October 17, 2007

Genocide Resolution Losing Steam

The bill condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide of 1915 has begun to lose support and may not have enough Democrats on board to pass. A group of Democrats will hold a press conference later today asking House leadership to table the motion in light of the disastrous impact it might have on our military efforts in Iraq and our relationship with the one Muslim democracy in the Middle East:

Worried about antagonizing Turkish leaders, House members from both parties have begun to withdraw their support from a resolution supported by the Democratic leadership that would condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago.

Almost a dozen lawmakers had shifted against the measure over the last 24 hours, accelerating a sudden exodus that has cast deep doubt over the measure’s prospects. Some representatives made clear that they were heeding warnings from the White House, which has called the measure dangerously provocative, and from the Turkish government, which has said House passage would prompt Turkey to reconsider its ties to the United States, including logistical support for the Iraq war.

Until today, the resolution appeared to be on a path to House passage, with strong support from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California. It was approved last week by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But this evening, a group of group of senior House Democrats had made it known they were planning to ask the leadership to drop plans for a vote on the measure.

Most of the waverers believed in the validity of the resolution, but have concluded that the timing was not right, given the logistical considerations of the war. Some of the bill's supporters rejected that argument as well as the notion that it would impact our friendship with Turkey. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked when it had become "fashionable for friends to threaten friends," implying that Turkey's objections amounted to extortion.

That seems rather ludicrous, since we're asking them to support a war effort that has been very unpopular in their own country, and one that has energized the restive Kurdish population in Turkey. They have proven their friendship for the last few years, even if they didn't like the last-minute request to stage an invasion through that same territory. This isn't the equivalent of France refusing us airspace to bomb Libya in the mid-1980s in response to Ghaddafi's terrorist attack. Turkey has remained cooperative with us on Iraq despite heavy domestic opposition.

The critics are standing on the wrong ground for the right reasons, anyway. First, the nation of Turkey didn't commit the genocide, and the amateur historians of Congress have indicted the wrong government. The Ottoman Empire conducted the genocide eight years before the establishment of Turkey -- and the two are not the same country at all. The genocide occurred in 1915, when the Ottomans got dragged into World War I through their military alliance with Germany. The Ottoman Empire got dismembered in the Versailles Treaty after 700 years of existence, during which they conducted more than a few ethnic and sectarian actions on their own people.

It would be akin to blaming the United States for the Salem witch trials, or the French & Indian Wars of the mid-eighteenth century.

Second, the business of Congress isn't to make sweeping historical indictments, regardless of whether they have their information correct or not. This Congress hasn't even produced its first funding bill for FY2008, even though we are now at Day 17 of the calendar. Instead of issuing resolutions about the real or imagined crimes of a government from 90 years ago, it should be focusing on meeting its Constitutional obligations now. It's not the timing of the bill that's objectionable as much as it is the waste of time it represents for a Congress that has much more pressing business on its agenda.

I understand the Armenian-American community's passion to see the genocide recognized, but this is the wrong forum as well as the wrong time. Congress has more important work to do, and our troops need the logistical support more than the Armenian-Americans need a Congressional resolution that will change no minds at all.

UPDATE: Did Hillary torpedo the resolution?


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Comments (27)

Posted by Modcon | October 17, 2007 7:23 AM

Yes, I understand the passion of the Armenian community very well. One of my best friends and colleagues is an American of Armenian birth, and he has very passionate views on the subject. But even he recognizes that this bill, if passed, would seriously damage our efforts in the region, and it would get more of our soldiers killed. His comments on the post are quite enlightening.

Posted by NoDonkey | October 17, 2007 7:25 AM

Good to see the most unqualified and incompetent House Speaker in History, Nancy Pelosi, get reversed again - by her own people.

This woman needs to be yanked out of her position before she does some serious damage.

What's the Democrat Party afraid of? Think they might lose the Bay Area to the Republicans if they don't keep this dingbat at the top?

Or does it just reveal how utterly talentless, brainless and worthless the rest of the Democrat representative weasels are, that she's the best they've got?

Posted by Earlg | October 17, 2007 7:30 AM

It would be akin to blaming the United States for the Salem witch trials, or the French & Indian Wars of the mid-eighteenth century.
Calling Ward Churchill, your up next.

Posted by Colonel_Prop | October 17, 2007 7:33 AM

Oh I think that maybe, just maybe, a few democrats woke up in the other day and realized they were committing treason and better back off.

The people do remember, and we are getting more unfiltered information now from the new media.

Working, and betting against, the USA is standing on very thin ice and catching a piano - you will lose.

Or maybe a blind squirrel can find a nut (not moveon) every once in a while

Posted by Mike M. | October 17, 2007 7:34 AM

This little kerfuffle was never for one second truly about the Armenian genocide and who was responsible for it. This was a move intentionally designed to undermine the war, done by the gang that can't muster a simple majority in either house of Congress to defund the troops.

And make no mistake about it: the mission was accomplished in spades. Our relationship with Turkey is the most precarious it's been in years, and there's the distinct possibility they will decide to send troops into northern Iraq, furthere destabilizing an already extremely tenuous situation. Good job Nancy Pelosi, I have to give you guys credit, this was a virtual stroke of genius on your part.

Posted by Rovin | October 17, 2007 7:52 AM

When I explained to a liberal friend of mine that this "timely" resolution could potentially endanger our troops critical supply lines for their water, fuel, food, and bullets to defend themselves, AND asked what could possibly be Pelosi's motivation, my liberal friend answered "She's sticking it to Bush".

If this is the bottom line reasoning for such an action, I not only question the Speaker's flawed logic, but also her direct malice in putting our military (in a time of war) in danger.

Our relations with Turkey has always been on fragile ground especially with our military stationed on their southern border. Speaker Pelosi and every member of the Foreign Relations Committee had to (at least) have contemplated this, and the Bush administration warned them of this danger.

Putting our troops in harms way while attempting to "stick it to Bush" is just another reason why Ms. Pelosi and the Democratic "leadership" is proving once again their incompetence when it comes to our national security. Can they sink any lower in disgrace or dishonor?

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 8:07 AM

Congress raised this issue once again to placate the US-Armenian emigre community, toss them a bone or two, buy a few more votes from another hyphenated bloc, and conveniently use this vote as another tool to somehow stick it to the Bush Administration, thus insuring yet more votes from the disenchanted Left, as well.

But the real issue, the one that the Armenian emigre community ignores or is unwilling to face head on is that Armenia has been independent for 17 years, and what has the Armenian government and Armenian people accomplished in that time?

Precious little. Nothing has really changed since Armenia was a Soviet Socialist Republic, except for the uniforms, the street signs. The huge growth in crime and corruption, and the savaging of attempts at democracy within their own borders is the only tangible difference today from Armenia in 1990.

Rather than take advantage of a golden opportunity to rebuild Armenia as a vibrant economy and democracy, and bring Armenia into the 21st Century, the Armenian diaspora has chosen to stay abroad. Their only tie to Armenia is to raise annually the "genocide thingie" but to otherwise ignore their "homeland."

Armenia today is more corrupt than it ever was under the Soviets; it continues to violate human rights on a huge scale within its own population, and is involved in ethnic cleansing across the Caucausus; in a perpetual state of warfare almost from the first day of its independence.

Though it has signed off on a number of human rights declarations, and agreed to minimum standards of human rights and civil liberties in order to enter the European Community, Armenia has yet to implement any of them at home.

Its economy is far worse off than it was under the Soviets. Criminal gangs control almost the entire economy, and the current and previous Presidents are/were heavily involved all across the board.

17 years of independence, and what have the Armenians here in the States done to promote democracy and human rights and economic freedoms at home? Zip.

But, they can get out their faded banners and dusty photographs and cajole Congress once again into passing a resolution showing how the Turks, Ottoman Turks, killed Armenians during and immediately after World War One.

If the Armenian Community here in the States and in Europe were at all actually deeply concerned about Armenia they'd be deeply and vocally involved in getting Armenia today to fulfill the promises made when they obtained independence in 1990, instead of once again bringing up an event nearly 100 years old, about a governemnt and empire that no longer exists.

Much easier to take the "blame Turkey" route. Easy to do. No real equities at stake for today's Armenians. A gullible Congress and willing public makes it even easier.

If Armenians, who have spent millions over the years to lobby Congress, would put even a pittance of this toward lobbying their own government in Yerevan to enter the 21st Century instead of always looking backwards to Old Armenia, things in the region, across the Caucausus, would be a whole world better.

Posted by Captain Ed | October 17, 2007 8:25 AM


I don't blame the Armenian disapora for staying in America. Most of them, if not all of them, never actually lived in Armenia, just like the Irish diaspora, who didn't flock back to the Auld Country after independence in 1922. They're better off here, and I won't blame them for making a rational decision about their best interests.

Making a better Armenia is up to the Armenians. They have their independence, and they have responsibility for what they do with it. And even if they don't do what we'd like, it still doesn't negate the validity of their claims of oppression and genocide against the Ottomans. In fact, that subject is best left as a diplomatic exercise between Armenia and Turkey, since the rest of the world knows a genocide took place.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 8:45 AM


While I agree that Armenians here are better off being here, and a good choice, really, as going back to Armenia would be a burden.

At the same time, Armenians ignoring what is going on at home, at the level it is going on, and the effect such is having throughout the region, seems to make their protests about genocide ring a bit hollow.

No one is denying that the Ottoman's systematically murdered over 1 million Armenians, and nearly a million others as well, but it was the Ottomans.

The present Turkish government since its birth under Attaturk has worked hard to distance itself from the Ottomans, a regime that killed more Turks, really, than it killed Armenians.

Everytime we or others throw the sins of the Ottomans into the lap of the post-Attaturk Turkish government we tell them once again that they are still Ottomans, something that rankles them to the bone. That they haven't "apologized" for the sins of the Ottomans is understandable. To do so would be to take responsibility for everything the Ottomans did, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus, we are telling them welcome to the 20th or 21st Century, but we all know you are nothing but Ottomans in different clothing.

On the streets of Istanbul and Ankara and other cities across Turkey, this having the sins of the Ottomans thrown at them once again negates their efforts over the past 50-plus years to become a modern state. We are telling the Turks that they are nice to have around when we need them, but they are second-class citizens nonetheless, that they are the "gastarbiter" of Europe, nothing more.

And we wonder why the Turks get so upset, why they recalled their Ambassador. And we question their Right to defend their own borders.

This attempt to stick it to the Bush Administration and try a backdoor approach to ending the Iraq War will have long term serious impact not only on our relations with Turkey, but also long term effects on the Turkish government and people who are faced with a decades long war against the PKK, and a serious growing movement to force Turkey to embrace Sharia, a movement that gains strength by the mere fact that Turkey is an industrialized democracy, and friend to the West.

Posted by Scott | October 17, 2007 9:19 AM

Liberals wanting to blame Turkey for Ottoman sins is like critics blaming the US for "500 years of slavery".

Slavery existed in the independent US for only 80 years - 1783-1865.

But, of course, facts don't matter to liberals. It's all about "feelings".

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 17, 2007 9:26 AM


Did it ever occur to you that those people of Armenian ancestry who are here in the USA are here overwhelmingly because of the Genocide? Did it not occur that their cultural attachment to Armenia might be solely through people who died in the Genocide, and therefore is to an Armenia that no longer exists because of the actions of the Turks?

The Turks are not going to invade Iraq because the US passed a resolution condemning their founder's actions -- they will do it because it is in their best interests to destabilize the Kurds. As far as I can see, an Iraq invasion by the Turks is a done deal -- they've already moved enough armor there to begin. A resolution or the lack thereof doesn't matter one whit to the Turks with regard to the Kurds.

If the Turks close access to the US and, as a result, cause the deaths of some of our servicemen, they will then have shown themselves to be the kind of ally we don't want, and a country we don't want to continue to arm or support. Remember, they've previously denied us access to those air bases; remember what they did during the invasion?

The Turks need to take responsibility for all three of their genocides, which they have failed to do to date. There will never be a good time to make them smell the dirty diaper, but this is as good a time as any. This war is not going to end in either your life or mine -- the enemy is not sane by our standards. Hence, by your reasoning, there will never be a good time for this resolution.

Obviously, I'm for the resolution, regardless of my conservative leanings in other areas.

Posted by Neo | October 17, 2007 9:41 AM

If the Turks close access to the US and, as a result, cause the deaths of some of our servicemen will Speaker Pelosi apologize ?

Posted by sherlock | October 17, 2007 9:47 AM

Mike M. cuts to the chase: "This little kerfuffle was never for one second truly about the Armenian genocide and who was responsible for it."

The Democrats are thrashing about like a dinosaur caught in a tar pit, looking for any way to prevent the worst thing that could possibly happen to them... American victory in stabilizing Iraq and defeating Al Qaueda. Their electoral success is more important to them (and the media) than the success of America or its men and women putting their lives on the line in the war on terror.

Never forget: if you put a Democrat in a position where he has to choose between Party and Country, Country will lose out every time. It's a proven fact, and anyone who votes for them is either hopelessly gullible, or all right with that priority.

Posted by always right | October 17, 2007 10:15 AM

Doesn't matter if the congress abandoned the resolution NOW. The damage has already been done. Pelosi can deny however she wants, the fact/truth never bothered her before.

You don't think the Turks will remember this? You don't think it gives more fuel to the anti-US crowd? The next Turkish government would be more pro-west than the current one? (Don’t give me that the current one is not our ally garbage. Think you can achieve more within their current state of affairs?)

Of course, any liberals would claim that any results were due to our hated GWB. Everything is Bush's fault. So convenient!

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 10:20 AM

Never a good time for the resolution? 80 years and now it is of vital importance? Ideally it should have been a pre-condition in 1952 to their joining NATO, but the Truman Administration tabled that issue.

Let's put this in proper perspective.

Where is the resolution condemning Japan for their several genocides, the subjugation and rape of the "comfort girls," and their using downed American air crews for medical experimentation?

Where is the resolution condeming China for the genocide against Tibetans?

We can take the tack of so many and constantly look to the past to find boogey men, or we can face the reality around us and try to make the best efforts to secure what is best in the long term for us as a nation.

Turkey has been a good ally for decades. It appears that only at those times when Turkey viewed her own national interests as paramount that she found herself at the receiving end of US scorn.

Turkey is viewed still as a second-class nation by way too many here in the States, and in most of Europe as well. They are different, they are swarthy, they are predominantly Moslem, they are apparently incapable of being civilized...and so on and so forth, as so many Americans have repeated over the decades.

And for this, Turkey has to sit up and beg, roll over and do tricks?

Turkish soldiers and civilians are being killed daily for the past several years by the PKK. There have been forays into Turkey from her other neighbors as well. And we refuse to allow Turkey to defend herself? They do not wish to destabilize Kurdish Iraq. A stable Iraq is in their overall best interests. But, when Kurdish Iraq enables the PKK to operate with impunity, what choices do we give the Turks? Diplomacy with the PKK will not work. The PKK wishes to establish a Kurdish nation not only in Northern Iraq but also large segments of Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Destabilizing the region, as the Turks understand, is not in their interests nor the interests of their neighbors. Destroying the PKK, however, is indeed in the interests of all the nations in the region. And the best we can offer is the Biden Plan, to divide Iraq up into three entities, thus offering the PKK the necessary leverage they need to grow their program, or a resolution in Congress to condemn them for something that happened before their watch??

We, as a NATO ally, should be using our good offices, our diplomacy, the power of our Congress and Administration, and our military where appropriate, to assist Turkey in resolving those deadly threats they have to deal with each day. In this, we are sadly lacking, chosing instead to ressurect a massacre that is nearly 90 years old, by an Empire that has long since passed, and chose instead to hold the present Turkish government accountable for the sins of their great grandfathers?

As we prepared to invade Iraq, we offered the Turks a last minute fait accompli...we were going to move the 4th Infantry Division and supporting Corps elements through Turkey whether they liked it or not. We even offered their government a very large and very public bribe to allow us to do so. In essence we would destabilize the Iraqi border region, offering the PKK a wider access to Turkey, and playing in to the hands of Islamists who would utilize our use of Turkey to invade another "Moslem" country for their own ongoing efforts throughout the region to futher destabilize the region. The Turks understood this first hand. We did not. And they still have to suffer from the utterings of those who viewed their reluctance to allow the 4th ID passage as a slap on our faces. They are allowing the full use of Incirlik and their border crossing points to ferry most of the logistics train and air misisons into Iraq. Yet, we still bring up the 4th ID thing.

And their view?

They want a stable Iraq more than our current Congress does.

But, all of this is about the Iraqis, not the Turks, and the Turkish press and people echo this sentiment daily. Their view is that we view Turkey as either a speedbump or a convenient entrepot...never an equal.

And the Turks are supposed to be forever beholden to us as they watch members of their armed forces and their civilians killed each night by the PKK?

The neo-Islamist movement in Turkey is more pronounced than in any other European country. Bombings are a regular event. Sharia is taking precedence over civil law in many parts of Turkey by force, contrary to the wishes of most of the Turks and their government. If the Turklish people see finally that being an ally of the United States is going to cost them their nation, then the Islamist have won. Being associated with the West, and with the United States in particular is putting at risk everything the Turks have built since the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish population is befuddled that we would leave them high and dry and easy prey to Islamism because they will not apologize for sins of another nation, in another century, sins that the post-Ottoman Turkish nation had nothing to do with.

And this resolution is of such vital importance in the halls of Congress why?

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 10:23 AM

To bring things up to date:

A short while ago, earlier this morning, late afternoon in Ankara, Turkey's parliament gave permission for the government to launch military operations into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels.

Posted by patrick neid | October 17, 2007 10:23 AM

Hey, while we are at it, how about the English genocide of the Irish posing as the Potato(e)(we love you dan, wherever you are) famine?

Posted by Mike M. | October 17, 2007 11:12 AM

A short while ago, earlier this morning, late afternoon in Ankara, Turkey's parliament gave permission for the government to launch military operations into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels.

Here we go, it's about to really hit the fan now. Pelosi and her ilk are probably celebrating as we speak; they're about to get exactly what they wanted.

Where's Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson when you really need him.

Posted by pedestrian | October 17, 2007 11:21 AM

To the people who are talking about Armenia's democracy today, how much do you know about Turkey? How many people know that there is no such freedom of speech in Turkey, and that the military has influence over the government, and ultimately the government in Turkey today is ruled by a party with Islamist roots. Shame on you for supporting Islamist Turkey instead of Armenian Christians. If you are a conservative, you should be in the possition supporting Christian brothers, not the Islamist Turks that believe in the 911 conspiracy of Jewish involvement. Shame on you for supporting Turkey that is suppressing human rights with a fake democracy. What a damn ego here for a DOUBLE STANDARD between Armenian genocide and the holocaust against Jews.

Posted by ss396 | October 17, 2007 11:40 AM

Reading through the 30 "findings" that lead this bill as they recount the history of Armenian massacre / genocide, I could not for the life of me figure out what the purpose of this bill is. What it is asking for has already been accomplished many times over, both domestically and internationally. There was nothing new in it that has not been already done.

I wonder if the Armenian exiles talk to the Cuban exiles here in America? Wag their little finger and watch the party jump. What a revolting business.

Posted by John Q. Public | October 17, 2007 11:58 AM

Are you kidding me? Some completely ineffectual morons in congress are trying to politicize any damn thing they can. Are they going to pass a resolution that we -the Americans - committed genocide against the Native Americans when we stole this country from them? Get a grip, it is over and done with, move on. The Turkish people are our closest ally in the Islamic world and a member of NATO. For political BS we are going to ruin that relationship? It just gets better and better. While they are rearranging the deck chairs our beautiful ship of state is sinking.

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 17, 2007 1:47 PM

always right,

maybe we should stop dissing the nazis, because every time we do so, the Germans grumble about the albatross around their necks. And the liberation of france, because the french...well, they're the french.

After all, the Turks have an out -- they can pass a resolution condemning the US's treatment of native Americans. Do you think that we might recall our ambassador, etc. over that?


I'm all for a resolution condemning Japan for the "comfort girls" situation, tne rape of nanking, etc. The Japanese are all grown up -- most of them can handle such a resolution.

One would think that if we are sensitive to the needs of the Chinese as you think we ought to be, our President wouldn't be meeting with the leader of "free Tibet". The Chinese leadership is excreting amorphous stone blocks over Bush's gesture.

Sometimes you just do what is right.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 1:52 PM

I'll give Bush a lot of credit for the public meeting with the Dali Lama. Its a good start.

Posted by Rovin | October 17, 2007 3:22 PM

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 17, 2007 1:47 PM
Sometimes you just do what is right.

I've had a ton of respesct for the comments you've contributed here uncle, but in this case I believe you are wrong. If one American soldier dies because of this "politically correct" action of an event that occured 90 years ago, this blood will be on the hands of those who did not care to see the immediate danger.

Would 3 to 5 years later really make a difference (when we are no longer stationed on this border) in recognizing a "wrong"? NO.

Somtimes you do what's right, and keep your tongue and save it for another day.


Posted by Pro Cynic | October 18, 2007 10:18 AM

The Ottoman Empire got dismembered in the Versailles Treaty after 700 years of existence, during which they conducted more than a few ethnic and sectarian actions on their own people.

Technically, this is incorrect. The Treaty of Versailles dealt only with Germany. The part that dealt with the Ottoman Empire was actually the Treaty of Sevres. Both treaties were part of the overall Paris Peace Accords that dealt with the end of World War I.

The Treaty of Sevres was short-lived, though. In it, the Ottoman Empire was stripped of much of its holdings in the Aegean, including the Turkish coast, which were to be awarded to Greece. Many Turks were outraged at the treaty, and Mustafa Kemal led a revolt against the Ottoman government, setting up his own couter-government in Ankara. They fought with the Greeks and the Ottoman government -- driving the Greeks from Anatolia -- until the Treaty of Lausanne recognized modern Turkey in its current borders and ended the Ottoman government.

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