The Great Illusion

Shelling in Stepanakert, October 14, 2020 (Photo: Arek Balyan)

One would not be mistaken to think that Carl Schmitt, the infamous German jurist, was right in stating that humankind is often vainly attached to the ‘illusion of an undisturbed peace.’ Only a few weeks ago, as nations across the globe were mourning their dead, struggling to keep their economies on life support, and vying to obtain a cure to COVID-19, a new deadly armed conflict in the Caucasus took us all by surprise. 

The next pages of the play were performed in the fullness of their usual emptiness and banality. All world powers on the map condemned this conflict on Twitter. There were calls for truce and for peace. In the end came the promise of yet another peace deal that is inherently unjust to one side—the Armenian side. This should come as no surprise as since the very beginning of this particular conflict, and all the others in the past decades, world powers and international media have held on to a moral equivalency between the two sides that could only be justified by cynical political and financial interests. Whether willful or unconscious, this moral confusion is, to say the least, ignorant of historical facts and at best, dangerous, malicious and irresponsible. 

The acts of aggression committed by Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey and their well-trained jihadi fighters imported from the Syrian war theater, were unprovoked, unjustified and contrary to all international laws and conventions. Barely a century after the genocide that resulted in the cruel death of at least 1.5 million Armenians, the very existence of the Republic of Artsakh as a nation-state and its people is once again threatened by the same perpetrators. To add insult to injury, the latter have up to this day failed to formally recognize or even apologize for their monstrous acts of the last century. And make no mistake. The armed conflict waged against Armenians today is the continuation of the same war of uprooting, attrition and annihilation as yesterday.

This is nothing new. Time and again, as a NATO-member, Turkey has received a free pass to provoke and wage wars of aggression and annihilation at multiple fronts, namely in Cyprus, in Syria, in Libya, against the Kurds, and in European territorial waters. Turkey’s proxy war with Armenia and Artsakh fought through Azerbaijan is yet another injustice that the international community sanctions with its silence. The same international community has failed to unanimously recognize, condemn and honor the memory of the Armenian Genocide. 

Today, to the shame of the entire world, Armenia and Artsakh stand alone. The war of annihilation waged against Armenians not only in their ancestral homeland but also abroad in the Armenian Diaspora by Azerbaijan, Turkey and their jihadis is supreme evidence that there are no true friendships in international relations, only interests. The promise of an international community on whose solidarity persecuted peoples could count is empty and naïve. At the sight of this war barely a century after the Armenian Genocide, world powers have either remained silent or implicitly and explicitly aligned themselves with the enemies of the Armenian people with no shame. 

After decades of incessant talk of international law, diplomacy and humanitarian values, one could naively expect that in the name of solidarity, the international community would finally rise to the occasion. That would mean doing the morally right thing and holding aggressors like Azerbaijan or Turkey accountable when we have to. Otherwise, all those talks and laws are but a Great Illusion. In the face of aggression and cruelty, those bystanders who stand in silence won’t and shouldn’t be judged kindly by history books. What will we tell our children? Where were we when our Armenian brothers and sisters were facing an existential threat yet again? 

Marc Biglary

Marc Biglary

Marc Biglary is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Ottawa. He is interested in the concept of borders and how it relates to the question of identity. He has also researched Kurdish nationhood through a close study of state, linguistic and religious borders within Kurdishness, as well as cyber conflicts in the Middle East from a constructivist point of view.
Marc Biglary

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  1. You, Marc Biglary are right to accuse Azerbaijan and Turkey of attacking Nagorno_Karabakh.

    But why Russia did not help Armenia and Artsakh? Why you do not say a word about the Russians, who are all the time swearing, that Armenians are their most beloved allies, with whom they have very deep, cultural, religious, historical and broderly ties?

    • No Russian has ever said that and if they did, they certainly would no longer do so after the people elected an agent provocateur with a clear agenda and kept him in power despite numerous blunders and diplomaric offenses. Meanwhile Aliev and by extension Azerbaijan played it a lot smarter. It’s absolutely pathetic to accuse someone of not being a good ally before considering why oneself needs allies in the first place.

    • By the way, Dorothea – if we want to consider others’ shortcomings – where was Germany which recently reconized the 1915 genocide and which with one movement of a finger could cripple the Turkish economy through even the lightest of sanctions? Oh, right – indifferent and concerned with Turkish issues just like a hundred years ago. Except this time the issue isn’t support in the war (other than the cold war against Russia) but literal fear of part of its own population. Plus the money that can be clawed back from remittances from Germany to Turkey by selling arms to Turkey.

      As we say in German: everyone should swipe in front of their own door first.

  2. I tell our children (whose grandparents survived the 1915 genocide) that “Morality” did not govern international relations in either 1915 or 2020, and also that there were not very many Western Armenians fighting in either of the Nagorno Karabagh wars. I tell that them that the Yerevan leadership was very naive to underestimate the power and intentions of Baku and its mercenaries and accomplices. I tell them that it was very foolish and naive for Artsakh to proclaim its existence as an independent modern state without international recognition and protection. I tell them to look at the propaganda machine of Baku’s Academy of Sciences so as to understand how Western “morality” was defeated and invalidated.

    My son, Rafi, studied regional politics at the American University of Armenia and drew his own conclusions.

    They know, as their grandparents did that Turkey’s control of the Dardanelles is a key factor in a seemingly eternal pincer movement between Moscow and Ankara, and that it was at the root of the earlier ceding of Nagorno Karabagh to Azerbaijan by Moscow several decades ago.

    I remain amazed that Westerners, who are nominally opposed to Stalinism, have done so little to understand and recognize the consequences Stalin’s policies.

    I think that Stalinism has been used as a bogeyman by the West to justify their own ideologies and policies…hypocritical as they actually are.

    • Stalinism had nothing to do with the Treaty of Kars. Stalin did not take power until after Lenin’s death in 1924.

      Turkey has been empowered for over a century by Britain and Germany, and to a lesser degree, France. They always had an interest in countering Russia and were willing to help a historical enemy just to degrade and isolate Russia. The Soviets had to cynically negotiate with them to get peace.

      I’m always amazed how many of us do not understand that the British are responsible for most of our misery, and that they ruined the Russian attempt to reach Western Armenia because of their lust for money. The British and Americans also opposed Stalin’s attempts to get Western Armenia back in 1945. People claiming Russia gave away land do not realize that the western powers they idolize so much made Turkey a regional power to be reckoned with in order to undermine the Russian Empire, The Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation. As long as the UK is an imperialist power, they will NEVER allow Russia to do anything to tangibly weaken Turkey.

  3. The realpolitik is a double-edged sword. Yes, might has always been right. History is written by victors and there is no sense in talking about morality or justice/injustice when it comes to it. But on the other hand, another maxim is just as true and in my opinion, more potent; those who live by the sword die by the sword. Turkey and Azerbaijan may feel emboldened now due to the recent developments, but I assure you, if they keep this up, they’ll meet a violent end. And this is coming from a Turk…

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