Where The Buck Stops

Shushi after fresh Azerbaijani shelling
Shushi after fresh Azerbaijani shelling

Shushi after fresh Azerbaijani shelling


The regime in Armenia is looking to blame everyone except itself, a regime democratically elected by its  citizens and with the sworn constitutional  duty and responsibility to lead protect and defend the  nation.

But what it did in fact draws into question whether those responsibilities were undertaken.

We were all taken by surprise to hear the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declare that he surrendered to Azerbaijan and Turkey on November 9. Yet no explanation has been provided.

After experiencing the devastating effects of drone attacks in April 2016 the government of Armenia perhaps should have concentrated their defense acquisitions these last few years on anti drone and surface to air missile defense systems instead of purchasing and showboating Sukhoi Fighter jets. Where was Armenia’s Belladonna air defense systems and jamming devices?   

And where were the vast majority of the Armenian Army and its reservists and emergency conscripts?  Where was the emergency national draft and  martial law announcement that would order an  immediate national military conscription? Why did the Armenian government not field the 80,0000 to 100,000 soldiers needed to defend the homeland? Most importantly, where was the resolve seen in  a unified Armenian Diaspora  not translated to fielding the needed Armenian soldiers on the lines of defense in Artsakh?

Wasn’t this the same Armenian nation that from 1941-45 sacrificed fully one fourth of Soviet Armenia’s  population, a full 300,000 casualties to protect the Soviet Union and Russia from the onslaught of Nazi Germany?  That war wasn’t to protect any Armenian real estate. This  war in 2020 was however.

History has taught us that when we are faced with survival versus destruction we often can and do win. In the self defense and later the  liberation of Artsakh, cobblers, machinists and farmers of Artsakh faced soviet and Azeri attack helicopters, fighter bombers, T- 72 tanks, Chechen and Afghan mujaheddin and  Grad rockets launchers with only hunting rifles and the weapons captured  from the enemy. They then liberated more than half of the Karabakh Oblast that had fallen and went on to liberate Shushi, establishing a protective buffer perimeter and forged a democratic independent Artsakh. Azerbaijan at the time was a country of over 7 million when those heroic actions occurred, and Armenia was sleeping in the dark with no heat or running water reeling after the devastation of the Spitak earthquake. And yet, with little but a fledgling post soviet national government and no real army they were able to marshal volunteers to protect their Artsakh sisters and brothers.

And looking at it from the other side didn’t the great Soviet Union lose a war against Afghanistan in the 1980s? Didn’t the richest and strongest power the world had ever seen, the United States of America, lose a war it bitterly fought for over 10 years in Vietnam, though ironically never losing a single battle?

Years ago I read a  study published in the Journal on Conflict Resolution that  found in the 122 wars and military interventions conducted since World War II  in which the United States, Soviet Union , China, Britain or France fought a weaker adversary, the bigger states lost 39%  of the time. Armenia proved that itself in 1918 and again in 1994.

It is still unclear why and how the Prime Minister of Armenia decided that enough was enough after 44 days of battle and losing a reported 1,200 soldiers from a population of 3,000,000.  What was the analysis then that couldn’t be made on the day before the war. Why did the Prime Minister, two weeks into the war, call on village and town mayors to create volunteer militias to go off and fight in Artsakh instead of issuing appropriate orders as the commander in chief for general martial law and call up a universal emergency draft for all able bodied men from age 18- 50? Wouldn’t that call have brought up several hundred thousand men and women to the national defense? Was this only a voluntary war for Armenia or was this a war of national survival.  It would have taken 80,000 to 100,000 men at arms to properly defend Artsakh President Arayik Harutunyan said in a speech on November 11. Why were those soldiers not provided?

Why did the surrender end up giving back areas not even fought over such as Azeri settlements of Kazakh in Armenia and a swath of land across Zangezur in Armenia proper  to create a protected land bridge connecting Nakhichevan and Turkey with Azerbaijan? And all the while the Armenian government was proclaiming Hakhteloo enk!  Japan had two atom bombs dropped on them before they surrendered in WWII and even they gained  in many ways better terms than what was accepted by Armenia’s Prime Minister.

The Armenian nation is entitled to the answers to these questions. President Harry Truman had a plaque on his desk that read “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” referring to the ultimate responsibility the leader of a state has and must accept. The citizens of Armenia should determine if there is such a plaque on Armenia’s Prime Minister’s desk.

Steve Dadaian is a member of the National Board of the Armenian National Committee of America.


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  1. Sarkis Ghazarian said:

    What has the Armenian Diaspora done for the last 30 years to have the governments in which we live provide military equipment to Armenia? What have we done for the last 30 years in the Diaspora to call upon the governments in which we live to cut military aid to Turkey & Azerbaijan?
    Fir the lasst 30 years we in the Diaspora have expended ourt human resources, financial support & electoral support to candidate who support our only request of our goverrnments in which we live: Recognition of the Armenian Genocide. We have thou=sands of these proclaimations/resolutions from all levels of governments to fill up all the Armenian community centers we have all over the Diaspora. None of these pieces of paper have helped the soldiers on the frontlines of Artsakh defend themselves against the superior military equipment bought by Azerbaijan from Turkey, Israel, Russia, and many other countries will petro-dollars along with funds provided by the governments of the cuntries we live in the Diaspora.
    We should also look at the mirror at our own lack of action to help Armena develop as a country to have all the necessary military equioment to fight with 21st cen try weapons.
    The Buck Stops also applies to us in the Diaspora.
    We need to learn for our past mistakes dso that we can start the process NOW to help make Armenia & Artsakh fully developed countrkies so that they can compete with the other nations in the world & be ready to fight the next war.

  2. Ardashes said:

    I have said few weeks ago that our pact and friendship with Russia means loosing Armenian lands to the turks and their cousins, Russians friendship in last 1000 years has given us nothing other than misery and partition of our homeland ,Armenian congress should annul the illegal and forced Putin,s humiliating trap agreements , maybe Armenian rel leaders should give a few phone calls to North Korea , Cuba , Venezuelan leaders for advice.shame on to all the former European Christians who have sold their dignity and humanity for money, their turn will come very soon also.

  3. Anahit Garibyan said:

    He saved 20,000 soldiers. You should research more before blaming. Why don’t you ask why for 30 years Armenian government didn’t prepare for the war that they knew it will be? Instead they sold the land already in 2011 and was postponing to give back all 7 territories. Instead people was robbed, killed for just saying their names and corruption was everywhere. You didn’t live there and don’t know all this. People of Armenia chose their Varchapet and trust him. It wasn’t easy for him because he loves his people very much. We need to look in to corruption in the all structures of government and military which previous presidents still control by telling solders leave the posts because land was sold already. We will hear new information in few days.

  4. Raffi Kevonian said:

    All former presidents should be in jail for corruption and negligence except President Pashinyan

  5. AC said:

    It seems the 2016 war was ignored completely and we did not nearly adequately prepare and adapt to the use of drone technology by the enemy. If Belladonna air defense systems and jamming devices could not have been acquired due to our military budget, why didn’t we have a much better strategy to counter their air superiority. It seems we only started making camouflage nets two weeks into the conflict, that’s one example of a cheap and effective counter that could have saved lives if we had more of from day one. We did not give our brave soldiers and volunteers the best fighting chance against the enemy and that’s one of the most painful aspects of this war.

  6. Azad said:

    This article seems to imply that Armenia should have used the fully might of it’s military, or at least much more resources from it military, to assist the Artsakh army, and the mobilization efforts there. Armenia, a country with a GDP that is less than the GDP of the city of Los Angeles, and is surrounded on virtually every side by hostile and potentially genocidal countries, should have allocated the majority of its military resources to the fight in Artsakh? I am certainly no military expert, but I would suggest that doing so would be a grave mistake and pose an existential threat to the 2.9 Armenians within the borders of Armenia proper. Let’s leave the Monday morning quarterbacking to the experts.

    Also, in so far as the 300,000k soviet Armenian soldiers used in World War II. 1. the title of WORLD WAR II should indicate to you the exceedingly heightened urgency of the situation at the time compared to now…and, the fact that Soviets lost an estimated 11 million servicemen and an estimated 25 million citizens during WWII should bring some perspective on the contrived point you are trying to make.

    Let us please speak with intelligence, and admit when we do not know something, just as readily as we proclaim expertise in something. As far as I know, the Armenian military has about 50k servicemen. How many of those servicemen do you think could reasonably have been committed to Artsakh without severely endangering the borders and citizens of Armenia proper? I don’t know…do you? My guess is, not many.