A Response to ‘Why Armenians Should Lean Left in 2016’
So dismayed and dumbfounded was I with Raffi Wartanian’s article, “Why Armenians Should Lean Left in 2016” (The Armenian Weekly, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, page 3) that I felt compelled to respond. Indeed, I was asked by Armenian family and friends to do so. Mr. Wartanian’s leaps of logic, misinterpretation of facts, and bias required correction.
First, let us address this idea that recognition of Armenian Genocide should no longer be a litmus test for endorsement of U.S. presidential candidates by Armenian Americans. The timing of the suggestion is convenient for anyone looking to support Democrats in the next presidential election. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama could not have spoken more forcefully and clearly about recognizing the Armenian Genocide. President Obama, Senator and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have had seven years so far to do so, but those Democrats have done nothing in that regard.
Look at the remarkable comments made by Turkish interests and genocide deniers: “According to U.S. sources in Ankara, Hillary Clinton can be expected to be Turkey’s best advocate for preventing the genocide resolution. In return, Ankara will be a trustworthy ally for the U.S. in promoting Washington’s interests in the region, provided that they fall in line with the Turkish interests” (see http://www.todayszaman.com/columnists_hillarys-turkey-visit-and-genocide-claims_168694.html).
Given that sentiment, how can any self-respecting Armenian American vote for Hillary Clinton?
The fact is the staunchest U.S. political ally Armenians ever had was Republican Senator (and presidential candidate) Robert Dole. Senator Dole threatened sanctions against Turkey when it refused to allow U.S. emergency supply planes to enter Turkish airspace to provide relief to Armenian earthquake victims. It was Republican Robert Dole that fought Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill when the Clinton Administration kowtowed and capitulated to Turkish and Azerbaijani plans and demands.
This idea Mr. Wartanian floats that somehow U.S. Republican administrations encourage more corruption than Democrat administrations and that somehow a Democratic administration in the U.S. would reduce corruption in Armenia is absurd.
Mr. Wartanian’s bias rings just as clear when he claims the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a “destructive stronghold on America’s public health.” Of course he offers no proof whatsoever to this astonishing claim. Lest we forget, here’s a reminder for Mr. Wartanian: The best protection a minority can offer itself, the best way to avoid ethnic cleansing or genocide, is for that minority population to be well armed. The first step any dictator or tyrant will take is to disarm their opposition. The Democrats on the left in the U.S. want to disarm the public. The Republicans have no issues with honest, law-abiding citizen being well armed.
Another leap of logic is this idea of Wartanian’s that somehow the political left in Turkey, where “Armenian activists have found a voice,” translates or equates in some way to the political left in the U.S. That makes no sense. One has nothing to do with the other.
In terms of Middle East instability and threats to liberties and civil society that inhibit Armenia’s growth and the region in general, it was President Obama’s weak and vacillating foreign policy, proffered by Secretary of State Clinton, that led to the spawning and rapid emergence of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH into the vacuum of power Obama/Clinton created. ISIS is by far the greatest threat to Christians in the Middle East—all Christians, Armenian, Syrian, or otherwise. Obama and Clinton have done little to nothing to even contain ISIS, never mind trying to defeat it.
Furthermore, the improving relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin that had been fostered by George W. Bush completely collapsed under Obama. Where Russia would exploit and lack respect for a Democratic administration of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the opposite would be true for a Republican administration of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Putin understands who he can push around and who he can’t. If Armenian Americans want to restore some semblance of order to the Middle and Far East and restore America’s position of respect in the region, they should lean to the right of the political spectrum in 2016, not the left.
History has proven that the Russians, the Turks, and others in the Middle East understand power and exploit weakness. The American right has always maintained military might. The greatest gains in democracy and civil rights in Russia and the Middle East came under Presidents Reagan and Bush (think the Berlin Wall coming down, collapse of the Soviet Union that recreated an independent Armenia, the first successes in Iraq and Afghanistan). The greatest losses came under Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama (Iranian Revolution, Bosnia, Somalia, ISIS, etc.)
Simply put, the United States of America cannot afford another four years of weak foreign policy, vacillation, domestic terror, and even worsening race relations at home, all products of eight years of a Democratic presidential administration. Americans, Armenian or otherwise, should lean right this year, hard right.
Ed Arzouian is a second-generation Armenian American, born in New York state. He is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. He works in Binghamton, N.Y. for a third-generation, Armenian family-owned business. Arzouian lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son, where he is currently a Pennsylvania state constable and a former borough councilman. His writings and photos have appeared in publications across the United States and Canada for the last 30 years, including the Armenian Weekly.