Genocide – a modern political game
By Vahid Qazi
On 4 March 2010, the International Relations Committee of the US Congress House of Representatives passed a resolution to officially recognize the policy of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 towards Armenians as ‘genocide’. Despite all the efforts of Turkey, the US Congress took this step. The process may be suspended at the next stage, but this will hardly change anything. What Zbigniew Brzezinski described as the ‘chess game’ of politics has long been under way.
When I last visited Washington, my friend Irena Lasota gave me Guenter Lewy’s book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: a Disputed Genocide. The author writes that the deportation of Armenians from Eastern Anatolia was not a policy of genocide. It was intended to prevent them from establishing a separatist alliance with the enemy during the war and from committing atrocities against the Turks. The killings were not genocidal because it has never been proved that they were masterminded by the government. ‘The argument that the deportations in reality constituted a premeditated program of extermination of the Armenians of Turkey is difficult to square with many aspects and characteristics of the relocations.’
The pint is that the Armenians living near the border with Russia, in eastern and central Anatolia were resettled. Armenians were not deported from Istanbul, Izmir and Aleppo. Those who died on their way while walking from the country’s east, which had no railways, cannot be described as victims of genocide. ‘The Ottoman government wanted to arrange an orderly process, but did not have the means to do so.”
In another section of the book, the author refers to historians Charles Dowsett and Malcolm E. Yapp, the US Middle East ambassador to the Paris Peace Conference, George Montgomery, and the Armenian National Council in Istanbul, and concludes that the death toll of the said period was not 1.5 million, as is claimed by the Armenians, but 642,000. ‘These figures can be only approximate, because no death statistics for this period exist.’
Another important element of the book are letters from Henry Morgenthau who led Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign in 1912. He was also the US ambassador to Istanbul from November 1913 to February 1916 and represented the interests of the Entente which was at war with Turkey at the time. In a letter dated 26 November 1917, Morgenthau gave President Wilson his suggestions on how to ensure the success of US military policy. He expressed his hopelessness with the opposition and the war, saying that he could publish a book capable of bringing about change: ‘I am considering writing a book in which I would lay bare, not only Germany’s permeation of Turkey and the Balkans, but that system as it appears in every country of the world. For in Turkey we see the evil spirit of Germany at its worst – culminating at last in the greatest crime of all ages, the horrible massacre of helpless Armenians and Syrians. This particular detail of the story and Germany’s abettance of the same, I feel positive will appeal to the mass of Americans in small towns and country districts as no other aspect of the war could, and convince them of the necessity of carrying the war to a victorious conclusion.”
The essence of Armenian suffering is deliberately distorted. The hostile description of Turkey and, especially, Germany is intended to justify the US government’s belligerent policies.
The suggestion was accepted and the main document the Armenians would subsequently refer to in order to substantiate their genocide claims (a book called Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story) was published in 1918. His suggestion was subsequently used as a means of pressure on other countries and became known as ‘genocide’.