BY STEPAN ALTOUNIAN
I, as probably all Armenians, was devastated but not necessarily surprised over the news that Armenia lost to the Azeri. During my drive home that day, I wondered, is this how Simon Vratsian felt after the fall of the first republic? Not that I consider myself of his caliber. Still the loss is devastating.
Then I began to reflect and consolidate and question using the Socratic Dialectic….
When will our nation learn to stand on its own two feet? Instead we are constantly looking to other countries for aid. The Israeli figured out a long time ago that they needed to be able to defend themselves and not depend on third parties. Yet our people have not learned from the lesson of Khriyman Hayrig ”…You can’t scoop harissa with a paper spoon when everyone else is using an iron ladle.”
Why do we keep reading that Armenia is a poor nation, with no natural resources that is surrounded by enemies? The same could be said for Israel. Yet they have flourished with help from their Diaspora. Note, I am not a fan of Israel. What they have done to the Palestinians is criminal. Regardless, there are many lessons we can learn from them.
Why did the Armenian government lie about the progress of the war? They claimed they had everything under control when in fact it was more like the Polish calvary fighting against a Nazi mechanized Blitzkrieg. Instead Pashinyan waited until he lost most of Artsakh. Did he not think the truth would eventually come out?
Where was the nuclear option? I consider taking out the Baku oil fields and pipelines one? I have constantly asked why we do not do it? It would cut off oil and gas supplies to the west, especially Israel who receives 40% of their oil from Azerbaijan. What would Europe do when they lose a major source of oil and gas then? Would they still be silent while we are relentlessly attacked? The answer has been the Azeri will bomb Metzamor.
On July 16, 2020 Vagif Dargahli, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman said “…The Armenian side must not forget that our army’s state-of-the-art missile systems allow us to strike the Metzamor nuclear plant with precision, which could lead to a great catastrophe for Armenia,” Therefore, given the Azeri threats and actions, why should we not take the nuclear waste from Metzamor and manufacture dirty bombs? Please do not tell me about weapons of mass destruction when the Turks and Azeri used them against civilians and hospitals without any repercussion from anyone. Two can play that game and we should. It will definitely make them think twice if we could turn Baku into a radioactive wasteland for the next 5,000 years. Which leads to the next question….
Why hasn’t Armenia moved to decommission Metzamor? Any intelligent planner, be it military or political, would have examined potential exposures like this and mitigated the risk. What does this mean? First, Metzamor has been a risk for many years and is old Soviet era technology. Armenia took the easy way out and still uses this relic. Second, Armenia should have decided to transition to clean energy such as wind and solar years ago. That would have created thousands of jobs and most likely, given the drive to stop global warming, resulted in international funding for such an effort. And I would wager the Diaspora of approximately 10M people would be more than happy to assist provided appropriate checks and balances were put in place to assure the money is properly allocated.
How many billions of dollars were stolen over the years? Just about everyone who supported the successive regimes is to blame for this one. Imagine if this had not happened, the amount of money Armenia could have allocated to a sophisticated defense.
Why didn’t Armenia develop anti-drone and anti-missile technology? It is interesting that Armenia has a dynamic technology sector. Unfortunately it does not appear the government ever thought to put this national resource to work developing the necessary technology to counter the Turkish and Israeli drones.
Why do we not have our own military technology export industry like the Israeli? We have the talent and a large diaspora to support this. Plus, it could probably be more price competitive than the Israeli. One answer that comes back is the country can’t afford to do it. Again, let us learn from Israel, they collaborated with money and talent from their Diaspora to make this happen. They established venture funds for development that provided seed and startup funds. Obviously, this worked to great success.
Why doesn’t Armenia have the equivalent to the CIA, Mossad or MI6? It was called for in May 2020. Again too little too late.
Why did the Armenian Government with influence from the Western NGO’s, move away from Russia and the CSTO? I can support acceptance of Western values to an extent they do not antagonize your strategic partners. This is not what happened and the results have been catastrophic
Why do we keep looking to the West for support? We have nothing to offer that serves their self-interest. Therefore they are totally and completely unreliable when we need them the most. This has happened over and over. When will we learn? Why are we not strengthening our relations with Russia, Iran, India and China when they are in our backyard?
Why did the Armenian Government open an embassy in Israel when they were selling weapons to the Turks and Azeri? How stupid was that? All it served to do was alienate our relationship with Iran. Yes, Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel during the war. Again, too little too late.
What was there to gain by alienating Putin? How is that a good idea when you are basically dependent on his largesse? Look what happened to Ukraine, the Crimea and Georgia. Did he not learn from that? One may conclude that Putin decided to bloody Pashinyan’s nose at the cost of thousands of lives, destroyed infrastructure and millions of dollars.
Was Pashinyan incapable of dealing with this challenge? Pashinyan is a populist leader. I am not so sure he is a strategic one. He definitely isn’t politically astute if he antagonized Putin.
Why does the Diaspora look at Armenia as some sort of vacation destination and purchase homes and apartments there? Yes it feels great to walk down Abovyan Blvd to shop and dine in the fabulous restaurants. But is that really enough? The Diaspora needs to join forces with Armenia to secure its future, both technologically and militarily. Why isn’t the Diasporan Ministry working to build trust among Armenian people all over the world and the homeland to secure the future of our country? I am not talking about tourism, schools, or churches. I am talking about military and technological development.
When are we going to learn to stop asking the Diaspora for humanitarian aid and start asking for funds to develop a strong national defense network? Over the last several weeks I have received multiple emails from Armenian organizations asking for money to support Artsakh. Again it is humanitarian aid. Really, so the Azeri can bomb it all into oblivion in another five years because we have not developed the necessary military power? Armenia must develop the necessary military sophistication to counter any aggressor and make them think twice.
Therefore, it is time for the development of a comprehensive strategic defense plan that engages the vast resources of the Diaspora, both financial and technological, in coordination and support of entrepreneurs in Armenia. Then and only then, can this new military business sector develop cutting edge technology not only to defend Armenia and Artsakh but also to sell to the world.