Evans, Armenian Community, and Others Critical of ‘Preventing Genocide’ Report

WASHINGTON (A.W.)—On June 10, in a special panel session presented by the International Genocide Scholars Association (IAGS) in the U.S. Capitol building as the finale to their 8th Biennial Conference (titled “The New Face of Genocide in the 21st Century”), panelists involved in the formation of the Genocide Prevention Task Force spoke about the December 2008 report “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers.”

Panelists included Lawrence Woocher, the senior program officer at the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, United States Institute of Peace; Donald E. Braum, the senior adviser for civilian-military engagement at the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, U.S. Department of State; and Bridget Moix, the legislative secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

The Genocide Prevention Task Force was launched on Nov. 13, 2007, and was jointly convened by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, and funded by private foundations. Some of its key objectives include developing military guidance on genocide prevention and response, and incorporating it into doctrines and trainings; investing $250 million in new funds for crisis prevention and response; and making $50 million of this amount available for urgent off-cycle activities to prevent or halt emerging genocidal crises.

“I’m speaking from my own personal views on how this presidential administration might deal with issues of genocide,” said Braum, “but let’s look at who they’ve appointed to positions of power: there’s Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the UN and Samantha Power at the National Security Council heading the Human Rights Council there. Another important position is the U.S. ambassador-at-large for the War Crimes Tribunal.”

He continued, “If you look at who this administration’s appointed you have to be optimistic that we’re going to have some highly capable people tackling these issues.”

But, Braum, added, “There’s a shortage of people at the Department of State offices and the Office for Reconstruction and Stabilization.” The latter is “meant to provide that civilian surge…that within 30 days can be called from their job to provide special skills. This is going to give the U.S. a way to respond quickly to these situations in a way we never have before.”

“The plan is to develop a planning tool for the U.S. military to have in place for the future to actively prevent genocide,” he noted.

Bridget Moix spoke next, stating, “We do have a new administration with people in it that are committed to changing U.S. policies to deal with genocide. We have a great representative Congress on issues of genocide as well. We wanted to make sure this report didn’t just gather dust in policymakers’ desks.”

She continued, “We’re hoping we can get language in Obama’s first National Security Council strategy meetings that include genocide prevention. But so far the report has been very well received on Capitol Hill. This report offers an important blueprint for moving forward on creating a U.S. government policy on genocide prevention that currently is not there.”

Following the panelists’ initial remarks in support of their report, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans—recalled from his position in 2006 because of his public acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide—countered the official line of the U.S. State Department. During the Q&A session, he said, “One of the criticisms my Armenian friends have made of the report is that if the U.S. can’t bring itself to recognize the Armenian Genocide, how can we really be serious about preventing future genocides?”

U.K.-based Kurdish human rights activist Adnan Kochar was also critical of the panelists’ praise for the report. “You are all sitting with the people that make the crimes. Before the U.S. invasion there was only one mafia-like family controlling crime in Iraq. Now we have seven families, all supported in their positions by the U.S. government.”

“My point is that America is always polishing things to make it look like you’re doing good things, but you’re not,” he said. “You talk about using ‘Washington Tools,’ but these tools have nothing to do with the people in these countries. So don’t pat yourself on the back and say, ‘We’re doing a good job.’”

Peter Balakian, an IAGS Executive Board member and author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and the American Response, added to Evans’ critical comments on the report. “Former Ambassador Evans has pointed out a fundamental hypocrisy, and that is that the report does not deal with the Armenian Genocide honestly. It’s time for the Obama energy and moral honesty to trickle down into the next level of government. Why can’t we begin to see some of those results now?”

Moix responded to Balakian’s question by contrasting the concerns of the Armenian communities to those she deemed more immediate than the seemingly academic nature of U.S.-Armenian genocide recognition—a ruse often propagated by detractors against such recognition. She noted, “My organization agrees with your comments, but we also believe we need to see some pretty fundamental foreign policy changes now, too.”

“All of us want to support the right thing,” she said. “But Israel has not formally acknowledged the Armenian Genocide either. Sometimes for policymakers there are trade-offs. Unfortunately that’s a fact of life.”

Speaking to Kochar’s comments, Braum continued, “Likewise in Iraq, through de-Baathification we unfortunately got rid of a majority of qualified Iraqi military personnel that could have aided the U.S. … But, there are a lot of ‘below the radar’ initiatives by the U.S. and British governments in democracy trainings that went far in preventing genocide in Kenya.”

Henry C. Theriault, an IAGS Executive Board member and associate professor of philosophy at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Worcester State College, rebutted the panelists’ position. “This report refers to the Armenians three times, yet never uses the word ‘genocide,’” he said. “What that says to the political community is that it’s business as usual when it comes to dealing with U.S. allies. Unlike the case in Kenya, which you’ve also cited three times, where the U.S. has no vested interests.”

A Tamil minority Sri Lankan audience member, who would only identify herself as a current George Washington University public policy student, was also critical of the panelists’ remarks and the U.S.’s lack of genocide intervention. “In our case, actions by the Sri Lankan army were identified as a potential genocide [against ethnic Tamils by the Sri Lankan army, on the military pretext of counter terrorism], and still nothing has been done about it. So I’ve become somewhat cynical on these issues.”

Woocher responded, “Washington is political. We can’t just wish that away. Preventing genocide is really hard. If we make incremental progress, we have to acknowledge that and know we can solve this monumental problem.”

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Andy Turpin

Andy Turpin has been the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly since 2006. He was raised in Palma City, Fla. His family is of Italian, Welsh and Armenized-Romani stock. He graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., with degrees in history and journalism. Following graduation, he went to Armenia as an English as a Second Language (ESL) U.S. Peace Corp volunteer. He received his CELTA-ESL degree from Cambridge University in 2006.

6 Comments

  1. The State Department is a joke and full hypocrites. If a country has oil, human rights do not seem to matter as much to the US.  Armenia is better off dealing with Russia, China and India.

  2. Ashame on selfish people who doesn’t want to recognise our genoside.
    They have no riligion an no God.
    ____________________________________________
    Armenian Sun on the Rise
    by the Help of Bastillians*

    Our sun is on the rise,
    From the grave arisen
    To give us our rights
    In narrating our cause.

    At last, the mighty heard
    Our suppressed musical voice,
    Massacred kids in paradise
    Greeting joyful songs.

    Armenian sun will never fade;
    Genocide will be recognized in the end
    By our human rights friends
    Who believed in our tortured faith.

    “Blood cannot turn to liquid,”—as been said.
    The killers will live in shameful hate,
    Souls will rest in eternal bate,
    Lands will return in a miraculous date.

    Our springs will provide waters to Arab lands
    Who saved us from killers and nationalized us;
    We are grateful to all nations caring for us
    Survived and still breathing the natural human rights.

    France’s commitment** was extremely brave;
    Bastillians do not glitter for metals in a safe.
    Liberty is in their genetics, thus abide.
    Their pride always existed in “liberation rights.”

    We Armenians are ready to replace their loss;
    We will work hard with all our souls
    Till the end of our last sighed noise
    As honest, sincere, dedicated hosts.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    * Bastille: French fortress (1370-1383) that later became a prison.
    Stormed on July 14, 1789, during the French Revolution.
    ** October 12, 2006: Bill on Armenian Genocide was passed.

  3. Ambassador John Evans*

    America is a symbol of freedom,
    Country signs human rights,
    Country is open to every race,
    Country prides in its fairness, shines.

    Nobody can change “Evans,”
    From Greek name cries yet says,
    Equalization is centurial real mean;
    Hence, no superiority takes thy scene.

    His name proved his weighed crane;
    He acts evenly, relieves scorns, ethnic pain.
    Nobody can ever engulf to turn him insane.
    Even the scimitar dangled beside recent Turk men.

    In the sixteenth century,
    Sir Henry Wotton announced,
    “Ambassador is an honest man, sent
    to lie abroad for the good of the motherland.”

    EVANS is “ambassador and humane.”
    He could not shelter known slain
    By clouding his dignified fan
    To vanish genocide, horrific rain.

    He believes in eternity,
    In paints, signs, truth, and equality:
    “Humanity can never replace
    his ambassadorial vanity.”

    He has been fired from hurricane sites
    To our sincere, welcome trustful hearts,
    To be remembered by honest ancestries of Gomidas**,
    Spelling his name by Mashtotsian*** alphabet, in shrines.

    June 6, 2006
    ____________________________
    * John Marshall Evans: American ambassador to Armenia (2004-2006), dismissed
    from the diplomatic circle because he used the word genocide and not massacre.
    In my opinion as a medical trained human, I cannot see any difference as far as lives are concerned. I think the geneticist will say the same, however, the justice court system should stamp their names.
    I repeat to say, “Killing a person is to kill genes.
    Hundreds, thousands, millions or more
    Does it make incongruity?
    Aren’t all beating tissues, souls?
    That can breathe create—
    Help humanity to lore, galore!”

    ** Gomidas/Komitas (1869-1935): Founder of Armenian classic music.

    *** Saint Mesrop Mashtots: Inventor of the Armenian alphabet (AD 405).

  4. Hye, historically, Armenian Genocide is recognized in civilized societies.  Turks, (now, not the Ottomans), today have been committing their ongoing second (2nd) Genocide – of the Kurds since the 20th century and now into the 21st century.  Incapable of  admitting – with  their ongoing denials –  their debts due and owing in reparations  to the Armenian nation, in perpetuity, to the Armenian peoples – all  descendants of the survivors of the 1915-1923 Genocide, Turkey has supposed that over time the Armenians would become extinct, hence the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians would be forgotten, and the guilt of their hordes from the mountains of Asia conquering a Christian nation would pass on in history.    Yet, today, Turkey (who bullies any who may oppose Turkey in any manner) now claims it is the Chinese nation that is committing a Genocide (which Turkey does not oppose).    I see it takes a Turkey to see the Chinese committing a Genocide…. it is a Turkey who does not see itself as guilty of Genocides,,,,,  Now that Turkey recognizes the Chinese committing Genocide does that mean the U.S. State Department shall also recognize the Chinese Genocide of today?  Since Turkey denies the Armenian Genocide and so must the U.S. leadership follow/obey the Turks?   Bullying, narcisstic, Turkey says JUMP and the U.S. State Department says HOW HIGH?  Unbelievable!    Manooshag
     

  5. If what is said about adverse remarks on the Great Armenian Genocide, are true, then we now count them as deceitful, and deceit is cheating, and cheating is a lying. Liars and cheaters are not what we want in Washington, therefore immediate dismissl is manditory for those who distort history…yes, immediately (but the list is long)!

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