Sunday, October 21, 2007

Should Congress now condemn Turkey for the Armenian genocide?

Charles Krauthammer:

If you really want to deepen and broaden awareness of that historical record, you should support the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial in Washington. But to pass a declarative resolution in the House of Representatives in the middle of a war in which we are inordinately dependent on Turkey would be the height of irresponsibility.

The atrocities happened 90 years ago. Not a single living Turk under the age of 102 is in any way culpable. Even Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian community in Turkey, has stated that his community is opposed to the resolution, correctly calling it the result of domestic American politics.

Turkey is already massing troops near its border with Iraq, threatening a campaign against Kurdish rebels that could destabilize the one stable front in Iraq. The same House of Representatives that has been complaining loudly about the lack of armored vehicles for our troops is blithely jeopardizing relations with the country through which 95 percent of the new heavily armored vehicles are now transiting on the way to saving American lives in Iraq. . . .

[Speaker Nancy] Pelosi says: "Genocide still exists, and we saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur." Precisely. And what exactly is she doing about Darfur? Nothing. Pronouncing yourself on a genocide committed 90 years ago by an empire that no longer exists is Pelosi's demonstration of seriousness about existing, ongoing genocide?

Samantha Power:

It is inconceivable that even back in the days when the U.S. prized West Germany as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, Washington would have refrained from condemning the Holocaust at Germany's behest. . . .

America's leverage over Turkey is far greater than Turkey's over the U.S. The U.S. brought Turkey into NATO, built up its military and backed its membership in the European Union. Washington granted most-favored-nation trading status to Turkey, resulting in some $7 billion in annual trade between the two countries and $2 billion in U.S. investments there. Only Israel and Egypt outrank Turkey as recipients of U.S. foreign assistance. [Finally], for all the help Turkey has given the U.S. concerning Iraq, Ankara turned down Washington's request to use Turkish bases to launch the Iraq invasion, and it ignored Washington's protests by massing 60,000 troops at the Iraq border this month as a prelude to a widely expected attack in Iraqi Kurdistan. In other words, while Turkey may invoke the genocide resolution as grounds for ignoring U.S. wishes, it has a longer history of snubbing Washington when it wants to.


sjohnson said:

Let me start by putting the record strait. Denying the truth of the Armenian genocide is absolutely preposterous. It well documented in American, German, and British archives by those who saw the account first hand. Furthermore, R. Lempkin coined the word genocide looking at the Armenian genocide and the holocaust. And finally, the institute of genocide scholars (which is the prominent organization whom examines these matters) not only characterizes the Armenian genocide as a genocide but furthermore endorses this resolution. (Let me add that when the US passes this resolution, it will be the 24th country to pass Armenian genocide resolution)
There has been harsh criticism to this resolution mostly due to the empty threats that Turkey has declared it will follow through with if this resolution. I call these empty threats because Turkey has made these threats in the past. When most of Europe passed an Armenian genocide resolution, Turkey made threats similar to these. The best example was with France when they passed their version of an Armenian genocide resolution in 2000 Turkey threatened it would cut off relations. The resolution passed overwhelmingly and I can report that trade between France and Turkey has grown over 200%. Furthermore, as far as military strategy let me remind you that Turkey has already undermined US efforts. In 2003 Turkey denied the US a two front campaign into Iraq. Interestingly enough, this was before a genocide resolution was being debated in the House of Representatives (in fact it was 30 months after the last resolution was scrapped, much to the delight of Turkey). I argue that Turkey will pursue its own foreign policy regardless of any resolution the US decides to pass and not to pass. Let me remind you that is Turkey whom receives 10 billion dollars from the IMF each year (which is funded by the US); thus let me say that Turkey risks destroying economic relations over this issue at its own risk.
Finally and most importantly the United States has a long history of passing resolutions condemning atrocities and this should be no different. The only reason why it is still lurking in the heads of congressman and women is because Turkey has embarked on a vast campaign of genocide denial. Turkey outright denies the genocide even when it is widely documented in the US archives by diplomats who saw the genocide take place first hand. I am shocked to think the US would even consider tarnishing everything it stands for. I understand that Turkey is an ally to the United States but the US has never offered genocide denial as a perk to friendship (as the Honorable Brad Sherman stated so well) Turkey cannot force the US to deny the truth just because it is in a geographically important region of the world. What kind of ally does that anyway? This resolution is long, long overdue and I applaud those courageous congressman who recognize the good track record of the US and the need to keep the US on the forefront of standing up for justice and righteousness.

Eser said:

It is really sickening when public and politicians become totally brainwashed with hatred and artificially created documentaries all of which has been shown to be untrue, unofficial and creatively produced to support a claim. If Armenians are right in their stories why have they not been going to an international institution like UN to prove themselves (UN TOTALLY REFUSES THE CLAIMS MADE BY THE ARMENIANS) or to the international court? Why do they refuse to open up their archives to be studied by scholars.Because they do not have a provable claim; because they killed twice as many Muslim Ottomans and were clearing up Turkish cities from their Muslim populations to welcome the Russions' occupation... These are fact along with the sad reality that there were a lot of Armenian casualties when Ottoman army was trying to clear up the war zone to stop the back stabbing and ethnic cleansing of Armenians from the region to be able to fight its enemy the Russions. Turks never denied the Terrible experiences of the Armenians during the deportation which was hit by the widespread typhuses and the poverty of the Ottoman treasury during the war. But Turks will never accept the political shenanigan of the Armenian diaspora to try to label history as they choose to their advantage. Here is the recent statement of one of the foremost historians:
"Norman Stone
Chicago Tribune
October 16, 2007

Armenian story has another side
"All the world knows what the end of an empire looks like: hundreds of thousands of people fleeing down dusty paths, taking what was left of their possessions; crammed refugee trains puffing their way across arid plains; and many, many people dying. For the Ottoman Empire that process began in the Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus as Russia and her satellites expanded. Seven million people -- we would now call them Turks -- had to settle in Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey.
In 1914, when World War I began in earnest, Armenians living in what is now Turkey attempted to set up a national state. Armenians revolted against the Ottoman government, began what we would now call "ethnic cleansing" of the local Turks. Their effort failed and caused the government to deport most Armenians from the area of the revolt for security reasons. Their sufferings en route are well-known.
Today, Armenian interests in America and abroad are well-organized. What keeps them united is the collective memory of their historic grievance. What happened was not in any way their fault, they believe. If the drive to carve out an ethnically pure Armenian state was a failure, they reason, it was only because the Turks exterminated them.
For years, Armenians have urged the U.S. Congress to recognize their fate as genocide. Many U.S. leaders -- including former secretaries of state and defense and current high-ranking Bush administration officials -- have urged Congress either not to consider or to vote down the current genocide resolution primarily for strategic purposes: Turkey is a critical ally to the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan and adoption of such a resolution would anger and offend the Turkish population and jeopardize U.S.-Turkish relations.
Given this strong opposition, why would Congress, upon the advice of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, make itself arbiter of this controversy? What makes the Armenians' dreadful fate so much worse than the dreadful fates that come with every end of empire? It is here that historians must come in.
First, allegedly critical evidence of the crime consists of forgeries. The British were in occupation of Istanbul for four years after the war and examined all of the files of the Ottoman government. They found nothing, and therefore could not try the 100-odd supposed Turkish war criminals that they were holding. Then, documents turned up, allegedly telegrams from the interior ministry to the effect that all Armenians should
be wiped out. The signatures turned out to be wrong, there were no back-up copies in the archives and the dating system was misunderstood.
There are many other arguments against a supposed genocide of the Armenians. Their leader was offered a post in the Turkish Cabinet in 1914, and turned it down. When the deportations were under way, the populations of the big cities were exempted -- Istanbul, Izmir, Aleppo, where there were huge concentrations of Armenians. There were indeed well-documented and horrible massacres of the deportee columns, and the Turks themselves tried more than 1,300 men for these crimes in 1916, convicted many and executed several. None of this squares with genocide, as we classically understand it. Finally, it is just not true that historians as a whole support the genocide thesis. The people who know the background and the language (Ottoman Turkish is terribly difficult) are divided, and those who do not accept the genocide thesis are weightier. The Armenian lobby contends that these independent and highly esteemed historians are simply "Ottomanists" -- a ridiculously arrogant dismissal.
Unfortunately, the issue has never reached a properly constituted court. If the Armenians were convinced of their own case, they would have taken it to one. Instead, they lobby bewildered or bored parliamentary assemblies to "recognize the genocide."
Congress should not take a position, one way or the other, on this affair. Let historians decide. The Turkish government has been saying this for years. It is the Armenians who refuse to take part in a joint historical review, even when organized by impeccably neutral academics. This review is the logical and most sensible path forward. Passage of the resolution by the full House of Representatives would constitute an act of legislative vengeance and would shame well-meaning scholars who want to explore this history from any vantage point other than the one foisted upon the world by ultranationalist Armenians."
Thank you for your attention,
Eser PhD