“Kill without mercy! Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” -Adolf Hitler
Some people never learn from history. Instead, they endeavor to repeat it by falling victim to their own shortsightedness and political ambitions. The controversial Armenian Genocide Resolution, sponsored by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is just such an instance.
Before assessing the merits and the timing of Speaker Pelosi’s resolution, it is a good idea to make sure everyone knows just what happened in the first genocide of the 20th century. The Armenian Genocide occurred between 1915-1923 when 2 million Armenians living in present day Turkey were forcibly removed from their historic homeland through deportation and massacre. The Turks, for their part, claim the death count is inflated and the result of civil unrest, not a deliberate government policy aimed at exterminating an entire population of people.
For three thousand years the Armenian community thrived in the area known as Asia Minor. The roads of commerce from three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa) run through this area which had been ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols. The Armenians created a flourishing society of peace and prosperity through commerce and were well known for their unique style of architecture.
Then, in the 11th century…the Turks came. By the 16th century Armenia had been totally absorbed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Though once seemingly invincible, the Ottoman Empire was reluctant to embrace technological and economic progress, which inevitably resulted in their decline. The countries of Europe became dominant and many Ottoman conquests like Greece, Romania and Serbia won their independence from the declining empire.
In spite of the Ottoman’s decline, the Armenians were a prosperous minority within the empire. Sultan Abdul Hamid II got the genocide ball rolling by massacring 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians between 1894-1896 with a series of widespread pogroms.
An organization known as The Young Turks carried out the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turk Movement was a reaction to the lack of progress and societal advancement under Sultan Abdul Hamid II. It was largely organized by young military officers upset by the decline of the Ottoman Empire and wishing to restore it to its previous greatness by espousing a form of Turkish Nationalism. Their idea of Turkish Nationalism was extremely Xenophobic and exclusionary.
The Young Turk Revolution was itself guided by The Committee of Union and Progress which seized power in a coup d’etat in 1913. At first, both the Turks and the Armenians were happy with the prospect of a brighter future under this new government. For the Armenians, this happiness would prove to be short lived. You see, there is one thing that keeps being left out of the discussion of the Armenian Genocide for “political correctness” reasons. Turkish Nationalism brought with it what we today call “Islamic Fundamentalism.” The Armenians, unfortunately, were Christians…and now you shall learn the rest of the story.
Christian Armenians, always among the best educated and wealthiest communities within the Turkish Empire, were once again labeled as infidels in the time honored Muslim tradition. The Committee of Union and Progress devised a secret plan for the extermination of the Armenian population. This was in spite of the fact that the Armenians had already proven themselves to be an unthreatening and loyal minority by putting up with the hardship of unequal treatment as prescribed by Islamic law.
With the rest of the world preoccupied with World War I the Turks felt the time was right to “solve” the Armenian problem. Surprisingly, the Armenians were cooperative with the Turk’s plans. This was largely due to the fact that they were misled by the Turks. They were being told it was necessary to “relocate” them for their own safety in order to keep them from being caught between the Russians and Turkey.
The Armenian population was to be disarmed first (something to consider for those of you who support “gun control” laws) and then “relocated.” The Armenian’s wealth was then to be seized and dispersed among the members of the Committee of Union and Progress and their cohorts. Alas, 20th century genocide was to prove as profitable as the Islamic Genocide taught by their master…the Prophet Muhammad! 40,000 Armenian men already in the army were immediately killed while other new recruits were “drafted” in the army only to be used as slave labor. If they somehow survived the brutal working conditions of the project they were working on they were subsequently shot at its completion.
The actual extermination order came from the ruling triumvirate of Mehmed Talaat Pasha, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal. Three names that deserve to be remembered in history. The order was transmitted in coded telegrams to all the governors in Turkey. April 24, 1915 saw 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, clergy, and writers removed from their homes in Constantinople. In the dead of the night they were briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot. And so the genocide began in earnest.
Mass arrests followed throughout the country. Men were tied together and led out of their towns and killed by death squads. Armenian women, children and elderly were taken on death marches under the pretext of “relocation.” They were led to the Syrian desert where they were killed upon arrival. That is assuming they survived being raped, starved and dehydrated along the way.
Muslim Turks took instant ownership of everything. Churches and monuments were desecrated and destroyed. Many Armenian children were “generously” spared from the “relocation” policy. Young children were often taken from their parents to be farmed out to Turkish families who would rename them and raise them as Muslim Turks. Many young girls were taken as slave brides. Once again a time honored Muslim tradition when dealing with “infidel” Christians.
The death marches involved over a million Armenians traveling in caravans. Their Turkish “escorts” allowed, and even encouraged, roving bands of criminals to attack the caravans and take whatever and whoever they wished. Killing for sport and amusement was common as was the raping and murdering of young women. It is estimated that 75% of the Armenians died on these death marches. Decomposing corpses littered the Turkish countryside. Though orders were given to bury the corpses, they were largely ignored.
The Allied Powers did issue warnings to Turkey, but they had little to no effect. World War I was too much of a strain on their resources for them to intervene in a serious manner.
In 1918 the Armenians took matters into their own hands. They managed to acquire weapons and began to fight back. They defeated the Turks at the battle of Sadarabad and subsequently managed to save the remaining Armenian population.
It is clear that the Armenians were the victims of a deliberate government policy of genocide. There is no denying that these people deserve to have their fate recognized as one of the great atrocities in human history and not the result of a breakdown of law and order at the end of the Ottoman Empire as the Turks have historically claimed. Any one should be able to see and understand this. However the question must be asked: Is the resolution sponsored by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi the proper way to address this issue?
Consider the situation. Turkey currently is an Ally of the United States and a member of NATO. It is one of the very few Islamic populations ruled by a secular government. That rule is being challenged more and more by Islamic Fundamentalists who seek to have Turkey governed under Islamic Sharia Law. Also Turkey has proven to be a very valuable ally in the current conflict in Iraq. Not only is Turkish land and airspace being used as a conduit for supplies to the war effort, but the government has also provided some valuable support for U.S. interests there as well. Kurdish rebels, with bases located in Northern Iraq, have been attacking and raiding Turkish territory with regularity and (as of this writing) the Turks have shown admirable restraint in dealing with the situation.
The Turks have made it quite clear that they do not wish to see Speaker Pelosi’s resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide pass through the U.S. House of Representatives. They have indicated, clearly, that it would cause serious damage to the U.S.-Turkey relationship. They have threatened to cut off U.S. access to Turkish land and airspace. It also bears noting that they have more troops massed on the border with Northern Iraq than we have in Iraq. Their parliament, in response to Speaker Pelosi’s proposed resolution, has authorized the use of force in dealing with the Kurdish rebels. Their “restraint” in dealing with this situation would appear to be in jeopardy if the resolution were to proceed. You will recall that the area controlled by the Kurds is the quietest and most successful of all the territories in Iraq. A Turkish army invading that area isn’t going to do a lot to promote tranquility. President Bush has correctly made it clear that this is neither the time or situation in which to introduce this resolution.
After almost a century, why now push the issue when it can do irreparable damage to the interests of the United States? Perhaps Democratic Congressman James Clyburn accidentally let the answer slip when he said an American victory in Iraq “would be a real big problem for us” in the 2008 election. It would appear this is a last ditch effort to prevent that very big problem. This is nothing more than an attempt to reverse the, now undeniable, success of the military surge conducted by General Petraeus and the U.S. military. Unfortunately, its hard to come to any other conclusion. The democratic party invested all its power and effort in a fruitless campaign to prevent and subvert the military effort following the 2006 election. Now with that military effort proving successful they are faced with a political disaster. Its not that the Democrats WANT the United States to fail in Iraq…they NEED the United States to fail in Iraq. This is politics of the most treacherous sort.
“The interests of Muslims and the interests of the socialists coincide in the war against the crusaders” -Osama Bin Laden, Feb. 14, 2003
Which brings me now to the Armenian victims of this genocide. These people are nothing to Nancy Pelosi. She is merely exploiting their tragedy for political advantage. Sadly, by trying to place this issue as stumbling block between the United States and Turkey, she is actually working to assist the very movement that led to their deaths! It is the Radical Fundamentalist Movement that we are engaging in our “War On Terror.” The Young Turkish Movement of the early 20th century had this at the very heart of their own nationalist movement. They, like Al Qaeda, were Islamofascist to the core. The Armenians were murdered, not because they were Armenian, but because they were not Muslims. A politically incorrect and inconvenient truth. Now these Christian Armenians are being exploited in such a way as will benefit the descendants of their murderers. They are being victimized a second time.