Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #614 Oleaginous Diplomacy — “Who Still Talks Nowadays of the Extermination of the Armenians?”

Record­ed Octo­ber 14, 2007
MP3: Side 1 | Side 2

Fur­ther dis­turb­ing an already tur­bu­lent Mid­dle East polit­i­cal land­scape, the diplo­mat­ic dis­pute between the U.S. and Turkey over a con­gres­sion­al res­o­lu­tion brought the Ottoman Empire’s World War I geno­ci­dal cam­paign against its Armen­ian minor­i­ty briefly into the fore­front of world events. This broad­cast explores the cyn­i­cal diplo­ma­cy fol­low­ing “the Great War,” and how an ear­ly man­i­fes­ta­tion of the pol­i­tics of petro­le­um or “oleagi­nous diplo­ma­cy” led to the exon­er­a­tion of most of the Turk­ish indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions that per­pe­trat­ed the crimes against the Arme­ni­ans. Eager to divvy up the petro­le­um rich por­tions of the defeat­ed and dis­solv­ing Ottoman Empire amongst them­selves, the vic­tors of World War I were eager to col­lab­o­rate with Turk­ish polit­i­cal patri­arch Kemal Attaturk’s realpoli­tik, which skill­ful­ly and effec­tive­ly trad­ed access to oil-rich ter­ri­to­ry for the cov­er-up of Turk­ish war crimes. Among the key State Depart­ment offi­cials behind the crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant Amer­i­can involve­ment in this cyn­i­cal maneu­ver­ing was Allen Dulles, whose expe­ri­ence in the obfus­ca­tion of the cam­paign against the Arme­ni­ans served as a pre­lude to his col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich. From the stand­point of inter­na­tion­al law, the adju­di­ca­tion of the Turk­ish crimes against the Arme­ni­ans and the tri­umph of “busi­ness neces­si­ty” over moral­i­ty and law served as an impor­tant prece­dent and foun­da­tion for future gen­er­a­tions to turn a blind eye to mur­der. The suc­cess­ful cov­er-up of the Armen­ian geno­cide was a major influ­ence on Hitler’s polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary think­ing, con­vinc­ing him that his plans for mass mur­der could be real­ized with reper­cus­sions that were rel­a­tive­ly small in rela­tion to the enor­mi­ty of the crime. The pro­gram high­lights the preser­va­tion of the Ger­man busi­ness elite that served Hitler and prof­it­ed from his cam­paigns of con­quest. Once again, Allen Dulles and oth­er prime movers of the Amer­i­can pow­er elite were instru­men­tal in neu­tral­iz­ing the machin­ery of inter­na­tion­al jus­tice, in order to pre­serve a strong Ger­many as a bul­wark against com­mu­nism. Note that this descrip­tion con­tains sup­ple­men­tal infor­ma­tion that was not in the orig­i­nal broad­cast.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Dis­cus­sion of the Amer­i­can occu­pa­tion of the Ger­man city of Aachen and how it set a pat­tern for post­war preser­va­tion of the bus­ni­ness elite that had allied with Hitler; Pales­tin­ian nation­al move­ment leader and Waf­fen SS gen­er­al Haj Amin el-Husseini’s ser­vice in the Turk­ish army dur­ing World War I; post­war Ger­man chan­cel­lor Lud­wig Erhard’s work with SS-con­nect­ed indus­tri­al plan­ning groups dur­ing the clos­ing phase of World War II.

1. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of the influ­ence of the Armen­ian geno­cide on Hitler’s think­ing, the pro­gram notes how he used the Armen­ian mas­sacres as a prece­dent for his own geno­ci­dal actions. “Hitler was well aware of Turkey’s geno­cide of Arme­ni­ans and of the fail­ure of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to respond ade­quate­ly to it. As ear­ly as June 1931, Hitler com­ment­ed in an inter­view that the ‘exter­mi­na­tion of the Arme­ni­ans’ had led him to ‘the con­clu­sion that mass­es of men are mere bio­log­i­cal plas­ticine’ over which Aryans would even­tu­al­ly tri­umph. He returned to this theme in a for­mal talk to his com­mand­ing gen­er­als on the eve of their inva­sion of Poland in 1939: ‘Our strength is in our quick­ness and our bru­tal­i­ty,’ he exclaimed. ‘Genghis Khan had mil­lions of women and chil­dren killed by his own will and with a gay heart. His­to­ry sees only in him a great state builder. . . . Thus for the time being I have sent to the East . . . my Death’s Head Units with the order to kill with­out pity or mer­cy all men, women, and chil­dren of the Pol­ish race or lan­guage. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowa­days of the exter­mi­na­tion of the Armen­ian?’ On at least three oth­er occa­sions, Hitler point­ed to the bru­tal­i­ty of Turkey’s regime and its will­ing­ness to strike with­out mer­cy as a wor­thy mod­el for his own gov­ern­ment. . . .”
(The Splen­did Blond Beast: Mon­ey, Law and Geno­cide in the 20th Cen­tu­ry; Christo­pher Simp­son; Com­mon Courage Press [SC]; Copy­right by Christo­pher Simp­son; ISBN 1–56751-062–0; p. 76.)

2. The Armen­ian geno­cide was cov­ered-up because of a famil­iar dynamic—the real­i­ty of “petro-pol­i­tics” or, quot­ing the title of the pro­gram, “oleagi­nous diplo­ma­cy.” Adju­di­ca­tion of the slaugh­ter of the Arme­ni­ans was eclipsed by the desire of the vic­to­ri­ous pow­ers in World War I to con­trol the enor­mous oil resources becom­ing avail­able in the dis­solv­ing Ottoman Empire. Turk­ish patri­arch Kemal Attaturk exer­cised great cun­ning and savvy in manip­u­lat­ing the vic­tors off against each oth­er, in order to effect the acquit­tal of the per­pe­tra­tors of the Armen­ian geno­cide. In addi­tion to the open­ly big­ot­ed Mark L. Bris­tol, one of the prin­ci­pals who brought about the cov­er-up of the Armen­ian geno­cide was Allen Dulles, who was estab­lish­ing a per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al prece­dent. Dulles not only was deeply involved in the oleagi­nous diplo­ma­cy that divvied up the Ottoman Empire and cov­ered-up the Armen­ian geno­cide, but played a cen­tral role in help­ing to finance Nazi Ger­many, cov­er­ing up the Nazi geno­cide and aid­ing the Nazi flight cap­i­tal pro­gram after the war. (For more about this, see—among oth­er programs—FTR# 361, 578.) “Impor­tant­ly, Britain, France, and the Unit­ed States were at that time vying with one anoth­er to divide up the vast oil and min­er­al wealth of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire. Kemal skill­ful­ly played the three pow­ers against each oth­er and insist­ed on amnesty for the Itti­hadists as part of the price for his sup­port in the divi­sion of the defunct empire. Though often over­looked today, the Ottoman hold­ings were of extra­or­di­nary val­ue, per­haps the rich­est impe­r­i­al trea­sure since the Euro­pean seizure of the New World four cen­turies ear­li­er. The empire had been erod­ing for decades, but by the time of the Turk­ish defeat in World War I, it still includ­ed most of what is today Turkey, Iraq, Sau­di Ara­bia, Syr­ia, Lebanon, Israel, Jor­dan, and the oil sheik­doms of the Per­sian Gulf. The Euro­pean gov­ern­ments sensed that the time had come to seize this rich prize. . . . The U.S. High Com­mis­sion­er to Turkey was Admi­ral Mark L. Bris­tol, a man with a rep­u­ta­tion as a big­ot and a deter­mined advo­cate of U.S. alliance with Mustafa Kemal. ‘The Arme­ni­ans,’ Bris­tol wrote, ‘are a race like the Jews—they have lit­tle or no nation­al spir­it and poor moral char­ac­ter.’ It was bet­ter for the Unit­ed States, he con­tend­ed, to jet­ti­son sup­port for the Armen­ian repub­lic as soon as pos­si­ble, sta­bi­lize U.S. rela­tions with the emerg­ing Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, and to enlist Kemal’s sup­port in gain­ing access to the oil­fields of the for­mer Ottoman Empire. Bris­tol’s argu­ment found a recep­tive audi­ence in the new Hard­ing admin­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton, whose affin­i­ty for oil inter­ests even­tu­al­ly blos­somed into the famous Teapot Dome bribery scan­dal. . . . As High Com­mis­sion­er to Turkey, Bris­tol had con­sid­er­ably more pow­er than might be enjoyed by any con­ven­tion­al ambas­sador. As the civ­il war unfold­ed inside Turkey, Bris­tol barred news­pa­per reporters from access to areas where renewed mas­sacres of Arme­ni­ans were tak­ing place, pur­port­ed­ly to avoid incit­ing fur­ther atroc­i­ties against civil­ians. His cor­re­spon­dent at the State Depart­ment in Wash­ing­ton was Allen Dulles. After the Paris con­fer­ence, Dulles had served briefly as chief of staff to Bris­tol, then moved on to Wash­ing­ton to become chief of the State Depart­men­t’s Near East desk just as ‘oleagi­nous diplo­ma­cy’ was reach­ing its hey­day. . . .”
(Ibid.; pp. 32–37.)

3. As World War II in Europe drew to a close, the dynam­ic that we saw in the cov­er-up of the Turk­ish geno­cide against the Arme­ni­ans once again man­i­fest­ed itself—business con­sid­er­a­tions took prece­dence over mat­ters of law and decen­cy. And once again, Allen Dulles played a lead­ing role in the pro­ceed­ings. (For more about Dulles and his cen­tral role in aid­ing the Bor­mann cap­i­tal pro­gram and reestab­lish­ing the Ger­man busi­ness elite after the war, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#’s 532, 578.) Of more than pass­ing inter­est in this episode is the fact that the Mar­shall Plan was, in real­i­ty, a pro­gram designed to return to pow­er the Ger­man busi­ness elite that had sup­port­ed Hitler and the war and prof­it­ed gen­er­ous­ly from Nazi slave labor. It was mis­rep­re­sent­ed to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. “By Decem­ber 1945, the pub­licly man­dat­ed denaz­i­fi­ca­tion pro­gram sharply col­lid­ed with the unof­fi­cial (but actu­al) polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic objec­tives of the U.S. occu­pa­tion gov­ern­ment. That month, the U.S. Denaz­i­fi­ca­tion Pol­i­cy Board con­fi­den­tial­ly rec­om­mend­ed that exist­ing poli­cies and prac­tices be shift­ed to bet­ter fit the ‘longer term’ goals of the occu­pa­tion. Pub­licly, the ori­en­ta­tion of the denaz­i­fi­ca­tion pro­gram was to remain the same as it had been under JCS 1067. ‘Every per­son who exer­cised lead­er­ship and pow­er in sup­port of the Nazi regime should be deprived of influ­ence or pow­er,’ the board rec­om­mend­ed, ‘whether or not he was for­mal­ly affil­i­at­ed with the Par­ty or any oth­er Nazi orga­ni­za­tion.’ At the same time, how­ev­er, the board intro­duced a new con­sid­er­a­tion that would fun­da­men­tal­ly alter the pro­gram in the U.S. zone of Ger­many: ‘Denaz­i­fi­ca­tion . . . should not be car­ried so far as to pre­vent the build­ing of a sta­ble demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety in Ger­many. . . we must avoid the cre­ation of a huge mass of out­casts who will pro­vide fer­tile soil for agi­ta­tors and a source of social instability.’18 . . . Oppo­si­tion with­in the U.S. to denaz­i­fi­ca­tion and decarteliza­tion in Ger­many was led almost exclu­sive­ly by the cor­po­rate and for­eign pol­i­cy elite that had been most active in U.S.-German finan­cial rela­tions dur­ing the 1920s and 1930s. The dis­pro­por­tion­ate polit­i­cal lever­age of this group, its abil­i­ty to shape media cov­er­age of for­eign pol­i­cy issues, to influ­ence gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy, and even­tu­al­ly to shift pub­lic opin­ion was dra­mat­i­cal­ly man­i­fest­ed in the realign­ment of U.S. pol­i­cy con­cern­ing denaz­i­fi­ca­tion and decarteliza­tion in the brief peri­od between 1945 and 1947. . . . The reports of Brown and Reed were in real­i­ty briefs for the Euro­pean Recov­ery Pro­gram-the Mar­shall Plan. They illus­trate the extent to which that enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar and respect­ed pro­gram became entan­gled with the revival of Ger­man busi­ness­men who had par­tic­i­pat­ed in Nazi crimes. Par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in this effort was the ‘Com­mit­tee for the Mar­shall Plan,’ found­ed in Sep­tem­ber 1947. It labeled itself a cit­i­zens’ orga­ni­za­tion but was in real­i­ty fund­ed and admin­is­tered by the same eco­nom­ic and for­eign pol­i­cy elite that has been dis­cussed thus far. Its ini­tial spon­sors includ­ed Averell Har­ri­man and Robert Lovett (who will be remem­bered from the Brown Broth­ers, Har­ri­man bank). Allen Dulles, Dean Ache­son, Winthrop Aldrich (chair­man of the Chase Bank), Philip Reed (of GE), and oth­ers of sim­i­lar stature, most of whom had been active in U.S.-German finance since the 1920s. Labor was rep­re­sent­ed by hard-line anti-Com­mu­nists active in the CIA-spon­sored pen­e­tra­tion of Euro­pean trade unions, such as James Carey and David Dubin­sky. . . .”
(Ibid.; pp. 262–268.)

4. An ear­ly “test case” with regard to pros­e­cu­tion of Nazi war crimes con­cerned the Amer­i­can occu­pa­tion of the Ger­man city of Aachen. Note that the infor­ma­tion is pre­sent­ed in the Sup­ple­men­tal Sec­tion in order to flesh out the lis­ten­ers’ under­stand­ing. It was not in the orig­i­nal pro­gram.
(Ibid.; pp. 186–187.)

5. The Ger­man busi­ness elite that had ele­vat­ed Hitler to promi­nence and then served him loy­al­ly was restored to its for­mer dom­i­nant posi­tion. The tri­als of the indus­tri­al­ists were a farce, and a super­fi­cial one at that. This infor­ma­tion, too, was not in the orig­i­nal broad­cast. (Ibid.; pp. 269–271.)

6. Emblem­at­ic of the con­ti­nu­ity between the busi­ness elite of the Hitler peri­od and that of the “new,” post­war Ger­many is the fact that the sec­ond chan­cel­lor of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many was Lud­wig Erhard, who worked close­ly with the SS dur­ing the clos­ing years of the war. Erhard was cred­it­ed with Germany’s “eco­nom­ic mir­a­cle,” while serv­ing as Adenauer’s prin­ci­pal advis­er. “ . . . But as the was turned against the Third Reich, a num­ber of busi­ness lead­ers in the Himm­lerkreis began to coop­er­ate in clan­des­tine and semi­clan­des­tine con­tin­gency plan­ning for the post­war peri­od. Two of the best known of these groups, the Arbeit­skreis fur aussen­wirtschftliche Fra­gen (Work­ing Group for For­eign Eco­nom­ic Ques­tions) and the Kleine Arbeit­skreis (Small Work­ing Group), were nom­i­nal­ly spon­sored by the Reichs­gruppe Indus­trie asso­ci­a­tion of major indus­tri­al and finan­cial com­pa­nies. They brought togeth­er Bless­ing, Rasche, Kurt von Schroed­er, Lin­de­mann, and oth­ers from the Himm­lerkreis with oth­er busi­ness peo­ple, such as Her­mann Abs (Deutsche Bank), Lud­wig Erhard (then an econ­o­mist with the Reichs­gruppe Indus­trie and lat­er Kon­rad Adenauer’s most impor­tant eco­nom­ic advi­sor) . . .”
(Ibid.; pp. 154–155.)

7. Anoth­er point of com­mon­al­i­ty between the Armen­ian geno­cide and the Third Reich, is the career of Haj Amin el-Hus­sei­ni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The first leader of the Pales­tin­ian nation­al move­ment, Hus­sei­ni held the rank of gen­er­al in the Waf­fen SS. The Mufti began his career as an offi­cer in the very Turk­ish army that per­pe­trat­ed the geno­cide. “ . . . Haj Mohammed Effen­di Amin el Hus­sei­ni was born in 1893 in Jerusalem, then the cap­i­tal of Pales­tine, which was then a part of the Turk­ish Ottoman Empire. His grand­fa­ther Mustapha and his half-broth­er Kemal had been the Muftis of Jerusalem in the 1890s. Hus­sei­ni attend­ed the Al Azhar Uni­ver­si­ty in Cairo, Egypt, where he stud­ied Islam­ic phi­los­o­phy, but he nev­er com­plet­ed his stud­ies and left after a year. In 1914, he obtained a com­mis­sion in the Ottoman Turk­ish Army as an artillery offi­cer, sta­tioned in Smyr­na. . . .” For more about the Grand Mufti, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#’s 332, 369, 414, 416, 456.]
(“Islam Under the Swasti­ka: The Grand Mufti and the Nazi Pro­tec­torate of Bosnia-Herce­gov­ina, 1941–1945” by Carl Savich.)

8. Two video pro­duc­tions are being gen­er­at­ed by a cou­ple of doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ers. One is a DVD of a three-lec­ture series called “The First Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Rela­tion­ship Between Fas­cism and Reli­gion.” In addi­tion, there will soon be a doc­u­men­tary about Mr. Emory, titled “The Anti-Fas­cist.” For more about this project, vis­it TheAntiFascist.com.


2 comments for “FTR #614 Oleaginous Diplomacy — “Who Still Talks Nowadays of the Extermination of the Armenians?””

  1. [...] Who still talks about the exter­mi­na­tion of the Arme­ni­ans? [...]

    Posted by The Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turks: A rehearsal for the holocaust of the Jews? | Lys-d'Or | January 3, 2012, 9:05 pm
  2. If you’ve ever thought about hir­ing a sky­writer plane to write a holo­caust-denial mes­sage in the skies but fig­ured that there was no way you’d ever find a com­pa­ny will­ing to do it, you’ve been too cyn­i­cal. Or, rather, you haven’t been cyn­i­cal enough:

    Vice News

    GEICO-Spon­sored Com­pa­ny Put a Sky Mes­sage Above NYC Deny­ing Turkey’s Geno­cide of Arme­ni­ans

    By Jay Cas­sano
    April 22, 2016 | 11:00 am

    Update: After VICE News pub­lished this sto­ry, GEICO Sky­typers post­ed an apol­o­gy on its web­site, explain­ing how it failed to vet prop­er­ly the mes­sages it typed last week in the sky above New York City — and promis­ing to fix its mes­sage-vet­ting process.

    On Wednes­day after­noon, many New York­ers were sur­prised to see pro-Turkey and Armen­ian geno­cide denial pro­pa­gan­da writ­ten in the sky over the Hud­son Riv­er. The sky­writ­ing fea­tured mes­sages such as “101 years of Geno-lie,” “Gr8 ally = Turkey,” “BFF = Rus­sia + Arme­nia,” and “FactCheckArmenia.com.” The aer­i­al stunt was part of a cam­paign by the web­site Fact Check Arme­nia, which denies that the geno­cide of Arme­ni­ans by the Ottoman Empire took place, con­trary to the con­sen­sus of his­to­ri­ans.

    The orga­ni­za­tion also cap­tured head­lines this week for a full-page ad placed in the Wall Street Jour­nal, also point­ing to the web­site. Two weeks ago, a bill­board fea­tur­ing a ver­sion of the same ad near Boston’s Armen­ian Her­itage Park was removed by Clear Chan­nel after out­rage from Arme­ni­ans in the city.

    Wednes­day’s mes­sages in New York City’s skies were pro­duced by a unique form of sky­writ­ing called “sky typ­ing” in which five planes fly in close for­ma­tion to write mas­sive let­ters at high alti­tude to pro­duce mes­sages over five miles long in the air, mak­ing them vis­i­ble in a 15-mile (24 km) radius. New York­ers from Brook­lyn, Queens, and Man­hat­tan could all see the mes­sages, as doc­u­ment­ed in numer­ous pho­tographs on Twit­ter.

    The com­pa­ny respon­si­ble for writ­ing the mes­sages is the GEICO Sky­typers, an air show team that per­forms up and down the east coast and is spon­sored by GEICO, an insur­ance com­pa­ny owned by Berk­shire Hath­away, the hold­ing com­pa­ny for War­ren Buf­fett, the world’s third-rich­est man.

    The team also does paid sky typ­ing adver­tis­ing. The com­pa­ny’s adver­tis­ing clients include dozens of house­hold names such as Coca-Cola, Dis­ney­land, IKEA, and GEICO itself, the sec­ond-biggest auto insur­er in the US. Accord­ing to the com­pa­ny, the adver­tis­ing pack­age seen over the Hud­son Riv­er nor­mal­ly costs between $12,000 and $15,000.

    “I felt appalled and dis­gust­ed to see the sky­writ­ing,” said Nan­cy Kri­co­ri­an, an Armen­ian-Amer­i­can nov­el­ist and activist who lives in Man­hat­tan. “My grand­moth­er was one of the few sur­viv­ing mem­bers of her fam­i­ly — they were deport­ed from Mersin in 1915. My grand­moth­er and her broth­er were among 8,000 orphaned Armen­ian chil­dren at a camp in the Syr­i­an desert.”

    April 24 is the inter­na­tion­al date for remem­brance of the vic­tims of the Armen­ian geno­cide, which began in 1915. Every year at this time, the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment and its sup­port­ers put out pro­pa­gan­da deny­ing the Armen­ian geno­cide.

    “Last year dur­ing the Armen­ian Geno­cide Cen­ten­ni­al, Fact Check Arme­nia was des­per­ate to counter the cav­al­cade of inter­na­tion­al leg­isla­tive bod­ies, polit­i­cal fig­ures, and celebri­ties who were speak­ing out about hap­pened to the Arme­ni­ans start­ing in 1915,” Kri­co­ri­an said. “I was sur­prised to see that they are still ped­dling this tired and uncon­vinc­ing strat­e­gy of call­ing Arme­ni­ans liars.”

    News­pa­per arti­cles of the time, decades of his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship, and offi­cial records all con­firm that approx­i­mate­ly 1.5 mil­lion Arme­ni­ans were sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly killed. Raphael Lemkin, the Pol­ish Jew­ish lawyer who in the 1940s coined the term “geno­cide” and prompt­ed the UN adop­tion of the Con­ven­tion on the Pre­ven­tion and Pun­ish­ment of Crime of Geno­cide, in fact point­ed to the sys­tem­at­ic exter­mi­na­tion of Arme­ni­ans as one of the foun­da­tion­al exam­ples of what he meant by the word “geno­cide.” The Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Geno­cide Schol­ars, the Insti­tute on Holo­caust and Geno­cide in Jerusalem, and the Insti­tute for the Study of Geno­cide in New York all affirm the his­tor­i­cal fact of the Armen­ian Geno­cide.

    But the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment denies that the geno­cide took place, and has attempt­ed to fund schol­ar­ship to dis­rupt the his­tor­i­cal con­sen­sus.

    “Turk­ish denial of the geno­cide was a found­ing prin­ci­ple of the Turk­ish Repub­lic,” said Louis Fish­man, a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Brook­lyn Col­lege who focus­es on the late Ottoman Empire. “Stunts like we saw Wednes­day in New York only throw salt on the wounds of Arme­ni­ans whose fam­i­lies died in the geno­cide. As long as there is no recog­ni­tion these wounds will remain open.”

    While the sky­writ­ing may have out­raged Arme­ni­ans, it appears to have baf­fled most New York­ers. In Brook­lyn Bridge Park, onlook­ers tried to make sense of the Turk­ish phrase “Ne mut­lu Türküm diyene” — a nation­al­ist slo­gan that trans­lates to “How hap­py is the one who says I am a Turk” — and to under­stand whether a mes­sage say­ing Arme­nia and Rus­sia are “BFFs” was sup­posed to be pro- or anti-Russ­ian.

    “I think it most like­ly con­fused peo­ple more than any­thing else,” Fish­man said.

    At the time of pub­li­ca­tion, Fact Check Arme­nia had not respond­ed to calls and emails request­ing com­ment. GEICO Sky­typers appeared not to be aware of the con­tro­ver­sial waters the com­pa­ny was wad­ing into. GEICO did not respond to sev­er­al requests for com­ment, but Lar­ry Arken, the flight lead for Sky­typers, told VICE News that he vets the mes­sages — and felt these were accept­able.

    “I sift­ed through it to make sure I was­n’t say­ing any­thing I felt was anti-Amer­i­can or made to be total­ly offen­sive,” he said. “If I’m pro­mot­ing a web­site, get mad at the web­site, don’t get mad at me.”

    One mes­sage in the sky read “Stop PKK:PYD:ASALA:Daesh,” attempt­ing to draw equiv­a­lence between Turk­ish Kur­dish guer­ril­las, a Syr­i­an Kur­dish polit­i­cal par­ty, a defunct Armen­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, and the Islam­ic State group.

    “Daesh is ISIS. So that mes­sage said stop ISIS. I think we can prob­a­bly agree that ISIS has to go away,” Arken replied when asked if he knew what all of those groups are. “PKK is North Korea, as I under­stand it. If it was a mes­sage that was pro-ISIS I cer­tain­ly would have said no.”

    Arken appar­ent­ly mis­took the PKK, the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Par­ty, for the DPRK or Demo­c­ra­t­ic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea — and was also unaware of what the PYD and ASALA are. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union Par­ty, or PYD, is a Syr­i­an Kur­dish polit­i­cal par­ty; ASALA, or Armen­ian Secret Army for the Lib­er­a­tion of Arme­nia, was a Mid­dle East-based group that killed dozens of Turk­ish diplo­mats and civil­ians in the 1970s and 80s.

    A US Con­gres­sion­al res­o­lu­tion to offi­cial­ly rec­og­nize the Armen­ian geno­cide in 2007 was scut­tled by con­cerns over harm­ing rela­tions with Turkey, a key NATO ally from which the US reg­u­lar­ly stages mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, includ­ing air strikes against the Islam­ic State. On the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 100th anniver­sary of the Armen­ian geno­cide last year, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma drew crit­i­cism for avoid­ing the word “geno­cide” instead opt­ing for terms like “mas­sacre” and “hor­rif­ic vio­lence.”

    GEICO Sky­typers’ Arken said he did not feel com­fort­able choos­ing one side or anoth­er in a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion and that he tries to stay neu­tral and out of pol­i­tics. He has declined anti-Trump, pro-Trump, anti-Clin­ton, and pro-Clin­ton mes­sages through­out this elec­tion cycle, he said.

    “Where do you draw the line when some­body says some­thing hap­pened and some­body else says it did not?” he said, with regard to the Armen­ian geno­cide.

    Still, GEICO Sky­typers would not pro­mote a Holo­caust denial web­site in the sky.

    “I can’t say that I would allow that,” Arken said. “I’m Jew­ish. My grand­fa­ther was put in front of a Nazi fir­ing squad. For­tu­nate­ly he did­n’t get shot. So would we sit here and deny that there was geno­cide back there? Prob­a­bly not.”

    For many of the 150,000 Arme­ni­ans who live in the Tri-State area around New York, that dif­fer­ence in the per­cep­tion of their peo­ple’s suf­fer­ing is painful.


    “One mes­sage in the sky read “Stop PKK:PYD:ASALA:Daesh,” attempt­ing to draw equiv­a­lence between Turk­ish Kur­dish guer­ril­las, a Syr­i­an Kur­dish polit­i­cal par­ty, a defunct Armen­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, and the Islam­ic State group.”
    So FactCheckArmenia.com (which is backed by Turkey’s gov­ern­ment) was­n’t just deny­ing the Armen­ian holo­caust but also draw­ing equiv­a­lences between the Kurds and ISIS. Classy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 26, 2016, 2:39 pm

Post a comment