Letter to Armenians: How We Win

For too long, our nation has rested on the laurels of being the first Christian nation. It has sent up warning flares and distress signals to other so-called Christian nations in an appeal to their aid. That aid has never come. Not once in 2000 years has there been a Christian rescue army to save Armenia. Our immediate neighbors are not Christian. Russia’s interests are not Christian. Georgia’s interests are not Christian. Greece’s interest are not Christian. France’s interests are not Christian. So why do we appeal to Christian interests in the international setting if they do not exist? For our sake, it is time to move on, and to find new appeals. Stop looking for saviors; start looking for partners.

While we mourn and honor the sacrifices of our fellow Armenian warriors and martyrs, the duty now falls to us, the survivors, to write the next chapter of our survival and, godwilling, our prosperity. Let us start by realizing some harsh facts:

1. Geopolitics is not chess. In chess, there are two sides, evenly-sized forces, and rules of gameplay. In geopolitics, there are human waves of Turks and Azeris who will break any rule if it means they get a chance to attack an Armenian. It does not matter if we killed 10 of them for every one of us. They have 10 more that they can afford to lose. We need to adapt to asymmetric warfare, cyber warfare, electronic warfare, guerilla warfare. It is good that Armenian schoolchildren are taught chess, but now they must be taught to play and win at chess in chaotic, unfair conditions: where the opponent has extra pieces, where the judges selectively reward cheating, and where an unscrupulous player might stand up and knock the pieces off the board. Start teaching unfair chess!

2. Russia is not our savior. They serve Russia’s interests first and foremost. Russia has proven itself to be a weak power bullied and cowed by Turks, or perhaps even a non-belligerent enemy of Armenia. Either way it is neither a friend nor a partner. We must get out from under their hegemony.

3. Europe’s and the United States’ foreign policy makers either a) do not care about Armenia, or b) actively support our enemies. While there are friends in Europe and the US and even Russia, they are not enough. The United Kingdom may as well be an open ally of Turkey. Germany is a weak and frightened nation that lives in fear of political correctness. The United States is largely lazy and ignorant, with a foreign policy elite that is obsessed with an archaic game of Risk against its ancient Soviet adversary. The main exceptions among the Civilized West are France and Greece. Our closest friends are those who also know what it means to be bullied by Turkey: Cypriots, Assyrians, Libyans, Levantine Arabs, and despite our past grievances with them, the Kurds.

4. Pivot to the East. Iran, China, and India are strategic partners that should be courted. Indian understands the threat of Pan-Turkism. China should be courted to make them understand that the Armenians and other victims of Turkish atrocities are far better partners than the Turks.

5. No one is going to fight our wars for us unless we are strategic partners with them. We are not Israel. The West’s guarantee of Israel was a one-time phenomenon that will not be repeated for us. It is time to stop bemoaning the unfairness of this, and to start adapting to the reality of it. Learn from how Israel has successfully thrived in a region surrounded by enemies and figure out how we can do the same.

6. While social media efforts to highlight Turkish and Azeri atrocities do garner international sympathies, they do not result in international action. The West has a poor track record on genocide-prevention. It will not save us for the sake of humanity. And while their inaction is a permanent stain on the integrity and honor of every Western nation, our moral outrage cannot overcome the matrix of their own national interest and national will that Western nations consider before intervention. Our tweets and our protests are great tools for getting the message out, but they are insufficient alone to change the course of Western foreign policy.

7. The only thing that anyone responds to is money. By some measures, Armenia is a poor nation, but we are rich in human, social, and natural resources that have great potential for the future. We are a nation of intelligence, wit, grit, and creativity. We need to make money, and we need to make money FOR OTHER NATIONS. The priority should be to model Armenia’s economy after those of Israel and Switzerland: banking, technology, defense, media, and other sectors. We should become a new center of finance, including exploring crypto currency options. We should invite the Chinese or Indian rivals of SpaceX to invest in Armenia. Only with a clear vision of shared prosperity will potential partners have a vested interest in our own survival and our prosperity.

8. We have a five-year span during which to build modern defense technology. Let us out-engineer the Israeli and American drones. Let’s leapfrog them and come up with daring and creative weapons for the new battlefield. Let us build more accurate long-range missiles. Let us create highly adaptable special forces units that work in coordination with cyber warfare units. As little as possible of our arsenals should be purchased from old Russian inventory. Name a conflict in the past 50 years in which Russian-built weapons were used by the victorious side. It cannot be done. Russia keeps its best and sells off its worst. So let’s build our own.

9. India is a promising strategic partner. They are acutely aware of the dangers of Pan-Turkism and could be courted for investment, mutual defense, and more. Importantly, they remain unaligned to either Russia or the US, and are independently strong.

10. China, though further away, also presents a huge opportunity for partnership. China will be the greatest economy in a matter of years. Let us court investment from them. Perhaps even try to strike up a deal to buy some of their fifth generation stealth fighters. Armenia, and other victims of Pan-Turkism, need to make the case to China that we are far better partners for the next 500 years.

11. Let us diversify our alliances. Russia has proved to be a non-ally. Let’s conduct joint training exercises with India, with France, with Iran, and with China. Let us create a new global alliance adapted for the 21st Century, with pan-Turkism as the new Axis of Evil.

12. Let us build our own intelligence network that reaches into Turkey and Azerbaijan; that courts Kurdish resistance fighters; that works with Greek, French, and Indian intelligence agencies. Iran and other powers should be engaged. Israel has Mossad. Britain has MI-6. Armenia should have a formalized and highly competent intelligence service that is capable of operations outside of our borders. Use the diaspora and the friends of Armenians around the globe to those ends. Crucial to this effort, Armenia needs to invest strongly in a wide array of cyber warfare capabilities. Cyber and kinetic warfare go hand-in-hand. They need to be developed domestically and, most importantly, secretly. At the same time, coordinate with artistic, cultural, and scientific efforts to improve the international profile of Armenia.

14. The country should nurture its young creative artists as cultural ambassadors. Use those artists to foster artistic links in China, India, Iran, and Europe. Create cultural links with our partner nations. We should be at the cutting edge of musical, visual, and film arts. We should film movies about the Defense of Van with producers from China or India, and teach the world why we say “Gini Lits”. Send young Armenian musicians on a world tour and to participate in all the biggest music festivals. Translate Armenian literature into Mandarin and Hindi. Armenians, in cooperation with allies of other ethnic backgrounds, can and should tell new stories, and not just stories about Armenia. Use science fiction as a metaphor for the Armenian struggle and to communicate the complexity of our fight for survival with outside audiences. Comedy, cartoons, rock music; a comical video game where trouncing Pan-Turkism is the object of the game. Make our own spy films and martial arts movies, and also participate in those types of projects with partner countries. Think outside the box.

15. This fight is not over. Armenia will persist, and it will thrive. But to fight and to win, Armenia needs new friends, it needs new investors, and it needs a new way of interacting with the world. The world has shown that it is indifferent to our grievances at this moment, but it need not be that way in the future. Let’s stop using past grievances as our only foreign policy tool. Instead, let’s become better partners.

16. Next time, bomb the pipeline immediately.

We have at most five years until the Turks make a coordinated genocidal push further into densely Armenian populated territories, and very likely less time given Turkish disdain for international law and for life itself. There is no time to wait. The government of Armenia should work with businessmen from the diaspora to create an environment favorable to massive investment. The diaspora should work with Armenia to create a global business and intelligence network and to promote Armenian arts and science. We should set up financial mechanisms to support regular payments to the Armenia Fund, as well as private investment vehicles. And we all must do more outreach to global players in politics, defense, and business. This is how we win.