There is nothing that so cries out for justice as the forgotten who are slaughtered and whose deaths are left in thunderous silence of receding history. The pain for families only barely eases with the passing of decades or even centuries. This last 150 years has seen mind-twisting inhumanity. The Holocaust weighs on us with a pressure that has barely eased since the end of World War II. And yet, in the same war there was a holocaust visited upon the Serbs, which some Serbs called a term a stolen holocaust, so little light has ever shone on it.
The massacre of Armenians in 1915, and at other periods after 1885, is another agony of mass death that is little known to most people. Taking place during the death throes of the Ottoman Empire, the slaughterâ€”termed a genocide by the Armeniansâ€”has been the subject of critical debate in the last years. The Turks, descendants of the last Ottomans and inheritors of their state, argue that Armenian deaths were the result of civil war, and that there were massive casualties on both sides. There are reliable contemporary accounts to bolster both arguments.
On the Ottoman side: According to Bernard Lewis, scion of American Middle Eastern studies, â€œWhat happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks. … The massacres were carried out by irregulars, by local villagers responding to what had been done to them.â€ Dr. Lewis was subsequently charged with and convicted of denying the genocide by a French court, which fined him a symbolic one franc.
On the Armenian side: Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, wrote, in a memoir dated 1919: â€œWhen the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.â€ Many of the Armenians died during forced deportations, deportations now being considered a crime against humanity.
Itâ€™s even more complicated than the diametrically opposed viewpoints of fine historians. When the EU started making noises about demanding that Turkey â€œaccept responsibilityâ€ for the Armenian genocide (which, in fact, the current country did not commit), Prime Minister Erdogan asked that the United States and Russia both open their sealed archives to historical review. Both refused. Complicity on the part of the United States has been documented to some extent already. But itâ€™s the suspected Russian involvement in Armenian acts of terrorism against the Ottoman Empire over a period of nearly 80 years that Russians most certainly donâ€™t want exposed. To the casual observer with no axe to grind, declarations made without access to all the pertinent archives certain smacks of a railroading for political purposes, a seeking of illegitimate leverage with half the facts concealed.
But itâ€™s worse than that, because the Armenian genocide, in which 1.5 million people may have, doesnâ€™t hold a candle to another genocide happening during the very same time period.
The mass murdering of the Congolese in the Belgian Congo between 1878 and 1910 is a genocide with none of the detractions of the Armenian-Ottoman tragedy. The death toll is variously placed between eight and 30 million, depending upon the time period assessed, and the means of assessment. However, what is certain is that this genocide was about clearing the Congo of its entire native population, for the purpose of handing over to Belgian King Leopold II and his administrators an entire country belonging to other people. Adam Hochchildâ€™s King Leopoldâ€™s Ghost  details this travesty, and Joseph Conradâ€™s Heart of Darkness provides the visual backdrop of the terror that was visited upon a completely innocent native population.
However, we donâ€™t find the U.S. Congress and Nancy Pelosi banging on the royal doors of Belgium for an apology to be forwarded to the descendants of the slaughtered of a black African nation.
Why not? Because there are too few Congolese in Nancy Pelosiâ€™s district. Is that why we find no resolution for the good of the Congolese, who lost some 5 to 25 times as many people during the same general time frame? Do they count less because theyâ€™re black? Do the Armenians count more because they are white and have many numbers in Pelosiâ€™s district?
Some have suggested that Pelosiâ€™s arrogant, reckless act of political narcissism is something of grand Machiavellian plot: that having been able to raise no passable resolution to end the Iraq war, she instead engineered a declaration of genocide against an American ally in order to elicit Turkeyâ€™s cutting off Americaâ€™s ability to feed, clothe, enable with energy, and heal with medicines that routinely make their way into a war zone from the air bases and protected Kurdish trade routes through Turkish cities and air fields. If this be true, Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason, as well as of usurpation of executive authority and Congressional authority by manipulation of a house panel.
But the truth is likely both more and less horrifying than this possibly. Because it is very like that Nancy Pelosi, in her almost unbested capacity for gross incompetence and mirror-staring, is simply so foreign-policy ignorant and so utterly incompetent that she actually tried this bit of grandstanding for Armenian votes in her districtâ€”and publicity, without which she apparently cannot continue to breathe oxygen for a period of 24 hours.
What needs to happen next is that Nancy Pelosi needs to be removed as the Speaker of the House by Democrats who would still like to win the next election.
This toying with the Middle East, as if she had any clue what is doing, follows on the heels of her hijab-wearing photo-op with Bashir al-Assad, an egregious blunder that was cheered by al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hizbollah. Yes, what a positive movement when women in Saudi Arabia will be charged with adultery and stoned to death were they to do the same thing. The Islamists cheered Pelosiâ€™s actions as a symbol of their supremacy over U.S. foreign policy, not as a victory of U.S. attempts to â€˜win the hearts and minds.â€™
Michael Rubinâ€™s comments in National Review, in the best article written on this matter this week, should sober everyone about Pelosi reckless incompetence. Referencing Pelosiâ€™s fawning visit with al-Assad, he writes: â€œBasking in the glow of Pelosiâ€™s headline-garnering visit to Damascus â€” again in contravention of a State Department request â€” Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad upgraded his support for Hezbollah and his nuclear dealings with North Korea.â€
Pelosiâ€™s lust for the power of the presidency or of the entirety of Congress and not just her individual part must be contained for the good of the country. For if she had succeeded this week, the cost of American and Iraqi lives would have been laid securely at her own feet. She should be grateful the President and the Congress grounded her little flight toward the sun before her candle-wax wings melted and caused her crash to be worse even than it is.
Someday, after the Russian and American files are opened, a full history of the Armenian tragedy should writtenâ€”by University professors, not House committees, as Rubin also points out.
And while they are at it, they should have a look at the Belgian atrocities in The Congo and the extermination of so many of the worldâ€™s indigenous populations by European states greedy for wealth and avaricious for the saving of souls.
But when all of it is said and done, it is a matter for the fullness of government to decide, not the province of a narcissistic, reckless, incompetent and dangerous pool-gazer bent on fame and political gain.
Morgaan Sinclair has written for The Weekly Standard and The New York Post and is a Fellow of Gracen Intelligence