War I. 

But in fact there are a number of problems with the received “truth” about what happened to Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire.  There is a scholarly consensus of about 1.2 million Armenian deaths (although the Armenian groups claim more, and the Turks considerably fewer).  But just how and why that many Armenians were killed—and whether it constitutes “genocide”—is still being hotly debated by historians, contrary to what the House Democrats think.  Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.”  To prove that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide, one must adduce evidence of just those points.  The three legs upon which the genocide claim usually rests are: 1) the post-WWI Ottoman courts which tried some government officials for the massacres; 2) the alleged depredations of the Teskilat-i Mahsusa (Ottoman “Special Forces”); and 3) the memoirs of one Naim Bey. 6  However: the original Ottoman legal documents no longer exist; no one has ever proved the involvement of the Ottoman Special Forces in the killings; and the “memoirs” of Naim Bey—who allegedly provided evidence that Ottoman officials ordered the “genocide”—are suspect at best and may have even been forged.

No one can deny that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed: Western sources, and Armenian eyewitness survivors, attest to that fact.  But to this day no one has found the Ottoman “smoking gun” that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt—and don’t we want a rather high bar of proof for something as serious as genocide?—that the authorities in Istanbul ordered the “deliberate and systematic destruction” of the Armenians in the eastern part of the Empire.7   Perhaps those records are tucked away in some dark corner of the Basbakanlik, waiting to see the light of day.  But the few Western scholars who can read Ottoman Turkish tend to shy away from this topic; and those who do study the Armenian question either cannot work in Ottoman, or are not given access—all of which tends to back up what Zbiginew Brzezenski said recently: “I never realized the House of Representatives was some sort of academy of learning that passes judgment on historical events….;” and whether what happened to the Armenians “should be classified as  genocide or a huge massacre is, I don’t think, any of its business.”8

Steny Hoyer tried to reassure the Turks by telling them that this resolution is “not about your government.”  The Majority Leader, unlike some in the press,9 seems to realize that it was not the Turkish government that killed Armenians—it was the old Ottoman imperial one.  And one might reasonably wonder why the modern Turks  are so paranoid about claims  of  genocide being perpetrated by their predecessor regime.  However, that scimitar cuts  both ways: one might also ask why the Democrats in Congress are so eager to pass a meaningless, toothless resolution condemning a government that hasn’t existed for 85 years— in the process estranging us even further from one of our few close allies in the Muslim world—when the historical record fails to support their opportunistic legislation?

Related Links

  • HNN Hot Topics: Armenian Genocide Scott Jaschik: Genocide Deniers
  • 1http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.RES.106:

    2 http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=adlDF_4HRfqw&refer=home

    3 http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=85961

    4http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendale,_California

    5http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-genocide3oct03,1,7196693.story?coll=la-news-a_section

    6 See Guenter Lewy, “Revisiting the Armenian Genocide,” Middle East Quarterly (Fall 2005), http://www.meforum.org/article/748; also Edward Erickson, “Armenian Massacres: New Records Undercut Old Blame,” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2006), http://www.meforum.org/article/991

    7 Although Armenian researcher Ara Sarafian would disagree; see “The Ottoman Archives Debate and the Armenian Genocide,” http://www.gomidas.org/forum/archives.pdf

    8 http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=adlDF_4HRfqw&refer=home

    9 For example: Matt Welch, in an editorial in the “L.A. Times” this past spring, wrongly opined that “the genocide is taboo…[because] it occurred at the time of the founding of modern Turkey under Kemal Ataturk….” http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-welch22apr22,0,4862327.story?coll=la-opinion-center


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    Kevork Kalayjian - 5/4/2009

    In spite of his campaign promises, President Obama failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and he continues the policies of his predecessor by aiding and abetting the Islamist junta in Turkey deny the crime of genocide.
    The Turkish government is not at fault that denial of the genocide thrives in the USA.
    It is because of our policy choices that we still permit genocide denial. Of course, U.S. policy is based on the degree of involvement of the American voting public. Each and every one us are the barometers of the degree of the immorality, stupidity, and indifference, which will be tolerated in our domestic and international policy, which will then be usurped by treacherous profiteers.
    When the United States fails to duly acknowledge the crime of genocide, perpetrated by the Turkish governments of 1894-1923, the message to current perpetrators of genocide in Africa, in the Middle East, or elsewhere in the world is loud and clear: “If you are planning to commit genocide against an unwanted minority don’t do a sloppy job like the Nazis did to the Jews, do a thorough job as the Turks did to the Armenians. Kill and annihilate the majority of the population, so that there are not many survivors to retell the story or demand justice. As long as you outnumber your victims, you have the democratic majority to rewrite history according to your whim. You can blame the victims for enticing the violence; you can condemn the slaughtered minority for taking up arms to defend themselves buy blaming them for starting the killings.”
    The descendants of the victims of the Genocide are few, and they are not a democratic majority to bring the needed change in Congress and in the White House. Only the active participation of all Americans will force our politicians to stand up for human rights in our foreign policy.
    We have ended slavery, we have ended segregation, and we can put an end to the denial of the crime of genocide.
    Please make your voice be heard in Washington.


    Kevork Kalayjian - 5/4/2009

    In spite of his campaign promises, President Obama failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and he continues the policies of his predecessor by aiding and abetting the Islamist junta in Turkey deny the crime of genocide.
    The Turkish government is not at fault that denial of the genocide thrives in the USA.
    It is because of our policy choices that we still permit genocide denial. Of course, U.S. policy is based on the degree of involvement of the American voting public. Each and every one us are the barometers of the degree of the immorality, stupidity, and indifference, which will be tolerated in our domestic and international policy, which will then be usurped by treacherous profiteers.
    When the United States fails to duly acknowledge the crime of genocide, perpetrated by the Turkish governments of 1894-1923, the message to current perpetrators of genocide in Africa, in the Middle East, or elsewhere in the world is loud and clear: “If you are planning to commit genocide against an unwanted minority don’t do a sloppy job like the Nazis did to the Jews, do a thorough job as the Turks did to the Armenians. Kill and annihilate the majority of the population, so that there are not many survivors to retell the story or demand justice. As long as you outnumber your victims, you have the democratic majority to rewrite history according to your whim. You can blame the victims for enticing the violence; you can condemn the slaughtered minority for taking up arms to defend themselves buy blaming them for starting the killings.”
    The descendants of the victims of the Genocide are few, and they are not a democratic majority to bring the needed change in Congress and in the White House. Only the active participation of all Americans will force our politicians to stand up for human rights in our foreign policy.
    We have ended slavery, we have ended segregation, and we can put an end to the denial of the crime of genocide.
    Please make your voice be heard in Washington.


    Kevork Kalayjian - 10/28/2007

    George Bush Authorizes More Genocides
    by Opposing HR 106, The Armenian Gencide Resolution

    President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have turned a blind eye to the Turkish government’s impending invasion of Northern Iraq and anticipated war against its Kurdish population. By opposing House Resolution 106 recognizing the Armenian Genocide, they are sending the Turkish government a clear message: the abuse of human dignity will not be appropriately opposed.

    The statements made by these leaders are exact rephrasing of what Hitler said on the eve of the Nazi incursion into Poland. Go ahead attack another country; kill whomever you don’t like “who after all remembers the Armenians?”

    The rest of the our representatives, newspaper columnist, and ‘historians’ who oppose this human rights issue, trivialize the humanity of our Turkish brothers and sisters, believing they do not possess the common sense and the decency to be treated as civilized human beings.

    Instead, these deniers are dehumanizing the Turks and have marginalized our expectations, treating the Turks as if they are unable to look within and reconcile their past actions.

    Hence, while we do not deny the Holocaust and at the same time have bases and enlisted personnel in Germany, these people make us believe that we should treat the Turks as sub-humans with a different standard and let their governments deny a crime so that we can use our military bases within their country.

    While other countries are criticized, sanctioned, and attacked when they conquer a neighboring country (let us not forget the first Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait), these people wants us to believe that it is permissible for the Turkish government to attack and conquer half of Cyprus or invade Northern Iraq.

    While it’s a crime when Saddam Hussein attacks the Kurds living in Iraq, it is okay for the Turkish government to use napalm against its own Turkish-Kurdish population. Why? Because we have to appease our dehumanized friends, so that we can keep our bases in their country.

    Human rights are universal to all peoples of our earth, the right to live without fear of invasion, persecution or genocide. It is a standard we should hold all countries to regardless of our strategic relationships. It’s a standard all countries are capable of living up to, and if we stand by idly without demanding more of the Turkish government, by our inaction we too are complacent in their crimes.

    Kevork K Kalayjian Jr


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/26/2007


    At that point all christian nations had the same target: moslem-free states on territories where moslems were large minorities or majorities. Read leo trotsky balkan war articles. he quotes an armenian protesting to the queen of bulgaria about what bulgaria was doing to the turks. not because he cared about them but because he was saying that the armenians would suffer as a consequence. the queen of bulgaria is reported to have answered that sufferings would be temporary and then they would be able to to the same to the turks. they had all been brainwashed to believe that christians were the master race and moslems sub humans to be killed. the we christians are together the master race idea only died after hitler started saying that within the christian nations his people were better than the rest. actually not unlogical once you accept the principle that some people are better than others. i had long and friendly discussions with two very intelligent armenian friends they still have this feeling.turks do not have a feeling of racial superiority but that they were dealing with uncurable trouble makers. turkey does not have and did not have a ruling class the way western countries do. the hate which was there grew because of how the christians made the turks specially the lower classes suffer.

    the christian nations i talk about are greeks, serbs, bulgarians and armenians. what the serbs do they demonstrated in the 1990ies. the greeks caused the cyprus war. the armenians after living the pax sovietica attacked aserbaijan the second they were free to do so.Some of them must have spent 75 years waiting for the second they could start cutting throats. The large italian minority in istanbul at that time never made the news, neither did the jews. The copts did not live in turkey proper and the syriacs were too few to make any trouble.

    By the way. The turkish definition of a turk is those citizens of the empire whioch were loyal at the very end. This includes armenian, greek, bulgarian georgian and serb speaking groups and excludes the karamanlis, turkish speaking greeks as well as the anatolian armenians wuite a few of which had turkish as their language. Turkey is not a nation which defines itself by ethnicity. In my experience turks do not understand racism. I spent 25 years in germany before I understood the logic of racism. We understand class distinctions, and religious fanaticism. For me all these problems with the christians were due to their religious fanaticism. No coincidence that the man who stared the cyprus problem was their archbishop.


    N. Friedman - 10/25/2007

    Fahrettin,

    I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on a lot of this although I do agree with you that the 19th Century was an age of turmoil and decline for the Ottoman Empire.

    As for the Armenians who lived in cities, there is documentation that such people were also deported and killed.

    As for inventing terrorism, that honor goes back a lot further than the 19th century. It may go back as far as human civilization.

    I note that you speak of the Christian nations of the Empire, by which I assume you mean Greeks, Copts, Armenians, Syriacs, etc. Is it appropriate to blame Armenians for actions taken by, for example, Greeks? I understand the logic, that in the context of a declining Ottoman Empire with the various nationalities questioning their relationship to the Empire, all these nations may have been perceived by the ruling class of the empire, and may be perceived now by Turks, as being a united front in opposition to the Empire. But, is that really fair to those various Christian groups who each, in fact, had a different agenda, not merely one of questionable association with a Muslim, not a secular or a Christian, empire?


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/25/2007

    Time is running out for this discussion, but you are arguing from the viewpoint that Turky 1915 was Germany 1943. This was not so. Turks will not move a finger for ideology. The Union and Progress government did make a move for the Turks of Asia because under the conditions of 1914 they could survive only as a powerful empire. The only alternative would be the end of Turkey.

    The Turk was not interested in exterminating the Armenian race. They did not touch the Armenians in cities. They adopted the children of the deportees. They talked with the american governemnt of sending all armenians to the us but the us refused once they realised that turkey did not have the money to finance the action.

    From the beginning of the 19th century to the deportation of the Greeks after 1923 Turkey lived in a state of constant warfare. The Christian nations of the empire invented modern terrorism and used it against the civilian moslem population of the areas where they were living as minorities and which by terrorising the moslems away they turned into majorities. Where they were the majority they would not let single moslem alive. This type of terrorism was last used by the cypriot greeks in the prelude to the 1974 war. Extremely heavy pressure by the christian powers prevented the ottoman government from retaliating so the christian minorities got to become majorities. The ottoman governement did was not in control of its territory the way the german governement did in 1939. The people who lived then were our grandparents And graeta grandparents and they told a story of unending horror caused by the christians. In Turkey you do not have the continuous indoctrination which is usual in western countries. In fact the government tells nothing about this aera in order to make people forget that Roumelia was one Turkey. This is called not denial but psychological repression, you forget tramatic events. If we remember we will want the borders in the Balkans changed. Everybody is afraid of that.

    The Nazis were prosecuting the Jews for reasons which had nothing to do with what happened in Turkey. They were said to be degenerating Germany ruining its soul and her genetics. That was ideological, that is what you know and understand and are trying to export to Turkey. Turks are not Germans, I ought to know. You people do not know Turkey, her history nor do you understand her culture. There was an event and you try to understand it according to what you have learned. One of the things you have learned was we are always good and our enemies bad stuff and now I ask you to accept that at that one point it was the other way around. Your people were trying to exterminate us. Try reading a couple of history books written around 1900-1910. They state openly that Islam would happily soon disappear in the deserts of arabia where it came from and the turk back to asia. In real life this meant killing and deporting all european moslems. That is us. I am disgusted by the people who tried to exterminate us now saying we should admit genocide and be punished for it. That is like the nazis fighting for the human rights of the palestinians. Also sounds good, if you have no idea of recent history-


    N. Friedman - 10/24/2007

    Fahrettin,

    Perhaps I did not express myself clearly enough because I think you may have missed my point. This is not to suggest that you will agree with me even if you correctly understand my point but only that I think you are responding to a slightly different point than I intended to make.

    The issue I raised is that the allied bombing of Germany was a limited campaign by Germany's enemies designed to limit the ability of Germany to make war (e.g. by demoralizing the country). It was a campaign that, since that time, has been severely criticized and with very good reason. But, there was no intention to destroy the Germans as a people.

    [Note: I did not claim that the West knew what Germany was doing to its Jews and Roma populations at the time of the bombing although, in fact, such was rather better known than is generally realized. See e.g., The Terrible Secret, by Walter Laqueur.]

    I contrasted my point about the bombing of German cities by the Allies with what the Ottoman Empire did with Armenians who were Armenian subjects of the empire, which does compare with what Germans did to subjects of the Nazi Reich. Which is to say, civilians citizens of a country can be controlled by a country without massacring them. In the case of both, unarmed civilians were, nonetheless, massacred en masse and those massacres were integral to the ruling ideology of the country.

    Such unarmed civilians were not in a position to undermine their countries although both Jews and Armenians were accused of doing so - again, because, for example, there were Armenians in Russia (some of whom fought valiantly for the Russians and against the Ottoman Empire) and Armenians were mostly Christian and because, among many other things, there were Jews in the countries opposing Nazi Germany. Such peoples were accused, for example, of disloyalty and treason which, in fact, was not the inherently the case.

    Now, if your point is that dead is dead, I agree entirely with you. The dead Germans in, for example, Dresden are as much civilians as anyone else and intentionally targeting them is reprehensible. It does not matter to their families whether they were bombed or hacked to death or even the reason why they died. They died.

    As I see it, however, genocide is something a bit different, as the word is understood. Genocide is even something different from massacres and mass killing - otherwise pretty much every country on Earth has committed them. Genocide is, rather, an effort to annihilate an entire people seen to be in the way or treasonous or something of that sort. In the case of the Armenians, the available evidence suggests that the government leaders typically believed in Turianism as a form of salvation for the Ottoman Empire to be recast as an Asian empire, which required a reuniting of Turkish peoples and the flushing out of other peoples. It is out of such an ideology that the massacres came to be.

    Now, no doubt the Ottoman government played up the sins committed by Armenians - which were real although less extensive than alleged, so far as I know and so far as reports made by American embassy staff were able to uncover. And, such are perhaps the justifications provided to ordinary Turks and Kurds and Syrians for the horrible acts committed. But, consider that the ideology of the Ottoman government made the Armenians victim because their eradication was necessary to their ideology and not due to any real sins of the Armenians.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/23/2007


    Actually the Armenians also happily survived as a people as did the Germans.

    At the time of the allied air raids the mass murder of Jews by Germany was not known. The Nurnberg tribunal decided after the war that armaments minister Speer had been unaware of this and did not punish him for this crime. So the bombings had nothing to do with the genocide against the Jews. That was at that time the usual way of dealing with your enemies. The crime of genocide was defined in 1948 not because of what happened to the Jews but because the cold war was forcing the imperialists to treat their subjects as if they were human beings. Though I do understand that until the 1960ies US policemen who killed negroes for no reason were not prosecuted.The 1948 genocide convention was not retroactive, because the people who made it knew very well what they had previously done. Only in the acse of Turkey is history being changed to make a case.

    The Armenians were indeed subjects of the Empire and had used their rights in the democracy which came in 1908 to elect politicians who ran off to join the russian army as soon as war started. Besides why should killing your own citizens be a worse crime than killing somebody else's?

    It appears to me that you think we are discussing what is tobe done tomorrow. We are not. Earlier this year one Armenian journalist war murdered in Turkey and everybody agreed that that was a horrible crime. We are discussing what happened and why a hundred years ago and if that was so unusula for that time. There we disagree. And I think fro the major reason that the sources available to you give no account of what was done to the Turks in the 100 years before they got really brutal. For 100 years they tried to appease the Christians.


    N. Friedman - 10/22/2007

    Fahrettin,

    The bombing of places like Dresden by the Allies has been extensively written about and condemned in the West, including in the US. There was certainly an intent to massacre Germans. There was, however, no intent to eliminate Germans as a people, which is a somewhat different, albeit related, thing.

    In the case of the Armenians, what is involved is the marching of an entire population of Ottoman subjects into the desert and then hacking them to death. In the case of Germany, it was not Germany bombing German citizens in Dresden.

    And, for the matter where Germany is all but universally condemned, it is exactly Germans who attacked citizens of the German state and in land taken into the German state - which is seen by most people as genocide. And the Germans did claim, at the time, that Jews were enemies of Germany, responsible for undermining the war effort in WWI - in part due to the undeniable fact that Jews also lived outside of Germany and also did fight on the British and French side. That, after all, was among the very early allegations made against Jews by the Nazis. The allegation, in fact, was false but it was widely believed, evidently, by a very large group of Germans.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/22/2007

    You have a point of course in historical clarity. So would now the christian World please start admitting their crimes against us? Not only in the 19th century but in Cyprus 1964 to 1974 and Bosnia in the 1990ies? Would they return the areas which today are parts of the chrsitian world after the moslems inhabitants were killed and deported? Of course not. All they are interested in is hitting their historical enemies, that is us. The victims of the Lockerbee murder got 10 million dollars a head, the Iraqis murdered get 2500 dollars a head from the USA. If anything. One of you people is worth 400 of us and now we are supposed to accept this proportion in writing history. When Armenians kill they are "not behaving saintly", but that is normal and when Turks kill that is murder!


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/22/2007

    The view in Germany of allied air raids is the following. Until the allied landing in France they were not trying to stop the German war economy. They were trying to reduce Germany's population to make her easier to deal with after the war. They carefully avoided hitting the armaments industry so that Germans and Russians could continue to kill each other, to weaken both for the time after the war. With the Normandy landing, it was about their boys' lives, so they hit German industry and within 6 months, the German economy collapsed. With the war thus won, they turned back to bombing cities to reduce Germany's population. The massacres in cities like Dresden (see Kurt Vonnegut's slaughterhouse 5) and Wurzburg had no military sense. Does this effect the way you view your country? Does it undermine her cohesion? Is it really as unusual as you are trying to tell me?


    N. Friedman - 10/21/2007

    Fahrettin,

    You are mixing apples and oranges. You will not hear an argument from me against the view that Westerners are hypocritical. A great many are. So, to that extent, I agree with you without necessarily agreeing with your facts.

    I am not familiar with Western support for the PKK but I am not denying something about which I have never investigated.

    And, I am also not arguing that Armenians are saintly people. There are no saintly nationalities, as I see it. Hence, Armenians may well seek revenge in any number of ways and Armenia itself may have territorial ambitions that might incorporate large parts of Turkey, etc.. Whatever the truth about that is, however, does not relate, as I see it, to events that occurred in 1894 - 96, 1908 or 1915 - 17.

    My contention is that the attacks on Armenians back in the noted periods were part of a campaign to eliminate Armenians as a people. I think that is well established. Whether, at the same time, Armenians behaved saintly toward Turks does not, as I see it, change that.

    And, as you contend, the massacres against the Armenians could very well have been seen by many average Turks as settling scores with Armenians who were, in the eyes of the Turks, viewed as following in the path of the Greeks by consorting with Russians to advance an independence movement. Maybe so but such does not change my general interpretation of what occurred.

    I just cannot imagine how such justifies the drafting of nearly all fighting age Armenian men into the military, disarming them and then massacring them and then annihilating of an entirely population of elderly, woman and children by marching them into the desert and then killing them with clubs, rocks, bayonets and knives.

    Please note, lastly, that I would not argue that today's Turks bear any moral responsibility for acts that occurred long ago. But, at the same time, historical cleanliness is important. The alternative, as I see it, is that the facts of those days will continue to gnaw away at the fabric of Turkey's self-legitimacy and, in the long run, undermine how Turks view their own country, thus undermining the country's cohesion.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/21/2007

    Genocide for Dummies

    Here's when a 'mass killing' can be determined as a 'genocide' and
    when it
    cannot.

    It took me years and years of scientific research. Read, learn!

    Killers : Muslims
    Victims : Christians
    Definition : It's definitely a Genocide

    Killers : Christians
    Victims : Muslims
    Definition : It's definitely not a Genocide.
    Please refer to such events as "War" or "Civil Conflict"

    Killers : Germans, French, Dutch, Poles, Greeks, Armenians, Slavs etc.
    Victims : European Jews
    Definition : It's a Genocide - But only the Germans are guilty

    Killers : Muslims
    Victims : Muslims
    Definition : It's a Genocide ( If the victims are the West's allies or
    the
    killers are the West's enemy )
    It's not a Genocide ( If the killers are the West's allies or the
    victims
    are the West's enemy )

    Killers : Christians
    Victims : Christians
    Definition : Incomplete data. Unable to make a judgement..
    Please provide the skin colour of the killers and the victims

    Killers : The West
    Victims : People of the 3rd World.
    Definition : Definitely not a Genocide. Use terms like Anti-Terrorism,

    Overseas conflict
    War against oppressive regimes, etc.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/21/2007



    As Armenia became independent at the end of the Soviet Union, Turkish Nationalist leader Alparslan Turkes proposed a monument at the border on which would be written in Turkish and Armenian, that the two nations mutually apologise for what they have done to each other. Armenian president Ter Petrosyan agreed. Then came the Armenian invasion of Aserbaijan, where 1 million Aseri Turks were forced out of their homes, 20% of the territory of Aserbaijan invaded by Armenia. The invasion only stopped at that point because Turkey threatened to make war if the Armenians did not stop. They still occupy this area.

    In Turkey people think that Armenian nationalists fight for genocide resolutions to create a legal atmosphere, where they can force Turkey go give them the territory they could not conquer in 1915 and the treaty of Sevres.wanted to give them ( wikipedia: Treaty of Sevres) In fact at least some Armenians are openly talking about the Armenia of the Sevres treaty. The west is believed to be after a new treaty of Sevres, in this context a genocide resolution is perceived as being a declaration of war. Paranoid? Kissinger said even the paranoid had enemies.

    We should also remember the PKK war of the 1990ies. That was a real war, the PKK financed by certain European countries.The PKK hit, the Army hit back, the Europeans shouted loudy, that Turkey was disregarding the Kurds human rights. They never mentioned that these human rights would not be hurt if they weren’t financing the PPKs war. They were claiming that the Kurds had to fight, because Turkey was implementing a genocide against them. This war stopped because Clinton forced the Europeans to stop it, also demonstarting to the Turks, what would happen if Uncle Sam did not support them.

    When Turks hear of Western Campaigns for Humans Rights democracy agains genocide, this is the episode they remember. When I told my cousin, a teacher of English in a Turkish university who grew up in the US, that the west was now bringing democracy to Congo, and fighting to stop genocide in Sudan she laughed. Cynical power politics using such arguments have made them a bad joke. And now it Burma, not because she has an economic boom selling raw materials to the Chinese but because nasty generals prevent democracy.


    N. Friedman - 10/20/2007

    Fahrettin,

    Well, Peter Balakian is a very good scholar, Armenian or not. Whether he is correct does not correlate with whether he is Armenian or a Martian, at least in my book.

    I do not think that Americans have a poor opinion of Turkey or Turks. There is some concern about Muslims in general due to Muslim religious fanatics who make a career out of Jihad fi sabil Allah and due to religious nut cases like Ahmadinejad. But, that is not something Americans much associate with Turks or Turkey.

    And, I think Americans mostly assume, since such is what appears in US papers and on the radio and TV, that there are political reasons why modern, secular Turkey does not want the dirt from the demise of the Ottoman Empire broadcast - which is the main suspicion that arises from the criminalization in Turkey of taking the view that the Armenians were annihilated.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/19/2007

    Try this :
    Hovhannes Katchaznouni
    The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnagzoutiun) has nothing to do anymore

    or

    Für die Dashnakzutyun gib es nichts mehr zu tun. Bericht zum Parteikonferenz 1923

    Katchanouni was the first Prime Minister of Armenia in 1918-1919 and gives here his self critical account of what happened. The English Wikipedia page has been cesored but the German and Turkish Wikipedia pages reflect what is being discussed. I did not find the opportunity to read it but it is said he admits he and his comrades provoked disaster.

    The book is hard to find. The Armenian nationalist prevent new objective books from being written. Older books which gave the events as they were then are said to have disappeared from American libraries.

    The newspaper article reflects the Armenian nationalist propoganda that they did no wrong ant the Turkish monster slaughtered them. I realize there is virtually no english language documentation of what happened but telling the me what I write is imagined is like telling an Israeli the only Jews to die in the second world war were two who had a bicycle accident. Turkish governements worked on a better future instead of supporting an effort to keep old hates alive and now that backfires.

    Balakian is an Armenian name. They are nor famous for being neutral observers. .Intelligent Turks of now grown up age have spent their lives in business, engineering or medicine. Historicians have had very much to. There is not a single Turk alive, who has dedicated his life to collecting mud about Turkeys neighbors, for them an absolutely pointless waste of time.So the Armenians have more scientific mud to throw. What does that prove?

    There is no denying that hundreds of thousands of innocent Armenians died. Just that the historic context was entirely different from what prople in the US believe, the deportation taking place in a climate where millions of Turks were killed and the existence of the Turkish people was almost finished by the allies of WWI. Prople in the west think Turkey is a 1984 society where the governent chages history. They think that the mass killing of Armenians was like the killing of Jews about which people in germany knew nothing. They think they have to describe how Armenians died and we will die of a guilty conscience. What is happening is exactly the opposite. People remember the exact context. Villages burned, inhabitants forced into mosques which were then set afire. Prosperous Armenians who for no reason started killing their neighbors. Politicians offered the job of a minister in the Ottoman government who refuse and run off to join the Russian armyto lead Armenian soldiers to war against Turkey. A lying and intriguing church. The result is hates forgotten coming back to life, racistic murders. A poisoned climate. A.discussion about leaving Nato and joining Russia. Warmth for Iran. Dreams of China. Maybe this is what the Armenian Nationalists want, but is it in your interest?


    David Whitman - 10/18/2007

    Dear Professor Furnish

    I can handle very well when someone denies the reality of the Armenian genocide. I respect your opinion and "will fight to death your right to say it". I simply have pity on those who deny the Armenian genocide. They are usually quite ignorant of the facts, or they know it was genocide but do not call it that because of vested interests, Realpolitik etc. In your case I think it is the latter. My reason for debating with you is not to try to convince you, because I am confident you already know the truth. It is to show the ignoratnt third parties who may read our discussion how conniving denial can be. After all, denial is the last stage of a genocide. It is what emboldens future 'would be perpetrators' that such acts can be committed and you can get away with. As they say, "God cannot change the past but historians can". I have been researching the extermination of the Indigenous Christians of the Ottoman Empire over the past 20 years. I have in my reach one of the largest collections of primary and secondary material on the subject. I can say with the utmost confidence that it what happenned was Genocide according the U.N definition. I am a universalist, and I work towards ending this crime of genocide from re-occuring.


    N. Friedman - 10/18/2007

    Fahrettin,

    Read this. From the article:

    That is certainly the case with the discussion program "Armenian Genocide: Exploring the Issues." It turns out that there is only one articulate voice arguing that Armenians died not in a genocide but in a civil war between Christians and Muslims — that of Justin A. McCarthy, a history professor at the University of Louisville. His Turkish counterpart, Omer Turan, an associate professor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, tries ardently to back him up, but his English is not good enough to make a dent. And the two other experts, Peter Balakian, a humanities professor at Colgate University, and Taner Akcam, a visiting professor of history at the University of Minnesota and a well-known defender of human rights in Turkey, lucidly pick Mr. McCarthy's points apart.

    Mr. Balakian, who is one of the experts cited in the documentary, gets the last word. "If we are going to pretend that a stateless Christian minority population, unarmed, is somehow in a capacity to kill people in an aggressive way that is tantamount to war, or civil war," Mr. Balakian says, "we're living in the realm of the absurd."


    Also, from the article:

    The documentary, which is partly narrated by Julianna Margulies, Ed Harris and others, includes rare clips of Turkish scholars acknowledging the anti-Armenian campaign as genocide as well as Turkish villagers recounting their ancestors' stories about participating in the killings. "They caught Armenians and put them in a barn and burned them," a man in a town in eastern Turkey says to an interviewer. There are also shots of ordinary Turks who insist their ancestors were incapable of that level of barbarity.


    N. Friedman - 10/18/2007

    Fahrettin,

    Well, it is difficult for a person who reads books by historians to say something occurred which does not appear in history books. It would, however, not surprise me at all that there are erased historical events although, in the case of the declining Ottoman Empire, I see that as a somewhat unlikely proposition.

    The reason I say it is a somewhat unlikely proposition is that there is an entire school of historians who look at the world through the prism of Western Imperialism. Were there a way to weave in negative genocidal behavior by Christians, it would, I think, be included.

    I note, also, that there are historians, such as the great Bernard Lewis, who do everything possible in to cast the Ottoman Empire in a good light. While, unlike the anti-Imperialist historians, Lewis and those who see history the way he does see the demise of Ottoman power as, in part, a self-inflicted wound that Europeans then exploited, he is exceedingly fair to those in the Empire who set out, at the end, to reform the empire but who did not succeed.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that people have memories later prove to be the product of propaganda campaigns. People from the former USSR recall fighting the Nazis. However, mention to them - as I have - that before fighting them, they fought on the Nazi side under an actual pact, and they call the allegation a lie. My mother-in-law, who was a well educated woman, would say exactly that. Now, I am not saying the information you have is wrong. I am asking you to consider that it may potentially be wrong, notwithstanding the vehemence of those who provided the information to you.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/18/2007

    So read Justin McCarthy


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/18/2007

    No, a genocide against Turks does not happen in western historiography. No books about it.

    Even the Greek Cypriot atrocities against the Turks there (1963 -1974), which led to the war 1974 did not happen. Here in Europe people say, they were living in peace together, when Turkey invaded the island for no good reason, which is why she must get out leaving this peaceful island.

    I quote what Turks tell each other. That is the basis of Turkish policies. Turkey was the most loyal member of NATO, exactly because Russia was guilty of genocide against the Turks. By now Western policies designed with the lies your history books tell have led Turkey to the point where she is about to get out of the alliance with the West. They can then keep writing in their history book whatever they want.

    But you are right, there is no literature whatsoever in the West about the genocide against Turks in Europe. Absence of proof is proof of absence. The Armenians win.

    I have spent 30 years in Europe and was repeatedly shocked by the racism directed against Turks by people who were done no wrong and who were their allies. They thought they are being super friendly to us, considering the fact that we are monsters. 90 years ago this was much worse. Your ambassador, Mr Morgentau was one of these people. He thought he was being nice. Do you know that the USA never recognized the Lausanne treaty which is the basis of the independent Turkish republic? That is their friendship for the Turk. Objectivity? Nonsense.


    N. Friedman - 10/18/2007

    Professor,

    You ask a good question. I think Lewis is being political, not substantive. He is, after all, not only an important historian but he has, unlike most other historians, played a role in International politics. So, I think you have his considered opinion in his very scholarly and brilliant work The Emergence of Modern Turkey but views made in order, perhaps, to appease his friends inside Turkey are a different matter.

    In today's National Review, there is an article by one Barbara Lerner who presents the version of history that says there is no genocide. Notice in her article that she sees a collapsing Ottoman Empire, which obviously is generally the case.

    Interestingly, this very point is considered rather carefully in Morgenthau's contemporaneous account and he says that the period in which the massacres occurred, exactly the opposite was seen to be the case by Enver and Talaat and the other Young Turk leaders. On Morgenthau's first hand account, the massacres began occurring immediately after the Ottoman Empire had stood up successfully to the British and it was believed by the leadership that, having had the help of the Germans in recasting the Ottoman military, the Ottoman Empire was now strong and confident enough to deal with its internal issues including ridding itself of remaining Greeks, Armenians and Syriacs and, under Djemal's attempts - which the US government foiled by bringing in a US warship -, Jews in historic Palestine.

    In addition, the role of Turkish Armenians against the government, contrary to what Ms. Lerner suggests, was rather minimal. As Morgenthau noted, the government was using the fact of a very small group of Armenians as an excuse to massacre all Armenians.

    And, she overlooks that the bulk of Armenian men, including in Istanbul, were drafted into the army, then had their guns taken from them, were placed on laborious duty and then were shot or thrown off of ships to die. On her telling, those drafted into the army served out their term, fighting along with Muslims. That, however, is no so.

    So, it is true that there was a context that included a collapsing empire but it was an empire which, for a moment, felt newfound pride and power and, in that exuberance, set out to put an end to the Armenian problem so that not only would an Armenian nation never emerge - as occurred for the Greeks, when they revolted - but there would be no Armenians to worry about and no Greeks to worry about, etc., etc.

    Even more remarkable, the massacres were not the first but followed genocidal massacres in 1894 to 1896, where more than 200,000 Armenians were massacred by Abdul Hamid II in order, as he said, to solve the Armenian Question by eliminating the Armenians. Those masacres, you will note, is what Talaat was referring to when he noted how much more he had done than Abdul Hamid II did. I might also note that there were massacres - about 30,000 Armenians - in about 2008. The point is that there was a pattern.

    Lastly, the assertion that efforts were made to refrain the killings on the death marches is belied by the fact that not only did the killings not stop and by the fact that only a handful of a million people survived these marches but by the fact that the rescuers assisted in massacring Armenians.

    I note, also, this story that Peter Balakian retells from his book The Burning Tigris (pages 337 - 339):

    In the chapter "The Confessions of a Slayer Captain," about the Yozgat massacres, in his memoir Armenian Golgotha, Krikoris Balakian echoes and corroborates what was confessed at the Yozgat hearings. About a year after his arrest on April 24, 1915, in Constantinople, Balakian found himself on a deportation trail that had taken him from the prison at Chankiri, east to Chorum, and then south to Yozgat. On the road to Yozgat, Balakian became friendly with a Turkish captain named Shükri, with whom he rode for a couple of hours on horseback. Shükri, feeling certain that Balakian would soon be killed, answered the priest's questions candidly and even with a bit of braggadocio.

    When Balakian asked Captain Shükri where "all these human bones along this road of ours" had come from, the captain replied: "These are the bones of the Armenians who were massacred" during August and September 1915. He went on to explain that Talaat Pasha ordered the bodies to be gathered and buried immediately, but that winter floods had washed up the corpses from their shallow graves and scattered them everywhere. When the priest asked him if the remains were of the local Armenian population or of Armenians from far away, Shükri told him that they were all from the local region.

    He went on to say that "this order was carried out most severely by district governor Kemal." Balakian kept bantering with the Turkish captain, pretending to be an opponent of Armenian "extremists" and a Turcophile, and in this way kept the conversation going.

    When Balakian asked Captain Shükri if the women were also massacred (because he thought the young ones might be spared and sent to harems), he was told that Kemal (the kaymakam of Boghazlyan) had the women and children massacred, including infants. Kemal even told the captain that he had "made a vow on the honor of the prophet: I shall not leave a single Armenian alive in the sanjak of Yozgat," a statement that was confirmed at the fifth sitting of the trial on February 12 by Maj. Memhet Salim, the military commandant of Yozgat.

    Shükri went on to tell Balakian how he and District Governor Kemal lured the Armenian women, children, and elderly on to the death march by having the town crier announce that they would be going to meet their husbands in Aleppo and ordering them to bring as much of their valuables and possessions as possible. The naive women even made baklavas and coffee cakes to celebrate the reunion with their husbands. About sixty-four hundred women and children were sent out on foot or in carriages or oxcarts and taken on a five-hour journey to a place known as Three Mills, where they were fleeced of all their valuables by a group of Turkish women, who were sent in to find all the gold and jewels they had hid on and in their bodies. The women were then massacred with "axes, hatchets, scythes, sickles, clubs, pickaxes, and shovels," Captain Shükri admitted, "in the name of holy jihad" and by "order of the government."

    As a priest Balakian was particularly interested in the role of religion in the massacres and asked Captain Shükri how a religious Muslim could order the murder of innocent women and not be accountable to God and his conscience. The Turkish captain told him that "a Jihad was proclaimed . . . the Sheikh-ul-Islam had issued a fatwa to annihilate the Armenians as traitors to our state, and the Caliph ratified the fatwa." When the Armenian priest continued by asking him how he would "atone for his sins" in the "other world," the captain answered: "I have already atoned for them as I've always done after such killings. . . . I spread out my prayer rug and pray, giving glory to Allah and the Prophet who made me worthy of personally participating in the holy jihad in these days of my old age." The captain's confessions not only corroborate the testimony given at the Yozgat trials, but also disclose something profound about how deeply the ideology of Islamic jihad was part of the psychology of the Turkish extermination program for the Armenians, as well as for the Greeks, Assyrians, and other Christians in the empire.


    I do not doubt much in this story. Note: the massacres were a political matter having little to do with religion but religion was invoked by the state - at the start of the war - to kill all infidels (except Germans) and this had its impact, as noted, although, as Morgenthau notes, it was met with some considerable skepticism in portions of the Empire because the call to Jihad excluded infidel Germans. In any event, these are the sort of death marches that occurred. They were not efforts to relocate people. They were efficiently designed methods to kill people.


    Tim R. Furnish - 10/18/2007

    From "Inside Higher Ed:"
    Probably the most prominent scholar in the United States to question that genocide took place is Bernard Lewis, an emeritus professor at Princeton University, whose work on the Middle East has made him a favorite of the Bush administration and neoconservative thinkers. In one of his early works, Lewis referred to the “terrible holocaust” that the Armenians faced in 1915, but he stopped using that language and was quoted questioning the use of the term “genocide.” Lewis did not respond to messages seeking comment for this article. The Armenian National Committee of America has called him “a known genocide denier” and an “academic mercenary.”

    The two scholars who are most active on promoting the view that no genocide took place are Justin McCarthy, distinguished university scholar at the University of Louisville, and Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Usually you defer to Bernard Lewis (as do I). Why would he question the alleged genocide?


    Tim R. Furnish - 10/18/2007

    Mr. Whitman,
    I admit to being a bit disingenuous, which is obviously not something that anyone convinced of the genocide charge can handle.
    Raising reasonable doubts about the term "genocide" is obviously not something that some folks can handle. I'm going to stop wasting my time. There are legitimate historians on both sides of this issue, but of course those convinced of genocide cannot bring themselves to admit that.


    N. Friedman - 10/18/2007

    Fahrettin,

    If what you report is correct, there is much to condemn. I have seen no reports that confirm such occurrences so I am skeptical. Again, if you are correct, then you have a good point.

    The facts I know of are those which are supported by the records kept of reports by employees of the US State Department who were assigned to the interior regions of what is now Turkey. Their reports show unprovoked massacres on an extraordinary scale and with unimaginable cruelty. They report the absence of the substantial incidents asserted by the Ottoman government to justify its behavior.

    While it is possible that these reports are wrong, it is worth noting that the US government was not an enemy of the Ottoman Empire and that relations were even maintained throughout the First World War notwithstanding the fact that the US, late in the war, came in on the British side. No Ottoman blood was ever spilled by Americans who, surely, might have come to the aid of the British. In fact, President Wilson, when he announced his policy to make war on Germany, explicitly excluded the idea of making war against the Ottoman Empire.

    He did so because the US had substantial friendly relations and interests in maintaining friendly relations with the Ottoman Empire. The US also had substantial property holdings in the Empire, Americans, including friends of President Wilson, had established and were running universities and missionaries dedicated not, strange as it may sound, to spreading Christianity but to helping in the modernization of the Ottoman Empire.

    Which is to say, I find it difficult to square what you write with what the US government records show by means of first hand accounts from field agents who were knowledgeable about what was occurring.

    But, such records square with what was reported in American newspapers at the time, including The New York Times, and what was reported by missionaries and other Americans in the region. Moreover, such squares with information reported by some German observers who became sickened by what Germany's ally was doing to the Armenians.

    I thus await some substantial source - e.g. a book by a substantial scholar - which shows the evidence you refer to. I have seen nothing so far which justifies what was done to the Armenians. Such may exist but, again, I have not seen it.


    David Whitman - 10/17/2007

    Dear Professor Furnish

    You are a history professor and state that unless someone had a video camera in 1915 and filmed the atrocities their written testimony can't be taken as fact. Are you being serious? You admit that over 1 million Armenians were killed by their own government (ottoman turkish government). Most were women and children belonging to a differnet religion and race. Well, for your information 126 of the worlds leading Holocaust and Genocide scholars stated the Genocide of the Armenians is "an incontestable fact". So when you say "we don't know for sure at this juncture", you mean we wish not to call it Genocide so we don't offend Turkey at this time. I know we will be going round in circles on this issue. I will conclude with the following, if it looks like a duck, quaks like a duck, then it is a duck. There are no Armenians left in their homeland of over 4000 years, there are now millions of Kurds and Turks. What the Turks did was Demographic engineering, by massacre and deportation to create a 'Fait accompli". IT IS GENOCIDE.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007

    Mr Friedman,

    the Armenians started the slaughter, explicity to provoke a reaction they could the politically use. the Moslems - Turks Kurds Arabs, whoever else, hit back with equal brutality. The government of the day were Balkan Moslems who had 3 years before had their home invaded, 1,5 Million of their countrymen including their own families murdered before their eyes, they could read in the Christians newspapers that Anatolia was next, with no mercy for their dead, not then, not now. The Russian revolution, which assured the existence of the Turkish nation was not yet to be seen. The Armenians were for them an existential threat. They felt they had to do something.

    Why do you blame the Turks who were trying to survive and not the Christians who had they chosen to continued to live in peace but chose to exterminate the Turk? Why not Russia who was the driving force behind genocide against the Turk, why not England and France who accepted this as the price of Russian alliance against Germany why not the Armenian politicians and Church who led the Armenian treason?

    Where is your condemnation for the present governemnt of Greek Cyprus, whose leader Papadopoulos was in his youth the Greek cypriot Eichmann, plotting to exterminate the Turks of cyprus? John Major who made possible the murder of 250 000 Bosnian moslems? Do you ever mention the 1000000 Iraqis who lost theri lives because of US policies since the Kuweit war? The Armenian invasion of Karabagh?

    It is always the Turk who has no rights. He is guilty because he did not sit and wait until there were none left. Never in history has the Christian world ever, not even against then the most brutal slaughter, and not now against the brutal pkk terrorist ever ever supported Turkey. They always try to solve every conflict other people start by making the Turk pay.

    In this situation the Armenians were deported. So you people now forget what they had done - start the slaughter, and condemn that the Turk hit back. That is like condemning allied air raids against Germany as genocide by conveniently forgetting Hitler.



    N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

    Fahrettin,

    You write: "Anatolia is full of people, who can tell you, what their ancestors have suffered under the Armenians and Greeks."

    That is no doubt true. Is that, however, a just reason for massacring a million or so - more or less - Armenians? That, after all, is the question.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007

    My remarks are for Mr Whitman of course.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007

    Mr Friedman,

    Anatolia is full of people, who can tell you, what their ancestors have suffered under the Armenians and Greeks. Do they not count for you? Only the Armenians? Are we not people? But of course Turkey has looked at the future, Armenians have made it their main occupation for 90 years, so you know nothing about our suffering and all about the Armenians.



    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007

    Mr. Kalayjiyan,

    I am very pleased to hear that you love the Turks. It reminds me of Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol,

    we all kill the one we love,
    the brave with a sword,
    the coward with a kiss


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007

    Genocide or not

    Nobody is denying that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed. Just that a civil war with two sides slaughtering each other is a one sided genocide. In the case of the murder of 250000 Bosnian moslems by christians in the 1990ies, the den haag court has decided that that was a civil war and not genocide.There are American reports from the 1920ies that calculated there were 300 000 Armenians dead. Talat as he was organising the deportation used the figure of 1500 000 as total number of armenians in the Ottoman empire. Of this over amillion have happiliy survived. The figure of 1500000 dead is a lie as is much other in this debate to screw the Turk.

    There are few Armenians left in Anatolia as there are no moslems left in Crete which at the beginning of the 19th century was a moslem majority country. Why does not the US congress make that a problem to solve?


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/17/2007


    You have made the standard case why genocide against Turks is ok. So let us look at your assertions.

    1. The Turks did not come to the Balkans as moslem oppressors in the 14the century.They came 1000 years earlier, during the volkerwanderung. At that point they did not call themselves Turks, the term was introduced with Islamisation, so that the impression is that they came as moslems. At the point Islam came both Anatolia and the Balkans were populated by Turks among others. ( See Bulgar, Pecheneg, cuman in wikipedia, these were the names by which turks were called in the 4th century)
    2. Islamisation in the Ottoman empire was largely voluntary, as opposed to her contemporary the Spanish empire where everyone had the choice of catholicism or death. Not only turkish but also slavic, greek, armenian, albanian etc peoples became moslems and started calling themselves turks, wheras some turkish speaking peoples remained christians. As the republic was founded in 1923 she called all her citizens turks.As simple look at modern Turks will show you, that very few of us are actually descended from central asians. Some of my family still speak Greek, but we are Turks, that is a political definition.
    3. At the beginning of the 19th century the Balkans, Caucasia and Crimea were moslem majority areas. During the 19th century Russia, and the christian nations of the ottoman empire killed enough and forced out the rest to make these christian majority areas. By 1914 only Anatolia was left. The allies of the first world war had agreed that that too was to disappear. The Ottoman government offered the Armenians an Armenia, their politicians refused, demanding the eastern half of Turkey where they were about 15% of the population. Russian supported terrorists started killing moslems behind the front at which point the Ottoman government decided to remove the Armenians from eastern Anatolia.In a very bloody environment where Armenians were killing as many Moslems as they could (they wanted to become a majority) they were forced out with differing degrees of brutality in different places. remember the people forcing the out were the survivors of the Balkan war genocide of 1912.


    N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

    Professor,

    I was certainly not calling you a Holocaust denier. I was pointing out that there is the same sort of evidence showing a genocide against Armenians as has been shown against Nazi Germany. So, casting doubt on the Armenian genocide casts serious doubt on the methodology employed with respect to what the Nazis did - a matter about which there is no justified doubt.

    As for first hand reports, they exist in large numbers. There are direct reports by direct witnesses who were in the employ of the US Embassy. There, of course, was no TV in those days but there are, as I noted, first hand accounts by unbiased witnesses working for the US government that cannot be dismissed. They contradict the view this was not all on purpose as they show not only the absence of an excuse for the killing but the fact that those involved knew exactly what they were doing and under what orders.

    Ambassador Morgenthau passed the reports he received out to the State Department. They have not been destroyed. I thus find it difficult to see how you challenge the view that there was a genocide. It makes no sense and the argument against there having been a genocide against Armenians makes no sense.

    And, there are also first hand accounts from newspapers including in The New York Times. And, there were also numerous Christian missionaries who wrote detailed, first hand reports that do not contradict what professional diplomats in the employ of the US government were reporting. No one challenges the veracity of these reports.



    Tim R. Furnish - 10/17/2007

    Please do not lump me in with Holocaust deniers. That's rather offensive.
    That the Ottomans committed genocide is believed with religious intensity by Armenians. Were I in their shoes, I'd probably feel the same. However, I note that references to Morgenthau and other Western observers does not amount to primary evidence, unless they happened to be standing there with a video camera when the Ottoman troops actually systematically perpetrated their genocide.
    This is a no-win situation to discuss. I am in no wise denying that many, many--perhaps over a million--Armenians were killed during and right after World War I. No argument whatsoever. But the issues are 1) was that "genocide"? and 2) should the U.S. Congress today be weighing in on it? I say 1) we don't know FOR SURE at this juncture and 2) no.
    And thanks for not branding me a nut. I think you know better.
    Please go read the thoughtful comments by Dr. Hakan Ozoglu and respond.


    N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

    Professor,

    The letter raises a fair point. However, that is a different point from denying that which has been shown with reasonable certitude to have occurred. That, not the US response, is where we differ.


    Hakan Ozoglu - 10/17/2007

    With all due respect to Armenians whose grandparents suffered greatly, I must raise a question about how settled the issue is. Morgenthau is a great source to support genocide claims. He was an American diplomat and hence a neutral observer. However, if someone digs out documents claiming that another US diplomat held a different view on the issue and called the Armenian claims "exaggerated," would those who claim that this was a genocide and Turks should not flourish, at least consider the possibility that the issue is not entirely "settled."
    Or these individuals are so intent in their belief that any contradicting evidence would be considered not credible, for it sides with the Turkish claim. Would these individuals claim that if you do not agree with my position 100%, you are against my position?
    I would urge those people with strong opinion to look at the US diplomatic archives--they are not hard to access--with an open mind. Perhaps one can find evidence for reasonable doubt for the claim of genocide, that is premeditated murder of a race to exterminate them.
    May I also suggest that the Armenian Diaspora should sue the Ottoman Empire in the International Courts and make clear to the world that their evidence establishes the genocide beyond the reasonable doubt. That would certainly shut the Turks down.

    In my judgment, asking the third parties to interfere and pick up a fight for them does disservice to the memory of those Armenians who lost their lives. Third party governments do not belong to this conflict. Here, in the name of being fair--don't we also recognize the sufferings of Muslim innocent population who lost their lives and homes in the conflict. Is it fair to say that they do not deserve such recognition just because they share the same religion as those who ordered the killings of Armenians. If the idea is being fair, we are a long way from it. And until we recognize that there are two sides to each conflict, we cannot solve this problem and leave the next generations a world where they can interact and cooperate with one another.


    N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

    Professor,

    Here is some of what Talaat Pasha - who was the main leader of the Ottoman government - told Ambassador Morgenthau, as recorded in Ambassador Morgenthau's story:

    "It is no use for you to argue," Talaat answered, "we have already disposed of three quarters of the Armenians; there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van, and Erzeroum. The hatred between the Turks and the Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish with them. If we don't, they will plan their revenge."

    Also, according to Morgenthau:

    One day Talaat made what was perhaps the most astonishing request I had ever heard. The New York Life Insurance Company and the Equitable Life of New York had for years done considerable business among the Armenians. The extent to which this people insured their lives was merely another indication of their thrifty habits.

    "I wish," Talaat now said, "that you would get the American life insurance companies to send us a complete list of their Armenian policy holders. They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money. It of course all escheats to the State. The Government is the beneficiary now. Will you do so?"


    Also, according to Morgenthau:

    Talaat's attitude toward the Armenians was summed up in the proud boast which he made to his friends: "I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years!"


    N. Friedman - 10/17/2007

    Professor,

    You write: "I do not think that the "systematic nature" of the massacres has even been definitively established."

    It strikes me that by your standard, the Nazis were not shown to have committed genocide. Where is the order to eliminate all Jews? Yet, only nuts deny what the Nazis did or that it was part of a government plan of annihilation. And I know, having read your book, that you are not a nut.

    In the case of the Ottoman Turks, the fact is that the government gave clear orders to deport people and was also fully aware - since there are exact diplomatic records of what was said to Enver and to Talaat by the US Ambassador - that those being deported were all, with very few exceptions, being massacred.

    So, even if Talaat, Enver and Djemal did not set out to kill everyone, they knew very soon that such is what was occurring. And, they continued to give the same orders which, in turn, kept having the same results. And, the US Ambassador would complain. And, notwithstanding, the same activities would continue.

    Again, Enver and Talaat were told that the deportations were resulting in everyone deported being massacred. Such was presented to them over and over and over again and again and again and again by, among others, the US Ambassador who protested vehemently and far beyond the call of ambassadorial duty. I suggest you read his account. I do not think you can, after reading it, write what you have written.

    I should add that there are also existing records of commanders asking what was meant by deportation, to which the reply was kill. Such came out in trials and was reported at the time.

    And, I might add: Enver and Talaat did not always deny that massacres were occurring. In fact, one of them stated explicitly to the US Ambassador that having killed the mass of Armenians, the rest would have to be killed so that they would not seek their revenge.

    That said, there is something to be said for not blaming the current Turkish government for actions primarily the work of the Ottoman government and only secondarily the nascent Turkish Republican government.

    Then again, I think you are way off base to deny that what occurred is properly termed a genocide or, for that matter, something which is seriously the subject of a debate. Consider: for a scholar to be granted access to Ottoman records in Turkey, that scholar would be a fool to admit to the genocide, given the view of the Turkish government.


    David Whitman - 10/17/2007

    The Systematic Nature of the massacres has already been established beyond reasonable doubt. The court Martials in Istanbul by the Turks established that fact. It is also attested in the U.S national archives by the American Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morganthau. By the U.S Consuls who witnessed the systematic execution of the Massacres and deportations such as Leslie Davis, Barry Jackson, Oscar Heiser as well as hundreds of American missionaries who witnessed the events. It is all included in the British Blue book which was compiled by James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee in 1916. In addition, German officers, consuls and missionaries such as Karen Jeppe, Jacob Kunzler, Maria Jacobsen etc etc all concluded that it was a systematic and calculated to bring destruction to the Armenian population. For your information, 2 million Armenians who lived in Anatolia are no longer there, there is now less than 1000 Armenians (not including Istanbul).

    The fact that many of the perpetrators found themselves in power after Ataturks revolution, the fact that the Armenian Minority in Turkey has since then continued to suffer persecution. I am sure you are aware of the Varlik Vergisi of 1942 and the Constantinople riots of 1955, just to mention a few. Since Armenian monuments continue to be destroyed. Since those who in Turkey claim Armenians were killed are prosecuted under article 301 all points to the fact that Turkey continues its policy of Genocide.

    I know that many in the U.S have vested interests in Turkey. You may be one of them, and it is in your interest to trivialise the history with the hope that each passing year the genocide fades into oblivion. After all, the purpose of the Turks was to create a 'Fait accompli' an accomplished fact, a Turkey without the indegenous Christians. They have succeeded, and the morally good people of the world will not let them get away with it. Genocides must be prevented!!


    Tim R. Furnish - 10/17/2007

    Note his last paragraph:

    Dr. Furnish,

    I read your opinion piece regarding the Armenian Holocaust.

    I'm a Christian. I'm an Armenian. I have heard first-hand accounts of the Turkish exile and extinguishment of the Armenian people in 1915. American acknowlegement of the genocide would be a good thing, but it's at least 50 years to late. Now, it will do little else than send the victims and the perpetrators a final message. And they already know the truth.

    This story coming up now saddens me, just like it has saddened me since I heard of it when I was a little boy. All the victims who are still alive were small children then. Maybe that is why the long for the apology (even if indirect), for closure.

    But this isn't the job of government, and especially not this congress.


    Tim R. Furnish - 10/16/2007

    1) I do not think that the "systematic nature" of the massacres has even been definitively established.
    2) Until (if) that ever happens, what in blazes business is it of the U.S. Congress to weigh in?
    3) Rwanda is not a good analogy. The perpetrators of that are still alive, as are the leaders (Clinton) who could have done something about it. No only are the victims and the perpetrators of the massacres no longer alive, the very state under whose rule they occurred no longer exists.


    David Whitman - 10/16/2007

    Dear Professor

    Since 1923, Armenians and Chritians have continued to suffer persecution in Turkey. Armenian cultural monumuments have been systematically destroyed to remove traces of their ever existing. In 1942, many Armenians, Greeks and Jews were deported to Labour camps in the episode called the Varlik Vergisi. In 1955 there were riots in the Greek quarter by Turks resulting in much death and destruction. The penal code 301 makes it a crime to speak out about what happenned to the Armenians during WW1. The Armenian Genocide is not something which happenned almost 100 years ago. It continues today, because denial is the last stage of Genocide. You may not be aware of this but the main reason for the Genocide was to create a 'Fait accompli' and acoomplished fact, a Turkey without the Armenians. It is called demographic engineering, it has resulted in the Armenians being wiped out from lands they have lived for thousands of years. A Christian peopl with a unique language, architecture and identity. The American Missionaries would call the Armenians the 'Yankees of the Orient' because they were progressive and pro-western. The Genocide resulted in the U.S losing an ally, the Christian Armenians. In fact, the Incirlik airbase in Turkey is located on land formerly belonging to the Armenians. As I stated in the first post, the systematic nature of the Genocide proves that their waa intent from the government. The Genocide was carried out by the Young Turks with the knowledge that they would be held accountable. The powers had sent a wasning in May 1915 that they would hold accountable those responsible for this "crime against humanity". So the orders for the killings would be verbal and masked as a deportation. just like in Rwanda, you will not find written orders for the mass killings, however, killing 800,000 people in 100 days cannot be done without some type of intentioin from the government.


    David Whitman - 10/16/2007

    If it can be proven that there was a planned systematic extermination of 5 Million Muslims in the Balkans by a "government" in 1912, than that certainly would be Genocide. I am aware that many Muslims had to flee after the loss of their armies in the Balkans, but they had a safe haven in Turkey.

    However, this is the first time I am hearing about a Genocide of Muslims in the Balkans. Didn't the Muslim Ottoman Empire conquer those regions only about 500 years ago? Didn't they oppress the Indegenous Christian inhabitants and force many to become Moslems, ie. Devsirme. Don't the inhabitants have a right to liberate their lands? Just like the Indians of India revolted agaisnt the British.

    The Armenian case is very well documented, from the inception of the Genocide including the relief effort by the United States to save the ones who survived. The Armenians were at the mercy of the Ottoman government who had the power to carry out such a sytematic extermination. The Armenians were killed on the lands they have lived for thousands of years. The Ottoman Turks are newcomers to the region, originating from Central Asia. I think you need to study history a bit more in depth and you will find the truth. What the Turks did between 1915-23 and continue to do today by destroying Armenian monuments and prosecuting those who speak the truth in Turkey is Genocide.


    Tim R. Furnish - 10/16/2007

    As I said, there is no doubt hundreds of thousands, if no millions, of Armenians died. But the historical record as to just how and why is still open to question. Some historians claim it was primarily Kurdish brigands and irregular forces. And, again, no one has even produced an Ottoman document ordering the killing. I am not saying it doesn't exist; I am simply saying that the killing cannot be laid at offical government orders at this point.
    And the larger issue is this: why should modern Turkey have to answer for what the former government did? Do we hold the Russians accountable for what the USSR did? Or the PRC for the Manchu? The Turkish government today is a moderate Islamic one that is also, in case we're forgetting, a NATO ally. Why are the Dems in the U.S. Congress chomping at the bit to damn the Turks for something that happened before they even controlled their own nation-state--nay, before that nation-state even existed?


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/16/2007

    The Armenian who murdered Talat was spoken free by a German court. When Nikos Sampson, the Cypriot terrorist who was proud of having murdered Turks with his own hands spend 10 years in France in the 1970ies he was not even sent to court. This just goes to show that murdering Turks is very often not a crime.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/16/2007

    Do you or do you not deny that 5 Million european Moslems of turkish culture were murdered in the century to 1912? Doe or does that not make you a genocide denier?


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/16/2007

    There is no proof that Hitler said anything like that, it is just another lie.

    There is no doubt that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed. Also were Turks, it was abrutal civil war which armenian nationalists started with help from Russia.


    Fahrettin Tahir - 10/16/2007

    we turks are the victims

    in 1800 Caucasia, Crimea and the Balkans were Moslems majority areas. In the following 120 years, 5 Million of these Moslems were murdered, further 5 millions forced out to turn these areas into the christian majority areas they are today. In 1915 the feeling in the Christian World was that it was now Anatolias turn. This was the only area remaning for the Moslems. It was to be divide up among Armenians, Greeks and Russians and the Moslems exterminated. For this target the Armenian nationalists started killing the Turks living there. They hit back. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians and in all 2,5 Million Turkish civilians were killed. And now come the Christian countries, forgetting they tried to exterminate the Turk, they re write history, to amek a tragedy appear a genocide to force Turkey to give land to Armenia. Turk haters in Christian countries parliaments vote always against the Turk, these are the descendants of the people who murdered 5 Million Moslems of Turkish culture.

    So who exactly is denying which genocide?


    Kevork Kalayjian - 10/16/2007


    The House Foreign Relations Committee vote 27/21 on H. R. 106, acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, is a giant step forward for a more reverence to human dignity here in the United States of America and in the context of our image in the world both for our allies and for our adversaries.

    This is the greatest gesture of love and respect to the Turkish people. Our NATO brother-in-arms should know that, just as David Kaczynski brought his brother Theodore John Kaczynski (The Unabomber) to justice, America will not stand idle for deniers of Genocide.

    It is a shame that the present administration still opposes this important human rights achievement. It is a disgrace that there are still people amongst us who see no harm in denying a crime for profit.

    This administration and its supporters marched into the White House as the defenders of the faith and the family values, they turned up to be a pack of wolves ready to sell America’s honor to criminals.

    Please make sure that your representative votes for the passage of H. R. 106.

    Sincerely,

    Kevork Kalayjian


    Mike Shelton - 10/15/2007

    I'm so very confused on the definition of Genocide or Holocaust ? This wasn't about slavery, this wasn't about fight over a few sheep. This was the Muslim Turks killing, raping and slaughtering millions of Armenians because of who there were - Christians or intelligent or different, from the Turks. Look up this quote sir in the subject line. This was used by Hitler to inspire the Germans to agree with the systematic distruction of the Jews. He saw how the world forgot the Armenians and how the Turks almost got completed their task....Hitler thought he could do the same with the Jews and almost did. For you to piss on the murdered ancestors of my family and side with the slippery toungued Turks that always find a way to avoid the truth...they don't even admit they killed any Armenians. They leave it out of their history books, they censor the news or kill the reporters that speak of it. I understand you were once military and also understand supply routes and all the PC terms to make this ok, but what about the truth. Is this a little too late, sure is, but the truth is the truth and things should be set correct. Turkey should not flourish today because of the actions of their past. Germany has because those that committed the crimes were caught and punished. In the case of the Armenians, time was against them, but this action by the Congress will serve it's place to patch some of the hole in Armenian hearts from being forgotten in their time of need.


    N. Friedman - 10/15/2007

    Professor,

    You rely heavily on Guenter Lewy's argument that there are three legs on which the claim of genocide rests.

    I note: if you read Ambassador Morgenthau's account of conversations with Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha, the notion that what occurred was merely bad massacres fails entirely. I might also suggest that you read the response written by Vahakn Dadrian to Lewy's article. I do not think that Lewy comes out so good. Moreover, if you read the accounts in Dadrian's rather brilliant book, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, or in Peter Balakian's interesting account, The Burning Tigris, the idea that the massacres were not planned seems rather untenable.

    I note one point in particular, namely, the allegation that trial records were not maintained is not quite so. Writes Dadrian:

    Furthermore, contrary to Lewy’s declaration that its text, along with the text of other proceedings, is “not preserved in any source” (p. 3), the fact is that the text of General Vehib’s deposition was not only read into the record in its entirety at the second sitting of the Trabzon trial series (March 19, 1919), but that entire text was published also in several newspapers of the period. [8]

    There are also records that were introduced into the record from at least one trial conducted in Europe against an Armenian who killed either Talaat or Enver (and I cannot remember which of them).

    There is also the point that Ambassador Morgenthau challenged Enver and Talaat on issues. They did not always deny what they were doing. In one instance, they indicated that had to finish off the remainder of the Armenians for fear that, someday, the Armenians would want their revenge. And, when they did defend what was occurring, they would cite events that, as Morgenthau shows, were not occurring - as in, they were lying to cover up on events.


    David Whitman - 10/15/2007


    In 1915 Lord Robert Cecil, British Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated in the House Of Commons regarding the Armenian Massacres. “This is a premeditative crime determined on long ago….It was a long-considered, deliberate policy to destroy and wipe out of existence the Armenians in Turkey. It was systematically carried out”. Lord Bryce who officially investigated the Turkish barbarity stated it was a “deliberate attempt to exterminate a race”. Henry Morgenthau the U.S Ambassador to Turkey during WW1 stated “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race”.

    In regards to the Jewish Holocaust, most experts have agreed that an action on the magnitude of a mass genocide, with the resultant possible ramifications, could not have proceeded without Hitler's personal approval. Until now, no written decision from Hitler has been found, this does not imply that there was no intention by the Nazi’s to annihilate the Jews.

    When the term ‘genocide’ was coined in 1944 to describe the systematic extermination of a people, its author Raphael Lemkin illustrated the term by saying it was the ‘sort of thing that Hitler did to the Jews and the Turks did to the Armenians’.

    In 1998, The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu, recognizing that ‘intent is a mental factor which is difficult, even impossible to determine….in the absence of a confession from the accused’, it was stated in the decision that “it is possible to deduce the genocidal intent inherent in a particular act charged from the general context of the perpetration of other culpable acts systematically directed against that same group, whether these acts were committed by the same offender or by others. Other factors, such as the scale of the atrocities committed, their general nature, in a region or a country, or furthermore, the fact of deliberately and systematically targeting victims on account of their membership of a particular group, while excluding the members of other groups, can enable the Chamber to infer the genocidal intent of a particular act” (Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu Case No. ICTR -96-4-T, Decision of 2 September 1998, Para 523).

    Professor Lipstadt who was instrumental in silencing the infamous Holocaust denier David Irving stated “Denial of genocide–whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews–is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Genocide deniers conspire to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators. Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide; it is what Elie Wiesel has called “a double killing.” Denial murders the dignity of the survivors by destroying the remembrance of the crime.

    In 2004, 126 of the world’s leading Genocide scholars stated ‘the fact of the Armenian genocide is incontestable’. Many Western Governments such as France, Germany, Canada etc have recognized the reality of the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, there is no middle ground when it comes to Genocide, the 2.5 million Armenians who lived in Turkey before WW1 are no longer present on their ancestral homeland, and their remaining cultural monuments are being systematically destroyed to remove all traces of their existence.

    Therefore, it is safe to conclude that those who deny, trivialize or rationalize the Armenian genocide, are considered to be in the same moral camp as those who are perpetrating Genocide today and in the future. How can we stop future genocides if we can’t even face up to past genocides? "After all, who remembers the extermination of the Armenians" Adolph Hitler

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