Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been accused of being a crusader hoping to inflame war between Christianity and Islam by Lisa McCormick, a pragmatic peace advocate who challenged him in New Jersey’s 2018 Democratic primary election.
This accusation stems from legislation Menendez sponsored with Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy called the Supporting Armenians Against Azerbaijani Aggression Act, which would provide military assistance to Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“I fault Senator Menendez and his Republican pals for their militaristic foreign policy views, which demonstrate that they are more interested in starting wars than in building peace,” said McCormick. “A warmonger who always seems eager to send our troops into endless wars, Menendez is more interested in enriching the military-industrial complex than in protecting our national security.”
McCormick explained that Azerbaijan is predominantly Muslim while Armenia is predominantly Christian and the two countries both became members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
“Like every other nation on this planet, Azerbaijan and Armenia need to stop using violence, defuse tensions, and settle their unresolved issues in a peaceful manner because war is no longer an option in a world that hangs on the precipice of self-destruction,” said McCormick. “This year, the smartest people on Earth at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved forward the hands of the Doomsday Clock, which at 90 seconds to midnight suggests that humanity is closer to global catastrophe than it has ever been before. Incredibly, this has not been a sufficient wake-up call for militaristic maniacs who are driving America’s foreign policy.”
McCormick argues that Menendez’s support for Armenia is motivated by his desire to see a Christian victory over a Muslim country but such actions will only escalate tensions between the United States and other Islamic countries.
Azerbaijan launched “local counter-terrorism activities in the Karabakh economic region” in response to the tragic deaths of two civilians and four police officers in incidents involving landmines, allegedly placed by Armenian armed forces.
Azerbaijan regained control of its breakaway region in a deadly two-day military offensive but on Thursday, it held initial talks with representatives of its ethnic Armenian population to discuss reintegration.
Hikmet Hajiyev, the foreign policy advisor to the president of Azerbaijan, said Baku welcomed aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international humanitarian partners.
Menendez claims his support for Armenia is based on humanitarian concerns and a commitment to democracy and said that Armenian people who are being oppressed by the Azerbaijani government deserve to be supported.
However, critics remain unconvinced, pointing to the fact that Menendez has been a vocal critic of other Muslim-majority countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
They also note that he has close ties to the Armenian-American community, which has donated significant sums to his political campaigns.
A large number of weapons and ammunition were found at the battle position belonging to Armenian armed forces near the Galaychilar village of Ağdam district, APA reports.
“Menendez’s Supporting Armenians Against Azerbaijani Aggression Act is a clear indication that he is willing to risk such a war between Christianity and Islam, and I cannot help but wonder if that is the desired outcome of his foreign policy schemes,” said McCormick, who argued that the New Jersey lawmaker is “opening a can of worms by resorting to violence when diplomacy is necessary.”
She has also criticized Menendez for taking ‘the wrong side’ in the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which she believes will only escalate tensions between the United States and other Muslim countries.
“Bob Menendez always takes the shoot first, ask questions later approach because, at heart, he is a bully,” said McCormick, who took four of ten votes away from Menendez in the 2018 primary.
McCormick accused Menendez of encouraging hostility toward Azerbaijan —a country with a predominantly Muslim population— which could escalate the rift between the US and other Islamic countries despite the secular government there.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, which is a secular country with a predominantly Muslim population and the only post-Soviet state that did not receive direct aid from the United States government to facilitate economic and political stability.
“We believe peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan would have cascading benefits for the region that are in the U.S. national security interest,” said Yuri Kim, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 14, 2023. “A dignified and durable peace could facilitate regional energy security and boost regional transportation links, in turn improving economic prospects of all countries in the region and improving the lives of millions.”
“Finally, peace and freedom are coming to the Caucasus. This peace will contribute to the development of Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians,” said Dr. Vaja Shubitidze, a political science professor at the Georgian Technical University. “I am sure that soon the people of Armenia will understand that this defeat serves the prosperity of Armenia itself because they became hostages of Garabagh. All the country’s income and funds were spent on the war, they lost many people. They should have understood that in the 21st century, no one can take someone else’s territory by force, especially if this someone else is stronger than you.”
McCormick’s critique of Menendez is based on her belief that diplomacy is always the best way to resolve conflict.
She argues that Menendez’s support for military action is only likely to lead to more violence and bloodshed and says that Menendez’s support for Armenia is alienating other Muslim countries, making it more difficult for the United States to build bridges with them.
“Turkophobic Menendez and his Armenian wife are under federal investigation, so there should be a limit to the bloodthirsty and corrupt politician’s influence in this matter, but the United States should also keep its top priority as efforts to end the military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said McCormick. “Americans should endorse and aid the Minsk Group process of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to support both Azerbaijan and Armenia in achieving a peaceful, negotiated settlement.”
Menendez issued a statement welcoming a Greek F-35 deal but “strongly” opposing the sale of any “new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” which is a US ally in NATO.
McCormick previously chided Menendez, saying the hawkish chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blundered by irritating the People’s Republic of China by arming Taiwan instead of using peaceful methods to assure that the democratic island’s status does not change.
“Instead of defending the United States and being a champion for peace, Senator Bob Menendez is a key agent of the military-industrial-congressional complex,” said McCormick, after New Jersey’s senior senator employed the unnecessarily risky strategy of trying to bully a big and potentially dangerous adversary by spending up to $10 billion of US taxpayer cash over the next five years to make Taiwan able to “defeat” the People’s Republic of China.
Menendez’s record and rhetoric have led some to accuse him of being a warmonger. They argue that he is too quick to resort to force and that his hawkish views could lead to more wars. Menendez has supported a wide range of military interventions, including wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
Menendez strongly supports increased military spending and he has repeatedly called for the US to increase its defense budget in order to maintain its global military superiority.