Monday, March 5, 2007

Turks and Armenians in the Congress

We've been talking for awhile in the World War I class about the Armenian genocide and the worldwide reaction to it...curiously, to this point, the United States is not among the countries who officially view that episode as an episode of ethnic cleansing or genocide, although the consensus of academic opinion clearly tilts towards that view. That is about to change, as Jackson Diehl makes clear in this morning's WaPo. There is a non-binding resolution in preparation in the House acknowledging that Turks indeed massacred Armenians in l9l5--they use the word "genocide."

You would think that there would be a rare moment of consensus on this one between the executive and legislative--after all, the US is historically a proponent of human rights, even though our record has been inconsistent at best in recent years. But that's not the case, for reasons Diehl makes clear:

"...the consequences of passage could be deadly serious: To begin with, Turkey's powerful military has been hinting that U.S. access to the Incirlik air base, which plays a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could be restricted. Gul warned that a nationalist tidal wave could sweep Turkey and force the government to downgrade its cooperation with the United States, which needs Turkey's help this year to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran. Candidates in upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections could compete in their anti-American reactions."

So what do you do? The Admin opposes this, for obvious reasons. Nancy Pelosi and other congresspeople with heavy Armenian support in their district favor it. Maybe if the House passed the resolution, Turkey would finally have to look at itself in the mirror and begin to acknowledge that its forbears did, in fact, commit a terrible crime. I think it HAS to do that in order to become a modern state and join the European Union...but clearly, it could cost the US if it takes this step.

I reported on this, now YOU decide. How would you vote?


mishdiaz said...

I think we should go ahead and pass the resolution. It is about time. With the pending lawsuits against Turkey, from the U.S. and other countries, in international court that have been virtually ignored, it may force Turkey to adress the horrors inflicted on the Armenian people. This is the perfect timing since Turkey is in the midst of a bid to join the European Union and the U.S. is their biggest supporter. They can not afford to lose our support when they are seriously borderline as it is. France and other countries have similar resolutions in the works in their courts and this could buttress their standings as well. Maybe for once we can all stand together on something? I vote yes!

moville said...

Mish, good thought, maybe a little push is exactly what they need. Maybe we ought to think long-term instead of in terms of short-term expediency.

german said...

i vote with national security. if keeping turkey on our side and a viable allie then we must concede to what their wishes are. turkey is in a very vital secuirty location in the middle east and possibly russia. yes they maybe a little backwards but we need to have them on our side and hopefully help get them into the eu if they want to join. that is apart of foreign affairs and we need victories in that field at this time and it is even a diplomatic one

moville said...

German, you are not alone. You are being a realist there, whereas pushing ahead with the resolution would probably be in line with the idealist line. That's a recurring theme in American diplomacy.