Thought Archive

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Genocidal Games

We fear change. Some changes are inevitable, however. But changes are brought about by outside brute force do not bode well for parties involved in part because of the difficult situations they cause. Some historical events, like 1915 massacres of the Armenians should be left to historians to unravel, countries to ponder and make sure the atrocities on this scale will not happen again. After all this is what goes on with great national debates on the massacres or mass murders from Tamerlane to Nanking.

However the issue of the Armenian “Genocide” have become a hot political topic of today one, where it is impossible to be calm-headed. It is clear the Armenian massacres are a hugely sensitive issue for Turkey. Debate has raged on this issue, often prompting diplomatic strains. It has been a factor complicating ties, for example, between Ankara and Paris, when laws penalizing “genocide” denial were passed.

Turkey is going through an identlty crisis, so much as the whole Europe, redefining its place amongst the great fault line of Civilizations In the current climate, rejected by the West, it exists moving in a convoluted path between nationalism, Islamism and radical Left.

However over the issues relating to the Western pressure or influence there is a broad consensus amongst the varying groups. It is not surprising that in the most secular of Muslim countries there exists a least favorable view of US (Only 13% of people identified US as a good influence on their lives). The forces, secular or religious are united in their opposition to what they see as American meddling in Iraqi Kurdistan and other perceived attacks on Turkish interests.

The forces of democratization and economic growth rocked the fragile balance of Kemalist state, so certain during the Cold War, and propelled different forces into the orbit of power, in education, office and even in the army. Kurdish issue was being worked on and there were some improvements on their lot. Some, mistakenly, seized a moment to push towards the fantom of European integration.

However all this changed, and in part because of “Genocide War” . People in the West, driven by whatever desire – altruistic or not -are clearly mistaken in their belief that they will be able to force Turkey to accept existence and its responsibility for the Armenian genocide. This surely will never happen under a malign external pressure, and only in a spirit of internal debate – in a society free of guilt and sure of himself this kind of discussions can take place. Another option – of conquest and subjugation of Turkey to force it to accept this event as Genocide is clearly not on the agenda. In this light the events to stir up the political pressure on Turkey is nothing but a short sighted game, even for Armenians wanting justice.

The fact that President George Bush publicly urged Congress not to proceed with the issue seems to have had little impact either at home or abroad. And that this would be a non-binding resolution, implying no practical shift in US policy, seems to make little difference to Turkish opinion either. It is clear that, if Armenians are not successful then steps will be taken into the future to politically isolate Turkey and, even attempt to impose sanctions on it. These should be and will be resisted.


NoolaBeulah said...

But, Nazar, the historians have unravelled it. Does anyone outside Turkey doubt that it was a purposeful attempt, if not to wipe out a whole ethnic group, then something pretty close to it at least in one country?

Your central argument seems to be that outside influence (I can't see any "brute force" here at all) will just get Turkish backs up. So the whole exercise is pointless. You may well have a point there.

But such an argument runs the risk of applying that double standard that is based on culture and/or religion. You know the one: you can't expect Muslim countries to have human rights because they are not able to manage decent political systems. Is that not insulting?

If a country cannot look these uncomfortable facts in the face, does that not make you suspicious of what they may do in the future? And it's got to be a huge stumbling block with regard to the accession to Europe, the continent guilty of the worst crime of all, but that faces it.

Hazar Nesimi said...

While disagreeing on naming, I would be one of the few who acknowledge these mass killings happened and Turkey should acknowledge them internally. This internal debate is happening - and not just by Orhan Pamuk but many many others. My turkish friends all are aware. But nobody likes to be shoved in the dirt, for something they bear no responsibilty for. Some key erpetrators of this awful massacres, were executed or exiled by Ataturk/ Ottoman government back in 1919.

Turkey is one of the few (maybe only one) lucky Muslim countres where change happens not because of Western pressure, but internal dynamic (eaely islamic reform, the 1876 constituition, 1919 revolution and Kemalist revolution). No one imposed any decisions on the country that it did not like.

In my earlier posts ( I have arguned against Turkish acceptance into EU, because I belive it will destroy the political system of Ataturk. Now I dont believe that Turkish democracy will be destroyed, but I believe that there are certain boundaries not to be croseed, and this process of accession has to definetely stop. What EU has to do though, is not to isolate Turkey as a pariah state. This will be absolutely crazy decision.

Hazar Nesimi said...

And another point. What country acknowledges and feels in guilt from its heinous old crimes. Russia does not even feel a hint of remorse for 20+ million people destroyed in Gulags, neither Chinese apologise for millions destroyed by Mao. Nazi crimes were heinous, but not worse than those of Bolshevism. Europe is facing up to its past only because it was destroyed and rebuild again in a new image of Germany full of guilt. Something like that did not happen in 1945 to victorious Russia and Turkey (who saved itself from the occupation). These are old Empires, where feelings of past greatness linger. I think that is the main reason for Turkish sensitivity.

NoolaBeulah said...

I should also add that I do like this 'legislating on historical truth' that governments have started doing. I think laws against Holocaust denial, or the existence of the Armenian genocide, are cases of governments going where they should not go. These are matters for civil society, to be debated by scholars and lay-people, for a consensus to form organically though debate, and not for governments to legislate. For this reason, I do not approve of the actions of Congress.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Thank you for understanding... this is in a nutshell what I Am trying to say. But instead there is no debate - its just animosity. I know how painful it is for Armenians, but what will they gain if some Turks start getting arrested in France, or maybe US (this one is unlikely) over genocide denial. And how France can lecture Turkey on its penal code (infamous Art301 considering acknowledging genocide as "Insult to Turkishness", when they have now have an exact opposite.) Thankfully nobody was jailed on both counts, but people will not stop trying, since there is a legislation.