Most reporters and other journalists in the mass media failed to do due diligence and misled their audiences regarding last month’s US House Foreign Affairs Committee vote in favor of Resolution 252, which would reaffirm the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923. Nearly all media, prior to and after the vote, falsely said or implied that the House and the federal government had never before recognized the Armenian genocide.
The full House, in fact, passed resolutions in 1975 and 1984 that acknowledged the Armenian genocide as “genocide.” Proclamation 4838 by President Reagan in 1981 also affirmed the veracity of the genocide. In 1996, the House limited economic aid to Turkey until it recognized the genocide.
In a brief filed with the International Court of Justice (World Court) at The Hague in 1951, the US government cited just two genocides in modern times: the one committed by Turkey against Armenians and that committed by Nazi Germany.
Even when told of these earlier Armenian genocide acknowledgments, few media reported them. Significantly, after each such genocide reaffirmation, Ankara’s threats of retaliation against Washington amounted to nothing and were quickly forgotten. No reporter, it appears, has ever bothered to mention this fact.
For Turkey to complain obsessively about the House committee’s vote reaffirming the Armenian genocide makes little sense considering that the US has already recognized that genocide at least five times. Incredibly, it appears that no mainstream journalist has ever asked Turkish leaders for an explanation, not that they could provide a coherent one.
At the same time, the media obligingly volunteered their ideas about how Turkey could (or is it should?) retaliate, such as shutting down a NATO airbase or preventing American troops exiting Iraq to transit Turkey. Nonsensically, journalists implicitly portrayed America as having no leverage against Turkey and as being at its mercy.
Just the opposite is true. Ankara depends heavily on Washington for advanced weaponry, investments and economic aid by US-backed institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, political support to join the European Union and more.
Following the recent House committee vote, former British Ambassador to Armenia David Miller accurately observed that Turkey, like a “bully,” will “bluster [and] threaten and in the end nothing will happen.”
Nearly all media also “forgot” to mention that Turkey’s threats had fallen flat against the nearly 20 countries whose legislative bodies had already acknowledged the Armenian genocide. Indeed, insofar as is known, Turkey’s trade with such countries went up substantially, not down, after genocide recognition.
Among the many genocide acknowledgers that the media nearly always forget to mention are Canada, France, Lebanon, Switzerland, Uruguay, as well as a UN sub-commission, World Council of Churches, the Vatican and the European Union Parliament.
Most reporters have also long preferred to depict the genocide issue as a mere he-said-she-said quarrel between Armenians and Turkey. Yet, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the foremost organization of its kind, has recognized the Armenian genocide several times and roundly criticized Turkey.
Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish scholar who authored the UN Genocide Convention of 1948 and who coined the word genocide, once declared on national television, “I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians.” Most journalists choose to forget these facts.
Media also dutifully reported Turkey’s opinion that academia, not the US Congress, is the proper place to discuss and recognize genocides. They forgot that one or both houses of Congress have recognized the Holocaust and the Bosnian, Cambodian, Darfurian and Ukrainian genocides. Thus, the public is unfairly led to believe that Armenian Americans are asking Congress to do something unusual. Somehow the media also forgot to report that over 50 American human rights, ethnic and religious organizations support Congressional acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide.
In short, most mass media have done an abysmal, unprofessional job.
If the House, a US president and a federal filing with the World Court have already affirmed and reaffirmed the Armenian genocide. Does Congress really need to pass the present genocide resolution? The current resolution, which is nonbinding, describes the genocide’s history and America’s traditional support of Armenia in more detail than previously approved ones.
Congressional reaffirmation will help to counter Turkey’s unending, immoral denial campaigns and send a necessary signal to the US State Department that genocide denial harms American interests in the region.
For two decades, stability in the oil- and gas-rich Caucasus/Caspian region – undoubtedly the major flashpoint between the US and Russia – has been one of Washington’s most cherished goals.
Stability is impossible, however, as long as Turkey refuses to face up to its crimes against Armenians and continues to needlessly blockade Armenia. Turkey, 25 times larger and more populous than Armenia and with 50 times the GDP, truly is a “bully.”
The US and other countries recently forced a set of “protocols” onto Armenia that would allegedly “reconcile” it and Turkey. Contrary to Turkish claims, Armenia quite rightfully maintains that it will not let the protocols’ proposed joint Turkish-Armenian historical commission question the veracity of the genocide. The genocide issue cannot be wished away by sham US-backed protocols, which, in any case, Turkey presently refuses to ratify.
Without an unequivocal acknowledgment by Turkey of its hyper-violence against Armenians, the region cannot be stabilized – with serious geopolitical consequences for Washington and its allies.
The media and the Obama administration can help to avert this simply by telling the American people the truth about the Armenian genocide. The whole truth.