‘A Question of Genocide’… and More Questions

The Armenian Weekly
April 2011 Magazine

The recent publication of the volume A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011), edited by Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Müge Göçek, and Norman M. Naimark, is an occasion of some significance for reasons of symbolism as well as scholarship. A Question of Genocide marks 10 years of WATS (Workshop on Armenian and Turkish Scholarship) gatherings, which began in Chicago in 2000.[1] The volume gathers together 15 papers by many leading scholars of genocide, modern Armenian history, the Ottoman Empire, and related disciplines.

The jacket of "A Question of Genocide."

It is not the purpose of this article to assess WATS as a whole or A Question of Genocide in its entirety. The volume undoubtedly contains important contributions to the body of knowledge on the Armenian Genocide; the remarks that follow are thus not intended to be a reflection of the book’s contents in general. Instead, I look at how the issue of the Armenian Genocide is framed in the book’s introductory sections and some of the questions arising from this. The reader first encounters the book’s cover and title, and superimposed over a ruined Armenian church (the Church of St. Gregory at Ani) is the title, “A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire.” The title seems designed to provoke a reaction, and is likely to do so. What does it mean? “A Matter of Genocide”? “An Issue of Genocide”? Or “Was It a Genocide”?

The darker possibilities of this last interpretation come through more clearly in the title of the forthcoming Armenian History and the Question of Genocide by Michael M. Gunter, a book which, according to its publisher, “presents the Turkish position regarding the Armenian claims of genocide during World War I and the continuing debate over this issue.” It is well established that the official Turkish position in its current manifestation no longer denies large numbers of Armenian deaths but seeks to keep the “question of genocide” as just that—a question—by asserting the “unresolved” and “controversial” nature of “the events of 1915” and thus the legitimacy of the so-called counter-genocide narrative.

The book’s introduction, bearing the names of Ronald Suny and Fatma Müge Göçek provides the rationale for the title: “For most of the scholars participating in these discussions the historical record confirmed that a genocide had occurred; for others the term itself led to more problems than it resolved. The title of this volume—A Question of Genocide—reflects both the certainty of some and the ambiguity of others, not so much on the nature of the killings, but how they might most convincingly be described” (p. 10).

This explanation provokes even more questions. We know what happened and the “nature” of what happened, the authors seem to say, but there are “some” who have hang-ups over what to call it. What, then, is “the nature of the killings?” And for whom does describing them need to be convincing? And convincing about what? It is interesting to compare this with the similar—but subtly different—explanation for the title in Suny’s 2009 “Truth in Telling” article: “The working title for the volume (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire, reflects both the certainty of some and the ambiguity of others about the nature of the killings.”[2]

Note the differences: In 2009 it is “ambiguity…about the nature of the killings,” whereas in 2011 it is “ambiguity…not so much on the nature of the killings, but about how they might most convincingly be described” (emphasis mine).

What is of principal interest here is the way the introduction frames the “question of genocide” in contrast to Norman Naimark’s preface. This contrast can be boiled down to two quotes:

Naimark: The chapters that follow contain fresh evidence that undermines any attempt to mitigate the responsibility of the Ottoman government for the mass murder of the Armenians in 1915. After reading these contributions, which represent the ‘state of the art’ in the field, no scholar could contend that there was not genocide in the Armenian case (p. xviii).

Göçek/Suny: What remains open and in dispute for some, albeit a minority among scholars, is whether the murder of a nation in the case of the Armenians and the Assyrians was intentional or an unfortunate consequence of a brutal program of deportations (p. 10, and verbatim in Suny 2009, p. 945).

Unlike the explanation for the book’s title quoted earlier, from which one can infer general agreement on the genocidal “nature of the killings” but not necessarily that genocide is the most “convincing” word for them, to maintain that it “remains open and in dispute… whether the murder of a nation in the case of the Armenians and the Assyrians was intentional or an unfortunate consequence of a brutal program of deportations,” is to question precisely the “nature of the killings.” It should be emphasized that the authors do not state that “it remains open and in dispute” for them, but rather for some never-specified others; no scholars from this “minority” are named, nor are their arguments supporting the “unintentional” death of more than a million Armenians and Assyrians presented.

Note, though, the internal contradictions of the sentence: On the one hand, there is “the murder of a nation” (simultaneously borrowing a phrase from U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and retranslating genocide from its Greek and Latin roots), but on the other hand the possibility—“for some”—that this murder was not intentional. Of course, the notion of an unintentional “murder of a nation” beggars belief and, at any rate, is belied by the evidence. The authors, both of whom are well versed in the scholarly literature on genocide, cannot have been unaware of this contradiction. Nor can they be accused of being political naifs: Near the conclusion of the introduction, they write: “There may be no escape from the political aspects of setting the record straight on any genocide. The Armenian Genocide has been the exemplary victim of deliberate, sustained falsification. Historians are implicated in these politics no matter how faithfully they attend to the obligations of their craft” (pp.10–11, and verbatim in Suny 2009, p. 945).

A large part of the “deliberate, sustained falsification” of the Armenian Genocide aims at legitimizing the idea that the Armenian deaths—and even the Turkish state now acknowledges a large number of Armenian deaths—occurred unintentionally. “Setting the record straight” should involve identifying such an unsupported and unsupportable position as what it is: “deliberate, sustained falsification.”

Göçek and Suny write that “[f]or most of the scholars participating in these discussions the historical record confirmed that a genocide had occurred; for others the term itself led to more problems than it resolved,” suggesting that it is the term genocide that is problematic. However, the difference between the intentional and unintentional (and oxymoronic) “murder of a nation” does not center on a term but rather on how the facts are understood.

One is inclined to read a value judgment in Naimark’s choice of words: “no scholar could contend that there was not genocide in the Armenian case.” He seems to say that a scholar who has access to the evidence contained in the book (and elsewhere, of course) and still contends that there was not genocide is, in effect, “no scholar.” A wag might suggest that when Naimark wrote this he had not yet read his co-editors’ introduction.

It should be noted that based on their writings neither Göçek nor Suny themselves question the appropriateness of the term “genocide” for the killing of the Armenians and Assyrians.

Suny in no way avoids using the word in his various writings on the subject and uses it without any qualifications whatsoever in his own chapter in the volume, “Writing Genocide: The Fate of the Ottoman Armenians.”[3] He questions how some aspects of the genocide have been explained, but not the fact of its occurrence nor the aptness of the term.

Suny notes that “[a]mong the baleful effects of the denialist claims about the Armenian Genocide was the sense on the part of many scholars (particularly Armenians) that they needed to present a united consensus on what had happened and why” (p. 35). This may be true, but it is clear from reading Suny that what he means isn’t that there is not a clear consensus, based on all available evidence, that there were massive, intentional killings—a genocide; rather, Suny has for some time argued against a preexisting plan for genocide having existed, and for a cumulative radicalization on the part of the Ottoman leadership that culminated in genocide.[4] This is far from arguing that the Armenian deaths were unintentional.

With a striking absence of ambiguity, Suny wrote in an essay published in 2008:

I have never been interested in discussing whether there was a genocide in Ottoman Anatolia during World War I. Once acquainted with the overwhelming evidence of deportations and mass murder of a designated ethno-religious group, planned, initiated, and carried out by the Young Turk authorities, I was convinced that no serious investigator can doubt that, by any conventional definition, genocide had occurred.[5]

There is no reason to think that between the time he wrote those words and the time A Question of Genocide was published he became any less convinced.

Göçek has tended to refrain from using “genocide,” preferring “to employ the traditional Ottoman term” massacre (kıtal), but has also acknowledged that what occurred is rightly termed “genocide.”[6] It is somewhat bewildering, therefore, to encounter references to “the Armenian ethnic cleansing of 1915” (pp. 43–44) in her chapter “Reading Genocide: Turkish Historiography on 1915.” “Ethnic cleansing” is hardly a traditional Ottoman term, having come into general use in the 1990’s, with particular application to events in the Balkans. (Though, of course, like genocide, it can be, and is, used to describe events that have occurred in earlier times.) Nor is it understood as synonymous with genocide.[7] Yet, only a few pages later, one reads Göçek’s “conjecture that the Armenian deportations and massacres of 1915 would finally be recognized as the genocide they were” (p. 50; emphasis mine).

Suny is unhesitant in criticizing those who repeat the Turkish state narrative of denial—and does so in his “Writing Genocide” chapter (as well as in other published writings). Göçek has also been highly critical of the state narrative and its proponents. But are those unnamed scholars (one presumes this to mean WATS participants) who question “whether the murder of a nation in the case of the Armenians and the Assyrians was intentional” beyond criticism?

There appears to be an unstated different standard for those of a so-called (or self-proclaimed) “postnationalist” mindset who look at the same facts—facts that “no serious investigator” could look at and conclude anything but that “the murder of a nation in the case of the Armenians and the Assyrians was intentional”—and reach conclusions little different than those propounded by the Turkish state and their allies.

It should be noted that none of the chapters in the book present such an argument. It may be that this argument—which, it must be emphasized, goes well beyond the issue of whether to use “the gword” or not, and gets to the very nature of the killings—was made by some participants in the various WATS conferences over the past decade. One might infer that by not selecting for inclusion in the volume any essays that present such a dubious argument, the editors are drawing a clear line between serious scholarship and unserious attempts to explain away “the murder of a nation.”

It may be that two competing agendas are at work here: One has definite standards (“no serious investigator can doubt that, by any conventional definition, genocide had occurred”), the other allows the issue to dissolve into hazy obscurity (“the question of whether to call the mass killings genocide had yet to be resolved”).

This dichotomy is perhaps unwittingly crystallized by Mark Levene on his book’s back cover:

Nearly a century on from the attempted Ottoman destruction of the Armenians, Turkish politics of denial, on the one hand, and an Armenian mythic representation of a singular Turkish guilt, on the other, have repeatedly sabotaged chances for dialogue. Yet in this book a group of leading historians from both sides of the divide, and beyond, demonstrate that the reality of genocide can be examined in its multi-causal dimensions not only without partisanship but in recognition of a shared history. A Question of Genocide can be read as a breakthrough historical study providing a contextualized, nuanced yet sensitive set of interpretations of an Armenian—but also wider Ottoman—tragedy. Equally, however, it may come to be remembered as a timely intervention on the path to reconciliation between post-Ottoman peoples.

Levene, a leading genocide scholar, has no doubts about the intentional nature of the killings of the Armenians or that the word for this process is genocide.[8] The implied equivalence of “Turkish politics of denial…and an Armenian mythic representation of a singular Turkish guilt” is echoed in the book’s introduction, where it is claimed that “[a]t present, the histories preferred by most Armenians and Turks remain embedded in their respective nationalist narratives” (p. 11). Only within WATS, an atmosphere “free of partisanship and nationalism,” have “[t]he two opposing Turkish and Armenian nationalist narratives [been] replaced by a single shared account” (pp. 4–5).

Let us set aside the blanket statement about “most Armenians and Turks.” As for “nationalist narratives,” the authors would have done well to heed Suny’s warning in his “Writing Genocide” chapter that “nationalism” is “[o]ne of the most unmoored signifiers in historical writing [that] simply has too many meanings to be unproblematically invoked” (p. 33). The invocation of “a single shared account” is undercut by the assertion elsewhere that some still question “whether the murder of a nation in the case of the Armenians and the Assyrians was intentional or an unfortunate consequence of a brutal program of deportations.”

Levene explicates what he sees as the dual agenda of the book and the manner in which the “question of genocide” is framed: “historians from both sides of the divide,” “a shared history,” “a timely intervention on the path to reconciliation,” etc. Not merely a collection of scholarly essays, he suggests (whether rightly or wrongly), A Question of Genocide is part of a larger reconciliatory effort.

However, the “divide” among historians is not principally between Turks and Armenians, but rather between (to adopt Suny’s phrase) “serious investigators” and unserious investigators. There is no reason the history of the “deportations and mass murder of a designated ethno-religious group, planned, initiated, and carried out by the Young Turk authorities”—the history, in short, of the Armenian Genocide—cannot become a “shared history.” This is the shared history, after all. Not shared in the sense of both parties having equal roles in “the murder of a nation,” but shared in the sense that both parties were (unequal) participants and bear particular (unequal) burdens as a result.

Perhaps by insisting on this point, one is blocking “the path to reconciliation.” But perhaps it may be time for “reconciliation” to take its place next to “nationalism” in the list of “unmoored signifiers” with “too many meanings to be unproblematically invoked.” If reconciliation means a willingness to set aside one’s scholarly standards—which is normally an abrogation of the responsibility of a scholar—then down that path, which leads far from “truth in telling,” we ought not to wander.


[1] A sketch of the history of WATS is provided in the introduction, as well as in Suny’s earlier article “Truth in Telling: Reconciling Realities in the Genocide of the Ottoman Armenians” (American Historical Review, October 2009, pp. 930–946). I attended the 2005 New York University workshop as a non-participant and the 2008 Geneva workshop as a panel discussant, and was a participant on the WATS listserv, which was terminated in March 2011.

[2] See, for example, Suny’s Armenia in the Twentieth Century (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983) and Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993), as well as various articles.

[3] Ibid., p. 945. The Introduction cites the 2009 article only as “a prehistory” of WATS.

[4] The fact that few argue, nowadays, for the existence of a preexisting master plan or “blueprint” is not the same, of course, as arguing that there was no consideration of or disposition towards radical solutions to the “Armenian Question” among the CUP leadership prior to 1915, and Suny acknowledges this in “Writing History.”

[5] “The Emotions of Genocide: Revisiting Ambassador Morgenthau’s Account of the Armenian Genocide,” in Barlow Der Mugrdechian, ed., Between Paris and Fresno: Armenian Studies in Honor of Dickran Kouymjian (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2008), p. 511.

[6] “Turkish Historiography and the Unbearable Weight of 1915,” in R. G. Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, p. 228.

[7] See, for example, Rony Blum, Gregory H. Stanton, Shira Sagi, and Elihu D. Richter, “‘Ethnic cleansing’ Bleaches the Atrocities of Genocide,” European Journal of Public Health (2008) 18 (2): 204–209.

[8] See Mark Levene’s Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Volume I: The Meaning of Genocide (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008).

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Marc A. Mamigonian is the Director of Academic Affairs of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He is the editor of the publications Rethinking Armenian Studies (2003) and The Armenians of New England (2004) and is the author or co-author of several scholarly articles on the writings of James Joyce.

42 Comments

  1. I wish to question a few points in the review. It seems to me that talking about Armenians “sharing in” and being “participants in” the Genocide and the notion of a “single shared account” is carrying the meaning of words to the breaking point. Would one say the same about any other situation in which one party is the executioner and the other the victim? Or are Armenians expected to respond to ethical imperatives that are beyond the reach of everyone else? The whole point seems to be a perceived need to provide as soft a landing for Turkish denialists when they finally decide to face a few of the hard cruel facts of their history. That should not be done at the expense of the Armenians and their clear understanding that the end of the Ottoman Empire marked the end of their presence in their historic homeland due to the deliberate policy of the Ottoman government.
    On ethnic cleansing: The review states that “ethnic cleansing is hardly a traditional Ottoman term, having come into general use in the 1990’s”. Please refer to “Armenian Golgotha”, chapter 22, page 139 (The Confessions of A Slayer Captain) where the Turkish captain is quoted as saying, “Armenians from surrounding provinces. . . . were put on this road so that we could cleanse them,” after which the author, Krikoris Balakian, tells us, ” Paklayalum was the word he used for ‘cleanse’; the Turks always used this term, especially the government officials, when referring to the massacres of Armenians.”
     

  2. Correction to my previous comment.

    The whole point seems to be to provide as soft a landing as possible for Turkish denialists. . . .
     

  3. After “Looking Toward Ararat” I tend to view with greatest suspicion everything that Ronald Suny writes or edits. He appears to be one of those “reconciliators” with the Turks at the expense of some aspects of the genocide and the loss of the Armenian homeland.

  4. But for Ron Suny the Armenian history is a “collection of beliefs”…  How can he now be an editor of a publication that deals with one of such “beliefs”: the Genocide? Or he can only because there is “Question” in the title??

  5. Akcam leaves no room for “Question.”  The CUP intended the elimination of the Armenians from the land and unleashed Army brigades, gangs of released prisoners and Kurdish mercenaries to make sure that few, if any, Armenians survived the ‘deportations’.  I agree with Abcarian, that there seems to be a faction of academics whose goal it is to soften the landing for Turkish denialists.  Why is the ‘question’ we should be examining.   Truth should not be treated as a commodity to be compromised and traded.

  6. If we put Ron Suny aside for a moment in 1969, Prof. Howard M. Sachar’s book, The Emergence of the Middle East, 1914 – 1924, came out in print. In it, there is an excellent chapter that is probably one of the best scholarly analyses of the genocide ever done by a non-Armenian, and covers everything that led up to it. It is definitely worth reading, and can probably be found at your local library:

    http://www.armeniangenocide.org/Education.11/current_category.124/resourceguide_detail.html

  7. In case the link provided earlier does not work:

    The Emergence of the Middle East, 1914-1924

    Sachar, Howard M.
    New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969, 518 pages. ISBN 7139-01586.

    “What was astonishing, rather, was the efficiency and speed with which the notoriously inept Turkish bureaucracy engineered a liquidation of these dimensions.”

    Description:
    A compelling and scholarly work that unravels the complex network of secret negotiations between Constantinople, Petrograd, Berlin, Paris, London, and Rome which charted the fate of the declining Ottoman Empire and eventually partitioned its territories and peoples. The book chronicles the military and diplomatic campaigns of the Allied and Central powers competing for control of the Middle East, from the Dardanelles to the Persian Gulf. The author also explores the political causes of the Armenian Genocide and the ensuing debate over an American mandate for Armenia.
    Sample Chapters:

    The Sick Man’s Last Adventure
    The Stage of Battle
    Allied Catastrophes in the Middle East
    The Armenian Genocide
    Inducements for Each Other: The Secret Treaties
    The Partition of Turkey and the Rise of the Greek Empire
    Armenia and America
    The Rise of Turkey

     

  8. Thanks, Karekin. One of more recent publications on the Middle Eastern history “A Brief History of the Middle East: From Abraham to Arafat” by the British author Christopher Catherwood, also admits the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians as the first premeditated genocide of the 21st century. The author concludes in the chapter dedicated to the plight of the Ottoman Armenians, that “the Armenians have every much right to be remembered as genocide victims as their equally tragic Jewish counterparts twenty or more years later.”
     
    “A Brief History of the Middle East: From Abraham to Arafat”, 2006 by Christopher Catherwood, Running Press Book Publishers

  9. While I do respect any such work of history documenting-shall we say-as one more  to the collection of ¨Great Britain and the Armenian Question¨ by Akabi Nasibian,¨Prof. Vahagn Dadrian´s  various volumes,Professor Richard G.Hovannissian´s,Prof. Juan Ohanian´s ¨Turquia Estado Genocida,Prof. Beylerian´s (in French) Les Grands Puissans,LÉmpire Ottoman et la Question Armenien¨Pro.Dedeian(Univ. Mont`pellier) and a host  of others..
    I cannot bring myself to it that why instead  of what some of us have done,such as self,beginning 33 years ago -as activist  in Europe- to promote and actually demand JUSTICE, as THE  more prevalent and most important issue(s)of  CLAIM(s).
    1. My objective  here is to prove  that -unfortunately-for very long years after 50th Anniversay of the Genocide against Armenians,the continuous cry has been-beginning in Yerevan-Armenia,  and I quote ¨Mer Hoghere¨´,our lands, our lands…
    incognizant of the fact  that even after Gesnmeral Kenaqn Evren  declared, then some 30 years ago  when pour latest militancy (correctional acts  of violence) by our angry young  men was  on… and I quote what  he said¨Armenians want  land’ come and take it¨.Also it is well known  that  land is not given it is taken by any standard…
    .We even went further  at  our 1/3rd World armenian Congresses  ,lst one convend  in 1979 Sept.1/3, 2nd in Lausanne  upon the 60th Annivdersay of same name infamous Treaty(we declaring it nmull,as we were very much weakened,after Eviction/Genocide,yes by the by I shall/would always use  word EVICTION alongside Genocide..which tells  it all.Thence, in Versailles   our 3rd Congress,we declatred  that in force.i.e, the Treaty of Versailles…after all signed  by many important countries(not executed  though).
    Hence  my quest  is for  BLOOD MONEY!!!why so? indeed very simple,my as well as  millions  blood shed on DEATH MARCH/Evicition-note  I have  just added yet another key word DeathMarch.Why do I insist on this  as, THE  priority.Simple again.It  has `precedent-witness the Jews obtaining  it   from INHERITOR  state  of Nazi Germany.
    2. Land question -above described- has  yet  another implication,of which great Turkey is well aware  of  ,as well as  the Int´l diplomacy  the KURDISH Dilemma-issue.Which after 75  years or 70 ,great Turkey HAD to admit  that  it does  EXIST,since repeating over that period of time  that  they were merely MOUNTAIN TURKS, did  not get them to anywhere. What then can Armenians do since  Kurds  anywhere between 16/20 million souls are  there to the East  of Turkey-conveniently for over a century also regurgitated as ANATOLIA-actually Western Armenia and partially KURDISTAN.Latter people lived for millenia there alongside Armenians until the seljuk,Mongol herds invaded  the land and islamized  them ,pretty much as  they did  to part  of our people.
    What is my suggestion-God forbid-I never advise  Armenians…just  wait for the land issue a  bit more  ,when that K issue ripens  up further,while in touch with the Kurds both on their lands-where they are  also in Diaspora,get ready  for when that happens.
    3.My worst critique goes  to us  ,our  own shortcomings:-We are  not an organized lot or Diaspora.True we  have  come a long way after the Eviction.The remnants  in rags or hardly shirts  on did achieve a lot-viz. putting up Bidonvilles in Marseilles and living there for  a long  time before they could by adn by progress and send their children to schools high schools and some Universities same in N. and S.Americas–OURMANY THANKS TO OUR SPIORITUAL ORG.S AND POLITICAL PARTIES  THEY DID WHAT THEY COULD AND ARE DOING NOW.BUT….NOT ENOUGH WE  NEED TO RE-ORGANIZE THE DIASPORA(S)to be  a super structure  with  its  own NATIONAL INVESTMENT TRUST  FUND IN GENEVA,ch.tHEN WE CAN ACCOMPLISH  MJUCH MORE….
    tO SURMISE,WE DO ALSO APPRECIATE WHAT  OUR OLD NEW HISTORIANS ARE DOING AND THANK THEM AS WELL.HOWEVER IN ORDER TO FORGE AHEAD,WE MUST MUSTER UP COIURAGE AND CLOUT AND ORGANIZE, AS `PRIORITIES:-
    A.our  BAR Association should take it upon itself(I understand  they number close to 500) prepare and lodge Claim FIRST  OF ALL,IF THEY KINDLY TAKE MY SUGGESTION…FIRST AND FOREMOST  B L O O D       M O N E  Y .
    B.We should immediately begin to form into all 11 more  prof.colleageus  association-note already  have  5 on the scne,then interconnect  thse through 3 perosn delegates and 3 ea  from our traditional politcal parties and one each from our spiritual denominations in each and every armeniandense community,on to central council of each country and on to SUPREME COUNCIL OF THE DIASPORA  WITH 5 DEPARTMENTS.LEGAL -POLITICAL IN STRASBOURG,EXEC.IN NY,ECONOMIC  IN GENEVA, SOCILA SERVICES-EMIGRATION ORGANIZING IN MOSCOW(NEAR ABROAD)Spiritual,THANK GOD WE HAVE THIS ONE IN ST ETCHMIADZIN ,BUT IN CONJUNCTION WITH GREAT HOUSE  OF KILIKIA.ALL IN CONSTAN CONTACT WITH EA  OTHER AND THE CENTRAL COUNCILS OF THE DIASPORA COUNTRY CENTRAL COUNCILS.THIS I DARE SAY WILL BE OUR TRIUMPH AFTER THE AFOREMENTIONED SO FAR DONE. 
    BE HEALTHY

  10. ERRATA .above  should read general Kenan Evren-turkish general-who declared  that. while at  it,i.e. the article “A Question of Genocide and..Questions..”I would like to add:- Just finished reading in the  Armenian weekly-Armenian edition,article titled”the  LEGAL WORKS(I WOULD TRANSLATE ASPECCTS)of the genocide….by khatchik ter ghukasian,from B-Aires. It is a very interesting article reflecting his viewpoints,as to what  has transpired since the horrendous genocide.what  has been done by us what can be done in the future. I beg to differ with him as to his being against claiming  BLOOD MONEY(this is my suggestion)since the Nation(wrong,we were not a nation then, we were pueblo/people  not a Nation/stsate until 1918,)cannot be overlooked by individuals being paid  blood  money. again, here he errs,as the precedent is self EXPLANATORY, that  of the jews receiving  from Germany , in billions. INSTEAD  HE OPTS FOR LAND ,writing at the end of counting  restorations/reparations ,return  of LANDS  is the material compensation. Here again he errs,as explained  in my above article. that Land  is not given… However, I would point  out that there was one instance , when germany and france agreed upon a Land dispute  betweeen the two as rgds  the Alsace-Lorrain area boxed in between the two.but very insignificant and as to area covered and what  is more between two CIVILIZED nation/states. Which is not the case between great Turkey and tiny Armenia,not because  of latter being so but predominently  so , because former does  not budge and will not until,the KURDISH ISSUE becomes ripe and somehow latter can with help of others  press it out of turkish rule,or at  least   asan Autonomous Region under their jurisdiction.That  is when we shall have to sit down with the KURDS and settle  borders WITH THEM RATHER  THAN WITH GREAT  TURKEY. I BELIEVE  I HAVE OUTLINED  MAIN FEATURES OF MAY TAKE PLACE  IN NOT TOO FAR FUTURE.Indeed  this  as speculation based  more  on facts  rather than Hypothetic assumptions. 

  11.   I am waiting for my library to deliver this book and thus have not read it. I agree with Mamigonian that the words of Gocek and Suny seem wolly, but maybe they clarify them elsewhere?
    Apart from this, Mamigonian’s own words also seem wooly and sometimes unnecessarily so.
     To take one example. The title “A question of genocide” may simply mean that there exists disagreement. This is not unusual in fields of scholarship.
     But if one is engaged in other pursuits, for instance in analyzing the moral fibre of scholars, or classifying this or that person according to whether they adhere to “our cause” or  whether a given statement expresses what the official Turkish position “seeks to maintain” or not, or  wondering about how “negationism” functions, this is altogether another  type of question.
     The existence of disagreement is not a “dark possibility” as Mamonian intimates. It is a fact. There exists a disagreement in this field. Period. There is disagreement and it should be handled as such. Again I agree with Mamigonian that it should not be formulated as “ the certainty of some” – apparently referring to some psychological state of certainty – and the “ambiguity of others”, an even more enigmatic formulation. So it seems the editors have been lacking in the comradeship of stating more precisely wherin they agree and wherein they disagree.
     If on the other hand Mamigonian wants to raise a debate, the first step must be to define genocide in the way one defines a term in a serious debate. Otherwise one will end up with Mamigonian’s vague feelings that there may be some implicit disagreement there. To take one dimension: was there premeditation with a plan, premeditation without  properly speaking a plan in advance,  or no plan at all but intent by simply, improvisationally and tacitly strengthening all factors that heightened Armenian mortality, and so on. if this is done one may pin down the disagreement, if one wantsthis (?). Or does the exchange of words in the end deal only with mapping out adherence/ no adherence to certain fixed formulas?  To take another dimension: there exist several important divisions in the understanding of “intent”, in law and in philosophy of mind. Without a clarification of this kind the discussion will STAY wooly. And does anybody want that? I dont know…..
    (Even Karekin does nothing more than recommending another book……)

  12. ragnar naess:   You may want to read and re-read a few genocide deniers’ and Turkish denialists’ works that support “a question of genocide” bearing a meaning that there exists disagreement with the prevailing majority of genocide scholars, historians, international lawyers, 26 foreign governments, dozens of local governments, advocacy and human rights groups, professional associations, and Nobel Prize winners, while we will read and re-read the abundance of the survivors’ accounts, contemporary witness accounts, official diplomatic and consular telegrams, reports of Christians missionaries and nurses, CUP and Young Turks government’s proclamations, Turkish Islamic Fatwas, Triple Entente’s desription of events, as well as verdicts of the Turkish Courts Martial. The prevailing majority of scholars point to the systematic, organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians. The amount of singular works of bought and paid-for scholars denying this fact cannot even be taken seriously as party to disagreement. Even today there are deniers of the Jewish Holocaust, but their numbers and sick arguments pale before those who acknowledged it to have been a genocide.
     
    P.S.  By the way, you may also travel to the former Western Armenian provinces, now in Turkey, in search for the remnants of a note or a copy of a governmental decree that an Ottoman Turkish gendarme or an army commander might have occasionally left in an Armenian village explicitly declaring that the village has been destroyed and its Armenian inhabitants burnt alive as part of premeditation plan and intent to destroy. While serious scholars have already based their judgments on analyzing primary sources, interrogating historical data from a variety of sources, support interpretations with historical evidence, analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation, as well as analyze critically multiple sources of information. The conclusion most of them come to is that there was a deliberate plan to destroy the Armenian race.

  13. Hello Anahit, I dont know if you are the same Anahit with whom I disvussed a year ago. If yes, nice to meet you again. Yes, MOST scholars agree with you. My point was that there is a disagreement and it has to be handled as disagreements usually are handled. Especially if one part is supported by 55 million Turks who will be easier convinced if you argue rather than telling them that most scholars think so and so, or refuse to argue because they are deniers, or at leastr the great majority of those who have formed an opinion on 1915. 
    Yes, I read a lot of these books you mention.  And I have been in these areas of Turkey several times. I visited the museum of Van which – at least 5-6 years ago had only exhibits dealing with Turkish inhabitants, including Turkoman stone cementery plaques said to be more than a 2000 years old, meaning that this is old Turkish territory. Not one word about the silvercraft of the Nestorians, not one word about Kurds, not one word about Armenians. I then except a very moving incident in a cafe when a waiter offer me a kind of cheese with parsley inside it and said that this is an Armenian cheese. I was very moved by this – thinking of the Armenian presence in Vaspuragan which is gone because of the collossal crimes perpetrated aganst the Ottoman Armenians.

  14. Yes, I’m the same Anahit, and, as far as I can see, you’re the same Ragnar… And, as I said, I normally don’t debate with genocide deniers. Individuals who describe genocides as “crimes” or even “colossal crimes” fall into this category. A crime against humanity and civilization (a term used by the Allied Powers to describe Turkish barbarity before the term “genocide” was coined by Lemkin) cannot be a subject of discussion between the murderer-nation and a victim-nation. It can only be a subject of recognition and repentance by the government whose nation has committed it. You will see how the various strata within the Turkish society will on mass scale admit the fact after their government will have repented. Especially in the case of the Turks, who, as we know from history, never think twice whenever they receive governmental orders or simple nods for action. We’ve witnessed this in 1894-96 with Hamidian massacres and in 1915-23 with the genocide. Hrant Dink was one of the 55 million Turks, yet as a result of his involvement in social discussions, Turks showed no signs of being “easily convinced.” On the contrary, they ended these discussions the Turkish way: they eliminated the discussing party. 55 million Turks is a not a homogenous society to be “easier convinced.” Their state is heavily controlled by Kemalist propagandists and establishment watchers. I also don’t recall any discussions to avoid disagreements between the Jews and the Germans that led to Chancellor Brandt’s dropping to knees before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising monument. The disagreement of the Turkish side is caused by the distorted history that their government is feeding their school children and the academia and the state propaganda that their government is stuffing their citizens’ brains. Eliminate these in the process, and there will be no need to “handle the disagreement” with the victim-nation. Foreign governments that acknowledged the Armenian Genocide were not involved in any discussions with the Turks: they simply acknowledged the historical fact. The Turkish government will need to do the same and by itself. Armenians will not assist them in this: repentance needs to come from within, not from without.

  15. Ragnar, you and I have gone ’round on this before so I will keep it brief.  There is no ‘disagreement’ about the Armenian genocide other than the ‘disagreement’ by Turkey to accept the truth.  They created the ‘disagreement’ and also foster the very few academics who are willing to collude with them in their ‘disagreement’ of the truth; a truth that OttomanTurks acknowledged in Courts Martial immediately after the Genocide but developed amnesia for when Kemal Ataturk ‘modernized’ (fabricated a new historyfor) the Turkish Republic.

  16. I believe there are many cases when repentance – coming from within – are prompted by initiatives from the outside. I would say it is the rule – more or less. The book “The crime of nations” which relates a number of attemps of victimized groups to attain justice provides many examples of how victimised groups were able to bring their complaints to the table of negotiation after many failed attempts. But I will desist from further comments.

  17. “I believe there are many cases when repentance – coming from within – are prompted by initiatives from the outside.” This is exactly what the Diaspora Armenians are doing: they invite the Turks to repent from the outside.  Boyajian, as always, was laconic yet all-inclusive on this, and I’ll stop from making further comments, too.

  18. Well, to put minds at ease, I think there is no debate about how to define genocide on a universal level, and for a number of reasons, this term – in its most technical, clinical meaning – which is well understood by scholars around the world, is completely misunderstood in Turkey, illegal to use in Turkey and misapplied in Turkey. We often see that when it is applied to Turkey, there is a knee jerk reaction that is completely irrational and anti-intellectual. For the record, representatives of the Turkish government and many in the Turkish media routinely invoke the word ‘genocide’ when discussing the relatively minor massacres that have taken place in other locales around the world in the late 20th C, few of which involve complete ethnic extermination, yet, when it comes to analyzing events that have taken place on their own territory, the shining elites of Turkey go blank.  Of course, they don’t want to ‘insult Turkishness’, or get thrown in jail for committing a punishable crime, but that only broadcasts an institutional stupidity that the rest of the world can see very clearly. 

    At the same time, there is no need for third, fourth or fifth party involvement here. The definition is clear as was the event that began in 1915.  The two parties, Turkey and Armenia, need to work on their ability to discuss everything openly. Turkey needs to allow full and open discussion, research and debate on its own territory and in its own institutions, without the threat from crazed ultranationals who have imbibed too much of Ataturk’s Turkified kool-aid. Only then will the air be clear enough for everyone to see the untarnished realities that not only brought on the genocide, but have kept it in the dark for most Turks since 1923.  Perhaps, once the idea that those who founded modern Turkey were murderous criminals of the highest order takes hold, Turkey and Turks will assume a more humble and honest posture regarding their mark on history in Anatolia, Armenia and the greater Middle East.  It is often said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. Turkey needs to allow as much light as possible to shine on this part of their own history, in order to cleanse not only history books, but minds, as well.
      

  19. Anahit, I hope my terseness wasn’t rude!  I agree with you that Armenians are attempting to evoke, from without, a repentence from within the nation of Turkey.  The road to this repentance is painful and the Turks resist, recoil, deny, distort, denigrate and accuse….maybe understandably so, in the face of a very ugly truth that they have been told is a lie.  But we can’t retreat in order to smooth the way for them if it means the truth is corrupted.  No repentance based on half-truths can bring about a complete resolution or reconciliation. 

    After almost one hundred years of struggling and waiting, I don’t think Armenians should be asked to settle for a white-washed apology that tries to equate Turkish and Armenian losses as mutual suffering during WWI.  That is just a lie.  Nor should we be pressured to come to the negotiating table as if we are the recalcitrant parties to a disagreement.   That is a cleverly spun distortion by the Turks.  I strongly disagree with Ragnar and those of his ilk who try to convince Armenians that we stand to gain by mollifying the Turks if we grant that ‘we all suffered.’

    There is no doubt that Turks suffered before and during WWI, but certainly not at the hands of over a million unarmed, innocent elderly and women and children who the CUP marched to their deaths simply because they were Armenian.  Turks continue suffering today….under an identity based on lies told to them by their own leaders and educators.  

    As Karekin says,  “Perhaps, once the idea that those who founded modern Turkey were murderous criminals of the highest order takes hold, Turkey and Turks will assume a more humble and honest posture regarding their mark on history in Anatolia, Armenia and the greater Middle East.”  

    A genocide was committed and those who were eye-witnesses to these events are almost all gone.  Turkey would like the truth to die with them but we can’t let that happen.  The lie must be challenged whenever it raises its head and truth-loving people everywhere should shine the light on it. 

  20. Boyajian, we cannot refute all the lies and deceptions, as there are way too many circulating, courtesy of the deep state and their associates in Turkey and around the world. The best way forward for every Armenian is to always present the whole truth and nothing but the truth, over and over again, in excruciating detail.  Today’s Turks need to know their own history….that Armenians were the majority non-Muslim group in Anatolia for a thousand years (and oddly/happily, still are), and they contributed significantly to their own and the larger society they lived in, whether it was Seljuk or Ottoman, no matter who the rulers were.  Yes, we were subjects, but we were not slaves. We designed and built their buildings, palaces, mosques, turbes, minarets, bridges and grew their food, clothed their wives and children and served in the sultans governments.  How and why the state took up arms against its own citizens is the real question that has not been articulated. We know the CUP planned and carried it out, and we have lots of speculation about why, but no definitive answers yet. Hopefully, when the hard truth is revealed, the Turkish people will empathize with Armenians in a way that will ultimately change the course of this failed, historic relationship, and realize that Armenians had no chance to survive when faced w/ the might of the Ottoman state, even at that late date in history, when the empire was crumbling and bankrupt from endless, useless wars.

  21. Very true, Karekin.  Most Turks do not know the truth about the history of the Armenians or the contribution of Armenians to the Ottoman empire.  Hopefully, when Turks finally understand what the desperate CUP murderers stole from Asia Minor with the genocide of its creative, industrious and intelligent Christian minorities, they will mourn this loss and also understand the need for repentance and reconciliation.  I look forward to the day that Turks demand the truth from their leaders.  In the mean time it is our job to protect the truth from corruption.

  22. re: “I look forward to the day that Turks demand the truth from their leaders.


    Boyajian: You may have to wait a very, very long time.
    This news item is just seeing the light of day.
    First saw it @ News.am.
    http://news.am/eng/news/59457.html
    Verified it @ Zaman.com.
    http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/newsDetail_getNewsById.action;jsessionid=7C03F5B117960076117EB7B03328C05C?newsId=244113
     
     
    At Dicle University, Turkey, a midterm test included Anti-Armenian multiple-choice questions.
    One would expect a University to be a place of enlightenment and open-mindedness.
    But apparently in Turkey, even Universities are not immune from the relentless Anti-Armenian propaganda and hatemongering that permeates the Turkish society. (recall the infamous Sari Gelin CD/DVD distribution to Turkish high schools last year).
     

  23. We have not been through this, boyajian! The woolyness of Naimark, Gocek and Suny about what disagreement they have is an impediment to more people knowing the truth. This is what research is about. Woolyness is like a fence which allows the dogs to bark at each others from opposite sides without ever getting the chance of having the one convice the other of the truth.
    Karekin, to know definitions does not stop people from disagreeing without knowing exactly what they disagree about

    Anahit
    in my lecture at the university of oslo in february this year between 150 and 200 students participated. I ended the lecture by showing the video of the youths singing in Sourp Khatch and being chased away by the policeman.  I asked how many had been to Turkey, it was quite a lot. There are 60.000 Norwegian Norwegian tourists in Turkey every year. The video was shown after a lecture in which I made my usual qualifications regarded the the received wisdom provided by the genocide scholars: the West knowing nothing of massacres and ethnic cleansing of  Muslims and about the difficulties in proving genocidal intent among the upper ittihadist circles, and other points which I consider essential to a comprehensive view of the matter. I did the video to emphasize that what remains after such lectures and discussion is the fact that Armenians were  subjected to a horrendous crime and driven from their ancestral lands and that Turkey never gave any satisfying answer or apology. I gave them the leaflet I have been handing out to tourists going to Turkey and asked them to think about this, use it and talk to Turks about it. Also to think about the fact that studying genocide can never be a mere academic pursuit, the facts call for solidarity and actions.

    When I insist on doing this in a university lecture, the debates in AW is one of the factors influencing me. But it is mainly the inputs of Msheci, Carl and Boyajian which effected this, not you who left the discussion with the explanation that you never discuss with deniers. Are you sure you are on the right track?

    This I call to develope the debate.

  24. Yes, I am sure I am on the right track. As you admitted in your post, even after the inputs by Msheci, Carl, Boyajian, and me (until a certain point), you reiterated your usual (read: unaffected and unchanged) qualifications about (1)the West knowing nothing of massacres and ethnic cleansing of Muslims; (2)the difficulties in proving genocidal intent among the upper Ittihadist circles; (3)Armenians were subjected to a horrendous crime and driven from their ancestral lands; and (4)Turkey never gave any satisfying answer or apology.

    Pardon me, but fail to see that the debates in AW were a factor influencing you. Based on what you shared with us, practically nothing seems to have changed. You still fail to admit: (1)that the West’s unawareness about massacres and ethnic cleansing of Muslims is no way related to the fate of the Armenians and that “we all suffered” stance is just another denialist ploy; (2)that the difficulties in proving genocidal intent exist only for those who evade admitting what most of the scholarship has already admitted based on their analysis of primary sources, interrogation of historical data from a variety of sources, support for interpretations with historical evidence, analysis of cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation, and analysis of critically multiple sources of information; (3)that a horrendous crime and forcible deportations from ancestral lands of a given racial, ethnic, national, and religious group as a deliberate measure have been termed back in 1943 as genocide; and (4)that Turkey never gave any satisfying answer or apology because their government understands that by giving a satisfying (truthful) answer or apology would mean admittance of genocide, which will have serious consequences for their state.

    Thus, you reaffirmed my conviction that debating with deniers is a futile business. This conviction is further reaffirmed after I watched your performance at the University of Utah http://stream.utah.edu/m/dp/frame.php?f=382c03226a9a4a52188. Paltering is no use amongst serious people…

  25. Anahit
    I wish you luck with your endeavour to stay out of debates with people who doubt or disagree with some aspects of your convictions. For my own part I will follow my path and try to serve justice in my way.

  26. What we should add to the truths of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… today, as a Turkey pursues its denials, as a Turkey uses so many PLOYs, endlessly… as a Turkey distorts and lies before all the world… the truth that a Turkey still educates their students to consider the Armenians to be treated (as if the Armenians had committed the genocide of the the Turkeys) Turkish leaders teaching their youth via their educational system that the Armenians are sub-humans, worthy of the vile treatments to be meted to Armenians (or to ANY humans) even as Turk leaderships, lying, attempt to appear before the civilized world as if they are pursuing efforts to come to terms with the Armenians…. Still lying, the Turkeys continue to  teach their youth to believe they are the superior beings – and the Armenians (actual victims of the Turkish Genocide) are to be subjected to any and all Turkish inhumanity – actually done with great relish. 
    This was evident both last year and again, this year, when Armenians the world over gathered in memorium of the Genocide of their nation – by a Turkey.  As had happened last year, this year, again the Armenians in Washington DC had gathered in remembrances… silently.  But the Turks had ‘prepped’ their youth to vent their barbarism via actions and worse, such hatred vented by the Turkish youth – encouraged by their elders…misdirected inhumanity by, obviously, misdirected young Turks – mislead by their own leaderships… finding joy their madness, enjoying their obvious display of hate for Armenians – BUT, now, for all the world to know – to see/hear.
    Turks speak out by the sides of their mouths to the world… as their youth are being encouraged to continue to hate and demean memorium for the victims of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation, our 1,500,000 million victims –  slaughtered, raped, tortured, drowned, and worse. Too, Turks have recently pursued the demeaning of the Woodrow Wilson memorial site in the capital city of the USA, Washington DC. Turks do  remember Wilson’s stance for the Armenians – but Turks, are not able to remember committing the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… lying, ala Turkish style, still.

  27. Ragnar – please tell us about the ‘ethnic cleansing of Muslims’, and please give us all the specific details you think are important. I think it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on that, since you’ve already delivered this information via a lecture to the public. I’m sure many of us are curious to learn something new.

  28. Ragnar, In your May 18 comment you use the words, ” the West knowing nothing of . . . .  about the difficulties in proving genocidal intent among the upper ittihadist circles. . . .”
    Since you seem to know a lot about genocidal intent, I would like to ask you to pick the clearest example of a genocide that you recognize and quote to me the part of the record that proves the intent of the perpetrators. That would be an important contribution to the discussion.
     

  29. Karekin, excellent point, too.   I’d add to your inquiry re: “ethnic cleansing of Muslims” the role and participation of Armenians in it.  Let’s see what denialists have to say…

  30. As you can see, Anahit…we are all waiting patiently. You would think something from the standard propaganda playbook on hating and blaming Armenians would be produced, but perhaps something brand new and special is being created, or should we say, concocted, just for us.  Like in a restaurant – a hateful story – made to order.   

  31. Karekin, the ethnic cleansing of Turks took place in Bulgaria and in Macedonia or properly speaking in the last area held by the Ottomans at the outbreak of the Balkan war. Muslims – circassians – were ethnically cleansed in the Caucasus. I believe you know about this, so there is no need to enlarge more on it. Millions fled and hundreds of thousands were killed or died. The main book is still Justin McCarthy’s “Death and exile”  which indeed is cited quite often.
    So I’ll rather ask what point you want to make, or what kind of answer you expect.
    What do you mean by the word: a hateful story , made to order?

    Diran
    The first point is to realize that one must argue the point about intent. You may of course say that the majority of the relevant historians conclude that ” it was genocide” meaning that genocidal intent was rampant among the ittihadists, that there existed a clearcut plan and so on. Now the official Turkish version has standard answers to this, and if people in west are not informed about the challenges in arguing for genocidal intent, they will get confused.they are confised today. 20 years ago official Turkey did not answer any questions about the genocide, and if you asked people in Norway they would say “of course it was geniocide”. Today there are many more turkish academicians providing arguments that all aim at the conclusion: no, there was no genocide. And they are being listened to to an alarming extent. To the extent that genocide scholars simply answer: “it has been proved….. the majority of historians agree on this…..”, as if counting on some kind of belief in authority, they contribute to the erosion of this conviction that existed earlier. A conviction which I was believe was simplistic. You have to take the journey through the counter arguments to raise the issue again as an important issue for all people who support human rights and issues. Which by the way is what I try to do. I dont expect you to agree, but h\this is what I try to do.
    Apart from this it is of course important that some of the very central genocide researchers criticise a version that is belived by very many Armenians. In my earlier debates here, to take an example, I noticed participants who still cling to the idea of the authenticity of the Andonian papers. To my mind this is a recipe for defeat.
    To my mind the strongest arguments for genocidal intent in the CUP is the fact – as far as I know – that practically nobody who massacred Armenians were prosecuted whereas they were able to prosecute hundreds or more than a thousand people for misappropriating Armenian goods that were supposed to end up in the state treasury to finance the war. This is a cogent moral point. But making it a point of simply parroting the word “genocide” will not help.
    I’d rather ask Turks – the ones who are honestly looking into this – what one is to think of a government that let people who massacred tens of thousands of citizens act with impunity. This question will make them reflect more on the case than by saying things like “it has been proved that….” or “many governments have passed resolutions….”. 

    But honestly, we have debated this so much, you can look at the debates that still are available here on the pages of AW. My point here is that Naimark, Gocek and Suny apparently have failed to explain to their audiences exactly in what they disagree. For me it is strange when Boyajian holds that “there is no disagreement”. you say
    “There is no ‘disagreement’ about the Armenian genocide other than the ‘disagreement’ by Turkey to accept the truth”
    On the other hand you say that: I agree with you (Anahit) that Armenians are attempting to evoke, from without, a repentence from within the nation of Turkey.  The road to this repentance is painful and the Turks resist, recoil, deny, distort, denigrate and accuse….maybe understandably so, in the face of a very ugly truth that they have been told is a lie.  But we can’t retreat in order to smooth the way for them if it means the truth is corrupted.
    I believe this is a good point and the question is: how do we do it? To insist that “there is no diagreement” seems to me strange. If you concede that “there is no disagreement, BUT FOR the Turks……disagreeing”, I wonder what is the point. the problem IS that Turks are disagreeing because they have been fed on state propaganda for years, and because the truth is painful as you say.

  32. Ragnar Naess,
    My question to you was a simple one: to quote a clear example of genocidal intent taken from the record of any genocide which you recognize as such. You completely failed to do so despite the length and complexity of your response. When you say in your May 18 comment that the West knows nothing about the difficulties in proving genocidal intent among the upper Ittihadist circles, you imply that “genocidal intent” has such a specialized, technical meaning that only a few people such as yourself truly understand it and are qualified to use it properly. Your response proves to me that you have no such knowledge. Your response suggests that waving the red flag of ‘genocidal intent’ when the subject of the Armenian Genocide is raised is an effort to turn a fact of world history back into a mere topic of endless academic discussion. I would respectfully suggest that you cease throwing around the term “genocidal intent” just to make an impression rather than to communicate a fact which is clear to you. You may find the “upper Ittihadist circles” dizzying and mysterious, but if you take a look at Talaat’s ‘Black Book” you will see they were not, quite the contrary. . .
     

  33. Diran,

     
    Several posters, myself included—until I figured out that Mr Naess was a genocide denialist—were involved in lengthy exchange of views elsewhere in these pages. My humble advice to you: do not waste time. Not only does Mr Naess seem to be unable to answer your straightforward question, but he also never could ascertain where time-, geography-, social status-, and military prowess-wise were the Ottoman Armenians when the ethnic cleansing of Turks took place in Bulgaria, Macedonia or anywhere else in the Balkans. Or where the Ottoman Armenians were when the ethnic cleansing of Circassians (the ones who in tandem with the Kurds were pillaging, abducting, and massacring Armenians in their villages) took place in the Northern Caucasus. This individual wants us, Armenians, who had absolutely no fault in the national-liberation movements of the Balkan peoples that resulted in the expulsion of the occupying Turks, to accept that Muslims “also suffered.” He continuously fails to answer in whose hands they suffered and whether the Balkans were ever ancient Seljuk/Mongol/Turkish lands? Just like his favorite genocide denialist McCarthy (who holds an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University and is a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies), holds preposterous views that mass murders of Armenians were a part of a “civil war”, triggered by WWI, in which “equally large numbers” of Armenians and non-Armenians died. If you ask them for any evidence that Armenians were a party to that “civil war” or a warring side in the WWI, they will never be able to answer. I bet if you ask Mr Naess where the frontlines of the WWI lied and where the prevailing landmass of the Armenian provinces were situated, he would fail to explain how, being in several central-eastern Ottoman provinces, Armenians could technically “collaborate” with “enemies” either on the Western or the Caucasus fronts.

  34. Anahit:
     
    First off, thanks for the [utah.edu] stream – very revealing and educational.
     
    re: My humble advice to you: do not waste time.”

    I have to humbly disagree with you: although it may seem a waste of time, I believe it is time well spent.  It is necessary to engage and confront the likes of Ragnar Naess constantly and relentlessly: it is a process without end.
    Turks and their sycophants, sympathizers, and paid agents are engaged in a worldwide campaign of Anti-Armenian propaganda and dissemination of disinformation – the goal of which is gradual weakening, marginalization,  and elimination of Armenians from the World – via a process of bloodless Genocide. Since their bloody AG succeeded only partially, and since at the moment it is not feasible to eliminate RoA via naked force, white AG will do for the time being.
    If their lies and manufactured reality do not go unchallenged, over time they gel and leave a residue in the minds of 3rd parties who are not intimately familiar with our history. Some of these 3rd parties are, or end up in positions of power, and can and will cause harm to our cause.
     
     
    One example of manufactured reality: the mythical  “20% ‘occupied’ land” repeated ad nauseam by ‘Azeris’, which has become ‘reality’, because it went unchallenged early on. The real figure of the areas liberated by Artsakhtsi warriors that were not in the original territory of Nagorno-Kharabagh ASSR is 13%, and it does not include parts of Shahumian region occupied by the ‘Azeri’ invaders. And of course the fact that  Nachichevan, a historic Armenian territory that has been 100% ethnically cleansed of its native Armenian population, and is 100% occupied by ‘Azeri’ invaders hardly gets mentioned at all these days, is testament to the tragic consequences of  relentless disinformation. There are countless other similar examples of their lies and manufactured reality becoming ‘facts’.
     
     
    So I say, if Diran has the time and inclination to engage the likes of Ragnar Naess, more power and more patience to him.
    If he gets tired, I, you,  or somebody else will take over.
    We need ‘Ragnars’ to know that anytime they spew  Anti-Armenian denialist  propaganda – even those disguised as ‘scholarly research’  – an Armenian, any Armenian, will confront them anywhere in the world, anywhere in the blogosphere, everyday, every hour.
     
     
    Also, aside from confronting the Denialists, these exchanges are very educational for the rest of the readers: most of the Denialists are very crude, easy to spot. It is important for Armenians to familiarize themselves with highly sophisticated and subtle denialists like Ragnar, and learn their evil methods of operation. Even if we avoid them on these pages, they DO exist in the real world, and DO appear and lecture at various events.
    What better, low-cost way to learn how to beat them at their own game then right here @ ArmenianWeekly ?
     

  35. Avery:

     
    You’re, I suspect, new in dealings with Ragnar Naess. We’ve been confronting his denialism in “Akcam: What Davutoglu Fails to Understand”, third heavily commented article in AW.  512 Comments! The reason why I advised Diran not to waste time was that at some point during the lengthy debate at “What Davutoglu Fails to Understand” we felt Mr Naess was using our arguments to strengthen his pro-Turkish posture on the genocidal intent of the Ittihadists (the absence of thereof, to be precise, in his and his Turkish buddies’ view). I didn’t want to help this person in any way. I also personally don’t debate with the denialists. I can debate with people who are deluded or inquisitive on the issue of AG, but not the ones who I feel will never change, such as Mr Naess, who was Amnesty International Norway’s Turkey coordinator. Not that this automatically makes him Turkophilic and Armenophobic at the same time, but, without doubt, the geographical proximity, the nature of work, and the effects of Turkish flattery might have left an impact on him. Therefore, to debate with him is the same as to debate with Justin McCarthy or a couple of other notorious denialists. McCarthy is an honorary doctor at Boğaziçi University, Turkey, and a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies. However constantly and relentlessly you confront his likes, the royalties and privileges they receive from the Turks will hardly save their souls that they sold to the devil.


    So, if you have the time and inclination to engage Mr Naess in renewed debates, good luck to you. I’ll be helping Diran, yourself or whoever with occasional comments, but will not be debating with Ragnar directly.

  36. I very much appreciate the background on Ragnar Naess that Anahit has provided and I appreciate her good counsel. I can’t help but note that in bowing out of directly addressing him (which I think is totally appropriate), she has made some very telling points. I will only say that on the concept of GENOCIDAL INTENT I am very glad to have called Naess’s bluff. He has no idea what it means and can’t cite one example from the record of any genocide. So much for that treasured ploy.
     

  37. Anahit: 

    I have seen his name  on and off, but your suspicion is correct: I am not familiar with him, nor his MO. So, I’ll take your sage advice and not debate him.
    Just the same, I almost never engage the denialists in any kind of lengthy intellectual debate because, as you already know and stated, they are beyond logic and persuasion.

    However, I enjoy annoying them, so I watch and wait for them to slip up and then nail’em – similar to what  Diran did.
    Plus, as I argued previously, I don’t want to let their posts go unchallenged – even if I have to throw in one or two responses. 

    Again, thanks for the background info on Mr. Naess: will come in handy.

  38. Ragnar,

    Do you realize that you simply can NOT win this argument??  You will never able to win by playing defence only.  We Armenians learn about Genocide as soon as we learn the alphabet.  The issue of the Genocide is the only issue that continues uniting Armenians in the world, subsequently making us more powerful and advancing our offence.  You got to be very naive not to understand that the West is milking Turkey and Azerbaijan by not officialy recognizingthe Genocide.   What happens when the issue of the Genocide comes up from time to time and does not proceed forward? Armenians get more united and West continues milking.  So even if you think you will never run out of milk, you must not disregard the power that Armenians will  achieve down the road. 
    By now you should know that you should have recognized the Genocide loooong time ago.  Keep on arguing and debating, you will feel the pain of wasted time when the time comes.

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