East Meets West

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I prefer this blog be a place of social rather than political commentary. But I just read an article in this week’s Economist that brought an interesting point to my attention.

There are many hot topics of discussion in and about Turkey, and one of the hottest is the Armenian situation during WWI, when hundreds of thousands of Armenians died while being forced into exile.

The article on
Turkish nationalism states that the US Congress has pledged to adopt a resolution calling the mass slaughter genocide. This raises a lot of questions for me:
  • What gives the US Government the right to pass resolutions on other countries’ domestic policies, especially ones from nearly a century ago? And what is congress doing with taxpayers’ money?!
  • Has the US Government admitted that the mass slaughter of Native Americans - where entire tribes were annihilated - was genocide?
  • If there were Native Americans who could flee during the massacres and relocate to Turkey (and France and the UK and Russia), and who lobbied those governments for a similar resolution, how would the US react?
I am no expert on the subject, but what I understand is this:
  • Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died and many were killed while being sent into exile.
  • These Armenians were also fighting for an independent country (which involved killing Turks and Kurds) and were supported by Russia, a country Turkey was at war with. At that time Turkey was fighting a bloody war on five fronts with Russia’s allies - UK and France. If American Cubans were fighting for an independent state with support from Al Qaeda, and innocent Americans were being killed, would the US react in a humane way?
  • Unlike Native Americans, many Armenians were able to flee and build successful lives in other countries
  • Armenians now have their own country.
  • There are still many Armenians in Turkey, who live prosperous lives and in harmony with the rest of Turkey – including Jews, Kurds, Arabs and other Christians.
I’m not excusing what happened way back in 1915. But if you look at the history of genocides, the beginning years of the 20th century were clearly troubling times. Nothing is black and white, especially in this part of the world. Only through dialogue can such issues be resolved. And I encourage governments to resolve their own issues regarding their past before meddling in other governments’ domestic policy.


  • At 11:05 AM, Blogger H. Cihan Salim said…

    hi Lisa, I've just found your blog. Politics is a social science, so it's not exactly off-topic for your blog i guess ;)
    and that's a nice post, empathy is what we lack mainly, I think, in these hard times.

  • At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I've just taken a look at your blog. You are an incredible writer! You are certainly right. We unfortunately lack a sense of empathy in the U.S.


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