Thursday, October 11, 2007

We Do Recall the Armenian Genocide!

As the 600-year Ottoman Empire groaned toward final collapse, its leadership lashed out against groups like the Armenians. Pogroms in the mid-1890s were followed by a more organized genocidal program starting in 1915 -- during the First World War. Massacres and mass deportations of Armenians continued until 1923.

The post-Ottoman Turkish government has always denied the gravity and scale of what happened to the Armenian population. Writers inside Turkey who bring it up are often persecuted or murdered by xenophobic nationalists (Hrant Dink, for instance, was assassinated earlier this year).

A committee in the U.S. Congress just passed a resolution agreeing to call what happened "The Armenian Genocide." The Turkish government is so miffed that it's recalled its Ambassador to the U.S.A. "These things happen during wartime" is more or less the Turkish version of "the Armenian problem."

Meanwhile, Kurdish guerrillas are trying to provoke a Turkish incursion into Iraq under the labored logic that wider fighting will help Kurds create an independent country (like modern day Armenia, outside of Turkey's borders). The Turkish generals (with a lot of nationalistic backing) are pushing hard to cross into Iraq.

What next? And why this timing on the Armenian resolution?

I'd have a lot more respect for the U.S. Congress if they also acknowledged American atrocities at the same time -- including ones being committed today. More Americans need to get real about their history.

As for the Turks, they need to get real about their own history, too.

And the Kurds are hardly innocent bystanders. Kurds participated in the Armenian deportations and benefited (short term) by their displacement and replacement. Today, Kurdish guerrillas would have Turks and Kurds massacred rather than settle for what they have -- a semi-autonomous Kurdish region within the borders of Iraq under the semi-protection of the U.S. military.

Ah, what a beautiful world it is. . . . .


Charles Gramlich said...

I suspect there are "no" innocent bystanders. Pretty much every culture has engaged in repression and been repressed. Humans are humans, whether Armenians, Turks, Americans, Kurds, Japanese, Sioux, or Bantu. We're not a very pleasant race.

Erik Donald France said...

Charles, exactly true.

An interesting variant: countries that used to be warlike who now play neutral -- like Sweden, Switzerland. Not exactly Vulcans, but an interesting choice.