From Public Books:
What happens when, a century after a genocide, the perpetrator returns to attack the victim? This is exactly what happened during the Second Karabakh War, when Azerbaijan attacked Armenia and Armenians in mountainous Karabakh in 2020. This is a unique event, with no parallels in history. It would be like if, in the year 2039, a neo-Nazi regime in Germany, allied with a neo-nationalist and Islamist regime in the Middle East, sent their most advanced aviation to attack and silence Israel for demanding justice for the Holocaust. Or if, in the year 2073, a neo-Khmer Rouge regime ordered the deportation of the population of Phnom Penh to the countryside for hard labor.
Of course, this is not the case of Israel or Cambodia. Germany has recognized its crime of genocide against European Jewry and pays yearly compensation to the State of Israel and Holocaust survivors. (And in fact, it is Israel that is arming Azerbaijan to attack Armenia—another nation that survived genocide—not to mention violating basic rights of Palestinians living under occupation.) In Cambodia, one can visit the infamous prison camp S-21 or Tuol Sleng turned into a memorial museum, and an international war crimes tribunal spent 16 years tracking down and prosecuting former Khmer Rouge officials.
In Turkey, on the contrary, the state and the population continue to celebrate the genocidaires Talaat, Enver, and Jemal, and others. The grandchildren of the Committee of Union and Progress are still in power. Indeed, it is not possible to believe that such an assault against the Armenians would have occurred without the direct participation of Turkey, or to imagine the emergence of today’s conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan without the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Turkey. Most importantly, today’s war would have been impossible without the thick shadow of the first modern genocide a century ago, which remains unrecognized by the perpetrator state.
From the first day of Armenia’s independence in 1991, Turkey took a hostile position toward its erstwhile victim of genocide. As early as 1992, Turkey started a military collaboration with Azerbaijan, transforming its armed forces from an outdated post-Soviet military into a NATO-grade fighting machine. Over three decades, Turkey encouraged and supported the militaristic policy of Azerbaijan. Ultimately, it even participated directly in the Second Karabakh War on Azerbaijan’s behalf: in 2020, Turkey sent its generals and air force, US-made F-16s and Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 attack drones, to actually assault Armenian positions.
Such a direct military intervention by a genocide perpetrator against a formerly victimized people is wholly unprecedented in modern international relations. The assault calls into question the legitimacy of our post-World War II international order, which did not even react when a perpetrator of genocide casually attacked its victims yet again. It also questions the legitimacy of our international news industry, which did not even notice—with dire consequences to all of us, not just Armenians.
Failing to see the legacy of the Armenia genocide—especially its continuous denial—today was not only the fault of the undefined “international community,” the influential media industry, or self-declared human rights organizations. The Turkish liberal intelligentsia was also to blame.
Link to the rest at Public Books
Stories like this make PG grateful that he was born in the 20th century United States and that his ancestors lived in Britain and Sweden.