Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Dr. Marashlian's Report on an Important "Genocide" Debate  
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems


I give Professor Levon Marashlian a big hug * for his decision to attend the 11th Turkish history Congress (held in September of 1990). Usually Armenians, spoiled as they have been in presenting their unilateral views... and uninterested in the real facts... duck meaningful debate. This is why there is never mention of the case-closing Malta Tribunal in any Armenian web site (that I've encountered). 

( * Fortunately, the professor claims in his report that he does not hate Turks. So I'm hoping he didn't get too repulsed by that hug.)

Below is what a Turkish site had to say about this symposium:

Invitations have been made by Turkey at different times in order to discuss the correctness of the documents put forward by the Armenians and the Armenian pretensions supported by the Western European Countries and Russia. These calls have been both directed at to the Armenian scientists and to the people, who have undertaken the Armenian propaganda. However, an important part of these people did not participate the meeting without showing any reasons. The last example of this condition has been set in the 11th Turkish History Congress that gathered in 1990. 

For the first time, an “Armenian Section” had been programmed in the 11th Turkish history Congress and the foreign historians who have been “Armenian struggle Supporters” have been invited to the discussions in this section, but each of them using various excuses avoided participating in these scientific discussions.

The list of the foreign scientists invited to the 11th Turkish History Congress, held in Ankara between September 5th - 9th 1990, in relation with the Armenian problem, is given hereunder:

Prof. Dr. Heath LOWRY (participated)

Garin ZEDLIAN (did not answer)

Prof. Dr. Bernard LEWIS (could not participate)

Prof. Dr. Justin McCARTHY (participated)

Prof. Dr. Stanford SHAW (participated)

Prof. Dr. Anthony BRYER (Did not answer)

Dr. Andrew MANGO (participated)

Prof. Dr. Salahi R. SONYEL (participated)

Prof. Dr. M. MARMURA (did not answer)

Prof. Dr. Allan CUNNINGHAM (did not answer)

Prof. Dr. Robert ANCIAUX (participated)

Prof. Dr. Aryeh SHMUELEVITZ (participated)

Prof. Dr. Jak YAKAR (participated)

Prof. Dr. Hans G. MAJER (could not participate)

Prof. Dr. Wolf Dietrich HUTTEROTH (did not answer)

Prof. Dr. Klaus KREISER (could not participate)

Prof. Dr. Jean — Paul ROUX (did not answer)

Prof. Dr. Paul DUMONT (participated)

Prof. Dr. Robert MANTRAN (could not participate)

Prof. Dr. Richard HOVANNISIAN (did not answer)

Dr. Gerard LIBARDIAN (did not answer)

Dr. Levon MARASHLIAN (participated)

Prof. Dr. Vahakn DADRIAN (did not answer)

Christopher WALKER (could not participate)

Anahid Ter MIMASSIAN (could not participate)

Tessa HOFFMAN (did not answer)


Dr. Marashlian at the conference

Dr. Marashlian at the conference

    I don't recognize some of the names here, but the ones I do recognize... wow. It's like the "Who's Who" of the Armenian "Genocide" debate! It seems Dr. Marashlian was the only Armenian friendly scholar who chose to attend, and that took a lot of guts and sincerity on his part.... for only with open debate can these hopelessly-at-odds facts ever have a chance of getting straightened out.

As for the rest of the Armenian-friendly scholars... What a freakin' bunch of yeller-bellied pantywaists! 

I present to you, below, Professor Marashlian's report on the goings-on. Mind you (as the copyright notice bears his name and the page appears on his personal section of his university's web site), Professor Marashlian apparently wrote this article himself (even though it is written in the third person, to make it sound more official), and NATURALLY he's going to want to appear as if he came out on top. (And I don't blame him for that.) To read the report, he pretty much thoroughly trounced the scholars representing the Turkish perspective... not just one or two, mind you, but the whole FLOCK of them. We're only getting this one side of the story's exciting goings-on, and I found it to be very enjoyable reading (although I would have preferred to get a more even-handed report, of course; and it's not that this report is totally one-sided).

Instead of arguing with the professor's points (well... what chance would I have, when he bested the best of what the enemy camp had to offer?), what I'm more interested in is his reaction. He seems generally pleased with the way he was treated. Indeed, aside from the accursed Dr. Andrew Mango, everyone appears to have treated him with courtesy, fairness and warmth.

Look at the difference. I have never heard of an Armenian "Genocide" debate held by Armenians where "The Other Side" had been asked to participate. (Perhaps there have been examples here and there, but many of these Turk-friendly scholars... harassed, bullied and threatened as they have been by Armenians... just may not have felt like walking in their emotional midst without an army of bodyguards.) The forums I have read about where Armenian-friendly debates have been held have included "Turncoat" Turkish scholars, many of whom have different agendas in mind. (Like being the darlings of the West and making a name for themselves... or hatred of the Turks. In certain cases, some have been financially motivated by outright support from the Armenian power base, as was apparently the situation with the first Turncoat Turk, Taner Akcam... getting his first American "scholarly" job at Dennis Papazian's university.)

Now that Professor Marashlian had a close look at the "enemy," I wonder what he has done to correct the ones from his side who make unfair charges? Does he talk to Professors Papazian and Balakian when they sling mud at Turkey, terming the nation "totalitarian," in hopes of hoodwinking the Westerners? (Look at all the reporters who were covering Professor Marashlian... that wouldn't have happened in an oppressive state, anxious to keep the lid clamped on alleged crimes of the past.) Did Professor Marashlian come to the defense of the embattled Professor Heath Lowry, when an ugly smear campaign was directed against him a few years later? (For example, did he call up what appears to have been the main force behind the campaign, Peter Balakian, and say, "Listen Petey... I know it's our duty to knock everything and anything coming across as "Pro-Turkish," regardless of the facts... but do me a favor, and lay off Heath Lowry. I've met Heath Lowry, and I have come to know his as an honorable person"?) Surely Professor Marashlian could sense his gentleman counterpart was a sincere human being. Further, how many of these Turks and other scholars were evil liars and government propagandists, to Professor Marashlian's view? Chances are, he must have HONESTLY sensed NONE of them were. They were all speaking from the heart, just as Professor Marashlian evidently was, based on facts that they have come to genuinely believe. Did Professor Marashlian actually believe these non-Turkish scholars were under the payroll of the Turkish government, as Peter " Mr. Double Killing" Balakian has irresponsibly alluded... among so many other of his fellow Armenians and their bedfellows?

Another cool thing is, based on the cover-reproduction of Dr. Marashlian's books in Turkish (at the bottom of his web page), evidently his viewpoint has been made available in Turkey. What kind of a totalitarian society is this, anyway?

If Professor Marashlian honestly walked away from this event in good spirits (not because he so obviously humbled all the Turkish arguments, as he makes himself out to have done... but because of the friendship and camaraderie and respect he enjoyed, with his foes... as he alludes to in his closing paragraph), with the conviction that the folks in the opposite camp were pure at heart, shouldn't it be his moral duty to correct his foaming-at-the-mouth fellow Armenians, when they go wild with their baseless charges and accusations?

To illustrate further, I wonder how much he paid attention to facts he came across..? Was he sitting in his seat saying to himself, "Hmmm... well, that may not be true, but THIS... why, even though it runs contrary to what I've been led to believe, it certainly seems genuine. In fairness to the truth, and to my honor as an objective historian, I had better revise my own teachings from now on, regarding this particular point... even though there are those who will accuse me of being a 'revisionist.' But of course, we know it is the duty of honorable historians to be revisionists..." (Or, in other words, if historians encounter reliable counter-evidence to prevailing thought, it is their job to "rewite history," as Professor Marashlian ridiculingly quotes Justin McCarthy as saying, in his report.)

While you can bet every historian in that room (with the possible exception of Dr. Mango... Dr. Mango, I'm just kidding) would have revised their beliefs if Professor Marashlian came up with (if I may use a favorite word of his) "unimpeachable" evidence... with the understanding that biased sources such as Vahakn Dadrian and Leslie Davis cannot be counted on any more than Heinrich Himmler can be counted on to give an accurate representation of the Jews (Prof. Marashlian seriously wonders at one point why these two sources have not been paid attention to)... I don't get the impression Professor Marashlian permitted himself to have much of an open mind. For example, he is told that his version of events run directly contrary to Professor Justin McCarthy's, and then he is asked: "whose paper was presenting the 'truth, your paper, or Dr. McCarthy's?' Marashlian quipped: 'Mine.' "

That's all fine and dandy, and Professor Marashlian's quip exudes a charming "Gary Cooper"-ish bravado as the lone cowboy among the hostile Indians, but HONESTLY. Was Professor Marashlian keeping an open mind to the facts that Justin McCarthy was presenting, or did Professor Marashlian actually believe everything McCarthy was saying was a falsification... or, more likely, was Professor Marashlian just not caring of the facts and was solely interested in looking at cracks in the wall, saying to himself, "A-HA! Here is where I can 'get' them..!"

I have taken the liberty of reproducing Dr. Marashlian's report, although I did not ask for permission to do so. I just admire him for having done the right thing, by attending a REAL genocide conference, and his "reward" is that I'm leaving his work alone, for the most part... and I wanted people to have access to the report, in case his link no longer works, one day. If I get word that there's an objection by him, I will remove what's below, provide the link to his web site (as I've already done), and use excerpts that I will then rebut, as I have done with Professor Papazian's "Misplaced Credulity."

Here then, is Professor Marashlian, at his Turk-Trouncing best. He starts things off with a rude bang, by declaring his family was victimized by the genocidal crimes of his hosts' forefathers. (Fortunately, they, too, have survived... as have so many other Armenians... for a people we are asked to believe have been "annihilated.")


Professor Marashlian's Report

"As a preface, I wish to emphasize in Turkish that it is in the spirit of encouraging eventual Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that I am about to present the following facts and interpretations. Many of you will not want to accept these facts and interpretations, but I hope you do accept the sincerity of my desire for rapprochement , and I hope you agree that a mutually beneficial Turkish-Armenian harmony is possible only through dialogue and compromise based on accurate history. Since my Turkish is not as strong as I would like, as a result of the exile of my parents' families from our native homeland in Anatolia during the Armenian Genocide, today I will present my paper in English."

After making this prefatory remark in Ankara on September 5, 1990 at the 11th Turkish Congress of History organized by the Turkish-government sponsored Türk Tarih Kurumu, Levon Marashlian, then an associate professor at GCC, delivered a paper titled "Economic Influences on U.S. Policies Toward Turkey and the Armenians, 1919-1923." The following report was published in three parts during September and October 1990 in The Armenian Observer, Armenian Reporter, Armenian Weekly, Asbarez, Armenian Life. It also appeared in Armenian translation in Haratch, in February 1991. 

Prof. Marashlian Speaks in Ankara on the Armenian Question



Opening of 11th Turkish Congress of History by President Türgüt Ozal , meeting with US Amb. Abramowitz, exchanges with Mehmet Saray, Salahi Sonyel, Ergunoz Akcora, and Heath Lowry

Glendale--In an unprecedented development, an Armenian historian recently presented a paper on the Armenian Question in Ankara, Turkey. The Turkish Historical Society, founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1932, invited several Armenian historians to deliver papers for the first time at an official Turkish conference, the 11th Turkish Congress of History held September 5-9, 1990, in the capital city. Levon Marashlian, associate professor of history at Glendale Community College, was the only one who accepted the invitation.

President Türgüt Ozal opened the Congress on September 5 after the participants, including Marashlian, returned from a group visit to the Ataturk Mausoleum. The first session devoted to the Armenians began the same day, when Marashlian presented his paper, "Economic Influences on U.S. Policies Toward Turkey and the Armenians, 1919-1923." Over 300 papers were presented, out of which 16 were devoted to various aspects of Armenian history. Marashlian's was the only one from the perspective of Armenian historiography. Although greatly outnumbered by Turks in the room, he challenged almost every speaker and sparked heated debate. 

In addition to his participation in the formal sessions, Marashlian had the opportunity discuss current Armenian-Turkish affairs with American Ambassador Morton Abramowitz at the U.S. Embassy and attended a reception for a group of Congress participants at his residence. He also had informal conversations with Turkish government officials and prominent Turkish and non-Turkish scholars working in the field of Armenian history. 

Among these scholars were Dr. Yasar Yucel, President of the Turkish Historical Society; Dr. Heath Lowry, Director of the Institute of Turkish Studies (Washington, D.C.); Dr. Bilal Simsir, editor of the multi-volume British Documents on Ottoman Armenians; Sinasi Orel, Coordinator of the Ottoman archival documents on Armenians; Kamuran Gurun, diplomat and author of The Armenian File; Dr. Roderic Davison, Dr. Stanford Shaw and Dr. Justin McCarthy of the United States; Dr. Edward Mango of England; Dr. Salahi Sonyel, author of The Ottoman Armenians; Dr. Kirzioglu M. Fahrettin, author of Armenian Atrocities in Kars Province and its Surroundings; Dr. Mehmet Saray of Istanbul University, as well as other Turkish scholars and journalists. 

Marashlian commented after his return: "It was interesting to meet Turkish scholars who were familiar to me only through their writings. I disagreed with them vehemently on the scholarly level, but found them outwardly friendly and gracious on the personal level. Although I responded to them in a genuinely cordial spirit and we got along very well, I took every opportunity to forcefully impress upon them that their position on the Armenian Question is inaccurate and wrong. Although the Turks and other representatives of Turkish historiography maintained their position, I think a few of them, at least, took note of the weight of the analysis and supportive documentation I brought to their attention, especially the Turkish and German evidence that corroborates the reality of the Armenian Genocide."

In the first paper, "The Emergence of the Armenian Question," Dr. Mehmet Saray stressed that he felt no animosity toward "our Armenian friends," but presented the thesis that unfortunately the Armenians, as "tools" of outside powers, worked to "dismember" the Ottoman Empire. Marashlian, who found Saray to be "among the several Turks" he met in private conversations "who appeared genuinely open-minded," challenged Saray during the question-and-answer period. 

Levon Marashlian talks tough

Talking Tough

"I was happy to hear that you used the words 'our Armenian friends' several times, and I hope someday those words will have practical effect," Marashlian remarked, and continued: "You said that the Armenians were used by outside powers, that's true. You said that the Armenians wanted to dismember the Ottoman Empire, that's not true. Outside powers did want to dismember the Ottoman Empire, but not the Armenians, initially." Marashlian declared that Saray's presentation did not fully appreciate the fact that "Armenians were citizens of the Ottoman Empire, and as citizens, they had the right to ask for change. Armenians began in the 19th century asking for progressive change, reforms, not independence." Marashlian emphasized that only a "tiny minority" of Armenians asked for independence, the "vast majority did not." He added that some of the principles Armenians advanced in the 19th century are some of the "very same principles" found in today's Republic of Turkey, that "the Ottoman Armenian Armenians were eliminated for asking for those principles that Turks enjoy today, not independence." And regardless of what "a few Armenians asked for, some were used, yes, the vast majority of the 2,000,000 Ottoman Armenians were loyal." Consequently, what happened to them "is intolerable." 

At this point Marashlian read the verdict of the 1919 Ottoman Court Martial, quoted in one of Dr. Vahakn Dadrian's articles: The Ottoman defendants were guilty of "'the massacre and destruction of the Armenians and the plunder and looting of their goods and belongings . . . they had a free hand in their criminal activities . . . the organization and engagement of the gangs of brigands assigned to massacre duty. '" Marashlian also pointed out that the Ottoman Court ruled that the acts of rebellion undertaken by some Armenians "'do not justify the commission of the crimes with which the defendants are charged. Besides, only a trifling portion of the Armenian people is implicated in these acts; the majority of them demonstrated their loyalty. . . . Such transfer of blame in any event is against the dictates of law and conscience. '" In other words, Marashlian concluded: "What guilt does a five year old baby have, does a one year old baby have? I think what has to be done is, to get at the root of this problem, is to see the internal social, economic, political conditions in the Ottoman Empire, to understand why the rulers, the Ittihadist rulers, wanted to get rid of the whole population." 

Dr. Saray replied: "First of all I would like to thank you for bringing such an interesting point here to this discussion. You are right, we have nothing to do with those Armenians who asked for reforms. They are not the subject for discussion. The Armenians who formed civil and military units, revolted against the State, against the authorities," and who "cooperated with the Russians during" World War I, were the people the Ottoman authorities took measures against. Concerning "massacres or such things, where this happened, really, you've got to tell me," because in Asia, "I am afraid, the events are always exaggerated." To illustrate his point, Saray cited a case in which his research revealed that charges that Russians massacred Turks on a large scale in Central Asia were greatly exaggerated. Returning to the Armenians, he maintained that "it can be true that the Ottoman authorities may use that word," but he thought that concerned "only" the people involved with revolts. "I don't believe they meant that the loyal, good citizens of the Ottoman Empire," were massacred, "I don't believe they meant that." Saray noted that Marashlian had cited Ottoman papers as evidence, and stated, "we must discuss this, with an open heart, truly, we must place all our evidences here, discuss and find out the results. Well, thank you for the contribution."

A member of the audience, Dr. Salahi Sonyel, also disagreed with Marashlian. "You cannot say really that they were working for simple reform, and you cannot accuse the Ottoman government of not being able to implement the reforms. How can you expect the impoverished Ottoman government, whose blood was sucked by the Western capitalist states at the time, to spend millions and millions of Turkish liras to carry out these luxurious Armenian reforms in eastern Anatolia?" 

Marashlian countered Sonyel, pointing out that the reforms Armenians "were asking for would have been good for all Ottomans, Armenians and everybody else." As for Armenians who advocated autonomy or independence, Marashlian asserted, that was "after 45 or 50 years of Armenians asking, peacefully, for democratic reforms." When that failed, "some Armenians began to resort to autonomy, and some of those, later, when that failed, resorted to independence. Let's not forget that in the 1908 Revolution Armenians were allies of the Young Turks, allies of the Ittihadists. Let's not forget that."

Sonyel also recalled that in 1984 he had met Marashlian and his mentor Dr. Richard Hovannisian in San Fransisco, where "I personally asked Prof. Hovannisian, why don't we come together (?) I said to him and set up a sort of organization to study the Turkish-Armenian relations, and let's publish papers together. I will help you come into the Turkish archives, you help me go into the Armenian archives, we put our heads together, and we'll try to get at the root of the problem. All I received from him was a grin and a hand shake. The offer still stands." 

Dr. Saray: "I think we must come together. We must arrange joint sessions, symposiums. There is no point in hating, refusing to shake our hands, etc. etc. I think as a civilized people, we can come together." After recounting his pleasant experiences with a particular Armenian, Saray said that there are other Armenians who spread "all this propaganda" and "continue hating Turks. We are against this." Marashlian responded: "Well, I don't hate the Turks."

The next paper was "The Armenian Rebellion in Urfa and Talaat Pasha's Report," presented by Dr. Ergunoz Akcora. This was followed by "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story Revisited," presented by Dr. Heath Lowry. Marashlian directed questions to both of them, but felt that Lowry's paper was especially significant since it was an attempt to discredit one of the main American sources on the Genocide, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. Lowry: "The book argues that there was a systematic plan on the part of the Young Turk leadership to exterminate the Armenians, and that this plan could have been thwarted by Germans," who "chose not to do so and therefore both the Germans and the Turks bear a responsibility for what happened." Lowry noted that last February [1990] many Senators cited Morgenthau's book during the debates over the Armenian Genocide resolution (SJR 212), and explained: "My interest in this subject was not to approach the larger question of how one should most accurately characterize events of that period. Rather, it was to approach it from a limited angle, namely, how credible is the book, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, as a source for the history of this period." Lowry revealed several interesting facts surrounding the book--i.e., it was written by a ghost writer, Burton J. Hendrick, and that it contained some discrepancies. 

During the ensuing discussion, Marashlian called attention to the fact that Morgenthau's correspondence with the State Department corroborated the general thrust of the book (that Armenians were exterminated), and asked Lowry if his findings concerning the book contradicted the official reports the Ambassador sent to Washington. Lowry responded that he "was not attacking the credibility of Morgenthau as a source for anything," but simply questioning "whether or not one can use the book as a source for anything." Lowry continued that the "discrepancies are enormous, between the cables that he sent and the book. And I'm not talking now about his reports on Armenian deportations and deaths that occurred in the course of" the deportations. "I'm talking about, for example, the characterizations that he gives, of the characters involved in the book, [which] are literally fictional. That is, there is not a single word to support the assessment that he gives of these individuals, in the cables. That does not mean that in other areas the cables are not [credible?], and certainly they need to be used before anyone would try and make overall characterizations about what Morgenthau said." Referring to his own newly-published book, The Story Behind "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story," he clarified, "my point, my aim with this was more limited." Lowry added that he was continuing his research on related topics and announced that currently he was working on a book on the "uprising in the city of Van." 

This first session ended after several more questions and answers. A dozen more papers on the Armenians, including Marashlian's, were scheduled for the following sessions. 

Exchanges with Justin McCarthy and M. Aktok Kasgarli



"The Destruction Caused by Armenians in Eastern Anatolia, 1914-1922," was presented by Dr. Justin McCarthy, author of Muslims and Minorities: The Population of Anatolia and the End of the Empire. His presentation was an attempt to discredit the King-Crane and Harbord investigations of 1919 as being biased, and to highlight what he considers "important--one small commission that was never mentioned and has been forgotten, that of Niles and Sutherland." McCarthy explained that Niles and Sutherland recorded "'material evidence'" of "'devastation caused by Armenians'" and found that local Muslims in Bitlis and Van "'accused'" Armenians of "'atrocities of every description'" and "'hated the Armenians because of what the Armenians had done to them.'" After showing the evidence Niles and Sutherland gathered and which they "believed," McCarthy concluded that their report reflected the true facts. Noting that the two Americans returned home and succeeded in their private careers, McCarthy concluded: "I'd like to think that every once in a while honest people prosper." 

A Turkish woman in the audience asked whether it was "possible to make all these facts known" to public opinion, "to rewrite history" and to pass on "this knowledge" to the U.S. Congress and President. McCarthy: "We're trying to rewrite the history" but "we have a difficulty" in the U.S. because "for many, many years, since the time of these people [Niles and Sutherland], all that has been heard is the evidence of people who wished to say evil of the Turks. Now that's beginning to change around." But "it would be a mistake to think it will be quick," continued McCarthy, and to illustrate his point, noted that in surveys conducted in American universities concerning attitudes toward various peoples, "the Turks always come out as the worst," because of "all these prejudices built in." He stated that he recently conducted the survey at his own university among 300 students, and "the Turks came out worse than Cambodians, worse than Colombians, just down the line, worse than Russians, and Germans . . ." But when asked how much they knew of Turks, McCarthy explained, the students "who disliked the Turks the most were the ones who admitted that they knew nothing about them at all. . . . they said, I don't know anything about them, but I hate them. This is prejudice, and only over the next 10, 20, 30 years can we hope to defeat that prejudice, and that's what we really have to work on."

At this point Marashlian raised his hand to ask a question but the panel chairman, Dr. Andrew Mango (of the Turkish Studies Program at the University of London) appeared reluctant to give him the floor, saying that since Marashlian was going to deliver a paper himself, "could you make your question very brief please?" 

Marashlian asked McCarthy whether he found any mass destruction by Armenians in 1915 or 1914, since the events he was talking about appeared to be from 1918-1919.

McCarthy tried to deny that the destruction his sources referred to was from the later years: "No, they talk about when this took place, and it's different, I didn't get a chance to go over it . . . Some destruction took place . . . well, I want to separate, I won't talk about other [destruction], just what Niles and Sutherland talk about . . . they talked about some destruction happening at an early phase, and much destruction happening at the end. The destruction in Van and Bitlis happening very early, the destruction up around Bayazit and Erzurum and that area happening when the Armenians retreated." To support his answer, McCarthy quoted a statement by Niles and Sutherland: "'In 1917 the Russian Army disbanded and left the Armenians alone and in control. At this period bands of Armenian irregulars roamed the country . . . the Armenian Army broke down and all of the soldiers, regular and irregular, turned themselves to destroying Musulman property and committing atrocities upon Musulman inhabitants. The result is a country completely ruined, containing about one fourth of its former population and one eighth of its former buildings and a most bitter hatred of Musulmans for Armenians.'"

Marashlian: "You just proved my point. You said Armenian army. In 1914" . . . 

McCarthy interjected: "And irregulars, no, no, no, in 1917 I" . . .

Marashlian interjected: "You said Armenian army. There was no Armenian army in 1917."

McCarthy: "I believe what it says is, the Turkish army, [reads] 'the Armenian army broke down'" . . . 

Marashlian interjected: "There is no Armenian army in 1917."

McCarthy: "There are, in 1917, there are armed units that call themselves Armenian."

Marashlian: "But not army."

McCarthy: "If you wish to say that's not the Armenian army, that's fine with me. All I can say is when somebody is shooting at you, and he's in an Armenian group, and he's shooting you down, and burning your village, you'd probably say the Armenian army."

Marashlian : "The point I'm making is that . . . you're trying to paint a picture [showing] that Armenians caused destruction which led to their deportation."

McCarthy: "Perhaps someone else heard me paint that picture, but I certainly don't remember saying it."

Marashlian: "The allusion is clear."

McCarthy: "I ask anyone if I said that." 

Marashlian: "I would have one comment to make on this" . . .

Mango interjected: "I think I'll stop it here, because really, the picture painted in this report has had nothing to do with anything that happened before 1915, and I didn't hear anybody else who took it that way."

Mango's statement was surprising, since the title of McCarthy's paper was, "The Destruction Caused by Armenians in Eastern Anatolia from 1914-1922." Thinking back on this exchange, Marashlian found McCarthy's paper to be an example of "one of the themes of Turkish historiography, the focusing in on isolated cases of destruction and excesses committed by Armenians, in revenge, in the latter part of World War I and in the post-war period, long after virtually the entire Ottoman Armenian population had been massacred or deported, in an effort to indirectly support the familiar 'massacre and counter massacre' justification." That was why "I asked McCarthy for evidence of mass destruction in the early years, and his failure to supply evidence was revealing."

The next paper was Azerbaijani scholar Dr. Feride Mehmetova's, "Have There Been Armenian Territories in Northern Azerbaijian?" This was followed by "The History of the Dependent Barony of Cilicia According to Medieval Manuscripts," delivered by Dr. M. Aktok Kasgarli, who tried to minimize the political qualifications of the Armenians for independent statehood. When a Turk in the audience asked whether there had existence any Armenian independent state, Kasgarli declared, "there was no independent Armenian state." 

Dr. Mehmet Saray expressed ("courageously and with integrity," in Marashlian's opinion) disapproval of Kasgarli's presentation, stating that "the Armenians, just like the Turks, or Russians, or Germans, have the right to struggle for their political independence. To simply say that they struck out against this or that state, is unacceptable." Saray asserted that it would be "better" if these issues are explained in "a more scientific" way.

Dr. Marashlian holding up an Ottoman map proving the existence of an Armenian kingdom

Holding up the Ottoman map proving the
existence of an Armenian kingdom

     At this point Marashlian declared that "there have been several Armenian kingdoms, there's no doubt about that, no doubt." A reporter from Sabah newspaper asked, "can you name these kingdoms?" Marashlian listed the Armenian kingdoms and when he came to Cilicia, he pulled out four Ottoman maps, explaining that they were published by the Ottoman Military Academy in 1911. A heated exchange took place as Marashlian tried to make his central point while Mango attempted to block him, supposedly due to time limitations. Tapping his finger on the table, Mango declared: "You're out of order, sir!" Before sitting down, Marashlian held up the Ottoman map and exclaimed, "Ermeni Kraliyeti!" [Armenian Kingdom] Mango then gave the floor to a Turkish member of the audience, whose comment concerning Armenian kingdoms and the prominent status of Armenians in the Byzantine Empire provoked Kasgarli, who launched into an emotional final statement.


It was in this tense atmosphere that Marashlian began to deliver his own paper. 


Marashlian,'s presentation and exchanges with Andrew Mango, Heath Lowry, Roderic Davison, Ezel Kural Shaw, Justin McCarthy, and Mehmet Saray

It was on the heals of the heated exchange with the previous speaker and the panel chairman that Prof. Marashlian stepped up to deliver his own paper, "Economic Influences on U.S. Policies Toward Turkey and the Armenians, 1919-1923." Basing his thesis on fresh documentation from U.S. archives, Marashlian argued that in the final settlement of the Armenian Question, powerful economic interests influenced the State Department to adopt policies beneficial to Turkey and harmful to the Armenians, even though "all key American policymakers were convinced that the Armenians were victims of a deliberate attempt at mass extermination during WW I." 

Even the top U.S. envoy in Turkey, "pro-Turk" Rear Admiral Mark Bristol, "who is often used by some historians to support Turkish arguments, fully accepted the fact that Turks massacred Armenians on a large scale," said Marashlian. He supported this contention by quoting Turkish sources and Bristol himself. Marashlian concluded that, given the Turkish Nationalists' "strong desire for American friendship and almost desperate need for economic aid," a realization by the Ankara leaders that the State Department "wished to balance American business interests in Turkey with American moral interests in the Armenian Question," they may have been "compelled to be more flexible" toward Armenian claims. But Turkish policymakers "understood that not even a minimally 'fair deal' for the Armenians was anywhere near the main priorities of American policymakers, who were so obviously driven, not by what they clearly regarded to be legitimate Armenian claims, but instead by the economic bottom line--profit."

The first to challenge Marashlian was Dr. Lowry. "Levon, it's an interesting hypothesis, but you failed to advance it at all, beyond the realm of wildest conjecture. You failed, because you do not show, and I would argue that you probably can't, the dollar investment that would justify your belief that this was what was motivating the policy. It didn't happen." Lowry also rejected the assertion that Bristol was pro-Turk and referred to the Admiral's familiar "shake them in a bag" theory. (Bristol: "I am holding no brief for any race in the Near East because I believe that the Turk, the Greek, the Armenian, the Syrian, etc., if shaken up in a bag, you would not know which one would come out first.")

Marashlian retorted that before he demonstrates "how I have proved my case," he wished to put to rest the notion that Bristol's bigotry was neutral. Marashlian pointed out that at the end of one of those quotes about people falling out of a bag, Bristol had said, "but probably the Turk is the best one of the lot.." 

As for economic motivations, Marashlian replied to Lowry: "You're confusing two different things--the motivations that drove Department policy while the Armenian Question was pending, up to 1923, and what happened after that." He said that in time, Turks learned the ways of the business world and American entrepreneurs found that "investment in Turkey was not going to be as profitable as they thought it was going to be." But this subsequent experience of the Americans, Marashlian asserted, "is irrelevant to what drove them up to 1923." 

Dr. Saray raised questions concerning Marashlian's sources, which the speaker answered with ease. Saray also noted the sharp contrast between Marashlian's paper and McCarthy's, and wondered whose paper was presenting the "truth, your paper, or Dr. McCarthy's?" Marashlian quipped: "Mine."

Dr. Roderic Davison, a distinguished scholar of Turkish history, said "Marashlian is right in this sense, that there was a lot of American pressure for economic development in the post-war period." But Davison suggested that the State Department was concerned primarily with countering British economic advantages in the Middle East, not necessarily with supporting the Turks against the Armenians. And, "admitting that the economic motives were there, do you not think, as I do," asked Davison, that the principle American motive "was not capitalist gain, but political stability." Marashlian did not deny that the State Department wanted "political stability" in the area, but insisted that his special emphasis on the profit motive was still justified, since the ultimate "goal of promoting political stability," of course, is to create "a good atmosphere for international trade--economic interest is at the root of politics." And Marashlian agreed with Davison's point concerning the British, but drew a direct connection between U.S. opposition to British interests and U.S. opposition to Armenian interests. He explained that "the Treaty of Sevres supported Armenian claims" and "also supported British privileges" in Anatolia. Under these circumstances, "when the State Department opposes the Treaty of Sevres, it does two things: it opposes the British and it opposes the Armenians." 

Dr. Ezel Kural Shaw noted that "missing" in Marashlian's presentation was what the Turks themselves were doing in Anatolia. "It was not American economic interest in Turkey that created" the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, "it was Turkish drive, and the decision to follow their own destiny." Marashlian agreed with Dr. Kural Shaw that events on the ground were crucial, and said that in this particular, brief presentation, he chose to focus on the American response "to what was happening in Anatolia." He elaborated that when the Turkish Nationalists "rose up against the Treaty of Sevres, and drove the Greeks out, they created a situation in which the State Department had to deal with Ankara as opposed to Constantinople." The Constantinople government "had signed the Treaty of Sevres, had accepted Armenia, but now that government was defunct, so the State Department had to deal with Ataturk." And Ataturk's Nationalists "were dangling before American eyes the prospect that Americans could come in and profit" from various business enterprises in Anatolia. 

Kamuran Gurun, a former Turkish Ambassador, asked Marashlian a pertinent question. He wondered whether somebody "who is pro-Turk is necessarily anti-Armenian." Marashlian explained that the Americans he talked about were "not pro-Turk in terms of loving the Turks, and were not anti-Armenian in terms of hating the Armenians. . . . they advocated policies that were good for the Turks and bad for the Armenians. . . .They did what was good for American capitalist interests. If Armenians would have been good for American capitalist interests, they would have been pro-Armenian." 

At this point Sonyel and Marashlian had a lively debate over President Wilson's boundary award to Armenia in 1920. Dr. McCarthy then posed a question: "Isn't it true that if one starts questioning the ethics and the morality and the actions of the U.S. State Department in 1920, 1921, and 1922," then "one should question the ethics and the statements and the morality of the State Department and its people in 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919," in other words the motives of the people "who put through all this stuff on Armenians being killed and massacred" during World War I? 

Marashlian reminded McCarthy that when an administration changes, so do many officials and their staff. The officials during the war were "of a different administration, a liberal, more idealistic, Democratic administration, less big business." The officials who shaped foreign policy in the early 1920's were "from a different era, I'm talking about the Americans of the new era," who were "pro-business" and who advocated the "aggressive pursuit of foreign markets." But so as not to leave the impression that all Americans were like Bristol, Marashlian added that there were also many Americans who did oppose the State Department's policy of abandoning the Armenian Question in the early 1920's. 

Marashlian made the further point that when evaluating the statements of particular officials, regardless of the era, it is important "to look at corroboration." In this sense, he declared, the State Department information pertaining to the wartime treatment of the Armenians is "accurate, because it's corroborated by Turkish sources, it's corroborated by German sources, allies of Turkey." 

McCarthy: "You'll accept that there's some disagreement on that subject." 

At that moment Dr. Lowry brought the session to a close in a genial tone. "I think we put our speaker through a fair round here. I for one thank him for coming here." 

(As opposed to "Mango" on Saturday Night Live, Dr. Marashlian far from fell in love with the Mango he encountered)


Nine more papers on Armenians were scheduled for the next day, including "The Documentary Basis of Armenian Claims," by Ottoman archivist Sinasi Orel, and "Recent Publications on the Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire," by Dr. Mango. Orel, also a former Turkish Ambassador, outlined how the Ottoman documents on Armenians are organized and selected for publication, and also interpreted some of their contents. Marashlian and Orel carried on a cordial discussion of the two volumes of Ottoman documents published by the Turkish government in 1983, and the recent works of Dr. Vahakn Dadrian.

Dr. Mango

The Dreaded Dr. Mango

 In his own presentation, Dr. Mango mentioned a dozen "recent" publications representing Armenian and Turkish historiography, but two of the most recent works were missing: Susan K. Blair's The Slaughterhouse Province (1989) and, most conspicuously absence, Dadrian's "Genocide as a Problem of National and International Law: The World War I Armenian Case and Its Contemporary Legal Ramifications" (1989, Yale Journal of International Law). He ignored these but included in his discussion some works that did not even fit the title of his paper, either in terms of publication date, such as Armenians in History and Armenian-Turkish Relations (1967) by Turkish Senator Sadi Kocas, and ASALA: Irrational Terror or Political Tool (1985) by Israeli's Anat Kurz and Ariel Merari, a book which contains little on Mango's topic (works related to "the Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire"), and none of it original research. 

Aside from his inconsistent selection of titles, Mango did not analyze content or make substantive comparisons. Rather, he offered generalized statements which showed no indication that he had critically evaluated these publications or that he had made an in-depth inquiry. He stated, for example, that in The Talat Pasha Telegrams (1983), Sinasi Orel and Sureyya Yuca "have proved conclusively that the so-called Andonian documents which purported to show that there had been a deliberate policy to exterminate the Armenians, were a fake." Mango said "the conclusion stands, despite the objections of Armenian-American scholar Vahakn Dadrian, whose use of the minutes of the Court Martial held in Istanbul, under Allied occupation, has little relevance to the authenticity of those documents, the originals for which seem to have conveniently disappeared."

Thinking back on this presentation, Marashlian later commented: "Dr. Mango was of course free to disagree with Dadrian's article, "The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World Was I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of Genocide" (1986, International Journal of Middle East Studies). But to simply dismiss the eminent Armenian scholar's complex thesis, which he supports with heavy documentation in Ottoman, Turkish, German, Armenian and other languages, without even summarizing that thesis, is unacceptable at a scholarly conference. Such superficiality is an insult to the intelligence of serious scholars, and there were a number of serious Turkish and non-Turkish scholars in that room. In my opinion, Mango's presentation could only satisfy those in the room who wished to hear a particular political viewpoint." 

Mango's presentation was peppered with such expressions as "Armenian nationalist scholars" and "Armenian terrorism," and "campaign of terror" and the "track record of Armenian nationalism." He repeatedly depicted Ottoman Armenians as "Armenian nationalists," without making a clear distinction between them and the vast majority--peasants, moderate Armenians reformers, the conservative Church and the Amira class. 

During the questioning, Marashlian argued that Mango's "allusion was that nationalism was something bad," and pointed out that all peoples feel nationalism. "Mustafa Kemal was a nationalist, and Turks should be proud of that," and "Americans are American nationalists, so there's nothing wrong with being nationalist." It is more important, asserted Marashlian, to examine "what ideals these Armenian nationalists were striving for in the Ottoman Empire. Those ideals were "democracy, freedom of press, a parliamentary system, in other words, they were striving to improve the lives of Turks, as well as Armenians, and the lives of Arabs . . ." Armenian nationalists, continued Marashlian, were "for progress, in the same direction that liberal, progressive Turks were moving into." As an illustration of the kind of information from recent publications that Mango chose not to discuss, Marashlian read out loud Dadrian's quotation, from a Turkish source, of a statement made in the Ottoman Parliament (December, 1915) by Senator Riza: 

"It is unlawful to designate the Armenian properties as 'abandoned goods' for the Armenians, the proprietors, did not abandon their properties voluntarily; they were forcibly, compulsively, removed from their domiciles and exiled. Now the government through its officials is selling their goods . . ." Mango interjected: "May I respond?" Marashlian: "I'm not done yet." ". . . Nobody can sell my property if I am unwilling to sell it. Article 21 of the Constitution forbids it. If we are a constitutional regime functioning in accordance with constitutional law we can't do this. This atrocious. Grab my arm, eject me from my village, then sell my goods and properties, such a thing can never be permissible. Neither the conscience of the Ottomans nor the law can allow it." 

Finishing Dadrian's quotation of Senator Riza, Marashlian declared that "one of the reasons for the deportations of the Armenians was the plunder of their property for the benefit of individual Ittihadists." He noted that even if the "Armenian nationalists" did cause all the problems, as Mango argued, they "were killed off early," and stressed the fact that an "Ottoman document published by the Turkish Prime Ministry in 1983" shows that "800,000 Armenians were being deported," almost "all of them women, children, and old men." They were "not revolutionaries; what does this mean, in your opinion about the true purpose of the deportations, please?"

Mango replied: "Nationalist movements can be wise or foolish, knowledgeable or ignorant, realistic or impractical. The point I was trying (to) make was that the nationalist revolutionary leaders of the Armenian community were foolish, ignorant, and impractical." The assertion that the Armenian nationalists "fought exclusively for human rights," Mango continued, "is questionable." He stated that during the Armenian "terrorist campaign, lots of the victims were Armenians themselves," those who would not cooperate with the revolutionaries were "bumped off." At the least, said Mango, Armenians wanted autonomy, "and the track record of autonomous provinces in the Ottoman Empire, was for everybody to see. . . . autonomy was a prelude to secession . . ." There was "no doubt in anybody's mind where that particular road led." So although Armenian nationalists "might believe that they fought for everybody's rights, the people who would be affected by their campaign realized, the Muslim majority, that these selfless defenders of everybody's rights would eventually deprive the Muslim majority of their rights. That was a well-founded fear." 

In response to Marashlian's other points, concerning Senator Riza's statement in the Ottoman Parliament and the Ottoman document establishing that most of the deportees were women, children and old men, Mango stated: "I really can't see the relevance to what I said. By 1915 the process was almost complete. That's it. The revolutionaries had done their worst. The communities had been estranged. Sedition had happened." The expulsion of the Armenians, Mango, claimed "is not a process peculiar to the Armenians." As examples of similar experiences, he cited Third World cases and "the Germans in the Sudetenland, or the Germans in Poland, who were also expelled, and also gave large numbers of dead." Referring again to the Armenians, "so of course at the end there is a tragedy," Mango concluded.

Marashlian retorted: "You did not answer my question, in terms of the real purpose of the deportations." 

Soon after, when Dr. Sonyel and a reporter from Sabah joined in the debate, Marashlian emphatically reiterated a point he had made the previous day: "In the 1908 Revolution, the major Armenian political party was an ally of the Young Turks. They celebrated together for the same ideals." But the Young Turk movement, "between 1909 and 1913, gradually, was co-opted by the reactionary, right wing branch of the Young Turks;" the liberal wing of the movement, Marashlian explained, was also "opposed to Talat, Enver, so on." Armenians, Marashlian reminded Mango and the audience, "were in the Parliament." A "few Armenians, as you say, . . . were irresponsible, but how can a whole nation be penalized for the irresponsibility of a few?" 

The remaining papers on Armenians covered a wide range of topics: "The Armenian Question from the Standpoint of International Law," by Hamza Eroglu; "The Armenian Deportations in Light of New Documents," by Cevdet Kucuk; "The Armenians in Ottoman Freemasonry," by Paul Dumont; "Thoughts on the Commercial Activity of an Iranian Armenian who Died in Izmir (18th Century)," by Serap Yilmaz; "Armenians According the Ataturk," by Azmi Suslu; "Catholic Armenians During the Reign of Mahmud II," by Kemal Beydilli; and "The Russians' Administrative Structure in Anatolian Territory and their Policies Against Armenians," by Husamettin Yildirim. Marashlian continued directing questions and reading quotations from Turkish sources.

Chris Kattan as "Mango," in Saturday Night Live

I get the sneaking sus-
picion the Mango in
question was not this
one — the kind men fall
hopelessly in love with

Marashlian was given ample time to express his opinions, except when Dr. Mango was chairing a panel. While presenting his paper, for example, when Mango tried to stop Marashlian exactly when his time had expired, Kamuran Gurun interceded in Marashlian's behalf and asked Mango to allow him to go on. (Marashlian took only three minutes extra.) "I found Mr. Gurun's intercession to be a gracious gesture; perhaps it reflected a feeling on the part of my Turkish hosts that since I was overwhelmingly outnumbered, common decency would justify granting me a few extra minutes." Marashlian also noted that Dr. Stanford Shaw, when he was chairing a different panel, "generously encouraged me to ask questions and state my views." Marashlian's "impression was that, in contrast to my Turkish colleagues and Dr. Shaw, Dr. Mango tried to limit the amount of information from the Armenian perspective that I could present." 

Reflecting on his week in Turkey, Marashlian said: "It was rewarding on the professional level and quite enjoyable on the personal level. All the Turks I met were friendly, and although I vigorously disagreed with their position on the Armenian Question, I got along quite well with them, especially with Mehmet Saray, Kamuran Gurun, Sinasi Orel, Ezel Kural, Salahi Sonyel, Husamettin Yildirim, Esin, Gulfem Aslan and Recep Guvelioglu of Turkish TV, and Sinan Kuneralp of ISIS Press, who for years has been advocating a scholarly exchange between Turks and Armenians." Asked whether any long term positive results may emerge from Turkey's unprecedented invitation to Armenian historians, Marashlian said, "inshalla."

Copyright 1999 Levon Marashlian



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