Astarjian: National Inventory and a Roadmap

At the cost of saying I said so, I reiterate my belief that we Armenians, individually and as a nation, are on the wrong track politically, strategically, and tactically to reaching our national goals. We have been so for several decades now!

The idea of exposing Turks and Turkey to the world for the crime of the Armenian Genocide was, and is, the wrong path to regain our occupied Western Armenia and reaffirm the provisions of the Sevres Treaty. Add to that the current situation in Nagorno-Karabagh.

The two-step strategy against Turkey was wrong, is wrong, and shall continue to be wrong if not modified into one.

There is no doubt that through the admirable efforts of the ANC and its tributaries in Europe and around the globe, we have hit Turkey very hard and caused some damage. We have delayed or probably blocked Turkey’s entry into the European Union, but we have not made a dent in regaining our legitimate rights in Western Armenia.

For a few post-genocide decades, having sustained brain injury, we were nursed into regaining our identity, power, and stature like no other nation in the world that has gone through the same mill like us. Despite all of that, our collective behavior has suffered. It has been damaged! Instead of devising strategies to achieve our goals, we are using the same old outdated policies and tactics we used during the fading years of the Ottoman Empire—while we appealed to Christian Europe to secure our rights, the whole of Europe was busy cow-towing to the Sublime Porte and then to the newly formed Ataturk government. The superpowers were then, as they are now, oblivious to human suffering. They have always behaved the same way, sucking the blood of the weak nations, while letting their victim’s blood soak the ground.

What did they do in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur? Nothing! What did they do for Khrimian Hairig in Berlin? Nothing! What did they do to Aharonian and Boghos Nubar Pasha in Paris in 1919? Everything! Everything bad! The “civilized Christian Europe” did not seat the Armenian delegation in the League of Nations! This time it was largely our fault because of the division that existed between Boghos Nubar and Aharonian. Be that as it may, the League could have seated one of them and recognized the Armenian State. They didn’t!

That was then. What is now is the same—appeal to Europe and the United States to accept the genocide and incriminate Turkey, then ask for reparations. This plan has been a recipe for failure.

The current situation is proof positive that after decades of toil and capital expenditure, and not through the fault of the men and women who were in the trenches, the policies set forth by the top brass of the political parties have failed. We are reduced to asking the U.S. Congress to increase its foreign aid to Armenia and Karabagh, then celebrating our achievement as a significant accomplishment.

From the outset this plan was simplistic, lacking shrewd political strategy to implement the original aims of Hai Tahd, which was to expose Turkey for what it was and what it is, and work for a united, free, sovereign Armenia.

This being a century-old outdated strategy, it is imperative that we abandon it. Now there is a second chance to review and revise our policies, tactics, and strategies.

The situation in Eastern and Western Armenia, being so intimately interrelated, should be addressed as such. Begging other nations to come to our rescue or help us achieve our goals is not the roadmap to success. Each of these nations has their own goals and interests in the region, and none are willing or ready to give up their gains. The British and the French governments did not come to rescue the “civilized Christian” Armenians from genocide because they did not want to jeopardize their 14 million sterling pound investment in the Ottoman railways. Similarly today’s Europe and the United States are not willing to sacrifice their oil interests in Azerbaijan for our sake.

Assessing the situation in Western Armenia, it becomes crystal clear that internally Turkey is not what it appears from the outside. Their economy might be booming, but their social and political fabric is in shambles. There are 20 million or so Kurds who are up in psychological and military arms fighting the central government for their freedom. Some 3 million Dersimis are mobilizing their resources against the government for their rights. So are the Zaza. The secular Ataturk group, having lost their philosophy and power to the caliphate philosophy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, are in rebellion, especially after some 130 of the military’s top brass were arrested only a few days ago. The press, the Turkish academicians and intellectuals are angry trying to break the shackles of censorship.

And I haven’t scratched the surface yet.

Internationally, they have lost their biggest ally in the region—Israel—and consequently the support of AIPAC in America.

So this is Turkey, not different from Mubarak’s Egypt. Our leadership must take this situation seriously and create a roadmap to implement our goals.

In Eastern Armenia, the geopolitical realities are different. The country must have a metamorphosis of thought and repair the psychological damage caused by its history with Turkey.

The protocols are a joke. Armenia should get out of it unilaterally; delay is counterproductive, even hazardous. In foreign policy, Armenia must take bold measures to free itself of the cobweb of Europe. Waiting for OSCE to deliver a sick baby in Karabagh is sick. We must be on the offensive playing our game, not someone else’s. Armenia should be brave and decisive, and seize the moment to be one with Karabagh. Armenia has a loyal, patriotic, powerful diasporan empire, and she must use this resource to the fullest. Major changes happen in major earthquakes; there is one going on in Armenia’s neighborhood right now. We should seize the moment and know what to do!

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

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  1. You should point out the obvious.  The millions spent on lobbying efforts in Western capitals can be better spent in Armenia/Artsakh.  Armenia will regain its lost lands only thru a strong Armenian state, in conjunction with various geopolitical realities that may be set into motion.  No one will hand us the land freely, we must earn it via blood and iron.

  2. Apart from restatements of some obvious facts, this piece exhibits an unbelievably out-of-touch-with-reality mentality! Yes, the success of the strategy of encouraging Western powers to do the (dirty) job for Armenian nationalism by exposing the sins of Turkish nationalism has been limited. Given the power imbalance between Turkey and Armenia, this may have seemed to be a reasonable path to take. However, it won’t work because of the reasons that go well beyond the specificity of Turkish-Armenian relations (reasons which Astarjian remarkably goes delusional lengths to ignore).  Take this quote for instance: “So this is Turkey, not different from Mubarak’s Egypt”. Well, if Egypt=Turkey, why would Turkey appear as the only viable alternative for the Arab world that is at the verge of getting itself rid of tyrants? We should read what’s going on in Turkey as is a hegemonic struggle taking place in Turkish politics between Islamists, Kemalists and that also involves Kurdish nationalists. Any credible argument on Turkey has to take into account the fact that the Turkish political system has been evolving into a shape that can accommodate dissent within the limits of legitimate/democratic process. Besides, a constitutive choice to bore the fruits of Western modernity brings the two peoples together. So, although Kurdish nationalism aims independence in the long-run, they seek local autonomy and cultural rights in the foreseeable future. They have a stake in democratization and the strengthening of rights and liberties in Turkey. Their party recently stated that they want Kurdish identity to be incorporated into the constitution, or if not, ethnic Turkishness to be erased from it. The latter is a demand that can and I think, will be met by Turkish political system. Don’t be deluded: Turkey will remain increasingly prosperous and strong. It serves better to HayiTahd for Turkey to become a freer society. Only thing the likes of Asterjian can take credit so far is the perpetuation of the status quo by feeding nationalist backlash in Turkey…
    It is really sad to see some Armenians losing touch with reality by portraying Turkey as a mere Middle Eastern dictatorship. I am simply speechless by remarks such as “We have delayed or probably blocked Turkey’s entry into the European Union”. So it was Armenian Diaspora working behind the scenes after all! I’d feel shameful to state the real reasons for why EU accession process of Turkey lost pace, I haven’t seen such an unrestrained form of self-aggrandizement lately. I guess that’s what nationalist zeal does to healthy human intellect…
    And then there’s: “The British and the French governments did not come to rescue the “civilized Christian” Armenians from genocide because they did not want to jeopardize their 14 million sterling pound investment in the Ottoman railways”. Really??? So it was railway investments after all!!! Nothing to do with Franco-British alliance seeking a credible Western ally against Bolshevism, or Turkish relinquishment of any claims to oil-rich Mosul region or post-war fatigue etc…
    We may fruitlessly insult each other here, but let’s put my argument into test: 4 months from now there’s national election in Turkey, and it will be particularly revealing whether Turkey resembles more to Mubarek’s Egypt or a healthy democracy. Now that the ruling AKP wants a free hand in re-writing the country’s constitution, the failure of the nationalist MHP to pass the 10% electoral barrage would come as a blessing to Erdogan because of the disproportional weight it would gain in the National Assembly. So, nowadays Kurdish nationalists  have gained an important card to play: if PKK re-launches its armed attacks, nationalist zeal in Turkish society is likely to rise, which will benefit MHP in the elections. So, AKP has a choice: either to face rising separatist violence or tactically give concessions to Kurds. So lets wait and see whether in the midst of harsh political rhetoric, AKP and pro-Kurdish BDP can reach a settlement for the future constitutional amendment or not…

  3. First, I am happy that Mr. Mimic is spending his time by posting on an Armenian newspaper.  We need more posts by him.   Reminds of that Curlickavalley Turkish man or whatever his name is who constantly posts inane comments all over the web.

    What Armenia and the Diaspora needs are nationalist, realistic leaders who are not shy about asserting the full spectrum of Armenian rights.

  4. The assessment of the most recent developments in countries outlining former Ottoman empire does suggest that Turkish rewanshism will dare to commence building muscles for final fight for their dream Grand-Turan. Turkey is freeing out of a financial dependence on western world (which adds to the economic crisis beating continuously the western world), it continues gaining a reputation in Islamic world as a “democratic” model of governance, it has built unprecedented military power (by selling its geo-strategic advantage to US), it has century deep and complex bonding with Jews (which does and will continue lobbing for them in US). Today’s movements, frictions are just one instant play of a kaleidoscope. Tomorrow everything will be back.
    Turkey and Russia with some involvement of other interested parties are finishing tailoring the map of the region(s). Since the main “costumers” are Turkey and Israel, the whole Mediterranean basin is also perturbed. Yes, these developments became possible as a result of two colossal events – brokering of the communist dictatorship in former USSR and topple down of Hussein dictatorship in Iraq. Today’s political events are mirror images of the century old past: there is a danger that in the final stage Russia will support anything wanted by Turkey in order to diminish presence of other parties in the region. The problem is – are the Armenians better united and prepared today in order to act in offense rather than defence? Does every Armenian have clear idea of what is coming and is his/her role?
    Despite recent discouraging moves in Armenian communities both in Armenia and Diaspora, the answer is yes. Charents’s call “Armenian nation, your power is in your union!” and warning “Whether I am the last poet?” are the precious messages to hear today. We will pay dear if ignoring them today. Yes, we should size the moment, but with clear knowledge of what to do and with deep feeling of being united. Artsakh is the backbone of the Armenian future. Armenians all over the world should realize that any development is possible today – both fall into oblivion, and a rise into strong nation among many.
    In my opinion, the solution is in all-component-strong presence of Armenians in the region. Turkey, Russia and other interested parties are extensively working exactly against that.
    Our strategic goal is to put our boot on our land first.
    My vision of the path toward it is in a) getting united in a pursue of protection of independence of Artsakh and strengthening of the Armenian state; b) learning staying united while being different in our political, social preferences. Arthask is independent since the cease-fire agreement was signed. As you have formulated, asking for recognition by world community is a diplomatic game, which usually leads nowhere, and in the Armenian case is unrelated with the outcome – Treaty of Versailles, Sevre, Lausanne.
    We also have to phrase the most important characteristics of the modern Armenian. Yes, as anybody else an Armenian seeks for a peace and progress in harmony with nature. It imposes demand on good education, at least. But specifically, every Armenian must work for stronger Diaspora, every Armenian must live in Armenia for at least three years, every Armenian must speak, write and read Armenian, every Armenian man must have a military training. Every Armenian must care about healthy society in Armenia. Every Armenian must care about clean water, air and land everywhere and especially in Armenia. About rights – every Armenian must have inborn rights to pursue happiness in Armenia. Each of these “must” opens search for new plan. Israel is an example of a success of such plan.

  5. Listen, I don’t know how many of you have heard this, but Turkey has just opened an embassy on the Moon, and Prime Minister Erdogan plans to triple Turkey’s annual trade with the Moon from $100 billion to $300 billion over the next 2 years.   Yes, it’s true. 

    Prime Minister Erdogan has just told the Moonies that he will soon be visiting them and says, “I, too, Moonies, am a loony. I am one of you, as are all Turks, and we all belong in the loony bin.”

    It’s just amazing what a great country Turkey has become.  I also understand that Foreign Minister Davutoglu has just visited the North Pole and expects to open an embassy there soon. 

    Prime Minister Erdogan is saying that “the North Pole was a proud member of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, and we Turks hope to explore our common heritage with the North Poleans in the coming years.” 

    President Gul has apparently initiated a project to restore some of the old Ottoman igloos that have melted over time. 

    Turkey is also said to be contemplating filing a case with the World Court at the Hague claiming that the North Pole rightly belongs to Turkey, and that the North Poleans are really ancient Turks who migrated from Mongolia to the North Pole in the 4th millenium BC. 

  6. Dangut, I don’t take zealots like you seriously since I know very well those who cheer “blood and iron” are the ones to jump into the meat grinder the last…

  7. Sveta: Great post.

    One  recco though re: “…every Armenian man must have a military training…”

    Every Armenian woman, starting 17/18+, also needs to know how to handle an AK47/74, man-carry  Anti-Tank (e.g. RPG), and man-carry Anti-Aircraft weapons. Men must and will take the brunt, the first waves of invaders. However, we must never again have a situation of two legged animals ravaging and murdering unarmed Armenian women and little girls.

    I envision Armenia+Artsakh a mixture of Switzerland and ancient Sparta: peaceful, largely neutral, but with a populace that is armed, willing and able to use violence to deter violence.

    Invaders should think long and  hard: is the prize worth their multitudes of dead.

  8. Amen to that Avery… I agree 100%…

    Turkey will remain Turkey.. all the tools, all the training and all the show will never turn this country into a democratic country.. it is all a BS….

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