SPECIAL FEATURE: 1.5 million dead Armenians (but don't tell the EU)
by R.J. Stove
News Weekly, February 26, 2005
The European Union's origins are entirely honourable. That is why News Weekly has lauded the postwar Christian statesmen who were its architects - figures such as Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi and Robert Schuman.
Nevertheless, two recent EU policies inspire particular anguish. They have made it clear how grievously the EU itself has departed from its founders' blueprints.
Last October, the Union ended the career of Italy's "homophobic" Rocco Buttiglione. The truth is that Buttiglione - far from being a Catholic conservative - specialises in such blandly utopian, heretical orations as would have sent any pre-Vatican-II pontiff storming out of the hall.
He was, unfortunately, not quite heretical enough for current EU tastes. Consequently his timid, qualified defences of traditional marriage against the Brussels Homintern forced him to stand down as the EU's Justice Commissioner.
Even worse, the EU agreed during December to negotiations in 2005 with Turkey over the latter's membership application.
Forgotten amid the unctuous blather about the Turks' "secular democracy", save for a January statement to the EU by Nicholas Tavitian of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, is one simple statistic. The first genocide of the 20th century took place at Turkish hands: the elimination campaign that began in 1915. During this campaign, two out of every three Armenians - 1.5 million altogether - died horribly.
On Armenian Memorial Day (April 24) in 2003, George W. Bush made just one brief reference to the massacres as a "tragedy", thus suggesting some impersonal tsunami-like Act of God. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has dismissed all invocations of Armenia's fate with his supercilious query, "Why rake up the past?". Successive Turkish régimes' attitude has been similarly vulgar, though less stupid and more obviously dishonest.
Few even today know much of the Armenian genocide. It is of no interest to Hollywood. (The sole notable movie on the subject has been Ararat, a small-budget independent production starring French singer-actor Charles Aznavour - the child of Armenian refugees from the Turkish genocide. Big-budget studio scenarios have always been scrapped to appease Turkish lobby pressure.)
As long ago as 1984, this writer completed a degree in history (!) without the smallest awareness that the genocide happened. (We never found out about Ukrainian famines either, thanks to the resident Stalin expert's solicitude.) Undoubtedly the prevailing ignorance at what Australia still charitably chooses to call "universities" is much worse now. Some harsh facts about Armenia - "martyr-nation of Christendom", to quote the title of a 1919 book on the topic - therefore seem apposite.
At last, an impressive - if unduly small - bibliography of Armenia's fate has latterly accumulated in English. This article draws openly on the following analyses: The Burning Tigris, by Peter Balakian (New York, 2003); Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide, ed. R. G. Hovannisian (Detroit, 1999); and America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915, ed. Jan Winter (London, 2004).
Among older works, Hannah Arendt's once-celebrated Eichmann in Jerusalem is valuable on anti-Armenian as well as on anti-Jewish atrocities.
In mid-1915, when news first broke concerning the "Young Turk" régime's treatment of Armenians, the world remained an almost unimaginably innocent place. Trench warfare's horrors had not sunk in; Communist rule belonged to an inconceivable future. So did the worst agitprop of Lord Northcliffe and other press barons.
Thus, fury prompted by the first massacres gripped not only Britain and France, but even neutral America. The New York Times ran long, detailed front-page reports, often with loud headlines: "500,000 Armenians said to have perished" (September 24); "800,000 Armenians counted destroyed" (October 7).
US Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau Senior - grandfather, incidentally, of historian Barbara Tuchman - afterwards stated: "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were ... giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."
Morgenthau compared the attitude of Prime Minister Mehmet Talaat (who as Interior Minister had first ordered the outrages) to "that of the unrepentant bad boy in school. He came and sat down with a good-natured grin and began to make excuses."
A recurring theme in the whole sorry saga is the contrast between present-day Turkey's churlish refusal to concede that the genocide ever occurred, and the brazen swaggering by the original mass-murderers.
Talaat's colleague Enver Pasha boasted in May 1916: "We have destroyed the former [Armenians] by the sword, we shall destroy the latter [Lebanese] through starvation." The following July, Germany's Ambassador to Turkey cabled to his masters: "In ... the destruction of the Armenian race, the Turkish government has refused to be deterred by our representations."
German Second Lieutenant Armin J. Wegner took hundreds of photos depicting the evils visited upon the Armenian people. At great risk to his own life, he smuggled these photos to Germany and America.
After the war, Enver and Talaat - fearing the safety of their skins if they stayed at home - fled to Germany. Enver eventually returned; Talaat perished in Berlin (1921) by the bullet of an Armenian who had lost his whole family during the massacres, and whom a court therefore freed on the grounds of "justifiable homicide".
Case closed? No such luck. An entire industry of Armenian genocide denial - trading on the post-Christian West's historical amnesia - has arisen in recent times.
Most of it is such an obvious racket funded by the Turkish taxpayer, as to be a joke (except perhaps to Armenians themselves). Sadly, the Hovannisian volume cited above explains the extent to which even notionally serious academics have become Turkey's useful idiots.
British-born Norman Stone repeatedly inflicted on Spectator and Times Literary Supplement readers during 2004 his considered opinion that the Armenians of 1915-17 had nothing much to complain about. (Presumably he regards their starvation as a self-imposed diet fad, rather like Mary-Kate Olsen's today.) Since Stone teaches at an Ankara college, the Mandy Rice-Davies retort becomes irresistible: "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?".
Still more sinister is the decision of successive Israeli leaders to reinterpret the genocide as either (a) a fiction, or (b) not worth fussing over. From Ben-Gurion to Shimon Peres and beyond, they were all at the Orwellian rewriting game: a type of culpability which a courageous Israeli professor named Yair Auron has now chronicled in two exhaustive books totally unfamiliar to the average Australian, The Banality of Denial and The Banality of Indifference.
Even from the standpoint of simple Realpolitik, admitting Turkey to the EU would be indefensible. Several writers, have already stressed the fraudulence of Turkey's claims to "secularism": claims based entirely on the delusions of its urban technocratic elite.
Other writers have noted the ease with which Turkey's Islamic terrorists would exploit a completely open-borders policy with Europe. (Just as Islamic terrorists already exploit America's abject refusal to stem mass immigration from Mexico. The Arizona Daily Star [Tucson] of August 18, 2004, has a particularly instructive despatch on Islamic cross-border infiltration. And if Turkey in the EU is a senseless proposition on Realpolitik grounds, how much more objectionable must it be on moral grounds.
If a single political lesson emerges from the 20th century louder than any other, it is one of frightful plainness. For most of the world - even if we disregard Communist terror on Soviet and East Asian soil - exterminating Christians is absolutely OK.
Whether the particular bloodbath's location be Mexico in 1926-30, or Spain in 1936-39, or Palestine in the 1940s, or the rape of Katanga and Biafra (remember them?) in the 1960s ... these geographical differences do not seem to matter. And every one of these bloodbaths (Biafra perhaps excepted) was cheered on by the West's "progressive" secular talking-shops.
In any contemplation of Armenia's defilement, the eloquent words (1952) of Robert Welch, editor of the long-defunct monthly American Opinion, deserve remembrance:
"What's the matter with us, anyway? Neither facts nor pictures seem to sink into our centres of feeling any more. They remain just words and lines and forms ... The physical suffering, the mental anguish, the never-ceasing terror of our fellow human beings, represented by these words and pictures, no longer reach through the glaze to activate our imaginations or to excite our sympathies."
Ever since 1945, Germans have displayed public contrition over the Nazis' Final Solution against Jews. Even Japanese prime ministers, beginning with Nobusuke Kishi in the 1950s, have expressed regret over the Pacific War. From Ankara, by contrast, we hear not a hint of contrition for the Armenian holocaust on whose ashes modern Turkey rests.
Why is it not possible for a Christian leader claiming moral authority to take the battle into the foe's camp? To inform Turkey's government: "Yes, we do value Christian lives more than others'. We reject the French and Bolshevik Revolutions' egalitarian fantasies. Hence we hold, and shall continue to hold, Armenia's million and a half victims in special honour. You got a problem with that?"
Should this simple proclamation be considered impossible, we will have confirmed afresh everything that Solzhenitsyn has been trying to tell us for three decades about how the West is run by cowards for cowards.