By Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D. - On April 24 again this year, President Biden succumbed to the pressure from the Armenian lobby and duly delivered what was expected of him: Recognize “Armenian genocide.” His recognition was more than a misdeed; it was a disgrace to history and international law.
Never mind that his recognition was a slap in the face of a major NATO ally at a time when there is supposed to be solidarity in the alliance. That, evidently, did not matter. Biden must have thought that, as long as his diatribe against Turks pleased his Armenian torch-bearers, an affront at the NATO ally Turkey was a risk worth taking.
And no doubt his ego received a boost when his anti-Turkish bias found a well-advertised expression. His lingo in 1974 during the Cyprus crisis, “If someday the Greeks beat the Hell out of the Turks, they’ll be right,” still rings loud. Since then, he has been an avid supporter of the Greek lobby in the US. Several times in the past, he has called Istanbul “Constantinople.”
And indeed, Turkey’s reaction Biden’s “genocide” accusation was highly restrained, with President Erdoğan hardly uttering a word in condemnation. Unlike last year, Turkey did not summon the US ambassador in Ankara to lodge a verbal protest. Nor did it call back its ambassador to Washington for consultation, as it did in previous years. Apparently, Ankara thought there were more pressing foreign-relations issues than “Armenian genocide.”
Jeff Flake, an ex-Congressman from Arizona, and now the current US ambassador in Ankara, had voted 4 times in the past voted against “Armenian genocide” resolutions brought to the Congress. For that, he received a failing “F” score from the Armenian lobby ANCA. But during Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in September 2021, he changed his position under Chairman Bob Menendez’s questioning, and now officially recognizes “Armenian genocide.”
That concession was a sine quo non for his confirmation as the ambassador to Turkey.
Biden’s statement cautioned “to remain vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.” This, from a president who fails to realize that his recognition of “Armenian genocide” is itself is a hate speech aimed at Turkish heritage.
And “… let us redouble our efforts toward healing and building the better, more peaceful world.” This, from a president who supported the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and who, during the Obama administration backed the fundamentalist Islamic Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, chiefly in Syria – creating major humanitarian crises.
Biden’s statement also included – first time in such recognitions - plaudits to the Armenian community in the US. He praised Armenians for their “strength and resiliency,” and for being “a vital part of the fabric of the United States.”
Turks in America better take cover! You should be glad your presence is being tolerated.
Stand on Ukrainian crisis
That President Biden is clueless about a genocide accusation also became evident in connection with the ongoing Ukrainian crisis when he flipped flopped on his outbursts at Putin, first accusing the Russian leader of “genocide,” then switching to “war crimes,” then again “genocide,” and finally settling – more credibly - on “war crimes.” Apparently, he doesn’t know the distinction.
At least someone must have cautioned the president that such crimes are to be judged not by politicians at impromptu press conferences, but by certain tribunals that have such authority. One such tribunal, potentially applicable to Putin, is the “International Criminal Court” (ICC).
The deep irony is that, while a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that established the ICC, and which became effective in 2002, the US withdrew its support for the ICC, and does not recognize its jurisdiction. How ironic is it that, now Biden calling on ICC to punish Putin!
As for “Armenian genocide,” the requisite tribunal is the one described in the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.
The truth, in brief
Returning to his “genocide” accusation, Biden is hopelessly ignorant on the history of Turco-Armenian relations. As with most US politicians, his knowledge on the subject is limited to what he hears from his Armenian flag-bearers, and he is unaware of the legal imperatives of his “genocide” accusation. His statement honored “all Armenians who perished in the genocide,” without the slightest acknowledgement of the much larger losses on the Muslim side during the same tragic period.
This is no place to delve into history and international law; but suffice it say that more than 518,000 civilian Muslims, that is women, children and the elderly, most of them Turks, were mercilessly massacred in Anatolia during 1914-21 by renegade Armenian bands terrorizing the countryside. Add to that the 413,000 Muslim losses in Trans-Caucasia, plus 1 million during forced migration. It was a time of armed revolt during a major war.
These figures are never seen or heard in the West. And why the civilians? Because the abled-bodied men were fighting on the war fronts, and the civilians were unprotected.
And the claimed loss of 1.5 million Armenian losses claimed by genocide accusers is a fatuous exaggeration that is disgrace to history. Even the population of the entire Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire was less than 1.5 million.
Likewise, the “Armenian genocide” label lacks legal backing as required by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. The historical events bear no similarity to Holocaust. The judgment of the European Court of Justice in 2003 (ratified on appeal in 2004), the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2013 (ratified in 2015, and that of France’s Constitutional Council in 2016, are solid evidence to this effect.
The bottom line? “Armenian genocide” is merely an accusation that is driven by politics. It has no judicial value. It is misused by those like President Biden that are prejudiced against Turkey and beholden to their Armenian constituents. Hence prejudice also enters the equation.
Further details on this subject can be found in the April 29, 2021 article by this author:
Ingratitude, in retrospect
The “genocide” recognition by Biden exposed his long-held scorn and bigotry toward a country that fought alongside the US in Korea during 1950-53. Through the Turkish brigade, some 15,000 Turkish soldiers served in the Korean War; 721 died, 175 lost (unaccounted for), 234 taken as prisoners, and 2,147 wounded.
Among the UN forces participating in the war Turkey’s casualty loss, at 22%, was the highest after the US. President Harry Truman awarded the Turkish brigade a Presidential Unit Citation, and many Turkish soldiers individually received medals of honor from the US government for their valor and aid to US troops.
"The heroic soldiers of a heroic nation, you have saved the Eighth Army and the IX'th Army Corps from encirclement and the 2nd Division from destruction. I came here today to thank you on behalf of the United Nations Army," said General Walton H. Walker, Commander of the Eighth Army in the Korean War.
General Douglas MacArthur, the UN Forces Commander in Chief, was similarly effusive in his praise: “The Turks are the hero of heroes.”
Yet, a prominent Armenian lobbyist has spread the word that, as far back as 1951, the US officially considered the “Turkish massacres of Armenians” during World War I an example of genocide. http://asbarez.com/57505/us-recognized-armenian-genocide-in-1951-world-court-document-reveals/ A statement to this effect also appears in the text of the “Armenian genocide” resolutions (H.Res.296 and S.Res.150) passed by the US Congress in 2019. The fuller version of the claim reads: “The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide."
Several points are noteworthy here. First, this statement was included in an advisory opinion submitted by the US government to the UN in connection with the Genocide Convention at a time when the Convention had not even taken effect. Being a merely an opinion, it was an off-the-cuff remark that certainly went against the very substance of Article VI of the Convention to which it made reference. Hence, it carries no substantive weight. And it is astonishing – and a sign of desperation - that the Armenian side now uses this advisory opinion as “evidence” for “Armenian genocide” – while ignoring all the relevant judicial determinations cited above. There are many such baseless claims in the Congressional resolutions.
A further note is that, the US politicians and the government were apparently in the grips of the Armenian lobby as far back as 1951 – the legacy of the Morgenthau/Wilsonian anti-Turkish racist rhetoric and the Wellington House propaganda apparatus, no doubt.
Hence, is it a surprise that, with the lead of politicians like Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Adam Schiff, both having “A+” Congressional scorecards from the Armenian lobby, both the House and the Senate passed “Armenian genocide” resolutions in 2019, with President Biden following suit in 2021 and 2022?
The Turkish soldiers who died during the Korean War must now be wondering and squirming in their graves about the gratitude they and their compatriots receive from such bigoted, hate-bound politicians. One such brave soldier, Corporal Veli Atasoy, passed away last year at the age of 93. He had 3 medals of honor for exceptional service.
How many Armenians served in the Korean War and helped the US, one is tempted to cynically ask. The burden of a reply falls on the shoulders of US politicians like Biden. Today, Armenia, which is treated as a favorite nation by the US government, has close political and military relations with Putin’s Russia. The two countries even hold joint military exercises.
Recognizing “Armenian genocide” by President Biden, just like the 2019 Congressional resolutions, was a disgrace to history and international law. The recognition is driven by anti-Turkish prejudice, and lacks judicial legitimacy. Ironically, most supporters of the genocide label, like Biden, have law degrees, and hence are supposed to have the appropriate sensitivity to judicial imperatives. Not so, unfortunately.
The politicians that support “Armenian genocide” should ask themselves, why has Armenia, all these years, not taken its case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prove its claim, as required by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention? What has stopped Armenia from adjudicating its claim? The only court-proven genocides as of today are the Rwandan, Bosnian and Cambodian genocides (Holocaust being in a different category). “Armenian genocide” is not a court-proven case.
The legal dimension aside, the Armenian side has also shied away from a joint committee of historians from both sides to discuss the issue in a scholarly manner. By repeatedly stressing that Armenians were the “First Christian nation,” it has taken advantage of a deeply-rooted anti-Muslim sentiment in the West.
Biden’s recognition of “genocide” also exposed a lamentable insensitivity of US politicians and government to the sacrifices Turkish soldiers paid assisting US forces during the Korean War. Surely, that was long ago; but sufferings and lost lives have a habit of durability in the minds of people. In essence, Turkish people do not expect words of gratitude for the Korean War; but they do expect decency and objectivity as regards history and international law.
Capitulation to the pressures and demands of one ethnic group to denigrate another ethnic group and nation does no good to justice; nor does it serve Turkish-Armenian relations. “Armenian genocide” allegation is a propaganda-based falsification and is driven by hatred against Turkish heritage. It has given rise to Armenian terrorism in modern times. Between 1973 and 1987, the Armenian ASALA and JCAG terrorist groups committed 239 acts of terrorism that resulted in the massacre of at least 70 people, 31 of which were Turkish diplomats.
Three of the fallen diplomats lost their lives in the Los Angeles area where Congressman Adam Schiff’s Congressional District lies.
Hate crimes against Turkish people have not stopped. Just last year 2 California men with Armenian origin attacked a family-owned Turkish restaurant in Los Angeles and allegedly threatened to kill the victims inside. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-california-men-indicted-hate-crimes-case-alleging-they-attacked-family-owned-restaurant. And Mourad Topalian, the convicted former ANCA Chairman, is treated today as a dignitary by the Armenian lobby in California.
To top it all, there is now the so-called “Genocide Education Project” through which countless young minds of school age across America are being indoctrinated with the unproven “Armenian genocide,” https://genocideeducation.org/about-us/, and there are shameless efforts to legislate the effort: https://bilirakis.house.gov/media/press-releases/during-armenian-genocide-remembrance-week-maloney-and-bilirakis-introduce. Expect more hatred-based crime in America!