In May 2010, the United States’ government was in a predicament regarding its official position towards the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The debate on whether the genocide has been devoted to a subject of contention for nearly a century. Armenians have always insisted that the Turkish government planned and was systematically executing the murder of 1.5 million Armenians who lived under the Ottoman Empire. In fact, Armenians have always argued that it was the first genocide in the twentieth century.
On the other hand, the Turks and the subsequent governments have always stated that the event of 1915 was never considered to be the genocide. The deaths resulting from the events in 1915 were simply the consequences of those chaotic times that the empire had been facing. The chaos, according to the Turks, was a result of the scramble for the territory, in which several Armenians were the casualties (Hovannisian 15).
The difference in views of the Turks and the Armenians on the genocide is an objective of this research. These two parties are very central to the happenings of 1915; however, they hold the extremely differing opinions and views regarding the matter (Freedman 74). Two nations are the neighbors with different levels of influence on the world stage. While Turkey is an upcoming economic and political powerhouse, Armenia is a smaller nation with the less influence on the world level. Hence, Turkey seems to be compelling, other nations agree with its position. Therefore, it is important to compare the conflicting views that Armenians and Turks have towards the genocide vis-à-vis impacts of these differences on the American official position regarding the same.
The Turkish View on the Genocide
Turkey is the nation that exceeded the Ottoman Empire after its collapse. It has been the policy of any government in Turkey that there had never been the genocide with regard to many Armenians who died in 1915 (Hovannisian 102). According to Turks, there was no deliberate effort towards the massacre Armenians; rather, the Ottoman Empire was only removing Armenians from the frontline with Russia. They claim that Armenians were collaborating with the enemy; thus, this was a threat to the national security.
However, in the twilight days of the Ottoman Empire, the leadership court marshaled Young Turks who were involved in killing the Armenians. In the actual sense, this can be taken as a sought of admitting the guilt that something had gone terribly wrong with the operation against Armenians.
However, the Nationalist Government that was based in Ankara denied that any genocide had happened. As soon as they had taken the power from the Ottoman Empire, they compelled the French and the British governments to absolve Turkey of any wrongdoing and responsibility in the matter (Freedman 21). The two western governments agreed to the concessions together with the recognition of the Turkish Republic. This was agreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. However, this treaty was in breach of an earlier concluded treaty under the Ottoman rule. In the Treaty of Sevres, the Turkish government was legally obligated to bring war crimes to justice and, at the same time, to allow the movement of minority groups from Anatolia to Greece (Freedman 23).
Instead, the Nationalist Government sought to end any debate regarding the genocide in all public forums and conferences. The young republic stopped the production of films and books that suggested the occurrence of genocide. In addition, none of the governments mentioned within Turkey was allowed until the 1960s. Most recently, the Turkish government warned the United States of serious repercussions if it would decide to recognize the genocide officially. Turkey has been categorical that it would cut military ties with the United States if they voted to recognize the genocide.
Armenian Views on the Genocide
The Armenian people have always considered the events of 1915 as the purposeful atrocities against humans. From the victims’ viewpoint, the events of 1915 were coordinated by the Central Committee of the Young Turk Party. According to Akçam (78), this party was predominantly a racist group. It is believed to have organized the elimination of Armenians from the position of Turkey. The Young Turks, some of which were the criminals released from prisons, were sent to the Armenian population to kill as many people as they could.
Several governments have accepted the genocide. Some of them included Germany and Israel. Several other governments approved that this genocide indeed had taken place. The European Parliament voted to recognize the Armenian genocide in 1987. Similarly, the Russian Lower House of the legislative chamber (commonly referred to as the Duma) also voted in 1994 to recognize the events of 1915 as the genocide (Akçam 39).
Impacts of Divergent views on the World View
It is not prudent for anyone to oversee the impacts of these divergent views. Turkey is a nation enjoying a tremendous growth rate in terms of the economy and political influence. It is a vital military ally to the United States and other developed nations. It provided the operating grounds in the recent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, its army is the second biggest in NATO.
With these facts kept in mind, the United States is standing at the dilemma when it comes to disagreeing with Turkey. It is no wonder that Obama’s administration was against the recent voting of Congress to recognize the genocide officially. The United States have always dodged the issue to take an official stand on the matter. This undecided state seems to spread on other military allies, such as the United Kingdom. However, Turkey remains adamant that there had never been the genocide against the Armenian people.