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A must read: Part 1

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  • A must read: Part 1

    This article deserves its own thread



    Final Resolution

    by Michael Crowley
    Post date: 07.12.07
    Issue date: 07.23.07

    A RISING St. Louis politician in the mid-1970s, Richard Gephardt
    was among a dynamic group of aldermen dubbed "The Young Turks." So
    perhaps it's not surprising that, 30 years later, the former
    Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives has aged
    into an Old Turk. This spring, Gephardt has been busy promoting his
    new favorite cause--not universal health care or Iraq, but the
    Republic of Turkey, which now pays his lobbying firm, DLA Piper,
    $100,000 per month for his services. Thus far, Gephardt's
    achievements have included arranging high-level meetings for
    Turkish dignitaries, among them one between members of the Turkish
    parliament and House Democratic leaders James Clyburn and Rahm
    Emanuel; helping Turkey's U.S. ambassador win an audience with a
    skeptical Nancy Pelosi; and, finally, circulating a slim paperback
    volume, titled "An Appeal to Reason," that denies the existence of
    the Armenian genocide of 1915.

    Few people would place the Armenian genocide on their top ten--or
    even top 1,000--list of the day's pressing issues. In fact, many
    Americans would likely be at a loss to explain who or what the
    Armenians are, much less what happened to them 90 years ago. Not so
    in Washington. For the past several years, U.S. representatives,
    lobbyists, and foreign emissaries have been locked in a vicious
    struggle over a resolution in Congress that would officially deem
    as genocide the massacre of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians in
    the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish government has fought this effort
    with the zeal of Ataturk--enlisting a multimillion-dollar brigade
    of former congressmen and slick flacks, as well as a coterie of
    American Jews surprisingly willing to downplay talk of genocide.
    But the Armenian-American community has impressive political clout-
    -enough that a majority of House members have now co-sponsored the
    resolution. And that means a ferocious final showdown is looming,
    one so charged that this arcane historical dispute could even
    interfere with the war in Iraq.

    Even more striking than the historic Turkish-Armenian hatred
    festering in the halls of Congress, however, is the way
    Washington's political elites are cashing in on it. Take Gephardt.
    While the Turks and Armenians have a long historical memory,
    Gephardt has an exceedingly short one. A few years ago, he was a
    working-class populist who cast himself as a tribune of the
    underdog--including the Armenians. Back in 1998, Gephardt attended
    a memorial event hosted by the Armenian National Committee of
    America at which, according to a spokeswoman for the group, "he
    spoke about the importance of recognizing the genocide." Two years
    later, Gephardt was one of three House Democrats who co-signed a
    letter to then House Speaker Dennis Hastert urging Hastert to
    schedule an immediate vote on a genocide resolution. "We implore
    you," the letter read, arguing that Armenian-Americans "have waited
    long enough for Congress to recognize the horrible genocide."
    Today, few people are doing more than Gephardt to ensure that the
    genocide bill goes nowhere.

    It's one thing to flip-flop on, say, tax cuts or asbestos reform.
    But, when it comes to genocide, you would hope for high principle
    to carry the day. In Washington, however, the Armenian genocide
    industry is in full bloom. And xxxx Gephardt's shilling isn't even
    the half of it.

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF may be the first person elected to
    Congress through the politics of the Armenian genocide. Back in
    2000, Schiff was a California state senator challenging Republican
    incumbent Jim Rogan. The Burbank-area district is home to 75,000
    Armenian-Americans, or about 10 percent of the population, many of
    them desperate to see Washington brand the Turks as genocide
    artists. In September of that year, Hastert paid a campaign visit
    to the district and delighted Armenians by vowing to call a vote on
    a genocide resolution (which Rogan had co-sponsored). It's possible
    Hastert was stirred by questions of historical guilt. But, as one
    GOP campaign official admitted, the vote would also happen to offer
    Rogan "a very tangible debating point" against Schiff.

    Mass murder may be strange fodder for a debating point. But in
    America's tight-knit Armenian community, it can seem that people
    want to debate little else. Most Armenian-Americans are descended
    from survivors of the slaughter and grew up listening to stories
    about how the Turks, suspecting the Orthodox Christian Armenians of
    collaborating with their fellow Orthodox Christian Russians during
    World War I, led their grandparents on death marches, massacred
    entire villages, and, in one signature tactic, nailed horseshoes to
    their victims' feet. (The "horseshoe master of Bashkale," the
    Ottoman provincial governor Jevdet Bey was called.) Turkey's
    refusal to acknowledge the guilt of their Ottoman forbears
    infuriates Armenians, leaving them feeling cheated of the sacred
    status awarded to Jewish Holocaust survivors.

    It wasn't until the mid-1970s that the Armenian community, which
    today numbers up to 1.4 million, grew active enough to press its
    case in Washington. At first, few people here took them seriously.
    After a fruitless House debate about the genocide in 1985, for
    instance, one Republican scoffed at "the most mischief-making piece
    of legislation in all my experience in Congress." But the cause
    gained traction in the 1990s, thanks largely to thenSenate
    Republican leader Bob Dole, who never forgot the Armenian doctor
    who treated him after he was severely wounded in World War II.

    With Rogan's seat on the line in 2000, a first-ever vote on a
    genocide resolution seemed a sure thing--that is, until the Turkish
    government mobilized its lobbying team, led by former Republican
    House Speaker Bob Livingston, its $700,000 man in the field. In a
    state of affairs one furious Republican described to Roll Call as
    "ridiculous," Livingston found himself battling a measure meant to
    protect the very House majority he had briefly presided over just
    two years earlier. A Turkish threat to cancel military contracts,
    including a $4.5 billion helicopter deal with a Fort Worthbased
    company, ensured the op- position of powerful Texas Republicans
    like Tom DeLay. Hastert was cornered. But he found cover in Bill
    Clinton, who warned that Turkey might shut down its American-run
    Incirlik air base, from which the United States patrolled the no-
    fly zone over northern Iraq. Citing Clinton's objections, Hastert
    pulled the bill. Rogan tried to accuse Clinton of playing politics,
    and someone sent out a last-minute mailer featuring Schiff next to
    a Turkish flag. But it wasn't enough, and Schiff beat Rogan by nine
    percentage points.

    The episode--by showcasing crass partisan politics, expensive
    access-peddling, sleazy political attacks, corporate lucre, and the
    specter of geostrategic calamity--opened a new era in Armenian
    genocide politics. "That was sort of the first introduction to how
    aggressive the Turks are," says one former Republican congressman.

    For the next six years, Turkish lobbying mostly kept the Armenian
    genocide resolution off the Washington agenda. Then came a calamity
    for the Turks: the 2006 midterm elections. Suddenly, Democrats, who
    had always been more supportive than Republicans of the Armenian
    cause, were in power. Even worse, California Democrats with
    Armenian-American constituencies ascended to senior leadership
    positions. Among them was the new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who,
    with thousands of Armenian-Americans in her Bay Area district, has
    spoken passionately on the subject. "This Armenian genocide is a
    challenge to the conscience of our country and the conscience of
    the world. We will not rest until we have recognition of it," she
    declared in 2001. Likewise, one of Pelosi's closest confidantes,
    California Democrat Anna Eshoo, is the granddaughter of an Armenian
    who resents the notion that her grandma's memories of genocide
    amount to "a fairy tale." And even Democratic Party chairman Howard
    Dean, not previously known for his interest in Transcaucasian
    affairs, paid a recent visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan and
    toured a national genocide memorial, where he declared that "[t]he
    facts are that a genocide occurred."

    It's little wonder, then, that proponents of the genocide
    resolution like Adam Schiff have never been so optimistic. "This is
    the best opportunity we've had for a decade," the tanned and mild-
    mannered Harvard Law graduate told me in his Capitol Hill office
    recently. Which is also why, warns Schiff, "we're seeing the
    strongest pushback from the Turkish lobby that I've ever seen."

    FEW WEEKS AGO, I called the Turkish Embassy to request an
    interview. A couple of days later, I heard back--not from the
    embassy, but from an American p.r. consultant employed by the
    Turks. He suggested we meet the next day at a Starbucks. I found
    him in a corner behind a glowing white iBook. He had long slicked-
    back hair, a, seersucker suit, and a blinking Bluetooth earpiece,
    and looked ready for a power lunch with the sharky agent Ari Gold
    from "Entourage." He informed me our conversation would be off the
    record, before launching his well-honed argument against the
    genocide resolution.

    My Starbucks contact wasn't the only Turkish emissary who prefers
    to operate in the shadows. Another D.C.-based operative, who spoke
    to me from a hotel room in Ankara, where he was chaperoning a very
    prominent Democrat, also insisted that the substance of our
    conversation be off the record. He asked that I not even reveal his
    identity. "I don't have a dog in this hunt," he insisted, despite
    his place on the Turkish payroll. "My only hunt is for truth."

    The truth, as the Turks see it, is simple: There was no genocide.
    The Armenian death toll is exaggerated, and most died from exposure
    or rogue marauders during mass relocations. (One Turkish activist
    even cheerily assured me that, after the relocations, "everyone was
    invited back.") The Turks say that the G-word implies an intent
    that can't be proved. This stance is more than just a matter of
    fierce national pride. The Turks are terrified at the prospect of
    huge financial and territorial reparations for the
    Armenians.("[C]ash," drools one Armenian nationalist blogger, "lots
    of cash.")

    So, instead of doling out lots of cash to the Armenians, Turkey
    showers Washington with political operators more than happy to
    argue their case--for the right price. Few niches of Washington
    lobbying are as lucrative as the foreign racket, which explains why
    more than 1,800 lobbyists are currently registered to represent
    more than 660 overseas clients. Thus the Turks have found no
    shortage of willing pitchmen. Turkey currently maintains expensive
    contracts with at least four different Washington lobbying and p.r.
    firms. The result is that unsuspecting congressmen and staffers
    frequently find themselves badgered by well-heeled Turkish
    emissaries. Not long ago, one lobbyist invited a senior
    congressional aide to dinner at his suburban mansion. When he
    arrived, the aide was surprised to find himself surrounded by Turks
    keenly interested in his views on the genocide bill. (This time,
    the hard sell backfired; the staffer indignantly retorted that he
    believed a genocide had taken place, causing the lobbyist's face to
    go "ashen.")
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

  • #2
    Part 2

    The Turks insist that they need these expensive fixers and
    aggressive tactics to counter America's relentless Armenian
    grassroots lobby. In addition to Gephardt (who did not respond to a
    request for comment), Turkey contracts the services of David
    Mercer, a connected Democratic fund-raiser and protégé of the late
    Democratic Party chairman Ron Brown. The Turks also pay $50,000
    monthly to the Glover Park Group, a powerhouse Democratic firm
    stocked with connected former Clinton White House aides Joe
    Lockhart and Joel Johnson, for p.r. services. That work included
    advice on shaping an April full-page New York Times advertisement,
    which called for a new historical commission (which the Armenians
    call a sham) and urged Washington to "support efforts to examine
    history, not legislate it."

    But the kingpin of Turkish advocacy is Bob Livingston, whose
    lobbying firm, the Livingston Group, has hauled in roughly $13
    million in Turkish lucre since 2000. Livingston, best remembered
    for his comically brief stint as House Speakerelect at the height
    of the Clinton impeachment debacle (before he tearfully admitted
    his own extramarital affair and resigned from Congress in
    disgrace), has lobbied on a range of issues dear to Turkey's heart.
    But it's his tireless fight against the genocide resolution that
    makes him a hero in Ankara. Back in 2000, Livingston's team
    personally contacted 141 different members of Congress in the five-
    week run-up to the aborted vote. And on October 19, the day the
    vote was canceled, Livingston met personally with Hastert to ensure
    its demise. Mission accomplished.

    Likewise, when Adam Schiff tried to pass a symbolic House amendment
    related to the genocide in 2004, Living- ston's firm again sprang
    into action. As detailed in a recent Public Citizen study of
    foreign-agent public lobbying records, the firm immediately
    barraged GOP leaders like DeLay and Hastert with e-mails and faxes.
    Its team also badgered everyone from top House aides to officials
    at the National Security Council, the State Department, the
    Pentagon, and Vice President xxxx Cheney's office. Living- ston's
    office even called the House parliamentarian, apparently hoping to
    throw a procedural wrench into Schiff's gears. Against this
    onslaught, Schiff's puny amendment didn't stand a chance. For its
    work in 2004, Turkey paid the Livingston Group $1.8 million.

    But, while Bob Livingston may be the winner of the Turkish lobbying
    lottery, the prize for biggest hypocrite is still up for grabs.
    xxxx Gephardt isn't the only lobbyist who has flip-flopped on the
    genocide (though he gets points for having his firm distribute "An
    Appeal to Reason," the genocide-denying pamphlet that offers a
    strangely postmodern assessment of the imprecise nature of history-
    -a convenient stance if your forbears committed mass murder--
    including a quotation attributed to philosopher Karl Popper,
    contending that "our knowledge is always incomplete"). There's also
    former Democratic representative Steve Solarz of New York. Solarz
    was one of the first backers of a genocide resolution way back in
    1975. By 2000, he was working with Livingston to defeat it, raking
    in $400,000 for his efforts.

    It's not just the lobbyists whose stance on the genocide seems
    suspiciously malleable, however. Seven House members who have co-
    sponsored the resolution this year have already changed their
    positions. One is Louisiana Republican Bobby Jindal, who on January
    31 added his name to the co-sponsor list--but then withdrew his
    support the same day. Lobbying records show that, also on January
    31, Livingston called Jindal and spoke to him about the resolution.
    (Jindal's office didn't respond to requests for comment.) Others
    have seemingly positioned themselves less on the basis of
    historical or moral considerations than on good old pork politics.
    Günay Evinch, a representative of the Assembly of Turkish American
    Associations, recalls how one House resolution supporter privately
    explained his position: "I don't believe it was technically
    genocide," the congressman said. "But I need highway funds."

    Earning a special commendation for dubious behavior is Washington's
    Jewish-American lobby. In one of this tale's strangest twists, the
    Turks have convinced prominent Jewish groups, not typically
    indifferent to charges of genocide, to mute their opinions. In
    February, Turkey's foreign minister convened a meeting at a
    Washington hotel with more than a dozen leaders of major Jewish
    groups. Most prominent groups now take no official position on the
    resolution, including B'nai B'rith, the American Israel Public
    Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the American Jewish Committee. The
    issue "belongs to historians and not a resolution in Congress,"
    explains Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman, who outright
    opposes the resolution. "It will resolve nothing." But it's also
    clear that Turkey's status as Israel's lone Muslim ally counts for
    a lot, too. "I think a lot of Israelis agree," Foxman told me. (One
    person involved in the fight offers a more cynical explanation:
    "Jewish groups don't want to give up their ownership of the term

    The Turks have also conspicuously hired some lobbyists with strong
    Jewish ties. Their payroll includes a Washington firm called
    Southfive Strategies, which bills itself as "a Washington D.C.
    consulting boutique with access to the White House, congressional
    leadership, and influential media organizations." Southfive is run
    by Jason Epstein, a former Capitol Hill lobbyist for B'nai B'rith,
    and Lenny Ben-David, an Israeli-born former deputy chief of mission
    at Israel's Washington embassy and a longtime AIPAC staffer whose
    previous firm, IsraelConsult, also worked for Turkey.

    Some Jewish leaders, to be sure, find such realpolitik less than
    tasteful. "It is obscene for us, of all people, to quibble about
    definitions," one prominent California rabbi recently told the
    Jewish Journal. But, when I asked one Jewish-American aligned with
    the Turks whether he truly believes that genocide didn't take
    place, he stammered that "the verdict" is not in, before adding,
    "If you're asking do I sleep at night, I do."

    STRANGE AS IT may be to find a World War I massacre on the 2007
    Washington agenda, even more bizarre is the possibility that it may
    precipitate an international crisis. At one March House
    subcommittee hearing, Adam Schiff got a rare opportunity to grill
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Angry over the Bush
    administration's opposition to the Armenian genocide resolution,
    Schiff pressed Rice: "Is there any doubt in your mind that the
    murder of a million and a half Armenians between 1915 and 1923
    constituted genocide?" Schiff even pointedly appealed to Rice's
    background in "academia." But the ever-disciplined Rice wouldn't
    bite. "Congressman, I come out of academia. But I'm secretary of
    state now. And I think that the best way to have this proceed is
    for ... the Turks and the Armenians to come to their own terms
    about this."

    What Rice didn't say is that the Turks, should their lobbying
    firepower fail to stop the genocide bill from moving forward, have
    an even mightier weapon to brandish: the war in Iraq. As they did
    in 2000, the Turks are hinting they will shut down Incirlik, a far
    more dire threat now that Incirlik supplies U.S. forces occupying
    Iraq. Administration officials also fear Turkey might close the
    Habur Gate, a border point through which U.S. supplies flow into
    northern Iraq. In an April letter to congressional leaders, Rice
    and Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly warned that a House
    resolution "could harm American troops in the field [and] constrain
    our ability to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    That prospect may even be dragging U.S. troops themselves into the
    Turkish counteroffensive. Or so says Frank Pallone, a New Jersey
    Democrat and lead co-sponsor of the genocide resolution. "[The
    Turks] have had American soldiers call members of Congress and say,
    Don't vote for this, because I am going to be threatened in Iraq,'"
    Pallone says. (A Turkish embassy spokesman denied knowledge of

    The Turks also warn that branding them as Hitleresque is sure to
    enrage Turkish nationalists and heighten tensions on the closed
    Turkish-Armenian border. If the resolution is passed, "it's going
    to be a heavy, heavy blow," says Murat Lutem, a Turkish embassy
    official. "The upheaval will be so significant that the government
    won't be able to say, Let it be.'" That's one reason some Turkish
    newspapers, with their sudden interest in Capitol Hill politics,
    have recently read like Ottoman versions of Roll Call. The Turks
    are especially fixated on the Armenian ally Nancy Pelosi, whom one
    Turkish columnist disdained as "an uncompromising iron lady."

    Faced with such intense Turkish opposition, however, Pelosi may
    prove less iron lady than diplomat. Democratic aides say the
    potential for geostrategic mayhem weighs heavily on her--never mind
    her 2005 declaration that "Turkey's strategic location is not a
    license to kill." And after she rebuffed earlier meeting requests
    from such Turkish dignitaries as Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, her
    recent willingness to meet the Turkish ambassador may be revealing.

    Still, senior Democratic aides say Pelosi could press ahead--
    possibly in early fall. Meanwhile, a Senate counterpart to the
    House bill already has 30 co-sponsors, including Harry Reid and
    Hillary Clinton. And so xxxx Gephardt has his work cut out for him.
    But not without a growing toll on his reputation. Even in modern
    Washington, where it's taken for granted that everyone has their
    price, flip-flopping on genocide has the ability to shock. One
    person dismayed by Gephardt's reversal is Anna Eshoo. Eshoo says
    she was recently in an airport with former Connecticut
    Representative Sam Gejdenson, one of the three co-signers on
    Gephardt's 2000 pro-resolution letter to Hastert, when the pair
    spotted Gephardt. "Look who's here!" Eshoo mockingly exclaimed.
    "Hey xxxx, the Kurds are looking for you!" Gejdenson sardonically
    chimed in--referring to another foe of Gephardt's Turkish client.
    Eshoo says it was just teasing among old friends. But, she
    pointedly adds of the former House Democratic leader: "Clearly this
    is not a principle of his. This is business."

    MICHAEL CROWLEY is a senior editor at The New Republic.
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


    • #3
      What unbelievable scumbags. No conscience and the syphlitic ability to shun honesty an schill for Satan, all for the mighty dollar. I have no respect for any of these "men".

      "may they live in fascinating times and meet interesting people"; one and all.
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


      • #4
        The People Who Cover Up Genocide
        General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


        • #5

          <i>What unbelievable scumbags. No conscience and the syphlitic ability to shun honesty an schill for Satan, all for the mighty dollar. I have no respect for any of these "men".</i>

          So true and what an absolute disgrace. Thanks for the info.
          "Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings." Simone Weil


          • #6
            I believe this article is a little too positive. Let's hope they are right.


            Turkish lobbying groups in USA again failed in their anti-genocide campaign

            19.07.2007 15:35

            YEREVAN (YERKIR) - Turkey’s multi-million dollar lobbyist Bob Livingston posted on July 18 an eight-minute diatribe on the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network website, which denies the Armenian Genocide.

            This video is an effort to block congressional adoption of the H.Res.106 / S.Res.106, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reports.

            Less than twelve hours after Bob Livingston’s genocide denial video was posted, the ANCA issued a point by point video rebuttal, which was distributed widely to congressional offices and policy makers throughout Washington, DC. Also in response to the Livingston attack, Armenian Genocide Resolution lead advocates, Representatives Adam Schiff, George Radanovich, Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg cosigned a July 18th lett

            er to congressional colleagues discrediting Livingston’s denialist claims. The letter reads as follows, “For the past seven years Mr. Livingston has been a paid lobbyist for Turkey, which has spent millions of dollars denying what the world knows to be true – that in the first decades of the last century a horrible genocide was committed against the Armenian people.

            The factual evidence supporting the Armenian Genocide is vast, and no effort to deny these facts – no matter the source of the denial – will ever change history.” The letter went on to urge House members to join over 220 of their colleagues in cosponsoring H.Res.106.
            General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


            • #7
              Anca Video Sets Record Straight On Bob Livingston's Genocide Denial

              "All truth passes through three stages:
              First, it is ridiculed;
              Second, it is violently opposed; and
              Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

              Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


              • #8

                The BLT, D.C.
                July 20 2007

                Advocacy groups have asked Americans to tell their congressmen plenty
                of things. "I'm opposed to recognizing the Armenian Genocide" may be
                one of the strangest.

                In a video posted on the Capitol Broadcasting Service Earlier this
                week, Former Rep. Bob Livingston (R, Louisiana) makes an 8-minute
                plea for Americans to urge their legislators not to make a colossal
                mistake: endorsing the bill that would officially acknowledge that
                Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

                The issue has been controversial in Washington for years. While
                the "supposed-genocide" is routinely denied by Turkish government
                officials - whom Livingston has represented for more than seven years
                - most credible historians have gone out on a limb and described the
                genocide as fact. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

                "In what would later be known as the first genocide of the 20th
                century, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were driven from their
                homes, massacred, or marched until they died."

                Not all of Livingston's address is devoted to casting doubt on the
                genocide's occurrence -- he also argues that the symbolic resolution
                could have tangible consequences. Given that Turkey is an ally in
                a very unsteady part of the world -- and that the nation currently
                has troops massed on the border of Iraqi Kurdistan -- Livingston's
                case against unnecessarily angering them highlights valid strategic

                But some of the statements the former congressman makes veer into
                ideological territory.

                "Nobody really knows, in this day and age, unless you're a historian,
                what really happened 90 to a hundred years ago," Livingston, whose
                family roots in America date back to the 17th century, declares.

                And while he attributes the argument to "The Turks and many
                historians," Livingston comes awfully close to suggesting that any
                possible killing of Armenians would have been committed in self
                defense: "It was simply a lot of Turkish people getting fed up with
                their people getting killed and massacred," he states.

                There's also a linguistic case to be made against the genocide,
                Livingston observes: It couldn't have happened, he said, because
                the word "genocide" didn't exist yet. The term, he correctly notes,
                "was coined in 1947, long after the instance of 1915 and so forth."

                A rose by any other name, indeed.

                The video has already prompted a response by The Armenian National
                Committee of America, which can be seen here.
                General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”