We, As a Nation, Need a Comprehensive Defense Plan

Artsakh forces continued to retaliate against Azerbaijani attacks
Artsakh forces continued to retaliate against Azerbaijani attacks

Artsakh forces continued to retaliate against Azerbaijani attacks


I, as probably all Armenians, was devastated but not necessarily surprised over the news that Armenia lost to the Azeri. During my drive home that day, I wondered, is this how Simon Vratsian felt after the fall of the first republic? Not that I consider myself of his caliber. Still the loss is devastating.

Then I began to reflect and consolidate and question using the Socratic Dialectic….

When will our nation learn to stand on its own two feet? Instead we are constantly looking to other countries for aid. The Israeli figured out a long time ago that they needed to be able to defend themselves and not depend on third parties. Yet our people have not learned from the lesson of Khriyman Hayrig ”…You can’t scoop harissa with a paper spoon when everyone else is using an iron ladle.”

Why do we keep reading that Armenia is a poor nation, with no natural resources that is surrounded by enemies? The same could be said for Israel. Yet they have flourished with help from their Diaspora. Note, I am not a fan of Israel. What they have done to the Palestinians is criminal. Regardless, there are many lessons we can learn from them.

Why did the Armenian government lie about the progress of the war? They claimed they had everything under control when in fact it was more like the Polish calvary fighting against a Nazi mechanized Blitzkrieg. Instead Pashinyan waited until he lost most of Artsakh. Did he not think the truth would eventually come out?

Where was the nuclear option? I consider taking out the Baku oil fields and pipelines one? I have constantly asked why we do not do it? It would cut off oil and gas supplies to the west, especially Israel who receives 40% of their oil from Azerbaijan. What would Europe do when they lose a major source of oil and gas then? Would they still be silent while we are relentlessly attacked? The answer has been the Azeri will bomb Metzamor.

On July 16, 2020 Vagif Dargahli, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman said “…The Armenian side must not forget that our army’s state-of-the-art missile systems allow us to strike the Metzamor nuclear plant with precision, which could lead to a great catastrophe for Armenia,” Therefore, given the Azeri threats and actions, why should we not take the nuclear waste from Metzamor and manufacture dirty bombs? Please do not tell me about weapons of mass destruction when the Turks and Azeri used them against civilians and hospitals without any repercussion from anyone. Two can play that game and we should. It will definitely make them think twice if we could turn Baku into a radioactive wasteland for the next 5,000 years. Which leads to the next question….

Why hasn’t Armenia moved to decommission Metzamor? Any intelligent planner, be it military or political, would have examined potential exposures like this and mitigated the risk. What does this mean? First, Metzamor has been a risk for many years and is old Soviet era technology. Armenia took the easy way out and still uses this relic. Second, Armenia should have decided to transition to clean energy such as wind and solar years ago. That would have created thousands of jobs and most likely, given the drive to stop global warming, resulted in international funding for such an effort. And I would wager the Diaspora of approximately 10M people would be more than happy to assist provided appropriate checks and balances were put in place to assure the money is properly allocated.

How many billions of dollars were stolen over the years? Just about everyone who supported the successive regimes is to blame for this one. Imagine if this had not happened, the amount of money Armenia could have allocated to a sophisticated defense.

Why didn’t Armenia develop anti-drone and anti-missile technology? It is interesting that Armenia has a dynamic technology sector. Unfortunately it does not appear the government ever thought to put this national resource to work developing the necessary technology to counter the Turkish and Israeli drones.

Why do we not have our own military technology export industry like the Israeli? We have the talent and a large diaspora to support this. Plus, it could probably be more price competitive than the Israeli. One answer that comes back is the country can’t afford to do it. Again, let us learn from Israel, they collaborated with money and talent from their Diaspora to make this happen. They established venture funds for development that provided seed and startup funds. Obviously, this worked to great success.

Why doesn’t Armenia have the equivalent to the CIA, Mossad or MI6? It was called for in May 2020. Again too little too late.

Why did the Armenian Government with influence from the Western NGO’s, move away from Russia and the CSTO? I can support acceptance of Western values to an extent they do not antagonize your strategic partners. This is not what happened and the results have been catastrophic

Why do we keep looking to the West for support? We have nothing to offer that serves their self-interest. Therefore they are totally and completely unreliable when we need them the most. This has happened over and over. When will we learn? Why are we not strengthening our relations with Russia, Iran, India and China when they are in our backyard?

Why did the Armenian Government open an embassy in Israel when they were selling weapons to the Turks and Azeri? How stupid was that? All it served to do was alienate our relationship with Iran. Yes, Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel during the war. Again, too little too late.

What was there to gain by alienating Putin? How is that a good idea when you are basically dependent on his largesse? Look what happened to Ukraine, the Crimea and Georgia. Did he not learn from that? One may conclude that Putin decided to bloody Pashinyan’s nose at the cost of thousands of lives, destroyed infrastructure and millions of dollars.

Was Pashinyan incapable of dealing with this challenge? Pashinyan is a populist leader. I am not so sure he is a strategic one. He definitely isn’t politically astute if he antagonized Putin.

Why does the Diaspora look at Armenia as some sort of vacation destination and purchase homes and apartments there? Yes it feels great to walk down Abovyan Blvd to shop and dine in the fabulous restaurants. But is that really enough? The Diaspora needs to join forces with Armenia to secure its future, both technologically and militarily. Why isn’t the Diasporan Ministry working to build trust among Armenian people all over the world and the homeland to secure the future of our country? I am not talking about tourism, schools, or churches. I am talking about military and technological development.

When are we going to learn to stop asking the Diaspora for humanitarian aid and start asking for funds to develop a strong national defense network? Over the last several weeks I have received multiple emails from Armenian organizations asking for money to support Artsakh. Again it is humanitarian aid. Really, so the Azeri can bomb it all into oblivion in another five years because we have not developed the necessary military power? Armenia must develop the necessary military sophistication to counter any aggressor and make them think twice.

Therefore, it is time for the development of a comprehensive strategic defense plan that engages the vast resources of the Diaspora, both financial and technological, in coordination and support of entrepreneurs in Armenia. Then and only then, can this new military business sector develop cutting edge technology not only to defend Armenia and Artsakh but also to sell to the world.


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  1. Ebram Sookazian said:

    Excellent POINTS, MR. ALTOUNIAN, and:
    1- Remember that Israel has COMPLETE backing of USA
    2- How about Armenia RECOGNIZING Artsakh, and not wait longer for other countries, even Putin mentioned that in his news conference
    3- The good news is that French Parliament RECOGNIZED Artsakh this morning

  2. serop said:

    For over 26 years successive Armenian governments plundered anything and everything, from the lowest ranking official to the highest and their families all are to blame for the disastrous war, we have lost an entire generation of young boys and men and these traitors like Kocharyan, Sargissyan and their likes all must pay and sent to jail as thieves and traitors. It is estimated almost $2 Billion has been stolen by them and just imagine if that money was spent on defense technology and weapons…
    There is no unity in the diaspora, the various political groups all are to blame also for their lack of inaction.
    I have written here before that the future of Armenia is at hands of Diaspora, engage them, give full citizenship to any Armenian that wishes to be a citizen with conditions such as must visit at least once every 3 years or pay $1000 a year for the privilege.
    But the authorities are playing their pathetic games even now, appoint a minister of diaspora affairs who achieved ZERO, we are not ignorant nor are we stupid to fall for the charm offensive.
    Adopt the Israeli model, reach out to every Armenian globally, set up a global security and development fund managed by a leading European investment firm so the dirty hands of traitors and thieves cannot reach them. But I doubt this ever will happen, as always in history we are our own worst enemy.

  3. Krikor Kilisian said:

    Agree with you, Armenia needs a comprehensive defens plan, in order for this to happen, we must have a real democracy in Armenia, otherwise unfortunately nothing will be changed.

  4. Ara Sarian said:

    Stepan, I couldn’t have said it better. I categorically agree with all that you have said. We are all talk no action. This business of sending more humanitarian aid (as many Armenians did during this war) is for the birds! Enough abusing our loyalty to our nation! These people think we’re a bottomless pit. I, as many Armenians, would gladly chip in more and more if it were for a National Action Plan or some such worthy and effective program (not to brag: I had participated in preparing such a plan on behalf of the US and EU for the Iraqi government not too long ago). But no one (including the Diaspora Ministry) has the presence of mind to make the necessary connections with diaspora experts and resources. It appears that they have no idea how to proceed. Of course, it takes two hands to clap. If the diaspora is unresponsive, nothing will materialize.

    Some may already know that the new highway from Armenia to Artsakh built with the help of diaspora funds, for example, is now taken by Azerbaijan. And God knows what else was freely handed over to the Azeris not to mention what was stolen by corrupt officials. We turned a blind eye to corruption for the sake of helping the fatherland. But the sheer volume of betrayal, neglect, and mismanaged governance is devastating, to say the least. It perpetuates the suspicions that, true or not, some of the funds are siphoned off. I do not wish to sound pretentious. God knows we have our share of corruption in this country. But Armenia cannot withstand such a shock to the system. It can easily collapse into a third world country or worse end up as a vassal Turkish vilayet. This is so beyond shameful. It is disgusting. It is a crime against the memory of our millions of martyrs. And though I try to reason with my angry emotions, I find it hard to weed out the good from the bad Armenians. I am angry at all of them, especially the good ones who did not have the temerity to challenge the corrupt harshly and with extreme prejudice, to the death if need be, as this is ultimately a matter of life or death for the nation. If it were the first time in our history, I would have chucked it to inexperience. How many times do we have to fail before we learn? Or is there a subconscious fear of success and victory embedded deep in our psyche? This is incredible and unforgivable. We call ourselves intelligent, but the evidence proves otherwise. We denigrate the Turks and Azeris as stupid cowards and yet the joke’s on us. As a nation, we still have a tribal mentality. That has to disappear once and for all. We need to build a State, a serious State that commands universal respect, and not be at the mercy of political hacks. We need statesmen and honest politicians (if there is such a thing). No nation took our cause seriously during this war. And that was not because of our small size, but because we failed to demonstrate credible political, diplomatic, and military 21st-century level sophistication. It seems like the whole world knew of our frailty except us. Poor us, some blinded by our love of nation, others by pompous self-confidence, and yet others by a cold and calculating self-serving attitude that could care less about nationhood. I praise no one but our young, brave daredevils who truly fought fearlessly against overwhelming odds and died like true Heroes. Are the rest of us worthy of their ultimate sacrifice? Our next move will provide us with an answer. They’re the true Patriots!!! May God bless their souls.

  5. Ani Aghazaryan said:

    Thanks for this great article. As a Diaspora Armenian, I agree that the Armenians all over the world should be asked to join a network to support the funding of the defense. But we need smart and trustworthy leaders. We need to see that the government is being proactive, that the government is being pragmatic and focused. We need to see that the funding will for sure be used for the intended goal. We need to see strong diplomacy. I’m afraid the Diaspora is becoming hopeless just like the Armenians in Armenia. The political and military figures in Armenia need to step up and also make way for the talent from Diapsora to make a constructive and positive change. I hope it’s not too late to reach the goals stated in your article.

  6. Greg Keosian said:

    Right on the money, Stepan. I only hope we have the ability to protect our borders at this point.

  7. ara said:

    NOw this is on track and what needs to be done to put the azeri ottomans into their hellhole they came from- we kill or get killed and it seems we cannot hold onto the little we had- yes israel sells their dirty mothers underwear to their family to survive and look at how tough they are- we are weak and weakened some more by what corruption and non-sense we speak- we remove the nuclear place and level baku and azeri to the ground and take all our lands back- if the dirty otto turks support them we will destroy them and our friends will help- no doubt about it if they invade us-we have lots to lose but cannot let the azeri ottos do this cuz now they are going to do more- well written here and this is what we need to stop-

  8. ara said:

    STEPAN ALTOUNIAN0 we need our generals and leaders and intellectuals of the world with military strikes to decimate the azeri otto military and well written- 100 per cent
    we kill them or they kill us. we defend our borders or we lose and have no country-the world will not shield us – Well written- this is Afrikian as ara

  9. GB said:

    I believe landlocked Armenia needs to have a nuclear option ASAP. Hostile Islamic nations surrounded us. 2.9 million against 100 million Turks is not logical with conventional weaponry.

  10. Hagop Kidikian said:

    BRAVO. This article should be published in EVERY Armenian newspaper all over the world, EVERY DAY UNTIL OUR LEADERS WAKE UP IN ARMENIA AND THE DIASPORA.

  11. Tara Lovitt said:

    I’ve been thinking the same thing for five years and surprised that nothing has been done. I am in complete agreement with the author.

  12. Kevork said:

    Dear Mr Altounian
    Thank you for your detailed article.
    We have a saying in Armenian
    Վարուած կամ այրած սրտի *** մխիթարանքի։
    Having lost 12,000 sq km, almost half the size of the Republic of Armenia proper, your recommendation is noble but irrelevant now. We have a song in Australia titled “Too late baby now it’s too late”. It was a huge hit in the 1970s. Perhaps we can release an Armenian version.
    Please view the analysis in this link that itemises the many dozens of mistakes made by our inept leadership over the last two and a half years.
    There are no more tears, no more gnashing of teeth.
    My best wishes to you.

  13. Knarik O. Meneshian said:

    In addition, we MUST populate Syunik and the regions, as well as Artsakh. If we do not, the “weeds” will infiltrate and take over our lands.

  14. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    Well done!!! whereas for 26 years our Party has not worried about the defense, corruption and crimes of our soldiers by the hundreds today in anticipation of possible elections and after this national military humiliation, historic which reveals the total absence of a national defense with content more than equivoque, our Party wakes up to hope rather, on the misfortune of families , power rather than reaching out a sincere hand in the interest of the Nation, which is inscribed in the Tchanags genes, to get out of this shameful dangerous tumult. It is not by insulting Pachinyan, even if the latter has shown his inability to realize a large part of his emgagements including corruption with direct consequences on this humiliation