Blundering American Ambassadors Unmask the War on Terror

David Boyajian’s latest report discusses the less-than-pristine policies of the State Department when it comes to dealing with the Great Jihad in the Middle East.

Blundering American Ambassadors Unmask the War on Terror

by David Boyajian

We know that U.S. ambassadors tend to be bureaucratic and boring.

If you challenge them forcefully, however, the resulting outbursts can provide stunning insights into their ineptitude and State Department policies.

Consider the mind-boggling statements made by then-Ambassador to Armenia Richard M. Mills during the Q & A at Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Cambridge, MA.

I had bluntly questioned Mills about the Turkish government’s support for ISIS and similar jihadist/terrorist organizations.

Though this occurred two years ago (March 3, 2016), his answers remain relevant to America’s so-called “War on Terror” and the ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq.

When posing my question, I said that I would be handing everyone in the audience a study entitled “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links by Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

Dr. David L. Phillips, the director of its Program on Peace-building and Human Rights, oversaw the study. The widely-published Phillips is a foreign affairs adviser for the State Department and the United Nations.

Using dozens of sources, the study definitively established that Turkey was providing weapons, ammunition, financing, transportation, training, and recruits to ISIS in Syria and Iraq and to other terrorist groups such as al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot.

Incredibly, Mills angrily replied that Turkey had not helped jihadists/terrorists in any way.

The ambassador even claimed that if some jihadists had entered Syria from Turkey they did so only by sneaking past Syrian refugees who were crossing in the opposite direction. To its credit, the polite Armenian American audience refrained from laughing.

Mills’ hyperbolic defense of Turkey was particularly incongruous, as American-Turkish relations were even then headed downhill toward today’s quagmire.

Moreover, the ambassador’s vindication of Turkey went even further than had the Obama administration.

Indeed, in a rare moment of frankness Vice-President Joe Biden himself told a Harvard University audience (Oct. 2, 2014) that “our allies” Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE were “our largest problem in Syria … giving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons” to jihadist organizations.

These included, said Biden, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, “extremist” jihadis, and ISIL [ISIS].

Though Biden never withdrew his statements, Pres. Obama soon forced him to apologize to Turkey and UAE to spare them and America further embarrassment.

Mills also vehemently denied that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS.

Yet The New York Times had reported (“Struggling to Starve ISIS of Oil Revenue, U.S. Seeks Assistance From Turkey,” Sept. 13, 2014) that “the Obama administration is struggling to cut off the millions of dollars in oil revenue that has made [ISIS] one of the wealthiest terror groups in history, but so far has been unable to persuade Turkey… where much of the oil is traded on the black market, to crack down on an extensive sales network. Western intelligence officials… track the ISIS oil shipments [from] Iraq [into] Turkey.”

Additionally, a second Columbia University study, “ Research Paper: Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade,” confirmed that Turkey was buying voluminous amounts of crude oil from ISIS. President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan, son-in-law Berat Albayrak, and brother-in-law Ziya Ilgen were reportedly major players in that illicit trade.

As a State Dept. official, Mills blundered by exonerating Turkey. In so doing, he demonstrated that the “War on Terror” was less about stopping terrorism than about shielding an ally from terrorism charges.

Another blundering ambassador

Six months after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, Ross L. Wilson, the American ambassador to oil- and gas-rich Azerbaijan, spoke at a sparsely-attended seminar at Harvard University’s oil and gas industry-funded Caspian Studies Program.

I pointedly asked him about the terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky who in 1999 had documented numerous instances of jihadists, including Chechens and Afghans, using Azerbaijan as a base.

Wilson vociferously denied everything in Bodansky’s article.

Yet the FBI had found that al-Qaeda used Baku, Azerbaijan as a communication and logistical base for 1998’s fatal bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Moreover, in the early 1990s Azerbaijan imported thousands of Afghan Mujahideen, as well as Chechen and Turkish mercenaries, to fight against Armenians in the Karabagh/Artsakh war.

Amb. Wilson thus gratuitously covered for Azerbaijan’s involvement with jihadists/terrorists, just as Amb. Mills would later do for Turkey.

More recently, hundreds of Azeris have joined ISIS and similar jihadist groups in Syria.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Airlines has reportedly been ferrying billions in weapons (including from the U.S.) to jihadists in Syria. Silk Way is apparently owned partly by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family.

The inept Wilson also called lham Aliyev — who hadn’t yet inherited the throne from his father Heydar Aliyev — an idiot or similar insult.

This apparently panicked the host Dr. Brenda Shaffer, the Caspian program’s research director, a prominent pro-Azeri propagandist, former adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and now a lecturer at the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy.

She abruptly announced that Wilson’s presentation was now “off the record.”

Armenia’s unrecognized record

Since 9/11, I’ve asked two U.S. ambassadors to Armenia this question: Given America’s so-called global “War on Terror,” why do you never mention that Armenia has an exceptionally strong anti-jihadist/terrorist record compared to other countries within a thousand mile radius or more?

Indeed, Armenia has had no jihadist citizens, hasn’t supported jihadists, and hasn’t served as a jihadist base or transit route.

Neither ambassador provided a cogent answer, although one said that Armenia is mainly Christian so wouldn’t be expected to be associated with jihadists.

Yet neighboring Georgia, which jihadists have used as a base and pass-through, is also mainly Christian. And witness the many jihadist cells and terror attacks in Christian Europe.

What “War on Terror”?

The four ambassadors’ reactions we described reinforce what many experts believe:

America’s “War on Terror” has largely morphed into a cover for the State Department’s and some American lobbies’ geopolitical agendas — such as deposing Syrian President al-Assad.

After all, given the chance to criticize Turkey, Azerbaijan, and others for supporting jihadists, Ambassadors Mills and Wilson refused to do so.

American officials downplay or outright deny the support that U.S. “allies” such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia provide jihadists/terrorists lest our own nation’s support of terrorism also be exposed.

Similarly, American officials never praise Armenia’s fine record on jihadism/terrorism because as we pointed out the “War on Terror” is primarily not about terror/jihadism.

Lynne M. Tracy has been nominated to replace Richard Mills as ambassador to Armenia.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should grill her on the same terrorism subjects, and more, that I raised with other ambassadors.

If citizens do not successfully push Congress to fully expose America’s and its “allies’” roles in supporting jihadists/terrorists, we have only ourselves to blame.

David Boyajian is an Armenian-American freelance journalist. Many of his articles are archived at

Previous posts:

2015   Apr   1   The Allies At Gallipoli: Defeat In 1915, Disgrace In 2015
2016   May   21   The ADL and the Armenian Genocide: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
    Jun   26   An Armenian-American Group Caves in to the Anti-Defamation League
2018   May   6   Armenia’s People-Power Revolution, Russia, and the Western Bloc
    Sep   10   No to the Anti-Defamation League in Glendale and Elsewhere

3 thoughts on “Blundering American Ambassadors Unmask the War on Terror

  1. In a way, Obama may have been correct when he stated that ISIS is the Junior Varsity team. He didn’t say JV for whom. It could be JV for Turkey. ISIS captures territory, declares a caliphate. Turkey “reluctantly” helps push ISIS out. Turkey sticks around to maintain order in the devastated territory. Turkey forgets to go home and return the territory to the country that originally owned it. Turkey has expanded its own caliphate. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • It’s a classical technology of imperial expansion. Two neighboring states get into a conflict. One of them asks for foreign assistance. The helpful foreign partner sends armies and supplies. Once the conflict is resolved, the allied army simply stays in place and the assisted state become a client state.

      This was the method by which Philip of Macedonia conquered the Greek states of the Amphictionic League. The consequences of the “divide and conquer” method was noted by the Federalist framers of the US Constitution, who cited the propensity of nearby states to get into conflict as a rationale for the all-powerful nationalist government of the US rather than the confederacy of states.

  2. My first thought is that if the US really had the destruction of ISIS as a first priority, their most effective strategy would be to simply not fund and train Syrian rebel groups to destabilize the Syrian government, which prior to US intervention, had a firm control over its territory. To this day, I have no idea why the US sponsored the attempt to over throw the Syrian government. The claim that the Syrian government was not democratic is laughable, as Saudi Arabia is anything but democratic, but is one of the Trump government’s closest Middle East allies.

    More broadly, the US State Department has a long and rich history of trashing US interests. Owen Lattimore, the China hand for the State Department, convinced the US government that Mao Tse Ding Dong was a simple agrarian reformer. The US government consequently withdrew much of its support for the President of China, Chiang Kai Shek.

    The State Department, along with the CIA, sponsored the overthrow of a parliamentary government in Iran, in favor of the Shah.

    The ambassador to Iraq in 1990, April Gillespie, was fuzzy in communicating US policy to Saddam Hussein of Iraq, resulting in his invasion of Kuwait. That only cost the US a few trillion to set right.

    Moving right along, the State Department fast tracked the very flawed visa applications for 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers into the US. Not to miss an opportunity to compound a fatal error, the State Department, and every other department, had no program of monitoring visa overstays on the visas they approved.

    Currently, we are supporting the Saudi massacres of Yemenis with arms and possibly direct military support. Unlike Syria, Yemen presented a direct security threat to the US, necessitating our partnership with the benign Saudis.

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