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A New Year is the perfect time to focus on what is essential. “Never Again” is not just a slogan but a call to action, more so today than ever for Armenians worldwide. Armenia and Armenians must unite on a national strategy to preserve their identity, culture, and faith. This action must be calculated, planned, and strategic. The indifference and silence of the world starting on September 27, 2020, in the Caucuses have been deafening. We now have experienced this indifference and silence twice in 105 years.
The Historical background
At no time in this century is the experience of the 20th century so significant. The evil reincarnated is still ethnically persecuting the vulnerable in the Caucuses. Unfortunately, the civilized world lacks the moral courage and authority to say never again with conviction. “Never again” to Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans, and Darfurians, is not just a slogan in the context of the human rights debate, but a call to meaningful action to eradicate Genocide and suffering from the world.
The Young Turks perpetrated The Armenian Genocide to slaughter a Christian minority peacefully living on its several thousand-year-old ancestral lands and eradicate an entire vibrant culture of art, architecture, music, faith, and language.
A 3,000 years old civilization, which at one time built an empire extending from the Caucuses to the Mediterranean Sea; A society that produced more than 2,300 churches on her lands continues to be under siege today. Thirty-four of those churches remain in Anatolia, modern-day Turkey. If history is the future predictor, not many Armenian churches and cultural sites will remain standing in Artsakh under Azeri control.
Armenia’s landmass has been substantially shrinking since the 7th century and even more after that dreadful day of capitulation on November 10, 2020. As of December 2020, Armenians turned over to their aggressors more landmass in Nagorno Karabakh. The world was lectured by an authoritarian about the value of aggression, drones, and Turkish airpower supported by my country of the United States of America and the NATO allies.
Who is to blame?
There is plenty of blame to go around. World “leaders,” a pandemic, contentious US elections, the OSCE MINSK Group, NATO, CSTO, and the list goes on. Armenia’s oligarchic past and the current administration’s naivete or incompetence are also to blame.
In my blog articles, I previously wrote about Armenia’s oligarchic history and the exploitation of her strategic assets for self-interest. Finally, I wrote about the current administration’s failures in Armenia to remedy or prepare the nation for the conflict that almost everyone knew was coming. The lack of strategic planning was fatal. A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis would have revealed our unprepared state.
Sun Tzu once wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Does blame matter in this context?
While transparency and accountability are critical to good governance, Armenia and Armenians worldwide rose from the ashes of Genocide a century ago. We can and must do it again with a greater focus on “Never Again.” In my last article, I wrote, “Armenia has one main national interest. It is time for consolidation behind this national interest to govern for the future and create an effective public institution based on values, ethics, transformational leadership, innovation, and strategic planning.”
Armenia and Armenians do not have the luxury of time to sort out blame. We do not have the time for infighting or political opportunism. I genuinely do not care who governs Armenia. However, I do care that whoever governs puts Armenia’s global interest first before their political interests. I also care that whoever governs possesses transformational leadership skills to focus on strategic planning.
This ideal leader must align the thinking of the nation and the diaspora for a common purpose. Provide a framework for action, ensuring that actions and decisions are based on a set of core values worthy of our 3,000-year-old history. Such a leader must communicate using unambiguous language, setting measurable goals to accomplish the strategy. Finally, such a leader must establish accountability for all. In the organizational lifecycle, Armenia either reinvents herself or declines.
For phase one of this strategic process, let me humbly suggest a succinct mission statement that every Armenian will support: NEVER AGAIN!
Frank V. Zerunyan is a Professor of the Practice of Governance at the University of Southern California (USC) Sol Price School of Public Policy (USC Price) and Director of Executive Education at USC Price Bedrosian Center on Governance. Professor Zerunyan oversees USC’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as the Director and University Liaison for the U.S. Air Force, Army, Naval Reserves ROTC, and Nautical Science Programs.
Professor Zerunyan’s principal areas of expertise include governance, public-private partnerships, civic and ethical leadership, land use, medical regulation, negotiation, and executive education. He lectures locally and globally to build capacity and foster leadership among public executives worldwide. He is the author of books, book chapters, and many short articles published nationally, internationally, and on USC Price’s “Faculty Perspectives.” Professor Zerunyan is often quoted in the media and is a USC resource for journalists as an expert in governance and leadership. He is also an expert on public administration at the United Nations Innovation Branch (formerly Capacity Building Branch).
For his influential advisory role in the Republic of Armenia, he was awarded LL.D. Doctor of Laws – Honoris Causa by the Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia. Professor Zerunyan designs curricula and teaches at the American University in Armenia, Yerevan State University, and the Vazgen Sargsyan Military University in Armenia, with an honorary rank of colonel. He also teaches for the U.S. Navy at the U.S. Naval Service Training Command.
Professor Zerunyan serves on the editorial boards of the Public Administration Scientific Journal for the Republic of Armenia and the Ukrainian Law Review. He is on the board of councilors of Anahuac University Law School, Xalapa, Mexico (Consejo Consultivo de la Escuela de Derecho).
Professor Zerunyan earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence (Doctor of Laws) degree from Western State University College of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Long Beach. He also completed his advanced legal education in Corporate Taxation at the University of Southern California Law Center (USC Gould). He is a graduate of the California League of Cities’ Civic Leadership Institute.
Professor Zerunyan, trained and practiced as a lawyer, is a four-term Mayor and Councilmember in the City of Rolling Hills Estates, California. He serves on several city, county, and regional policy boards and committees. He was also a gubernatorial appointee under Governor Schwarzenegger, serving 38 million medical consumers on the Medical Board of California.