Astarjian: A Broken Compass

Poverty of thought, one manifestation of Alzheimer’s, characterizes the Armenian nation; today we are suffering from it and from global dysfunction of our collective higher mental faculties.

We have lost our orientation to self, time, and place, and we have lost our ability to calculate, deliberate, judge, exercise logic, foresee, and prepare for the future. We have lost our compass. The nation is drifting, and the winds are not filling our canvas. We live in the past, we sing its glory, yet we fail to use it as a platform to spring forward.

Armenianism, for a big sect of ethnic Armenians, begins and ends with the Red Genocide, yet the White Genocide and the Grey Genocide, like maggots, keep on munching on the very fabric of our nation. The two opiates—denial and fatalism—mask the real pain of that destruction.

There was a time when the nation’s heart throbbed with fervor, determination to survive, with music, literature, theater, creativity, and shrewd politicians who held the nation together and pumped blood into our veins. All that is gone! Now we suffer from poverty of soul, in addition to poverty of thought. Our nationalism has metamorphosed into eating Armenian food, attending kefs, praising each other’s achievements, doing municipal work, and donating guilt money through telethons rather than dirtying our hands with real dirty political work that requires involvement and sacrifice.

The nation has become disjointed; Armenia does not evoke the same emotion and does not bring about yearning for the fatherland as it did during, say, the Second Republic, when Armenia was a forbidden land for us diasporans, and home for freedom-hungry people of Armenia. Under those circumstances we were one. We both worked for a Free Armenia. Our only physical connection was the radio. When it announced Yerevanneh Khosum・ people’s hearts skipped a beat; it felt as if we had received another shot of tranquility, hope, and further spiritual commitment to Armenianism. For people of Armenia, their only hope for salvation was the Tashnagtsutiun.

Not anymore!

The United States fortified that hope, but only in the context of the Cold War. Armenian Americans swelled the ranks of the ARF, only to become oblivious to the organization at the conclusion of the Cold War.

The nation is on the path of disintegration.

In two generations the nation, including Armenia, has not produced a single poet, a single philosopher, a single literary giant, a single serious musical composition, a single drama or comedy, a single opera, a single military commander, a single political figure, a single strategist, a single futurist, or a single visionary worthy of excellence, and therefore praise. Our linguistics and the lexicon have deteriorated, especially in Armenia, where during the Soviet era spelling and grammar were bastardized—and the government hasn’t raised a finger to fix it. The structure has crumbled under the weight of alienation.

Armenia has ceased becoming our guiding light!

Deterioration is nowhere more obvious than in the conduct of the government of Armenia and its opposition organizations in the fatherland. The first president of the Second Republic, Barone Nakhakah, almost sold Karabagh, cow-towed to the Turks and, ignoring the memories of a million and a half Armenian martyrs, went to Turgut Ozal’s funeral in Ankara on our most sacred day, April 24. There he was caught on camera surreptitiously sharing a laugh with Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliyev. He could not have been discussing the independence of Karabagh.

His successor presided over a gigantic growth of corruption, and on his watch criminal oligarchy flourished to unimaginable levels.

Enter the third president, whose era has been marked with the continuation of official and unofficial corruption, and the blunder of the protocols with Turkey which, if implemented, would have sold the country and Karabagh down the pike. But for the diaspora’s firm objections, the protocols would have been a disastrous reality for the nation today.

This is a tragic situation!

While Armenia is plagued with institutionalized corruption and misguided policies, the Armenian Diasporan governments that dominate Armenian life and span the globe are handicapped. By constraint of citizenship, they have to conduct themselves pari-passu with the host country’s stance on issues and their official policies. Though sizable Armenian communities live in Islamic countries, and despite the fact that in some instances we have elected Members of Parliament, such as in Iran, so far they have made no attempt to present their cause to the Islamic world. For more than a decade now, the Conference of the Islamic Countries has condemned Armenia year after year and sided with Azerbaijan on the issue of Nagorno-Karabagh. Despite the fact that the Arabs had the same fate as Armenians in the hands of the Ottomans during World War I, still they do not recognize the massacres as genocide.

Maybe our leaders are green, lacking a background in history, education, experience, knowledge, and sobriety, not to mention adherence to the principles of the founding Ungers. Maybe steering the party away from its original purpose of existence to a rationalized political direction is the wrong path they are taking to reach the nation’s goals. I am sure there are many other reasons for this mediocre performance, even lack of it, which could be discussed another time.

This is the situation as it exists; however, it is my firm belief that the nation, which is rich with intellectual capabilities and talent and regenerative powers, is capable of reforming itself, and mobilizing all its forces to fend all kinds of threats to its being and existence.

We need a new compass!

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

Latest posts by Dr. Henry Astarjian (see all)


  1. Your words, Dr. Astarjian, hurt and bruise, but they are, very clearly, born from a genuine and deep concern about the future of our country. I would use the word “daknabank” in Armenian… You are an intellectual who exaggerates, yes, to make a point, but ultimately makes us think, reconsider, reevaluate…

  2. A comment on “As it is” comment. Yes, Dr. Astarjian is an intellectual (and I might add, an intellectual par excellence) but he does exaggerate. Unfortunately the way he describes the present conditions in diaspora and particularly in Armenia is true 100%. I dealt with some of government personals and found out how corrupt they are. Their whole system stinks. I came across to an outstanding verse in the Bible that is so applicable to our leaders in Armenia. Ezekiel 45:9 ,mind you it is the Lord God saying, “ENOUGH, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness and stop dispossessing My people” Says the Lord God.
    May God help us to heed His words.

  3. Well, saying that LTP was selling gharapagh and that armenians have not produce any talent in recent decades looks like exaggeration to me!

  4. Dr. Astarjians “exaggerations” sound like Raffi’s call for preparedness, which he preached through his novels and editorials some 130 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.