I don’t agree with President Biden very often, but when he does something right, I’m happy to say so.
Recently, on Armenian Remembrance Day (April 24th) President Biden issued an important statement recognizing the first genocide (1915-1923) in the 20th century.
Approximately, 1.5 million Armenians were killed.
President Biden said, “Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring.”
In order to prevent genocide in the future, we must attack the hatred that caused it.
Acknowledging a genocide requires bigots to recognize the humanity of the people they hate. Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum, a Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, once wrote:
A common motif of incitement to genocide is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Stürmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. In the early 1990s, Hutu propaganda in Rwanda against the Tutsis described them as cockroaches. Before Saddam Hussein attacked the Iraqi Shiite population in 1991, his Baath Party newspaper characterized them as “monkey-faced people.” Similarly, Iran’s Ahmadinejad has called Israeli Jews “cattle,” “bloodthirsty barbarians,” and “criminals.”
If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, can’t acknowledge this genocide, we can’t rule out the possibility of a future war between Armenia against Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have a close alliance. These two Turkic countries have described their relationship as “one nation, two states.”
From 1988 to 1994, Armenia fought a war against Azerbaijan. Armenia managed to take over territory within Azerbaijan known as Nagorno-Karabakh. This area was mostly populated by Armenians.
In 2020, Azerbaijan defeated Armenia in six weeks and took back most of this territory.
While some have argued that acknowledging the genocide will only worsen our relations with Turkey, this argument ignores the fact that Turkey has not been a reliable ally for years.
Dr. Ariel Cohen, a leading expert on Russia, Eurasia and the Middle East, wrote in 2007:
During the Cold War, Turkey’s pro-Western secular elites championed unpopular causes: Turkey supported U.S. operations during the 1991 Gulf War and provided operational and intelligence support over the next 10 years during Operation Northern Watch in Iraq’s Kurdistan. Turkey also played vital roles in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
In 2002, Turkey turned away from the West with the election of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In 2003, the 4th Infantry Division was not allowed to invade Iraq by crossing through Turkey because of the Turkish parliament.
This decision cost the United States dearly in Iraq.
In 2005, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “Had we been successful in getting the fourth infantry division to come in through Turkey in the north when our forces were coming up from the south out of Kuwait, I believe that a considerably smaller number of the Baathists and regime elements would have escaped.”
On top of an anti-American foreign policy, Turkey’s economic growth has allowed the AKP to reverse some of the secular legacy of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. According to the World Bank, Turkey’s GDP growth from 2002 to 2019 averaged 5.4 percent.
In 2019, GDP growth was only 0.9 percent. With lower economic growth, the United States and the European Union are now in a position to pressure President Erdogan to abandon some of his policies. It could even inspire the Turks to stand up to the AKP and demand that their leaders improve Turkey’s relations with the West.
In 1965, 100,000 Armenians protested in the Armenian capital of Yerevan demanding that the Soviet government build a memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide.
These brave Armenians stood up to the Soviet government and won.
Such courage can inspire other acts of defiance. It can hopefully inspire the Turkish opposition to stand up. Since a failed coup against Turkey in 2016, President Erdogan has arrested more than 50,000 people and fired approximately 150,000 people in the government in connection to the coup.
While the Turkish people have good reason to be scared, they should remember that Erdogan has backed down before.
When a Turkish F-16 plane shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 jet in November 2015, President Putin put sanctions on Turkey and demanded Erdogan apologize.
By June 2016, Erdogan apologized.
Putin’s confrontation against Erdogan proved that strength is necessary to change Turkey’s behavior. Today, the United States has a stronger hand against Erdogan than Putin did in 2015.
Turkey needs better relations with the West to restore growth to their economy.
By acknowledging the Armenian genocide, the United States is showing Turkey that we will not be pushed around.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he’s not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny’s Reports — More Here.
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