By Alin K. Gregorian
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A trio of scholars tackled the topic of Armenia — and the Armenian Diaspora in the realm of US policies especially in light of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The panel was especially apropos in light of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, which cleared the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.
Simon Payaslian of Boston University suggested that the Armenians’ wish for the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution appeals to the moral aspect of politicians, which may not be enough. “By just emphasizing the humanitarian component” of the resolution, the Armenians are not doing themselves a favor, as real concerns can undermine them. Armenians, he said, need to find out “how these values, sentiments that are being expressed, can be translated into actual policy,” he said. It is an uphill battle, he said, and one with little hope of immediate victory.
“We cannot ignore some of the main issues as seen by policymakers,” he stressed.
US-Turkish relations are “very, very important for the US and Turkish governments,” he said. “Fundamentally, the US has supported the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic” continuously, he added.
Payaslian stated that the importance of Turkey to the US has predated NATO and that now it is especially close in light of the post-Iranian revolution world of the Middle East. The US-Israeli-Turkish alliance is a major deterrent to Iranian exporting of its revolutionary rhetoric, he noted. That alliance has only strengthened in the post 9/11 world, to the detriment of the voice of the Armenians, he said.
Payaslian pointed out that the Turkish government had decided in the early part of the new millennium to change its strategy and stress the strength of the Armenian lobby in a negative way in the US and thus affect US foreign policy. “The argument that the Armenian lobby is very powerful was a way of countering the Armenian lobby in the US,” he said.