US Armenian Lobby’s Clout an Exaggeration

Team Keghart Editorial 22 November 2009

Admit to yourself… how many times have you given yourself an invisible pat on the back upon reading in the non-Armenian media about the "powerful Armenian lobby" or the "affluent and mighty Diaspora Armenian lobby"? How many times have you basked in the glory that our much-vaunted lobby is second only to the Israeli lobby?

In your self-satisfaction and in your patriotism, you probably haven’t questioned these far-from-the-truth descriptions of the Armenian lobby, meaning the offices we fund in Washington, D.C.

Team Keghart Editorial 22 November 2009

Admit to yourself… how many times have you given yourself an invisible pat on the back upon reading in the non-Armenian media about the "powerful Armenian lobby" or the "affluent and mighty Diaspora Armenian lobby"? How many times have you basked in the glory that our much-vaunted lobby is second only to the Israeli lobby?

In your self-satisfaction and in your patriotism, you probably haven’t questioned these far-from-the-truth descriptions of the Armenian lobby, meaning the offices we fund in Washington, D.C.

Let’s examine how valid is the claim of the fabled Armenian lobby. While at it, let’s also try to determine the origin of the descriptive, and most importantly, who benefits from the glittering plaudits?

To be number-two means little when number-one (the Israeli lobby) is so far ahead that both lobbies are not even in the same picture. Besides, the "number-two" tag is false because the Cuban, Greek, and Arab lobbies are as strong, if not stronger. And we are not talking about those other really powerful lobbying groups–the National Rifle Association, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, the Christian Evangelical groups, etc.

While the Armenian lobby has been effective in a number of public relations campaigns, it has been–after more than 25 years of effort–a woeful failure regarding our primary goal, the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians by the United States government. No matter identity of the president or the ruling political party, our lobbyists have been unable to change United States policy regarding Genocide recognition.

In the past few years, the lobby also failed to discourage the US. administration from reducing its financial aid to Armenia, while increasing aid to petro dollar-rich Azerbaijan. These cutbacks also came at a time when the Republic of Armenia (ROA) sent soldiers to Iraq and has announced it would send soldiers to Afghanistan in support of the Western campaign.

The lobby has also failed to dissuade the United States from leaning too hard on ROA during the recent Armenia/Turkey Protocols signing. In fact, US diplomats have repeatedly asserted that ROA has to demonstrate "flexibility" regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, before Turkey takes the documents for ratification to its parliament.

Let’s see who benefits for the exaggerated assertion of our lobby’s might.

Turkey, of course, loves to see the false descriptive. It gives Ankara a justification for increasing its anti-Armenian propaganda. The exaggeration of our lobby’s effectiveness is also a selling point to Turkish propagandists who can claim to Americans that a tiny but rich minority is trying to determine US. policy, against the best interest of America.

The Israeli lobby, until recently the bosom buddy and even a spokesman of the Turkish lobbyists, likes to hear of the power of the Armenian lobby: such nonsense takes away some of the heat the Israeli lobby has been experiencing for its outrageous interference in American foreign policy.

Finally, our own lobbyists naturally enjoy talk of their omnipotence. The boast, coming from non-Armenian sources, justifies their work, in addition to giving a healthy boost to their ego.

Dzour nsdeenk payts shidak khosink ("Let’s sit crooked, but let’s tell the truth"). The Armenian lobby can be proud of many of its activities in the past few decades. The money we have allocated for their activities has been, generally speaking, well spent. But in no way does our lobby have the power our enemies and supporters maintain. Let’s not delude ourselves with falsehoods, no matter how energizing they may seem.

Next time you read about the powerful Diaspora Armenian lobby, tell yourself what can we do to make it worthy of that descriptive.

  1. Well balanced and an eye opener
    A well balanced and eye opener editorial. It puts in perspective Wall Street’s and Washington Post’s claim for an all influential /powerful Armenian Lobby.

    Let us be mindful that the Armenian lobby has never, to my knowledge, used these claims to boast their achievements or for fund raising purposes.

    In this season of giving, pretty soon we will encounter Salvation Army’s Santas with their little bells collecting donations. It is said that a sizable portion of these donations are used for administrative purposes.

    In my opinion we can rightfully credit the Armenian lobby for the judicial use of monies raised as the editorial acknowledges.. If the achievement of the Armenian lobby is a measure of how much they have accomplished with what we have entrusted to them, they surely deserve our credit and acknowledgment. However, being influential as influence may be measured in Washington DC, it is not likely that the Armenian lobby is.

    I agree with the editorial of ulterior motives by the imminent journals to present the Armenian lobby as the all influential lobby in the most powerful country on the planet.

  2. No. We are #1 per capita ETHNIC LOBBY.
    Excellent article.
    However, in "power density," we are indeed #2.

    Possibly even #1.

    Powerful laser, dense diamond, heavy lead. High quality,
    high per capita output.

    VAN Armenya – Van, Hayastan

  3. Well explained

    Well explained. Recently I was in a meeting and a lady claimed that the biggest organization in the diaspora was not AGBU, AAA etc. but the Armenian lobby. Your clarification is to the point.

  4. The Armenian Lobby

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

    The measure of any lobby (although the three Armenian groups in Washington call themselves “advocacy” organizations, not lobbys) is how effective it is, not how loud it speaks or how well it impresses its adherents.

    By that measure, the Armenian “lobby” is among the least effective among the ethnic lobbys.  By the same measure, the Turkish Lobby rivals the Jewish Lobby–long reputed as being among the most effective in Washington, not only among the ethnic lobbys but also generally.

    One does not have to be an expert on the study of lobbys to see the problem.  The Armenians have three organizations ostensibly conveying the same message.  What member of a White House staff or what member of Congress, or what member of a member of Congress’s staff has the time to listen to three Armenians relaying the Armenian “message”?  

    Not too long ago, a young man told me that he had heeded the call of one of the three Washington groups to go there during a campaign and help contact members of Congress.  He was assigned to a Senator.  He no sooner started his message, when he was interrupted with, “But weren’t you in here last week?”  The young man was embarrassed and shocked, but managed to stutter an apology, and left.  It was obviously someone from another Armenian organization who had been there.

    Any guesses what opinion that Senator may have of the Armenians?

    I advised the young man to take up a worth-while pursuit.

    A Jewsih friend once explained to me how the Jewish Lobby works.  AIPAC contacts the White House and the Congress (and any other agency).  If AIPAC needs help, it calls on any and all the other Jewish organizations.  I explained how the Armenian Lobby works.  I think he is still laughing.

    As long as the Armenians think that three voices carrying on a multi-voiced effort is better than one voice, the Washington establishment will flatter the Armenians about how effective the Armenians are.  And, then will continue to listen to the Turkish Lobby.

    Avedis Kevorkian
    Philadelphia, PA USA



  5. Let’s not beat up

    Let’s not beat up on our 3 lobbying groups. If they had half the money the Turkish Lobby is spending in this country we certainly would get the results we seek. During the last Genocide Recognition campaign in Congress, no fewer than 11 major US corporations poured at least $1 million to help the Turkish efforts — just how much can our local organizations and individuals collect to compete with that? Can we really ever expect to compete with the Oil Lobby? Why does the US keep sending economic aid to the Azeris when they have more petro dollars than they know what to do with? If something so simple doesn’t make sense it usually an indication that someone’s palm is being greased (politicians? —duh!). I think our groups in Washington are doing a heck of a job given what they have to deal with( $ ). Although I am very surprised and disappointed at the Armenian Assembly’s stance on the Protocols.
    1. It is an open secret that the
      It is an open secret that the AAA was founded by the U.S. State Department, so of course they will support the Protocols.

    2. You Guys are Incorrect Again

      You guys are incorrect again. The Armenian lobby is pretty strong, even too strong in my opinion–to the point that the power of the Armenian lobby makes the Jewish lobby smaller than an insect. And we all know how Israel can control the US, Europe and other important countries worldwide. Why is that sometimes Turkish-related cultural events get cancelled? Why do you think people who always get vilified for stating the truth about the Turkish/Armenian war?

      Turks and Armenians were massacred. Armenians started the whole thing when they tried to steal a huge chunk of the land but failed, causing unarmed massacres on both sides. You can go to any village in eastern Turkey and ask people, including Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Jews, Lazs and Circassians about how their relatives were massacred by Dashnak and Hnchak rebels. Why do you think when the Turkish government has always opened its archives and offered to support a historical commission it’s the Armenian government which has refused to open its archives?.

      You guys are going to say further research would be no different than what David Irving and Robert Faurisson are doing. The Jewish and Armenian issues are totally different. Did the Jews want to steal land from the Germans? No. Did the Jews set up a plot to carve Germany into three or four pieces? No. Were the Jews armed to the teeth? No. Did the Armenians plot to steal land from Turkey and failed at it? Yes. Armenia’s land grab plot is similar to how Iraq plotted to snitch land from Iran’s Ahwaz province during Saddam Hussein reign. Did the Armenians want to annihilate non-Christian elements from Anatolia and plan a "Christian only" Anatolia? Yes. But they miserably failed. Did the Armenians want to divide Turkey and still want to split Turkey into three to four pieces? Yes.

      I have criticized the current government of Turkey on numerous websites. In fact, I support human rights and democracy reforms in Turkey, but not at the expense of Turkey’s territorial integrity.


  6. Armenian lobby has flaws but …

    Ethnic lobbies with many times more constituents than Armenians have not done as well as Armenians when you consider numbers and geographic distribution.

    Blacks and Latinos, for example, should be far stronger than they are.  As for Greeks, there are many more of them than Armenians and yet their lobbies are far less effectual. 

    As for Armenians being "divided" and there being 3 (really 2) Armenian lobby groups (ANCA and AAA), Greeks, Blacks, Latinos, and Jews have many, many more divisions and separate and competing groups within themselves than do Armenians.  Armenians are doing pretty well for their numbers and money. We could be doing a lot better, of course.

    We Armenians have high expectations.  This is a good thing, but it can also easily lead to disappointment.

  7. Redefine priorities of lobbies
    Friends across the ocean,

    I agree with Keghart’s editorialist who reminded us what every entrepreneur knows so well: "Performance is measured by results, and results are obtained through teamwork"

    In the 80’s our lobbying in Europe achieved some successes at the UN subcomission, People’s Tribunal, European Parliament…We were all amateurs and had almost no budget. But our objectives where focused and we targeted key influential personalities, experts and lawmakers. 

    Times have changed here too. Lobbying which was a dirty word has become a full-fledged profession, politicians have passed most of their power to large corporation representatives and our demands have become more complex to formulate.

    Maybe it is time to organize a seminar with all our key lobbyists and some experts in a place like NYC to share our experience and concerns, redefine our priorities and mode of concentration.  

    Robert Aydabirian

  8. A turn for the worse

    I think cutting off financial support to Armenia won’t solve this problem. It will only generate more problems.
  9. The Notion That

    The notion that the claim of how the "Armenian lobbys power" is exaggerated is false. Infact, the allegation of the power of Armenian lobbies are not exaggeration but simple facts.

    These genocide resolutions are simply plots and schemes to have countries where sizeable Armenian communities reside to make each country a puppet of Armenia so the Repbulic of Armenia can consistently pursue agressive policies on such nations as Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and maybe Iran.

    US politicans like Pallone, Schiff, Radanovich, Boxer, Menendez are putting Armenia first over US policy. The clout and power of the Armenian lobby over other nations is too dangerously powerful and is a threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East and the Caucasus.

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