Armenians worldwide are justifiably outraged by the refusal of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote.
Pelosi had “the majority, the authority, and the opportunity” to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, but failed to do so, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) announced last week. Why didn’t she bring the resolution to a vote? It is important to note that contrary to their previous practice, neither the president nor the secretary of state made any public statements against the resolution. They did not have to; they had made a behind the scenes deal with Pelosi not to schedule a vote on the resolution before Congress adjourned for the year, according to a knowledgeable Washington source. Under these circumstances, the self-serving claims of Turkey’s ambassador and Turkish-American organizations that their belated actions blocked the vote were complete exaggerations, if not outright falsehoods, and inconsequential!
The Armenian Genocide Resolution is neither the beginning nor the end of Armenian political demands. Here is why: This is a commemorative resolution with no force of law; similar genocide resolutions were adopted by the House of Representatives twice, in 1975 and 1984, and such resolutions are only a means to an end.
What is the real objective of the Armenian Cause? Obtaining justice for Armenians from the descendants of those who not only butchered them, but occupied their homeland and confiscated their properties.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated last week that the resolution was like “the sword of Damocles hanging above our heads.” He expressed the hope that such initiatives would not be brought up again in Congress as they wasted Turkey’s energy and time. The threat felt by Turkish leaders a century after their ancestors’ heinous crimes and the waste of their valuable resources to counter the resolution are reason enough for Armenians to bring such initiatives to every legislative body in the world year after year. Moreover, each time Turkish leaders demand that a U.S. president block such a resolution, in return they are obligated to make costly political concessions to the American side.
Armenian American organizations, led by the ANCA, must now make a dispassionate strategic assessment to consider their next moves:
- File lawsuits against Turkey and Turkish firms in U.S. federal courts, the European Court of Human Rights, and the World Court.
- Increase the number of “hanging swords” on Turkish leaders’ heads by submitting multiple Congressional resolutions that go beyond genocide acknowledgment. Among other things, these could include restitution of confiscated Armenian properties and return of churches to the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey.
- Capitalize on Turkish leaders’ anti-Western policies and statements to generate support for Armenian issues among the new Republican majority in the House.
Here are some preliminary thoughts on specific actions that could be considered by Armenian American leaders in the coming weeks:
- Steps to be taken against Minority Leader Pelosi and House Democratic leaders as political payback for their obstructionism. It is now up to them to woo their disappointed Armenian supporters with a series of concrete actions, not promises, to undo the damage they have caused to their own credibility.
- Start planning for the 2012 elections to ensure that no Armenian American casts a vote or contributes a single dollar for Obama or any other Member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, opposed to Armenian issues.
- Assess the inaction of leaders in Armenia and the diaspora who did not lift a finger nor utter a word in support of the genocide resolution, while Turkey’s president, prime minister, and foreign minister were pressuring Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to block the vote.
- Capitalize on the activism of the newly energized Armenian American community, especially the youth and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Serj Tankian, to engage them in creative ways of pursuing the Armenian Cause.
- Support Senators who have an interest in placing a new “hold” against Francis Ricciardone or his replacement as nominee for U.S. ambassador to Turkey. There has been no U.S. Ambassador in Ankara for more than six months. Similarly, Azeri-American efforts in support of the Turkish campaign of genocide denial must be countered by placing a new “hold” on Matt Bryza or his replacement as nominee for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. There has been no U.S. ambassador in Baku for more than 18 months.
Instead of getting dejected by last week’s temporary setback, Armenians should strengthen their political resolve and escalate their demands from Turkey, using all legitimate means of redress to advance their just cause!