Tag Archives: genocide

Moskva sunk!

The Moskva — once the pride of the Russian navy — now apparently lies at the bottom of the Black Sea, sent to its watery grave by at least one missile fired from a Ukrainian battery.

The Moskva, a guided-missile cruiser, weighed in at 12,500 tons; it spanned 600 feet in length and carried a crew of 500 sailors.

Then it ran into trouble while Russian armed forces got bogged down in their effort to subdue Ukraine.

Info on Moskva, Russian flagship sank by Ukrainian missile (nypost.com)

What’s at stake now? Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin clearly is shocked that the Ukrainians would be able to inflict this most serious ship-sinking since World War II.

If only the Ukrainians’ stunning battlefield success would persuade Putin to give up his horrendous effort to subdue a sovereign state.

President Biden has labeled Putin a war criminal and accused him of committing genocide against the Ukrainians. Most of the world is reeling in horror at what Ukrainians are discovering on city streets as Russian troops retreat; they are finding corpses of civilians who were shot in the head.

Putin won’t give up the fight easily. That much seems clear. It also lays bare the brutality that lurks in what passes for this individual’s heart.

I am left only to hope that the Ukrainians can continue to inflict as much damage as possible on the invaders to the point that Russians will say “Enough is enough!” … and rid themselves of Vladimir Putin.


Biden calls it ‘genocide’

President Biden has ramped up the rhetoric in his face-off with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin, calling the Russian troops’ conduct in Ukraine an act of “genocide.”

It remains for international courts to make that official determination, but I happen to have no difficulty with our president calling Putin out on with the strong language he is using to apply maximum pressure on a despot who is waging what looks to many of us to be an illegal war against Ukraine.

Putin invaded Ukraine with the stated hope of capturing the capital city of Kyiv within, oh, a few days. It didn’t happen. Russian troops have retreated from the area around Kyiv and are reportedly staging in the eastern part of Ukraine to launch another massive assault.

They have left evidence of enormous destruction and the slaughter of thousands of civilians. Ukrainian forces have discovered thousands of bodies with single gunshot wounds to their heads; the men and women executed by the Russians had their hands tied behind their backs.

Why do this? President Biden labels it “genocide,” which by definition is the planned extermination of people based on their race and/or their ethnicity.

We have known for a long time that Putin is a bad actor. He has demonstrated beyond any possible doubt that he is incapable of being an effective partner at any level with this or any nation that values human decency.

He also has shown that President Biden’s moral outrage, which he expressed during his recent trip to Europe that “for God’s sake this man cannot remain in power,” is spot on.


Yes, it was genocide

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Joe Biden never has struck me as a politician willing to blaze many new trails. Still, as president of the United States, Biden has made a declaration that seemed to scare off every one of his predecessors for the past century.

No U.S. president, Democrat or Republican, has been willing to categorize the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenians as an act of “genocide” … until now.

Biden made the declaration today after talking with Turkish President Tayycip Erdogan, apparently warning the strongman of his intention to do what he did today.

So, you might wonder: Why the presidential reticence?

Turkey is a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was founded after World War II to deter possible aggression from what was called the Soviet Union. Thus, previous U.S. presidents were concerned about offending Turkey, upon which NATO depends as an important military ally.

President Biden has tossed those concerns aside.

The reality is that in 1915, Turkey set about to execute more than 1.5 million Armenians in what only can be described as a form of “ethnic cleansing.” Put another way, they engaged in genocide against an ethnic minority.

According to Yahoo News:

“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday, marking Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. He emphasized the need to recognize and remember such atrocities “so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history.”

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Biden said. “We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.

Biden recognizes as ‘genocide’ the killing of 1.5M Armenians by Ottoman Turks (yahoo.com)

Yes, President Biden is trying to walk along a nuanced line. I get that. It also signals a presidential intention to ensure that human rights remains at the top of our foreign-policy consciousness.

Stupa offers grisly reminder of why we should give thanks

Take a good look at the structure you see here. It’s called a stupa. This one is at a place called Choeung Ek, which is just outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I’ve visited this place twice, in 1989 and again in 2004. I have written a blog post already about a remarkable Thanksgiving dinner some colleagues and I enjoyed in Vietnam in 1989. We had just visited Cambodia and returned to Vietnam to continue our journey through Southeast Asia.

I want to explain what this stupa is and what it contains.

It is temple that is full of human skulls. They were dug out of the ground, excavated from mass graves around the structure. The men, women and children who were buried there were victims of one of the 20th century’s most hideous regimes, the Khmer Rouge terrorists who ran Cambodia from 1975 to 1978. Their leader, Pol Pot, wanted to purge his country of citizens who were educated, who presented any sort of threat to the regime’s power.

All told, it is estimated that Pol Pot killed about 2 million Cambodians in one of the century’s worst cases of genocide. The country is littered with mass graves similar to the one next to the stupa.

We spoke during that 1989 tour of Cambodia with survivors of that terror. One young woman told me then that if Pol Pot were to come back and threaten her country, “We all will become soldiers” who would fight the Khmer Rouge to the death.

The Khmer Rouge didn’t come back. Vietnamese armed forces invaded the country in 1978 and exposed the horror to the world. The authorities were able eventually to hunt down Pol Pot. They captured him and imprisoned him; he died while awaiting trial for crimes against humanity.

The killing fields have been set aside as permanent memorials to the sacrifice endured by brave people of Cambodia. I want to show you this stupa to illustrate just one more time why our Thanksgiving in Vietnam was so special to us.

It filled me 30 years ago with a sense of gratitude I likely would not have felt had I not laid eyes on this stupa and peered at the skulls stacked from floor to ceiling inside it.

Yes, the holiday is a time to reflect. I choose to reflect as well on the tragedy that so recently befell a far-off land and pray — no matter how unlikely — for an end to this level of inhumanity.

When you lay eye on the evidence of such horror and hear the testimony of those who lived through it … and enjoy a meal served to commemorate your nation’s Thanksgiving holiday, you certainly understand why you have so much for which you give thanks.

Call it what it was: genocide

My friend Butler Cain has posted a blog about a recent visit he made to Armenia, where citizens are marking the 100th anniversary of what historians have determined to be genocide.

Turkey fought on the losing side of World War I, along with Germany. In the process of losing that war, it engaged in the brutal slaughter of more than 1 million Armenians.

The Turks have refused in the century since to call what they did an act of genocide.


Others have used that language to describe the systematic extermination of people of a certain ethnic background, which by definition is what you call genocide.

One of the voices that so far has been silent on this matter has been the United States, which also hasn’t called it genocide. Again, by my way of looking at it, the Turks did that very thing.

Why the U.S. reluctance? Turkey is an ally of ours. It’s standing with us — more or less — in the fight against the Islamic State. Do we want to offend our allies by suggesting that its forebears did something so unconscionable that they might withdraw their support for our effort to eradicate the Islamic State?

That well might be the calculation.

Let’s call it what it was. Genocide.

Hitler tried it in World War II in search of his “final solution,” which meant the extermination of Jews; Pol Pot sought to eliminate his fellow Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in the 1970s; Rwandans engaged in genocide in the 1990s against their own people as well.

History knows what happened in those instances. We have put the proper name on these evil acts.

It’s time to do the same thing while describing what happened to Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.