Friday, November 05, 2004

After reading the response letter from ambassador Ghougassian, the response letter from Markar, then the response from the ambassador and then a Yahoo search of who the ambassador is, I felt compelled to write him to see if he could shed some light on the flip side of the deployment situation, since so far, he is really the only person I know that is in favor of sending Armenian troops to Iraq.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous writing to him, as here I am corresponding with a former US ambassador with a PhD and is a professor at San Diego University. On top of this he is old enough to be my father.

None the less, for the sake of my own curiosity I had to write to see what he thought of my views. I was also keeping in mind that the MFA felt that what I has written in the past, which was bordering on a threat towards Vartan O. and those in the Armenian government responsible for deployment if harm came to any Armenains of Iraq, was welcomed as “useful and valuable.” But now I was writing to a man who found the things that Markar wrote, which I agreed with and kind of fall in line with what I’m saying as “obstinate color blind judgement.” Anyway, enough said, here is my letter to the ambassador, I hope he does not deem me as being some radical communist or something worse:
Sent:Fri, 5 Nov 2004 02:43:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject:Re: Oppose Armenian Deployment to Iraq.

Dear Ambassador Ghougassian,

Thank you for writing back and advising me to use a search engine for answers to my question for you. Boy did it work. Did you know that you have a whopping 66 documents connected to your name, where mine has only 27, many of which seem to belong to someone other than me.

I skimmed over a few documents and your October 2nd interview with the NC Times. It clearly stated who you are and what work you have done in the past. Very impressive. You don’t by chance appear in a book of famous Armenians do you? If you don’t, you should.

Just a quick one line on who I am so you understand better who is writing you. My name is Ara Manoogian. I was born in Pasadena, California and have moved to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) a few years back, to partake in the development of the Armenian nation in terms of fairness and the rule of law. No, I am not an attorney, but a security consultant who did well for himself and went into early retirement at the age of 34.

In the message you sent, I really can’t comment much in terms of your analysis of future developments in Iraq and if in fact 2 years from now it will be an economic powerhouse in the region. I can say that when I look to Iraq and their leaders, I also look to Chechnya. The reason I say this is that Chechnya’s leaders were basically appointed by Russia, as my understanding Iraq’s interim leadership has been appointed by the USG (the story I read in the NC Times stated that you also served in that government). For that reason, I’m not too sure who is going to remember in the end if Armenia’s sending troops was a good or bad thing. I do know that the president of Chechnya was assassinated a while back and probably the president that was just elected, who is once again Russia’s candidate will probably see the same fate. And I keep hearing news of persons from the Iraqi interim government being killed every now and then. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not convinced that the government of Iraq or Chechnya today will be the government of tomorrow. All I know is that I have relatives in Iraq (my father left Iraq in 1954 to study at Harvard and never returned), who I am very concerned for their safety and the safety of the Armenian community there. I only know that if we send Armenian troops to Iraq, the Armenians there could be put in harms way, as well as Armenia itself, which is surrounded with Muslim neighbors, could become a target of terrorist attacks.

As for your comment of if the Armenian government does not side with the USG in Iraq, it will loose out on economic and political benefits. I’m a bit confused to this comment, but also understand where you’re coming from at the same time.

Now please don’t get me wrong here. I didn’t vote in the election since I no longer live in the US. If I was to have voted, I would have probably voted for Kerry, only because of possible benefits for Armenia. If I was living in America and voted as an American, I would have been thinking in terms of who is best for America and the American people and I would have voted for Bush. Bush is the man who will take America forward politically and economically taking no prisoners and ridding the world of anyone or anything that is a terrorist threat to America. Bush is a great leader in terms of taking care of the American people only.

As for Armenia benefiting from America politically and economically, I have yet to see that happen and don’t expect to see it ever happen. My feeling from what I’ve seen so far in the last 12 years in Armenia is that American programs have not helped Armenia, but only hurt it. The same programs have been in place in other countries long before Armenia had them and so far they have from what I’ve read produced similar results. Don’t let those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up to long and please hear me out.

I’ve been studying the overall change in Armenia for the last 12+ years and have documented various policy changes in the country, many of which were implemented by directives from the IMF, WB, WTO, Department of State and USAID. Unfortunately, many of these programs have fed into corruption and caused a great deal of hardship for the people living on Armenian soil. Yes, the Armenian government has played along, but keep in mind that in a country that on the verge of being terminally corrupt, what the government does, rarely corresponds with the will of the people. In most of the cases I’ve documented, only USG programs and individuals in government have seen any benefit from these programs.

Now we go back to Iraq and the deployment of troops. It is the opinion of everyone other than yourself so far that it will not be beneficial to send Armenian troops to Iraq at this time. The risks involved, far outweigh the benefits.

I’m not sure when you made your way to the US from Cairo and where your family is originally from, but my family history and story of survival calls to me to make sure my people, the Armenian people, do not knowingly take unnecessary risks or sacrifice even one drop of blood for promises of economic and political stability. The terrible cost of past mistakes will count for nothing if we refuse to learn from them.

Have you ever been to Armenia? If you find yourself in this part of the world, I would be more than happy to show you the Armenia that many visitors rarely see. It just may give you a more rounded view of American foreign policy at work, its effects and also a better understanding how America has become the richest nation on Earth.


Ara Manoogian
Artsakh, Martuni

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