The Long and Hard Story of US Ambassadors to Armenia

Narjan had looked into the incredible “irrationality” of the Armenian Diaspora in US, in his discussion of the situation with the US Ambassodor in Armenia, or the lack of one for that matter. The blogger says Washington was quite right by removing the former ambassador John Evans, because a professional diplomat should never make mistakes of “that” scale, especially, as Narjan speculates, before appointment any ambassador to Armenia obviously gets many hours-long briefing on precisely how to describe the “tragic events of the beginning of 20th century”. Passing on to the paradox created by diaspora, the blogger says it is outrageous for the Armenians in US to demand, that any ambassador to Armenia should openly accept the fact of Genocide, while the official position of Washington contradicts with it.

Still, the Armenian lobby couldn’t find anything more productive to do, then get dragged into this absolutely lose-lose game.
There is only one explanation to this: Diaspora is again trying to help out the incumbent government of Armenia. To be more exact, they are trying to make sure, that there is no [US] Ambassador during the elections – no ambassador means less noise, and more 120 year old grandmas and grandpas walking cheerfully to their polling stations and voting for the correct party

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Evidently Narjan doesn’t understand the meaning of exercising one’s rights as citizens to petition one’s government. The Bush administration can nominate whomever it wants as ambassador to Armenia but that’s not to say that the people cannot protest such a nomination through their duly elected representatives in Congress. As to Narjan’s other claim about the American diaspora trying to help the ROA’s incumbent govt by this action….stop eating those magic mushrooms.

  2. I don’t know about mashrooms, but the fact we don’t have a US Ambassador in Armenia doesn’t really look right, does it?

  3. Well, it’s true that Evans broke the number one rule of being an Ambassador. That is, to represent the official line of his government so yes, it is no wonder he was recalled as any government would do on any issue. However, there’s no doubt that his decision to pursue a moral course of action is commendable and one I personally wish more Ambassadors would follow as the British Ambassador did in Uzbekistan, for example.

    Six hours after Jamal Mirsaidov met with the British ambassador, the limp and mutilated corpse of his grandson was dumped on his doorstep. The body was battered and one arm appeared to have been immersed in boiling fluid until the skin had begun to peel off. Mirsaidov is a literature professor in the ancient city of Samarkand. His mistake had been to write a letter to Tony Blair and George Bush alerting them to the daily torture meted out to dissidents in Uzbekistan, their new ally in the war on terror.
    Murray has paid a more direct price for his decision to step out of the bubble of isolation and immunity in which most diplomats live and challenge such abuses. His distinctly undiplomatic assessment of Uzbekistan’s human rights record propelled him into a lengthy battle with the Foreign Office. He was subjected to a humiliating disciplinary investigation, had his personal life publicly shredded and suffered a string of health problems. He became the rogue ambassador. Not so much Our Man in Tashkent as Our Uzbekistan Problem.

    Anyway, re. the Diaspora’s continuing attempts to prevent Bush’s nomination from taking up the position, this is of course a mistake, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the election mainly because the Diaspora doesn’t think so wide. More it’s simply a display of power and represents the perpetual problem with the Diaspora which nearly only focuses on Genocide recognition. Secondary to that is Karabakh.
    Incidentally, talking of the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is perhaps an even better example of a diplomat following his conscience, it’s refreshing and welcomed to discover that he has his own blog.
    It’s also worth looking at how British Foreign Policy is as skewed as any other country. Basically, issues of human rights, media freedom and democracy are only considered important and relevant if they can be used to pursue other less than altruistic objectives. Of course, we all know that Realpolitik is the reason for this. Turkey is more important to the US than any moral issue, and I’m afraid the same is true when it comes to the UK as well.
    So, in Evans’ and Murray’s case it’s quite simple. They had a job to do, but for moral reasons, they could not do it when the issue of conscience became too much. In the case of Evans, the Diaspora is just exploiting that fact without even considering whether the absence of a US Ambassador in Armenia is a good or a bad thing. Still, I would imagine it’s more likely to turn Washington more against Yerevan than anything else. Even so, for the Diaspora it’s only the Genocide that matters, and not the internal politics of Armenia.

  4. To Observer,
    ” I don’t know about mashrooms, but the fact we don’t have a US Ambassador in Armenia doesn’t really look right, does it?”
    You assume that somebody is looking….
    Such a new and huge U.S. embassy in Yerevan and no one to sit on the throne… What a pity…
    For many like you it’s more about appearances than substance. Yeah , why not get some available State Dept bureaucratic hack to fill the post? Better than nothing , right?

  5. Chello – you’re attaching too much importance to the post of the ambassador – don’t forget, that an ambassador is just an agent, through which the Washington operates, and those who have indipendence get fired.
    So who cares about the position and political view of the ambassador on the Armenian Genocide, if the Ambassador won’t be allowed to make use of it in any way?

  6. Observer – You’re right hat ambassadors are the official spokesman of a particular govt and thus not supposed to be independent thinkers or operators. If they are – they get the axe. But like you say, if these constraints make them seconadary players why not milk the situation for all its worth.
    As to Onnik’s describing the situation as”the perpetual problem of the Diaspora” I would say if the Armenian community in America can flex whatever muscle it has to show up the Bush administration’s shortcomings on the genocide issue – then so be it.
    Let’s all realize that the so-called “diaspora” after some 100 years of assimilation and integration not longer constitutes a real diaspora in the sense that it looks to one day return to the “homeland”. Yes, this is an illusion that most in the “diaspora” no longer believe in themselves. Their self-identification with the Republic of Armenia is almost as illusory than their so-called identification with the historic homeland of the forefathers in western Armenia. In both cases its more rhetoric than reality.

  7. The problem is – the rhetoric of diaspora is affecting us-Armenians living in Armenia. It is affecting our lives, our well being and the future of our children and our country… not their nicely-highly developed US or France, etc., but this country stuck in eternal state of transition.
    Diaspora are making sure US has mild attitudes towards Armenia, and whatever Armenian government does, they will make sure US evaluations of the situation are not too harsh, so they can sit back and say – you know, Armenia is such a great country… well, tell you what – Armenia is indeed a great country – the best in the world. But please don’t interfere and let us build it and make it all the good country it can really be… or if the diaspora plans on getting involved in the affairs of Armenia and Armenians in this country, why don’t they try to discuss their plans not only with the government authorities, who have rather dubious legitimacy, but also with opposition, associations of artists, “intelligencia”, etc.?

  8. One important factor you’re forgetting, Observer. Those representing the Diaspora in Armenia have financial interests here, and as we all know, if you want to make investments in certain areas of the economy and to a certain level, you need a) perfect relations to the president, and probably b) a local partner with the same.
    Look at Cafesjian, for example, and Armenia TV. It’s a perfect example. So, that’s why the Diaspora don’t get involved with local politics. The Genocide issue is also of more importance to them, but for those engaged with Armenia, money and financial security appears to be key. Fall out of favor, however, and I wonder how quickly those investments will fail.

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