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Nicholas von Hoffmann and The Lobby — The Armenian One

Nicholas von Hoffman will probably go to his grave still known as the journalist who predicted in 2001 a complete rout in Afghanistan — by the Taliban. To borrow Trotsky's animadversion on Dwight Macdonald, everyone has the right to be … Read More

By / October 11, 2007

Nicholas von Hoffman will probably go to his grave still known as the journalist who predicted in 2001 a complete rout in Afghanistan — by the Taliban. To borrow Trotsky's animadversion on Dwight Macdonald, everyone has the right to be stupid, but von Hoffman abuses the privilege.

His latest Nation column, "Whose Genocide Counts?", is more like a sub-literate raspberry directed at the congressmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who yesterday voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide:

What's next? A resolution condemning Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and the slaughter visited on the Egyptians at the Battle of the Pyramids? And how about a little legislative attention for the Romans killed by Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Better look into that one, too, guys.

Do you think that the House Foreign Affairs Committee might, after it has righted any number of ancient wrongs, look into what the Sam Hill is going on now? This very committee has a direct responsibility for the death of 600,000 Iraqis and the flight of some 2 million more from their homes. Does that bear a little looking into? While they are putting the genocide label on others, would the gentlemen and gentleladies of the committee consider putting some sort of label on themselves?

More interesting questions: Does France today make it a crime to acknowledge or publish works about Napoleon's invasion of Egypt? Is there a massive state-funded project underway attempting to get classicists to airbrush Hannibal's depredations from the historical record?

Since von Hoffman segues so effortlessly from Bonaparte to Baghdad, it's worth pointing out that the Left's favorite Mideast historian is Juan Cole, lately the author of Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East, which parlays the French general's 19th century adventurism into a cautionary tale about U.S. efforts in Iraq.

And what of those efforts? According to the above, the same committee that now censures the vanished Ottoman Empire bears a "direct responsibility for the death of 600,000 Iraqis and the flight of some 2 million more." If only Al Qaeda or the Mahdi Army had thundered and grumbled about the Tehcir Law, then perhaps The Nation might lay some direct responsibility at their feet!

Of course, we're now told of another dread "lobby" that has wielded its undue influence to get cynical congressmen to alienate Turkey: "Many persons of Armenian extraction live in vote-rich California," writes von Hoffman, "which explains why these politicians have flung themselves into the study of bygone events. Once again the pander bear stalks the land."

There are exactly 10 California representatives on the committee, and the resolution was passed 27-21, leaving the other 17 either big fans of System of a Down or hostages to conscience.

And consider von Hoffman's citation of Committee chairman Tom Lantos, who:

hit it on the head when he said, "We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people…against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price."

Von Hoffman is concerned for the U.S. troops fighting, in an all-volunteer military, a war commissioned by the very politicos said to be directly responsible for a human catastrophe. Left to the imagination is what von Hoffman thinks of the responsibility borne by those troops he suddenly can't bear to see put in harm's way for so many dead and displaced Iraqis. But the moral logic here is as simple as it is bankrupt: Turkey might now assault our soldiers and this is all the fault of rich Armenians and incumbents! Von Hoffman could teach Bashar al-Assad's correspondence course in propaganda.

Just out of curiosity, and because a Turkish invasion of Kurdistan seems imminent, what responsibility would the rogue Kemalist military bear for killing Kurds under the pretext of hunting the PKK? What responsibility does Abdullah Gul bear for imprisoning the son of murdered journalist Hrant Drink for the crime of re-publishing his father's articles about the Armenian Genocide?

Looks like Armenian-Jewish solidarity is stronger than ever. We've both got evil, heaving lobbies in Washington responsible for all the trouble in the world.

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