June 4, 2015 by AK
Neither Edward Luttwak, in his 2015 review of They Can Live in the Desert and Nowhere Else by Ronald Grigor Suny, nor Mark Mazower, in his 2001 review of The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16 by James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee (yes, that Toynbee), mention the Bolshevik-Kemalist alliance that ended all hopes for Armenian unification, crushed the first Armenian Republic, and resulted in the ultimate Turkization of Western Armenia.
Under the Kars Treaty of 1921, the Bolshevik government transferred to Ankara the Kars and Ardahan areas, taken away from the Ottomans in 1877-8, and even ceded to Turkey Armenia’s national symbol, the Ararat mountain, annexed from Persia in 1828 under the terms of the Turkmenchay peace. Official Soviet histories never made a secret out of Lenin’s enthusiasm for Kemal nor of the Communists’ hostility to the Armenian “bourgeois nationalists,” the Dashnaktsutyun.
What was omitted from the official line, as a rule, was the fact that the Bolsheviks’ view of Turkish nationalists as natural allies against the Entente “imperialists” translated into financial aid and weapons shipments from the Soviets to the Kemalists. This omission allowed Soviet historians to blame Armenia’s Dashnak government for losing Kars and Ardahan to the Turks in 1920 and to present the 1921 Soviet-Turkish treaties as a necessary settlement reflecting the actual front lines, without mentioning how Soviet assistance had contributed to the Kemalists’ advance and the Armenians’ defeat.
I should add that the Kars treaty was only valid for 25 years. Moscow did make noises about reclaiming Western Armenia after WWII but, for reasons that probably had to do with the emerging Cold War, quickly backed down.