Category Archives: World Politics

The Rebirth of a Nation

Armenian Flag

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Marsel Majid

Some in silence and some in tears, the souls of great empires and the brave hearts of nations have left the stage of humankind never again to reappear. It is not for us, those who have lived and walked on an earth soaked in blood to decide the future, but for the young who look beyond the tomorrows and choose their road.

Life now passes too soon for us; it never ends, youth believes, for them.

The empires – the Holy Roman Empire, the Mongols, the Romanovs, the Han Dynasty or the Byzantine- and others are gone and they have washed their hands of their bloody deeds. Why should they be remembered for their horrific chapters in the history of mankind? And surely there is no reason to remember the ignoble chapter in history that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics played during its brief but perverse era on this globe as a superpower.

Or is there?

We talk today of Russian Mafia, of oligopolies, of the Russian Federation and how Russian President Putin is attempting to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Election. Some would even form alliances with the Russian tyrant. How quickly we forget the evil and the trials and tribulations of the Soviets, of their political plots that led to the murders of millions of innocent men, women and children. Wasn’t it only yesterday that they, the Soviets, were shouting, “We will bury you (United States)!” Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin have played their roles and are now only a page or two of 20th century history. These men are dead, but the seeds they planted while they were in power still live. Their scarlet flag inspired men and women to plunder and kill anyone who would raise their voices in opposition to their cause.

As an American of Armenian heritage, I cannot lock my lips when I hear the words “ Ottoman” or “Young Turks” or see them on the written page. They murdered my grandfather, my aunts and cousins – who instigated the 1st genocide of the 20th Century, on that ignoble day, April 24, 1915, with their slaughter of 1.5 million of my ancestors.

From the ashes of that genocide the Armenians created the first Republic of Armenia in full view of our beloved Ararat on May 28, 1918. It lasted but three years and then the red, blue, and orange of our flag was not seen again for 70 years. A lack of experience in governance and the reliance of western help led to the demise. The Armenians survived the gulags, the Second World War, the purges, and the bread lines to live another day. That day came on September 21, 1991, when Armenia declared its Independence.

Today, Armenians around the world can stand tall on what the young republic has accomplished as a free society: economic reforms, free enterprise, a market economy that helped stock the shelves of store with foreign and local goods. There are no more bread lines or midnight knocks on the doors, with the KGB breaking them down and making unwarranted arrests.

The rebirth of the Republic of Armenia has been a painful one. But it has given the nation, the first nation in recorded history to go to war to remain a Christian nation, the liberty and freedom to chart its own destiny.

Armenians, history has shown, are survivors. Give them a task, they will do it. Today, in the land of a 1000 Christian churches and the home of Noah’s Ark, life is good and they will make it even better.

“It is not the weight of the problem, but the number of those who are willing to bear the fight and lighten the load that count.” -Armenian adage

In celebration of the Silver Anniversary of Armenia’s independence, John Kerry, US Secretary of State, issued the following statement to the Armenian People:

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I want to extend my congratulations to the people of Armenia as you celebrate the 25th anniversary of your nation’s independence on September 21.

“The United States deeply values its warm friendship with Armenia and with all of you. In the past quarter century, Armenia has made great progress, and my government looks forward to continuing to work closely with you in support of shared prosperity, strong democratic institutions, the rule of law, and regional peace. We appreciate Armenia’s consistent support for effective international peacekeeping, and its leading role in responding to the Syrian refugee crises. We are also grateful for the presence in the United States of a vibrant and highly-accomplished Armenian community.

“On this special day, I offer best wishes to all Armenians for a peaceful and prosperous year to come.”

John Kerry,
Secretary of State
Washington D.C.
September 19, 2016

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Save

Save

Rewriting History

Armenian Fingerprint
Image courtesy of Pixabay and Kurious

Many who fell for the Soviet propaganda and accepted an invitation by the Soviet government to repatriate felt betrayed.

The Soviet Constitution, Stalin’s Constitution of the 1930’s, by law guaranteed a Soviet citizen work, free medical care, and free education. That was the Soviets’ promise to those who would return.

Instead, those who went found hell: long lines for food, what food there was, unimaginable living conditions, nauseous and disgusting working conditions. Life in the former Soviet Union was beyond any American’s wildest imagination.

Even to this day – six decades later – I shudder to think of the life I lived as a Soviet citizen.

Now, I feel betrayed by Armenian scholars, some of whom lived under the fear of the communist state, who fail to recognize the Armenian Americans’ contributions to the repatriation program. And by not recognizing them they perpetuate the existing schism between the Motherland and the Diaspora.

In November of 1947, along with 150 other Armenian Americans I repatriated to Soviet Armenia. I lived in the republic and played basketball continuously for the next 13 years. A second group of Armenians from America of approximately the same number arrived in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia in March of 1949. Between us, Armenian Americans contributed millions of dollars in machinery, cars, trucks, tractors, refrigerators, and items that the Soviets never thought existed, to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

The repatriation program was conducted during a period of time when most of Europe was dying to come to the shores of the United States, seeking freedom and liberty from war-torn countries and their totalitarian dictators.

“America had the highest standard of living in the world. We gave it all up. We were going against the tide,” said Deran Tashjian, now living in Pasadena, CA. Tashjian, who became an outstanding Soviet track and field coach, coaching athletes to Olympic stardom, continued, “We had a lot to lose. And we lost it, especially our freedom.”

“I consider these Armenian Americans heroes,” said another surviving repatriate, who went with his family from Kenosha, WI. “They contributed so much, and asked so little. The Soviets repaid them, by exiling their fathers and mothers to Siberia…”

A few years ago, I attended an International Academic Conference hosted by The Armenian Research Center, University of Michigan-Dearborn. Armenian scholars throughout the United States and Europe attended the conference which, without hesitation I would call a tremendous success.

But, a paper submitted by Professor Garen Khachatryan, of the Institute of History, National Science of Armenia, and presented during the first session, chaired by Kevork Bardakjian, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted the repatriation of Armenians from Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, France, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and then bunched the United States with “other countries”, not even mentioning it by name.

The Armenian repatriates from the United States contributed more to the wealth of that impoverished Soviet republic than all the others combined. And these American Armenians suffered the most, for they gave up the most!

The others took from the Soviets – we gave to them and received from them a slap in the face. No, not a “slap” but the basic denial of our freedom.

Although I, as did many others from the United States, wanted to return home, I was denied that right for 13 years. Some who tried were imprisoned.

It is my sincere opinion that it would be an injustice to adopt Professor Khachatryan’s paper, before it is amended to include the historic contributions by Armenian Americans to the Motherland.

In addition, in another session, I heard an advisor to the President of Armenia tell the group that government archives, as well as many others, have been opened for use for scholarly study. However, when I asked, “Have the KGB files been opened?” He responded immediately, “No. No. No.”

One of my repatriate friends told me of two Armenian Americans who went to Hyestan in 1949. They were Dashnaks and the Soviets sent them to Siberia before they could even get their things off the ship.

We depend on scholars, not only from Armenia, but all over the world to speak freely, but it seems that the cloak of communism still remains in some of the countries that were behind the Iron Curtain.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

War, Not Peace?

Hand holding earth
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ponsulak

It was Churchill who noted that facts are better than dreams.

For we can dream all we want of jobs, or a national health care program, or financial security, or peace, if we do not work for those ends, it just won’t happen.

To hope is good, but the word is too subjective. I can pray all I want to God for peace, but the fact is there is no peace. The 20th Century was one of the most violent centuries since man recorded history; and the 21st is shaping up to being no better. We have been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for more years than we were in World War I or even World War II.

And to make it clear – I detest war as most men and women do. Death comes too soon in life to hasten it in battle.

Though I have heard during my fourscore and one years many false prophets preach of a “Judgment Day” for the evil and a Resurrection Day for the merciful, I have seen neither. So those who have died for the causes…the “isms”, for liberty, for equality, for fraternity and for their national security have apparently died in vain.

There is no justifiable reason to go to war, not even if it is a so-called “humanitarian operation”.

If by “we” means to place American lives in jeopardy, I say no…a thousand times “no”. Have we not sacrificed enough of our young men and women upon the altar of war? The world has long forgotten those who sacrificed their lives at Verdun and the Somme and Amiens and Normandy and El Alamein and Stalingrad, and Dien Bien Phu – to list but a few. Those millions of lives lost – on both sides of the battle lines – were lives of the young and our finest – what unfulfilled missions did they have before the fatal bullet struck them down? Which of those brave lads was the one destined to find the cures for our cancers, to create undersea and ocean apartment complexes – what were they destined to do before they were called to arms?

Isn’t it time for man to abandon violence as a means to settle disagreements?

Given a microphone to ask a question, one student at one of my book talks at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, said, “Mr. Mooradian, I have served in Iraq. Do not be confused. We are not there for the people. We are there for our buddies: to protect him and hopefully for him to protect me.”

Another student raised the question, “Should we not intervene to stop those in power from mass murdering ethnic groups?”

Strange, isn’t it – that that question should be asked of an Armenian author whose mother, at the age of 10, watched as a Turk plunged a saber into the belly of her pregnant older sister and saw the Turks slaughter her mother and father after they burned down their home in the village of Ererzum. Where was the United States? Where was France and England and Russia then? They stood by and asked the Christian Armenians to pray…

But then Armenians did not have oil.

To those who believe in intervention, let the United Nations – not the United States – act. After all, was not that the purpose of the framers of the United Nations charter…to establish a government body that would immediately act against those who would commit crimes against humanity.

“They don’t have the power…or the forces…to do so,” you say.

Then give them the power and the resources.

And, I will repeat what I have told the now thousands who have heard me, “If man cannot live on earth in peace, then damn it, we do not deserve to live on earth!”

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Message to the Kurdish People

Soldiers marching across terrain
Image courtesy of khunaspix and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My dear, dear, Kurdish friends…you may not remember me, but I can’t forget you.

I am that “insane American” who, when hungry, you shared your bread and mason with. You may not remember me but one of your elders may. He is the one who called me crazy because he knew I was an American who left his native land and had traveled thousands of miles into your strange country. Alone. With only one hundred dollars in my pocket. Which, at the time, could buy me a few lemons or oranges.

That winter of 1948 I shall never forget.

What a world. Hitler and his Nazis dead. The war over. Peace on Earth and now the world can rebuild. Thank God the world will never see another war again. What looney of a leader would ever want to fight a war with weapons of mass destruction?

And you believed that Allah was Great and me, an Armenian, believed that Jesus Christ was my Savior.

But, then, we were in the USSR at that time. And we sure needed our gods to get through the hunger and the famine and the informers, didn’t we? Even though we didn’t speak the same languages, we understood each other.

You told your Kurdish stories to me, and I retaliated with hyperbole of America.

The Kurds, you said, believe the circle is the evil work of Satan. That if a stranger quickly drew a circle in the sand around a Kurd, the encircled Kurd would not cross over until one of his tribe erased it so that he could walk away. To leave the circle without the help of a believer would definitely open the door into his house and into his life.

And I countered with…If you worked hard in America, you could own a beautiful house or a farm or an automobile and that bread and milk and honey is plentiful and you don’t have to wait in line to purchase what you want in America. And if I didn’t like America I could go anywhere in the world. Even travel to the Soviet Union.

I don’t think he believed my stories.

I didn’t believe his. But, we remained friends to the end.

There were times I didn’t have a kopeck in my pocket and told Kurdish vendors: “Dangi nyet…dangi nyet.” (I have no money to pay). They would evoke the words of the prophet, Mohammed, that the Koran teaches the need to help their fellow kind, to give alms to those in need. During my early days among the Soviets, the government believed I was a “spy”; I truly needed help to survive.

It was a time that I had time to read and think and pray. And how many times did I read Omar Khayyam”s “The Rubaiyat”. Who can forget those beautiful words:

“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,

A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness-

And Wilderness is Paradise now…”

How worlds have changed since that time we shared a cup of Chai.

Let me make it clear that it is no secret to me and my world that the Kurds willingly aided and abetted the Turkish troops in the crime of genocide of the Christian Armenians in 1915. I would not have been born in the United States if members of my mother’s family had not been victims.

The Kurds, with no homeland of their own, were only too eager to drive their neighbors off the land, strip their victims of any wealth and help in the round- up of old men, women, and children for the eventual “death marches” that ended in the Syrian desert. The Kurds are as culpable as the Turks for the massacre of 1.5 million Armenian. Time and yes, even God, can’t ease the pain or change the past.

In the madness of our times, the Kurds apparently have forgotten what they had sown. They have forgotten what happens to minorities living on land ruled by dictators who advocate submission to the ruling class. “Turkey for the Turks,” they had shouted. And blindly the ignorant masses followed. “All Power to the Soviets”…and the workers believe. “Gleichschaltung! Gleichschaltung!” the Nazis shouted…as they goose-stepped to whatever their Fuhrer Adolph Hitler demanded. And his demands lead to millions dying on the killing fields, a world of chaos, destruction in ruin.

It hasn’t changed much, has it?

The Kurds know it, today they are not only fighting against a barbaric enemy, ISIL, but, in the ominous shadows lurk Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, if the opportunity is given, would order his mighty military troops – not to fight ISIL – but to end “The Kurdish Problem” as his sadist predecessors accomplished in 1915. And, if that is not enough to be concerned with, the Kurds have in front of them Iraq to contend with. Iraq has not forgotten the Kurds and the Kurds have not forgotten “Halabja”.

This generation of Americans will never forget Iraq and our nation should never forget what then Vice President Dick Cheney said when the US launched its invasion of Saddam Hussein’s land because the Iraq president had “weapons of mass destruction.” “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” The vice president would have had more support if he had advocated the invasion because Hussein had actually killed some 5,000 Kurds in the city of Halabja, using poison gas.

Then there is the perverted Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been literally fighting for his life, but would rather see millions die, his nation in ruins, his people fleeing to foreign shores and countless more dead than give up power. If he is willing to do this, then what would Assad do to the Kurds who want a piece of the northern region to create their own homeland.   If Assad, too, was ready to gas his enemies,  and it was only by a casual remark by Secretary of State John Kerry that eventually convinced the Syrian dictator to allow the Western powers to dispose of the poisonous gas – what will be the fate of the Kurdish people.

In the year 1915, the Ottoman Turks massacred 1.5 million Armenians.

In the year 2016, will the Kurds become the next victims of a genocide.

 

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save

Save