The National Review
April 24 2015

by Mark Krikorian

April 24, 2015 4:00 AM I saw the souls of them that were beheaded
for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had
not worshipped the beast - Revelation 20:4 The caliphate wages jihad
against Christians. Victims are beheaded, crucified, and burned alive.

Christian girls are sold into slavery. Centuries-old monuments are
destroyed by jihadis. These events are ripped from the headlines
-- of 1915. Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the
Armenian Genocide. On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Caliphate launched a
"decapitation strike" against the Armenian people by arresting and
killing hundreds of their intellectual, political, religious, and
business leaders in Constantinople, so as to make organized resistance
impossible. That done, the extermination campaign began in earnest
in the following weeks. More than 1 million Armenians were murdered,
along with large numbers of Christian Assyrians and Greeks, with the
goal of engineering a Christenrein Anatolia. The remainder would
have been killed as well -- and the very name "Armenia" relegated
to historical atlases, like Babylonia or Gaul -- had not makeshift
Armenian forces defeated the Ottomans trying to finish the job in
the formerly Russian-occupied sliver of Armenia in 1918, after the
withdrawal of Russian forces following the Bolshevik coup d'etat
six months earlier. Among the survivors was my maternal grandmother;
most of her family was killed, but as a 15-year-old girl, she was sold
into slavery, managing to escape later. My other three grandparents
were already here, but their families were not heard from again. The
parallel with today's depredations by ISIS's so-called caliphate
and other jihadists is not coincidental. Andrew Bostom points to
what happened to the Armenians as an example of "jihad genocide,"
traditional jihad "adapted to the conditions of modern warfare." Bat
Ye'or has written, "The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad,"
adding that it was "the natural outcome of a policy inherent in
the politico-religious structure of dhimmitude." Perhaps the most
disturbing continuity between the two caliphates was seen last fall
in the town of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, considered the Auschwitz
of the Armenian Genocide. Then part of the Ottoman Empire, it was a
major destination for death marches and boxcars and served as a sort
of open-air concentration camp, where as many as 400,000 Armenians
were killed. Decades later, the Armenian Church built a major memorial
complex there, including the remains of many victims. ISIS took the
town in September 2014. Its first order of business was to dynamite
the church. The anniversary prompts a number of observations. Perhaps
the least interesting is whether what happened can fairly be labeled
"genocide." As with other fights over the meaning of words, the denial
of the Armenian Genocide is a political tactic designed to muddy the
waters and deflect blame. The Turkish claim that lots of people died
on all sides during World War I is akin to -- if you'll pardon a Monty
Python reference -- the Scottish laird in Holy Grail pleading with his
guests, "Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who," when there
was really no doubt about the matter. There's no doubt what happened
here, either. Our ambassador to the Ottoman Caliph at the time, Henry
Morgenthau, wrote: "The government is using its present opportunity
while all other countries are at war, to obliterate the Armenian
race." Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer, invented the term
"genocide" specifically to describe what happened to the Armenians.

And Hitler, in comments to his commanders before the invasion of
Poland that were transcribed by Admiral Canaris, head of military
intelligence, reassured them that they'd get away with it because
"who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

The question of formal U.S. government recognition of the Armenian
Genocide is another, and more complicated, question. Like the
perennial promises to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel
Aviv to the country's actual capital of Jerusalem, politicians
promise federal recognition of the genocide at election time, then
back away when faced with geopolitical objections. Congressional
resolutions are introduced all the time to recognize the genocide but
are never passed; the closest that one came to success was in 2007,
when it was reported out of committee but pulled at the last minute
by then-speaker Pelosi at the request of the Bush White House. Our
ambassador to Armenia during the George W. Bush administration was
fired because he uttered the words "Armenian Genocide." President
Obama, despite supporting recognition as a senator, has never as
president used the word "genocide" with regard to the Armenians and
will not do so this week. Ted Cruz has been forthright, writing:
"The massacre of the Armenian, Assyrian, and other Christian people
should be called what it is: genocide," but if he were to be elected
president, he might change his tune as well. This is because Turkey is
obsessed -- "deranged" would not be too strong a word -- with denying
that the Ottoman Caliphate undertook to eradicate the Armenians as a
people. This goes beyond the small lies we are sometimes party to for
the sake of diplomacy -- that there's only "One China," for instance,
or that Jerusalem isn't really the capital of Israel, or that there's
no such country as "Macedonia." When the 2007 resolution came up,
Turkey threatened to cut off supply routes to our soldiers in Iraq,
leading even those, such as Charles Krauthammer, who unequivocally
acknowledge the genocide, to argue against congressional action. When
Pope Francis recently reaffirmed his predecessors' recognition
of the genocide, Turkey withdrew its ambassador, charged that
the use of the word "genocide" was racist and threatened to turn
Hagia Sophia, Christendom's greatest church and now a museum, into
a mosque. As desperately as the Turks want to join the European
Union, they'll forgo it if it would require them to acknowledge the
genocide. Unlike the polite diplomatic falsehoods mentioned above,
denial of the Armenian Genocide has become a kind of sickness for
Turkey, a disease that distorts its polity and taints its relations
with other countries. Responding to growing international condemnation,
Erdogan has actually tried to get past this, expressing condolences
to Armenia last year for the first time ever -- but he insists that
it's "out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called
'genocide,' on Turkey." (This from the man who said a few years back,
in reference to Sudan's jihad slaughter of Christians, "A Muslim can
never commit genocide. It's not possible.") In effect, Turkey's idea
of reconciliation is to say to the Armenian nation, "You better put
some ice on that." There's no reason this should be so. The Armenian
Genocide was not, after all, carried out by the Turkish Republic,
but by the long-defunct Ottoman Caliphate, albeit under the direction
of Turkish nationalist elements. Turkey's own military tribunals
condemned the chief perpetrators to death after World War I, and
two of those death sentences -- against members of the triumvirate
that effectively ruled the empire during the war and orchestrated
the genocide -- were carried out by Armenian survivors. For its own
sake, Turkey needs to acknowledge what happened and move on. But so
do Armenians. The focus on achieving recognition of the genocide has
become all-consuming for some, suggesting that one's fulfillment
is dependent on, for instance, the Vermont legislature's decision
to recognize the genocide. (Forty-three states have legislation or
proclamations recognizing the Armenian Genocide.) Turkey's increasingly
preposterous denials fool no one and at this point do more harm to
Turkey than to the memory of those killed by the Ottomans. The Church
is helping Armenians move on. On Thursday, in anticipation of the 100th
anniversary observations, the murdered were canonized and formally
made saints. This means that there can no longer be memorial services
for them; rather, as saints, prayers will now be directed at them,
for intercession on our behalf. They will change -- and Armenians
and others should change their views of them -- from victims of
jihad to victors in Christ. Our country also needs to move on. We
need to stop asking "how high?" when Turkey tells us to jump. The
geopolitical reasons for deferring to Turkey have disappeared --
the Cold War is over, the Iraq War is over (and we're not going to
be occupying any more countries in that part of the world any time
soon), Turkey is effectively an enemy of Israel, and the government
in Ankara is increasingly Islamist and anti-Western. (The Turks are
one of the most anti-American peoples on the globe, outstripping
even the Palestinians and Pakistanis in that regard.) A presidential
proclamation on April 24 should become a routine matter, so as to
depoliticize this question, at least in American politics.

Like President Reagan's reference to "the genocide of the Armenians,"
the annual proclamation should be apolitical and make no reference to
policy, simply recognizing the pain of our fellow Americans who lost
family in the first genocide of the 20th century, carried out by the
defunct Ottoman Empire, and resolve that, as Reagan wrote, "Forever
must we remember just how precious is civilization, how important
is liberty, and how heroic is the human spirit." Such recognition
should not affect our approach to Turkey. Many Armenians and others
won't like that, but foreign affairs are a matter of realpolitik, and
you work with whomever you need to. If we can deal with a benighted
and twisted country such as Saudi Arabia, we can continue to have
a businesslike relationship with a Turkey that clings to absurd
and wicked fables about its past. But we will not be dictated to
by foreigners and made to utter their lies. -- Mark Krikorian is
executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.