As a young nation, Armenian society needs to develop infrastructures integral for statecraft. One of the most important attributes in governance is knowing how to control the narrative. This is done through: a) Identifying the message coming in; and b) knowing where that country stands geopolitically to recalibrate the right message for itself, its constituents, and its neighbors.

 

Who Controls the Narrative Controls the Outcome

“War is Deception.” This principle has been mastered by the Turks, who have dominated Western Asia for millennia through the Seljuks and the Ottomans.

To guard against deception, one needs to understand who they are, and their surroundings. A nation has difficulty keeping its rediscovered freedom after being occupied. It’s like a wild animal becoming domesticated, with its progeny reintroduced back to the wild. Once reintroduced, that animal no longer knows how to hunt. It no longer knows what it is.[1]

This analogy applies to Armenia. Armenia’s ruling “Nakharar” class has long been extinguished, first by the Byzantines, then by the Arabs, and finally, the Turks. Armenia’s ruling class mentality, which gave rise to fierce nations, such as the Hyksos and its domination of Egypt 3,000 years ago,[2] or Urartu, a state prophesied to bring the Assyrian Empire down,[3] has been replaced by a business-oriented mindset.[4] The business-oriented mindset is dangerous when it comes to governing a society, as its focus is on the “now,” and the bottom-line. [5]

In order to retain sovereignty, Armenia’s leadership must build infrastructure to prepare for 21st century foreign messengers. As technology changes, so too does the messenger and the target audience. Society has moved from the newspaper to social media, where immediate and unverified information is disseminated in a matter of seconds, appealing to raw emotion.[6]

 

Armenia’s recent revolution: “Velvet” or “Pied Piper” Revolution?

The key for any successful Armenian leadership [Diasporan or governmental] is to understand the many different narratives being promoted, as well as the medium promoting those messages, to protect those who belong to the Diaspora, Armenia, and Artsakh.

Western leaders have long understood the importance of narrative. There’s a reason why National Football League broadcasts are draped in imagery promoting the US military and patriotism, while being financed by the US government;[7] why “Google” has long partnered with the US government.[8] There’s a reason why China and Russia have begun to invest heavily in social media platforms such as Weibo and VK.com[9] to rival American platforms like Facebook or YouTube.

Armenia and its Diasporan organizations need to seriously evaluate what messages are being promoted, who is being promoted, and what they represent. No responsible leader provides a platform for famous reprobates to get “clicks” or immediate remuneration, even if it can be justified that certain famous reprobates bring attention to certain causes…[10]

There’s a reason why National Football League broadcasts are draped in imagery promoting the US military and patriotism, while being financed by the US government; why “Google” has long partnered with the US government.

The fair question that needs to be asked is, was Armenia’s recent revolution a “Velvet Revolution,” or a “Pied Piper Revolution”?[11] In order to put into in proper context, the analogy of the Pied Piper relates to the recent Revolution in Armenia where it was the youth that was targeted by foreigners.

I do not know the details of the everyday life of the average Armenian, or what prompted its Revolution. However, the parallels between Armenia’s recent Revolution is similar to the color revolutions in the former Soviet Bloc and Arab Spring.[12] The narrative of the aforementioned revolutions are pretty much the same; youth driven movements due to gloomy economic prospects and rampant government corruption. Corruption, economic decline, and election fraud all fed the popular frustration that fueled these revolutions,[13] but these and other injustices can be found in many other countries where no “democratic” revolutions occurred (think Saudi Arabia).

The common denominator with these revolutions is the utilization of new tools in the continued struggle between East and West. The US State Department “has taken a proactive stance in arming [] masses with advanced communications gear and training. With millions of dollars of grants, for instance, State has been financing “stealth wireless networks,” mobile “internet in a suitcase” systems, and software that protects the anonymity of cell phone and internet users in places like Iran, Libya, Syria, and China.”[14] The pattern emerging is Russia’s buffer states have been targeted one-by-one for regime change.[15]

Armenia is a minor buffer state between East and West, deepening its political and economic partnerships with Iran and Russia.[16] Global strategic think-tanks have observed that as long as Armenia was governed by Kocharian or Sarkisian, Armenia’s worldview would be lockstep with Russia’s.[17]

So where does Armenia lie?

 

Between East and West

Responsible statecraft recognizes that the perception of immediate neighbors is one of the most important attributes in order to survive war.[18] Armenian culture has long sought validation and acceptance as being European. This mentality needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values taught as a child.

The “pied-piper revolution” has seen some disturbing trends turning west. First is talk of withdrawal from the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.[19] Second are one-sided political arrests of “corrupt politicians” who bend toward alliance with Russia, and not the west. Most troubling are sentiments echoing one-sided concessions with Azerbaijan over Artsakh’s territorial integrity, such Armenian National Congress (ANC) member Zoya Tadevosyan proclaiming that “the liberated territories of Artsakh are actually occupied territories.”[20]

Armenian culture has long sought validation and acceptance as being European. This mentality needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values taught as a child.

These trends by the new government are dangerous, considering where Armenia is located. Armenia is West Asian, not European. Armenia is not, nor has ever been a European nation-state. This is fact. This is reality. To its west is Turkey, 80 million strong, militarized, Islamized, intent on reviving the Ottoman Empire. To its east is Azerbaijan, locked in bitter dispute with Artsakh over territorial integrity, while suffering an identity crisis between its Turkic and Shi’ite attributes. Iran to the south, with a hot/cold relationship with both Azerbaijan and Turkey. Georgia to the north acting as a bridge between Turkey and Azerbaijan, while alienating Russia at the expense of South Ossetia and Abkhazia for potential NATO accession. And Russia nearby, Armenia’s only guarantor of peace, but, acting in its own self-interests (as it should).

Showing weakness in the South Caucasus is deadly. The Republic of Armenia was prudent by not accepting the protocols when they were initially advocated for, despite the “business acumen” of certain leading Diasporan organizations.[21] One only need look at how Tayyip Erdogan changed his stance on Bashar Assad when it was expedient to do so,[22] or how Erdogan has been able to easily manipulate German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a beacon of “western idealism,” into paying Turkey more for a refugee crisis Turkey itself incited.[23] (Maybe Europeans are the ones who need advice on governing their own affairs, and should mind their business).

 

Conclusion

The message being delivered to Armenians today is the same as a hundred years ago, except with new buzzwords and a new delivery system. Over a hundred years ago at the Congress of Berlin, Armenians were promised buzzwords like “human rights” and “nationalism.” We all know how that ended. Today, the word “corruption” is used to infiltrate Armenian society. We, as Armenian society need to learn to subdue emotions, and develop infrastructure to identify who the message is coming from, and why it is being sent. Only then can Armenian society begin to govern its affairs properly among the growing challenges it will face during the 21st century.

 

Notes: 

  1. Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, Book. 3, Chapter XI, (published 1531), <https://www.constitution.org/mac/disclivy1.htm> [as of Sept. 1, 2018] 
  2. Ancient Egyptians were closer to Armenians than to Africans; a new genetics study reveals, (Jun. 5, 2017) People of Ar <https://www.peopleofar.com/2017/06/05/ancient-egyptians-were-closer-to-armenians-than-to-africans-a-new-genetics-study-reveals/> [As of Aug. 22, 2018].
  3. Jeremiah 51:27.
  4. Artsvi Bakhchinyan, The Activity of Armenian Merchants in International Trade (2013) Regional Routes, Regional Roots? Cross-Border Patterns of Human Mobility in Eurasia <http://src-h.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/rp/publications/no14/14-03_Bakhchinyan.pdf> [as of Aug. 26, 2018]
  5. Jason Whitlock, Sometimes, I can’t handle the Truths (Dec. 16, 2010) FoxSports, <https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/nfl-truths-too-much-even-for-jason-whitlock-121610> [as of Sept. 2, 2018], discusses the pitfalls of a pure capitalist system, and when left unfettered, hurts its constituents: “That’s capitalism at its highest level. Package your product in a way that fools the consumer into believing it’s good for them. Most Americans have no idea Ronald McDonald is killing their kids. No clue. Trust me, I believe in capitalism and I’m making every effort to become a billionaire. But Division I college football doesn’t need more capitalism. Capitalism is a slave to the bottom line. An overdose on capitalism is what created the gross inequities and widespread corruption that is now pervasive throughout the NCAA.” [Emphasis added]
  6. Jason Whitlock, BLM, N.W.A. Prove It Takes 1,000 Tweets To Hold Us Back (Feb. 15, 2016) J.School <http://j.school/post/139392087225/blm-nwa-prove-it-takes-1000-tweets-to-hold-us> [as of Aug. 25, 2018], discusses how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is similar to the hip hop group N.W.A. by appealing to the lowest common denominator, and using the latest media modes to spread its message:
  7. Melanie Schmitz, How the NFL sold patriotism to the U.S. military for millions (Sept. 25, 2017) Think Progress <https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/> [as of Aug. 23, 2018].
  8. Brandon Specktor, Google Will End Its ‘Evil’ Partnership with the US Military, But Not Until 2019 (June 4, 2018) LiveScience <https://www.livescience.com/62733-google-will-end-project-maven.html> [as of Aug 26, 2018].
  9. Adrien Henni, Russia’s top 10 websites include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube (Oct. 1, 2016) VentureBeat <https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/01/russias-top-10-websites-include-facebook-google-instagram-and-youtube/> [as of Aug. 29, 2018].
  10. «Եթե որևէ պաշտոնատար անձ ընդունելության արժանացնի քալիֆորնիացի այս պարոնին` ապա դա խայտառակություն կլինի» (Aug. 27, 2018) blog.168.am <https://blog.168.am/blog/169719.html> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  11. In 1284, the German town of Hamelin is dealing with a terrible rat problem. The Pied Piper comes in, and agrees to rid the town of rats in exchange for a large fee, and he does so by playing his pipe until the rodents come out to follow him. The town decides not to pay the Piper when he comes back to collect his money. So the Piper takes out his pipe and begins to play again, and this time, it’s the children that begin to dance and follow him. He leads them to a crack in a mountain, which swallows them up forever.
  12. Though the Arab Spring primarily started out in Tunisia, its effects were primarily felt in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, it’s interesting to note that one year after the bulk of the passing of the Arab Spring, Season Five of Star Wars Clone Wars, four episodes known as the Onderon arc [“A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points”] featured the then Republic training foreign insurgents in harsh desert planets. The Republic would then become the Galactic Empire, ruled by Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine, with Darth Vader by his side.
  13. Giorgi Kandelaki, Georgia’s Rose Revolution: A Participant’s Perspective (July 2006) United States Institute of Peace, Special Report 167 <https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr167.pdf> [as of Aug. 22, 2018].
  14. James Kitfield, I Tweet for Freedom (June 29, 2011) NationalJournal, reprinted in “Hillary Clinton Email Archive,” Wikileaks.org (Mar. 16, 2016) <https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/27517> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  15. Syrus Ahmadia, Mohammad Reza Hafeznia & Bernard Hourcad, Geopolitics of Buffer Spaces: Characteristics of Iran’s Buffer Situation Between Great Powers in the Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century (2013) Science International (Lahore). 25:4, 1019, <https://www.sci-int.com/pdf/888971359–1019-1030-%20Syrus%20Ahmadi-Geopolitics%20of%20Buffer%20Spaces%20-%20IRAN%2025-3-13.pdf> [as of Aug. 26, 2018], provides a discussion of the importance of buffer states.
  16. Berat’s Box, Wikileaks.org (Dec. 5, 2016) <https://wikileaks.org/berats-box/emailid/36128> (as of Aug. 28, 2018), provides the following excerpt from an email forwarded from Congressman Bill Shuser, 9th District of Pennsylvania “3. What will the resolution accomplish, and what could be the unintended consequences? > > Adopting this resolution could be cataclysmic and undermine US interests. Undertaking this course of action would not only be morally short-sighted, but it would alienate one of our last allies in the region who is working hand in hand with US soldiers and our allies to combat ISIS and give refuge to hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees from the Syrian Civil War. While many of Turkey’s neighbors continue to pivot to Tehran and Moscow, Turkey has remained loyal to the west, helping to protect our interests and countless American lives in the region. Turkey hosts Raytheon missiles despite the pressure exerted by Russia and Iran. > > Adoption of this resolution will directly result in the erosion of the United States’ ability to protect its citizens and assets in the region, ushering in a new era where Iranian influence is unchecked. > > Turkey’s geostrategic position between Europe and the Middle East has made the country an important NATO ally and an essential partner for both the United States and European countries in combating extremism in the region. As Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, and Iraq continue to deepen their political and economic partnerships with Iran and Russia, the United States’ leverage in the region is rapidly diminishing. Adopting the resolution would alienate a close ally and damage US interests.” [Emphasis Added].
  17. The Global Intelligence Files, Wikileaks.org (Feb. 27, 2012), <https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/22/2229139_re-proposal-armenia-recent-resignations-in-armenia-and-their.html> (as of Aug. 28, 2018), provides a discussion between members of Stratfor.com, and American geopolitical intelligence platform, concerning the Armenian parliamentary resignations in 2011: * Both current president [Serge Sarkisian] and former president [Robert Kocharian] have [SIC] good relations with Russia which is to say that whoever manages to stay in power is not going to change Armenia’s direction in world affairs to a significantdegree.
  18. Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, Book. 3, Chapter XIX, (published 1531), <https://www.constitution.org/mac/disclivy1.htm> [as of Sept. 1, 2018], provides: I conclude, therefore, with this discussion that the virtue of Romulus was so great, that it was able to give time to Numa Pompilius to be able to rule Rome with the arts of peace; but he was succeeded by Tullus, who by his ferocity reassumed the reputation of Romulus; after whom there followed Ancus, so gifted by nature that he was able to use peace and endure war. And first he addressed himself to want to hold the ways of peace, but he soon knew that his neighbors judging him effeminate esteemed him little, so that he decided that if he wanted to maintain Rome he needed to turn to war and imitate Romulus, and not Numa. [Emphasis added].
  19. Nerses Haroutiunyan, Russophobes in Pashinyan’s team: Soros tilting boat of pro-Armenian premier (May 28, 2018) Eurasia Daily <https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/05/28/russophobes-in-pashinyans-team-soros-tilting-boat-of-pro-armenian-premier> [as of Aug 26, 2018].
  20. Արցախի ազատագրված տարածքներն իրականում գրավյալ տարածքներ են․ ՀԱԿ անդամ (Jul. 31, 2018) Politik.am <http://politik.am/%D5%A1%D6%80%D6%81%D5%A1%D5%AD%D5%AB-%D5%A1%D5%A6%D5%A1%D5%BF%D5%A1%D5%A3%D6%80%D5%BE%D5%A1%D5%AE-%D5%BF%D5%A1%D6%80%D5%A1%D5%AE%D6%84%D5%B6%D5%A5%D6%80%D5%B6-%D5%AB%D6%80%D5%A1%D5%AF%D5%A1%D5%B6/> [As of Aug. 22, 2018].
  21. AGBU’s Statement Regarding the Protocols (Sept. 10, 2009) Reprinted at Keghart.com <keghart.com/AGBU-Protocols> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  22. Oleksiy Volovych, Erdogan — Assad: from Friendship to Enmity (Feb. 7, 2017) Borysfen Intel <http://bintel.com.ua/en/article/02-06-turkey-syria/> [as of Aug 25, 2018].
  23. Caroline Mortimer, President Erdogan: I will open gates for migrants to enter Europe if EU blocks membership talks (Nov. 25, 2016), Independent <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/president-erdogan-turkey-eu-membership-migrants-refugees-europe-warning-a7438316.html> [as of Aug. 26, 2018].

Author information

Ted Tourian

Ted Tourian

Ted Tourian is a tax lawyer in New York City, and licensed in New York and California. The views expressed are solely his, and not attributable to any organization he may be affiliated with.

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