Feed A Foe, Starve A Friend

Let me see if I get this straight. The Democrats want to condemn Turkey for a genocide that the Ottoman Empire committed before the Turks overthrew them, in order to invest Congress with a certain level of moral authority, if not historical illiteracy. At the same time, Nancy Pelosi — who has pushed for the condemnation of our Muslim ally in the war on terror — now wants to fly to Damascus to hang on the words of our enemy in the same war (via the indispenable Memeorandum):

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will visit Syria next week, her office announced yesterday, prompting the White House to call the trip “a really bad idea.” …
The White House accuses Syria of sponsoring state terrorism and of fanning sectarian violence in Iraq. The Bush administration has cut off most high-level contacts with Damascus since former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated in February 2005. A United Nations prosecutor has implicated Syrian officials in the Hariri slaying.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday of Pelosi’s visit: “Someone should take a step back and think about the message that it sends and the message that it sends to our allies.”

Allies? Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think we have any, or thinks that the ones we do have are useless. She wants to deliberately antagonize Turkey at a point in time where we need their cooperation, but at the same time wants to suck up to a man who funds, shelters, and organizes the Islamist terrorists who target Israel, the US, and the West.
Is this the kind of foreign policy we can expect from the Democrats if they win the White House in 2008? What kind of message does this send to our allies and enemies? If you work with us, we’ll abandon you at the first opportunity, as well as sneer at you for actions your government never took. On the other hand, if you hate us and support religious lunatics in their efforts to murder as many of us and other Westerners as possible, we’ll fly to your capitals and prostrate ourselves before you in the name of “diplomacy”.
Want to guess which direction this will motivate other nations to turn?
The Democratic leadership has once again demonstrated why no one took them seriously on foreign policy and national security for the last twenty years. It’s difficult to achieve this conjunction of idiocy in a single week, but Pelosi & Co have proven themselves just the idiots for the task.

32 thoughts on “Feed A Foe, Starve A Friend”

  1. With all due respect CE, you can criticize Pelosi for the Syria trip when the Iraq Study Group unanimously recommended it? I’m not following your thinking. How about GWB’s foreign policy blunders? Think invading Iraq was a great move? The American people have rejected the Bush Doctrine. They voted so now Pelosi leads. Elections have consequences. How about the Republicans that have visited Damascus recently? Is that okay but not okay for Pelosi? The only “deadenders” left are people still supporting the Fiasco in Iraq. It can’t be a whatever Pelosi does I’m going to jump all over. I consider you intellectually honest but some days you sound like the man who writes the GOP talking points for the day. Thats why your party is losing the independents in this country. Everything is about partisan politics and not running the country. I guess if you pound on Pelosi long enough, eventually something will stick. As people have seen, she can fight back and will continue to.

  2. Conservative Democrat,
    We have been talking to Syria. The Study Group advocated diplomatic contact with Syria, not congressional contact.
    We now have two groups conducting “official” diplomacy with Syria, one of which is the group mandated by law, and the other a mavarick.
    What we are seeing is the American version of Rudolf Hess’ flight to Britain, and it will be as helpful as Hess’ trip was for Germany — in other words, not a lot. Hess was not a diplomat, and Pelosi isn’t either.
    We shall see what Pelosi’s loose lips choose to sink on this boondogle.

  3. Congress’s role is not to engage in active foreign diplomacy–that has traditionally been an executive prerogative. While Senators and Congressmen have engaged in foreign policy meetings and discussions, as a rule, they’ve done so in accordance with and with the support of the executive. What Pelosi is doing is quite simple: She’s engaging in a power grab by attempting to assert legislative superiority over the President in a traditionally executive branch function. This sort of behavior played a major role in bringing about the English Civil War, you know. Thankfully, it won’t come to anything like that; but Bush does need to act decisively and quickly in asserting his position–not just for his administration, but for future administrations. Pelosi needs to be scolded, in no uncertain terms and in public, by the President for her actions–Bush needs to stand his ground here.

  4. Some basic information about how U.S. foriegn policy works, from the U.S. State Department itself:

    Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress

    The United States Constitution divides foreign policy powers between the President and the Congress so that both share in the making of foreign policy. The executive and legislative branches each play important roles that are different but that often overlap. Both branches have continuing opportunities to initiate and change foreign policy, and the interaction between them continues indefinitely throughout the life of a policy. This report reviews and illustrates 12 basic ways that the United States can make foreign policy. The practices illustrated in this report indicate that making foreign policy is a complex process, and that the support of both branches is required for a strong and effective U.S. foreign policy.

    Given that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) also visited Assad in Damascus this past December, it’s not like there’s a strict partisan divide on how to deal with Syria either. (The assertion that it’s some sort of “Rudolf Hess” moment now is pretty hilarious though… 🙂 What isn’t hilarious is how Bush himself seems to think that ignoring Syria will somehow resolve anything.

  5. I see, this is how it works. The Democrats think we should abandon the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. They can not bring themselves to condemn Iran for kidnapping for Brits. They want to surrender to terrorists and ignore our own military commanders in the field…however, they will pander to Syria and Iran. Jimmy Carter lives on.
    And starfleet, Bush is not ignoring Syria, he is just not kissing their butt.

  6. Informal diplomacy has always been a vital component in diplomatic relations: Bismarck had Bleichroder; Kennedy had Scali. Keeping communications lines open through outside channels is a necessity. Spector also probably coordinated his visit with the White House.
    As regards the legislative branch and executive branch in foreign policy: Constitutionally, the legislative branch’s primary role lies in the ratification or rejection of treaties–anything else is a product of negotiation between the two branches. This document does not refute my argument that Pelosi here is engaging in a legislative power grab.

  7. House Squeaker to kiss Syrian ass (Updated and bumped)

    Pelosi To Visit Syria The Imperial Speakership – Chapter Three By California Yankee Not satisfied with giving comfort to our enemies by legislating defeat in Iraq, Speaker Pelosi has decided to also provide comfort to one of the original state

  8. Sorry, hit the post button too soon.
    The legislative branch also has the responsibility, of course, for the declaration of wars–a most important responsibility. Further, although this affects domestic policy as much as foreign, it still is a legislative function, the legislative branch, through the passage or removal of taxes and tariffs and other forms of commerce legislation can have a profound–and constitutionally legal–impact on foreign policy; as well as through its constitutional control over the budget. Still, in acting as she is doing, Pelosi is going beyond the traditional function of the legislator and needs to be called on the carpet for it.

  9. Matt Helm, this from the U.S. State Department report contradicts your reading of it:

    In the period after the Vietnam War, Congress reasserted its role in foreign policy. It on occasion initiated new policies and exerted decisive influence on policies initiated by the executive branch. One study on the subject concluded that “the fact remains that the President is still in charge of American foreign policy,” but it noted also that “the American Congress has more power to influence foreign affairs than its counterpart in any other country.” 10 Another study concluded: “For all the problems caused by a resurgent Congress with unprecedented resources and a will to be involved more directly in foreign policy, the system is working much more the way the Founding Fathers devised it than we have seen in some time.” 11

    FYI Terrye, Representatives Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) are also currently visiting Israel and Syria. It’s transparently clear that the Bush administration’s ratcheting up the anti-Syrian rhetoric now is intended to disparage Democrats, not get tough on Syria. Not exactly shocking, that.

  10. Since you mention historical illiteracy…Yes, the Armenian genocide occurred primarily from 1915 and 1918 under the Ottoman government where somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians were murdered. Then, in 1920 to 1923, AFTER the establishment of the modern Turkish state and under the leadership of Ataturk, Turkey attacked Armenia, killed thousands of Armenians and ethnically cleansed the area. Though it really doesn’t matter, your implication that the Turkish government isn’t responsible for the genocide since the Ottoman Empire commited it is nonsense. The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish empire and the modern Turkish state was largely formed by and staffed with previous Ottoman officials (like say, Ataturk.) It’s like saying that East and West Germany’s governments — full of previous Nazis — have no connection to the Holocaust since it was committed by the Third Reich.
    More importantly, Turkey not only doesn’t acknowledge the worst atrocity ever committed by Muslims against Christians in history, but it is actually illegal in Turkey to say that it was genocide. That’s not acceptable in this day and age and I applaud Speaker Pelosi for standing up for our principles even when its not convenient for us. The whole point of having principles is that you impose them on both allies and enemies, even when it might cost you. Otherwise they’re nothing.

  11. Actually, it doesn’t contradict my reading. My interpretation of that passage is that the system was working not because of Congress, but rather in spite of it. Also, remember the historical context of the document you’re quoting from–Congress at the time of the post-Vietnam era was asserting itself against a Presidency weakened as a result of Watergate. In fact, you can make the contention that the post-Watergate Congress began a process of encroachment on traditional executive prerogatives in the foreign policy arena along the same lines that Parliament did prior to the English Civil War. This course was reversed with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and now Congress is taking advantage of a weakened Bush administration that has proven inept in stating its objectives and positions and in answering its critics to continue this encroachment. The State Department document you are quoting merely reflects this process–it doesn’t make it legitimate.

  12. Start with reality.
    The GOP gets competition during elections, from the donks.
    And, if you think pelosi is doing them any favors; I beg to differ. I actually think, as she toodles off to damascus, it would be wise for her to pack NASA strength DEPENDS. She’s going on a journey that may prove to have less toilets available than she will need.
    Why do I say this?
    Because Bush is a very patient man. And, he’s been taking it on the chin. All sorts of operatives have been running circles around him; including the Saudis.
    Doesn’t mean he hasn’t got a defense, prepared.
    I’ll even guess that the “build-up” in the Gulf is NOT FAKE. Not British. Not French. But up ahead? Cowboy style.
    Do the iranians have what to lose? YES.
    Have the Saudis won anything, lately? NO.
    Has there been a dirth of information, where we should have been hearing things? YES.
    Just as the iranians were able to capture 15 British hostages at sea;
    While an overhead British helicopter did NOTHING! And, the Commander of the Cornwall, also did NOTHING! Except to call, of course, Tony Blair. Who immediately ran to ‘make up.’ Yeah. He’s making faces at the cameras. And, sounds.
    So? Is pelosi prepared to “discuss” with the ophtalmologist, what happens when iran’s capacity at sea disappears?
    True, it’s possible the hostages never come back.
    The 3 hostages Israel tried to chase this past summer, are probably all dead, now.
    While the arabs still try to get some money for an “exchange.” Doesn’t mean they’re gonna come up any richer, ya know?
    Is it possible Bush won’t do a thing, ahead, in the Gulf? Yeah. Anything’s “possible.”
    But IF we do “something” in the Gulf that’s obvious. What can the arabs do? Local terror? Here, in the USA, that means people who were on that flight where the imams got kicked off … are suing. In civil court. Which is a waste of time. And, money. You think this is going to silence Americans?
    Both the democraps, AND the arabs, would love to see a way to silence us. Ain’t gonna happen.
    A long time ago. February 1942, to be exact. FDR gave his 5th “fireside chat.” (He did NOT give very many!) However, before he spoke, he “suggested” Americans go out and buy world maps. Because? His speech included a geography lesson.
    At the time FDR spoke, the Japanese were in control of one-million-miles-of sea. And, they had 100-million people under their savagry. DIDN’T LAST!
    Do you know one of the first things FDR did? Well, as I said. First he “chatted with the American people.” This caused a run on maps! And, 60-million Americans tuned into listen to FDR speak. When FDR was finished speaking, the entire “isolationist” empire bit the dust.
    ONE SPEECH. Do keep history in mind, folks.
    The other thing FDR did? He authorized DOOLITTLE’s Tokyo attack! BROKE THE BARRIER. Do you know why? Because Japan hadn’t been attacked in 700 years. They thought they were invulnerable.
    I think you get the picture, no?
    When you’re dealing with intractible enemies; here, at home, as well. It pays to be as aggressive as possible. Giving your military the ORDERS.
    Will Bush do this?
    Well, what’s to stop him? You think an ORDER going out from the WHITE HOUSE, goes through pelosi’s digestive system? NO.
    What will go through her digestive system is NOT listening to BUSH, when he told her that her trip wasn’t “advisable.”
    Well? What if they hold her hostage?
    You think I’d care?
    You think San Franciscans really have the pulse on America? Do ya? Gee. I can’t imagine worse luck than being in damascus next week. When the perverbial sh$t hits the fan. And, all the iranians have are 15 hostages.

  13. I think this old, simple saying covers SanFran Nan’s trip to hobnob with Assad pretty well:
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
    Please note the reaction of the libs on this board: they think at best that criticism of SanFran Nan is unwarranted, and that at worst we should be buddy-buddy with Damascus (naturally, EVERYTHING is Bush’s Fault(TM). Never mind that Syria is a notorious sponsor of terrorism. Never mind that Syria’s black hand was seen in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, and that Syria has been oppressing Lebanon for years as a vassal state.
    Assad hates Bush almost as much as the average lib, and that makes him (and anything he does) A-OK in their book.

  14. We tried making foreign policy idiot-proof. Unfortunately, the Democrats have proven that they’ll just build better idiots. Speaking of which, I’ve posted something about 2 of the biggest foreign policy idiots in American history.
    The prospect of these gentlemen having any influence on foreign policy isn’t laughable. It’s scary.

  15. I think possibly this resolution is intended as a gesture to someone’s constituency; there is a large Armenian population in southern California for example. And it’s not like it’s all that relevant, the events in question having occurred decades ago, at least I haven’t heard that the Turks (or the Ottomans) are still slaughtering Armenians. Kurds maybe, but not Armenians. But then that’s our Congress, always so timely when it counts.
    As far as Mrs. Pelosi’s trip to Syria, well that’s kind of typical of the Democrats, who have a sometimes delusional belief that talking to one’s enemies will yield something of value. I remember Warren Christopher and Albright as well made many trips to Damascus, all to no avail. But then for Democrats, it’s the effort that matters. You don’t actually have to accomplish anything. She can talk all she wants. Israel isn’t going to give the Golan Heights back and that is all Syria is interested in.

  16. Pelosi Takes A Ba’ath

    Compare and contrast: “Pelosi to Brits: Drop Dead!” “Unilateral: Pelosi to meet with Assad next week in Syria” Meanwhile, as Ed Morrissy notes, Pelosi is set to talk Turkey, in a manner of speaking:Let me see if I get this…

  17. Of all the places San Fran Nan could go in the Middle East, Syria would be the least surprising. After all, Syria is a Communist country, just as Iraq was under Saddam.
    Oh, darn, now I’ve done it. I used the “C” word…:) But the fact is, that is just what the Ba’ath Party is, a Communist organization. Sure, the LSM prefers to use terms like “secular”, and they do have to pay lip service to Islam, but that does not change the fact that they are Communists.
    So the fact that Peloski would go to Syria, knee-pads in hand, is certainly no surprise at all.
    And despite what “starfleet dude” thinks, the Constitution limits what the House can do insofar as foreign policy is concerned to oversight on how money is spent. Of course, very likely that is why she’s going, so that her Stalinist pal Assad can tell her when he think the best time to cut off funding for the war will be, just as they did in the “period after the Vietnam war”, leaving the South Vietnamese to the mercies of the Communist North. And we all saw how well that worked out, didn’t we?

  18. And despite what “starfleet dude” thinks, the Constitution limits what the House can do insofar as foreign policy is concerned to oversight on how money is spent.
    Cave Bear, Congress can do much more than just oversee spending, in particular pass legislation. If Congress is expected to pass trade legislation for example, it’s to be expected they may take an interest in the nations being traded with and visit them. The President can weigh in of course, but Congress as an independent branch of the U.S. government can act as it sees fit as well.


    PELOSI: Britain? “Great” Britain? I seem to remember reading something about them when I was a little girl. Weren’t we allies or some such in a war or something? I always wanted to be a princess when I grew up.
    The fact that Hou…

  20. Until Congress bothers to get serious about its *primary* responsibilities, of which Treaty Ratification by the Senate is one of the lesser ones, I really don’t quite see how they can say they are caring for the Nation when they are doing exactly the opposite. Or perhaps Ms. Pelosi is going to Syria to remind the regime there that it did *not* sign the Chemical Weapons conventions? Or to politely ask them what they are doing with a phosphate processing plant geared up for initial refinement of phosphate into yellowcake? Or, possibly, to find out what happened to all those wonderful pharmaceutical plants they had *started* working on and then stopped once the equipment started to show up? Perhaps ask for a tour of the Tal Snan site? Or the Khan Abu Shamat site? Or possibly the al-Bayda site? Or the al Safira site? Any of those wonderful WMD production and storage facilities along with long range missile production and storage places. Or maybe just the place where the 80 or so nuclear scientist from the ex-Saddam regime, Iran and the ex-Russian Republics are, out in the al Haska area?
    I am sure the Democrats are all *for* confronting regimes that produce WMDs and work on long range ballistic missile technology with North Korea along with distributing counterfeit $100 bills.
    She will boldly go forth and tell them that is thoroughly unacceptable, won’t she? And not get caught in the great 3-card monte game that Syria runs to stall and stall and stall for decades now…. with promises galore and actually backing them… never.

  21. starfleet_dude sez:
    “Cave Bear, Congress can do much more than just oversee spending, in particular pass legislation. If Congress is expected to pass trade legislation for example, it’s to be expected they may take an interest in the nations being traded with and visit them. The President can weigh in of course, but Congress as an independent branch of the U.S. government can act as it sees fit as well.”
    Just curious-if a Republican Speaker of the House was doing the exact same thing SF Nan is doing here, would you respect their right to do so without question?

  22. Just keep in mind that meeting a head of state you don’t like isn’t some tacit agreement that you like that. Somehow, Nixon talked to China, and somehow, Reagan talked to the Soviets. We should talk to the Syrians.
    What matters is what Pelosi has to say to Assad.

  23. Um, both Nixon and Reagan had the role, as set in the US Constitution, to decide foreign policy.
    Nancita does not.

  24. I’m not sure if the constitutionality of Pelosi’s visit is the salient point. I think the salient point is that it’s dumb and it won’t work. Not only will it not work, it will make the situation in the world much worse–as in you don’t abandon or insult or undermine your friends. You do those things to your enemies.
    This isn’t all that complex–even though the Carter administration insisted on making it so, and this dumb policy seems to have a legacy. Treat your friends well and hurt your enemies. Under Carter, if I recall, the international organization his administration damaged the most was the US Olympic team.
    Just freakin’ brilliant.

  25. Weak leaders go nowhere. And, it’s not as if we haven’t had experience with a few.
    Nixon, by the way, wasn’t weak. He was ambitious. And, he wanted to “build” on the presidency, so that when he left office, he could pocket “what he built.”
    How did he try this out? Oh. Wage & Price controls would work as one example. They’re NOT on the GOP agenda. But the goons in Nixon’s White House, exercised “their righrts.”
    BIG TIME MISHAP. Happened to Nixon.
    But then? You got Jimmy Carter. Definitely weak. Definitely did not do a thing, nor lift a finger, for the shah. And, hence we have a song: Jimmy Carter “lost” iran.
    But did he?
    Do we “have” eygpt, for instance? Where we take our treasure to bolster Hosni? Even after he’s dead, Hosni’s family inherit the throne. Which they keep, even though the people HATE THEM. Can’t fix this one by wishing it away. The sunnis are awash in money!
    Which is what whetted the appetite of the ayatollah. And, his ilk. They took over all the wealth produced “naturally” in iran. Meaning? No middle class will grow. No democracy.
    Yes. We are in iraq. But only “so-so.” Since American soldiers coming back have very little that’s nice to say about the arabs. While the Kurds? Are functioning fine. Instead of a wall, they’ve dug deep. And, stuck this depth in the way of the advancing arab hordes. Not allowed into the Kurds’ territory. While the kurds are waiting to see what the arabs do to each other. No need to pick a side, until only one side is left standing. And, fighting.
    Is this the way to fight a war?
    Because Jimmy Carter’s failure let us walk away and wash our hands of iran.
    What is contributing to all this fighting? No one has ever exacted a price from anyone within the House of Saud.
    Bush is not in good humor!
    He “plays” the diplomatic game with his weakest cohort; condi. She goes. She talks. And, she gets nowhere. ON. PAR. FOR. THE. COST.
    Wars are very expensive. As Israel had to decide last summer. Lebanon wasn’t worth a big sacrifice. And, the generals who pushed at the end? Where 33 IDF troops died? They paid with their careers.
    While Lebanon festers.
    Europe, festers.
    And, so far? We keep electing the weak into office.
    Does that mean pelosi has carte blanche?
    Excuse me. Pelosi’s ACTIONS might be the most expensive trip this floozy has ever taken. Not just plowing through the showroom in her brand new speaker’s seat; but the kinds of mistakes that come home to roost.
    What if Bush has decided he’s gone about as far as he cares to go in iraq? The military is gaining skills. Because you can tell this is true “by comparison.”
    Compare. The USA has no kidnapped soldiers to rescue. And, the Brits have no command structure, even on their warships, to do a thing to the dingies that come along. Why not? Nobody’s alive to give the orders.
    It’s very possible Bush is playing the weak card.
    Olmert? He’s got no other cards left. And, Israelis? They aren’t happy with what’s available in the political stew.
    In other words? Since last summer there’s been a swirl of talk among the cognicenti. With nothing really showing up that you could measure.
    I read someplace, that we’re “post” democracy. And, we’re living through Special Interest times. Where no one, per se, has clout. But politics has become a “gimme.”
    All fads, however, eventually die off.
    For this reason, those in iran who embraced the ayatollah, have come to regret it. (Those who celebrated our leaving Vietnam; have also cause to re-think “that” victory. Since they live, in poverty, under the thumbs of the chinese.)
    You think I care?
    Yeah. I’m more surprised that “weak” works, way more than you might think. But I’m not gonna let my eyes fool me. I know what I see! Americans aren’t interested in husbanding the world.

  26. Mr. Morrissey,
    While I’m certainly not going to defend Pelosi or her pointless trip to Syria, I will point out that your treatment of the Armenian Genocide issue is very inaccurate and morally unsound.
    First off, the Democrats are not voting to “condemn Turkey” as you say — whether or not you want to argue modern Turkey is or isn’t responsible for the Genocide, the Dems aren’t condemning Turkey, they’re just saying that what occurred was a genocide. If Turkey wants to take offense at that, it’s because they have consistently denied that the genocide happened, not because anyone is pointing the finger at them (as opposed to the Ottoman Empire).
    Second, you have greatly compromised your moral standing here by treating this horrific crime as something that can and should be denied to curry favor with another country. If I recall correctly, you have (rightly) condemned those who deny the Holocaust of WWII, such as Ahmadinejad and others — it is very hypocritical to condemn these people and then turn around and effectively deny the Armenian Genocide (by trying to silence those who would affirm its reality). After all, the Armenian genocide was an early warning of the horrors to come in WWII, and in many ways formed the basis for the later Holocaust. It is not something to be dismissed lightly.

  27. Metrodorus,
    Hypocrisy? Well, I suppose so, but that seems like fairly thin warrant to antagonize a nominal ally who apparently is no longer committing said genocide.
    Are we moral cowards until the House scours recent history for all the bad things nations have done and passes resolutions saying how unacceptable those events are? Not having passed a House resolution on some matter is not equivalent to the U.S. denying that an event occurred.
    In the long list of things the U.S. needs to do to be a moral nation, condemning the Armenian genocide in the U.S. House ranks low on my list. Even in terms of resolutions, I can think of several current situations (Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc.) that are more pressing.
    My cynical view is that potentially antagonizing Turkey works to the Democrats foreign policy advantage: it constrains our military options with Iran and perhaps with Iraq as well. I don’t see how a war with Iran advances our interest right now, but I also think that undercutting the option weakens our diplomatic options.

  28. I admire the many different ways democrats have learned to surrender.
    Its why the French love them so.

  29. From Power, Faith, And Fantasy by Michael Oren, pp. 292 – 295, covering the Armenian genocide campaign of the Ottoman Empire in 1894 (all spelling errors in excerpts are that of the transcriber, not the text):
    “…The buildup of Ottoman oppression and Armenian anger erupted finally in the spring of 1894, when Turkish troops set out to crush a local rebellion, but then went on to raze entire villages and slaughter all of their inhabitants. “All the Armenians in sight were killed and their houses a stores robbed,” reported an appalled American consul in Trebizond. “Dead bodies were scattered over the streets all bearing fearful evidence of their cruel deaths.” Some 200,000 Aremenians died – 20 percent of the population – and a million homes were ransacked.
    “Armenian holocaust,” cried a New York Times headline in September 1895, employing the word that would later become synonymous with genocide. The American press was virtually unanimous in calling for urgent action to save the Armenians and to remove, “if not by political action than by resort to the knife,” the “fever spot of the Turkish Empire.” Clergymen, too, stood united in their concern for the Armenians, even though most of them followed Eastern Orthodox rites. “Not all the perfume of Arabia can wash the hand of Turkey clean enough to to be suffered any longer to hold the reins of power over one inch of Christian territory,” fumed the Catholic World, while the Reverend De Witt Talmage urged “the warships of the western powers [to] ride up as close as possible to the palaces of Constantinople and blow that accursed government to atoms.” The ecumenical furor, meanwhile, was matched by the bipartisan outrage in Congress. Newton Blanchard, a Democratic senator from Louisiana, demanded American intervention to erase this “blot upon civilization of the age.” His Republican colleague from Illinois, Shelby Cullom declared, “The demon of damnable and fanatical hate has spread ruin, desolation, and death.” In his presidential platform for 1896, William McKinley listed saving the Armenians, along with annexing Hawaii and securing Cuba’s independence from Spain, as his foreign policy priorities.
    The American reaction to the Armenian massacres – the first of many such atrocities soon to blot the Middle East – had multiple sources. There was a deeply entrenched aversiion that Americans felt twoard Islam and their no less rooted empathy for the Christians straining under Muslim rule. Popular opinion in the United States also tended to identify with the hardworking and family-oriented Armenians and to see them as “the Yankees of the Orient.” Finally, the Armenians were linked in the American mind with the mission schools from which many of them had graduated and which were seen as extensions of the United States. Some of those institutions had been extensively damaged in the pogroms, spurring demands for restitution not only for the Armenians but equally for the evangelists who served them.”
    What is interesting is that there was an effort to send, first, a military message to the Ottoman Turks. The president of Robert College in Turkey, George Washburn, and James B. Angell, a congregationalist, were able to get the McKinley Administration to send the USS Kentucky in 1900 to deliver a message to the Ottoman Turks. Here is how Mr. Oren depicts that:
    “The Kentucky‘s captain, the ruddy-faced “Red Bill” Kirkland, bluntly warned Smyrna’s governor, “If these massacres continue I’ll be swuzzled if I won’t someday forget my orders . . . and find some pretext to hammer a few Turkish towns, . . . I’d keel-haul every blithering mother’s son of a Turk that wears hair.” Though softened by the translator and conveyed with a smile, Kirkland’s message penetrated. The sultan paid $83,000 in compensation to the missionaries and even placed and order for an American made destroyer.
    Still, muscle was not the only means through which Americans expressed their concern for Armenia. No sooner had news of the massacres reached North America than societies for the support of their victims sprang up in virtually every major city. In Boston, Julia Ward Howe, whose husband had volunteered to fight in the Greek war of independence in 1825 and whose fame as author of the Union’s favorite hymn proved to be an asset in fundraising, organized the United Friends of Armenia. New York’s chamber of commerce formed the National Armenian Relief Committee, an elite group whose backers included Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer, the American Jewish philanthropist Jacop Schiff, and the railroad executive Chauncey Depew. John D. Rockerfeller contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort, while less moneyed people donated blankets, clothing, and foodstuffs. Americans women were especially active in the drive, spurred by reports of the rape and enslavement of thousands of Armenian girls.
    Contributions poured in, but the problem remained of how to transport them to the victiims. For a solution, the relief committee turned neither to the State Department nor to the missions nor even to the U.S. Navy but rather to a seventy-four-year-old woman, one of the most extraordianry Americans of her day.”
    That woman was Clara Barton who had formed the American Red Cross. Her tending to the Civil War wounded was legendary as well as her ensuring that food and supplies reached the warfighters. She is described as follows for this mission:
    “Fifteen years later, [after forming the American Red Cross], Clara Barton was well past retirement age, a petite, wizened woman whos indefatigable smile made permanent mounds of her cheeks. That smile would often be her only protection as she confronted the terrors of the Ottoman bureaucracy. Denied permission to display the symbol of the cross, Barton had to present her mission as a private initiative to aid all Ottoman subjects, irrespective of creed. She also had to manage her affairs from Istanbul, under the army’s eyes. “I shall never counsel nor permit a sly or underhanded action with your government,” she promised the Ottoman foreign minister. “I expect the same treatment in return.”
    Barton succeeded in obtaining the authorities’ full cooperation and in directing a series of food- and medicine-laden expeditions depe into the Armenian hinterland. Though members of the National Armenian Relief Committee resented the exclusive credit she received, and some Armenians protested the assistance she lent to distressed Turkish minorities in their districts, Barton solidified her reputation as “perhaps the most perfect incarnation of mercy the modern world has known.” Even the Ottomans honored her with a medal.
    America’s aid to the Armenians remained a collaborative effort of the members of all faiths and parties, an unparalleled pooling of religious and political resources. It represented the continuation of decades of American solicitude for the downtrodden of the Middle Eastern minorities, including Jews, Bahais, and Orthodox Christians. While many Americans believed that they were fated to dominate large sections of the world, they also insisted on saving that world from oppression. The Reverend Strong praised America as “the representative. . . of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, [and] the highest civilization,” destined to “impress its institutiions upon mankind.” Barton, by contrast vowed to “defy the tyranny of precedent” by liberating subject peoples and alleviating their plight. Not just in the 1890’s but for many decades to come, America’s interaction with the Middle East would waver between these impulses, the imperialist and the humanist, between the Strongs and the Clara Bartons.”
    Seems to me the US has *already* taken a stand by those that have come before us. This struggle that Michael Oren gives us is one between, as the title of the book points out, power, faith and fantasy. Today that has shifted from faith and power confronting the fantasy of what the Middle East was, to that of power confronting the faith and fantasy of what some believe the world can be if only there were no power in it to protect the weak.
    Today those wanting that very weakness purport that if the military strength of the US is deployed in every *humanitarian* situation that the world will be a better place. These doing that purporting castigate the Nation and urge that the Government is the solution. In places like Darfur they lack the courage of their convictions that earlier generations had to confront wrongs that they saw. By trying to intimidate the Nation with its wrongs and demean it, they do not actually go out into communities and *talk* to the Nation and implore the need for help and assistance.
    While the first response to the Armenian massacres was military, as that is fast to deploy, the long years of aid came from the People of the United States who were convinced that helping a wrong and oppressed people in a far off land was worth it. That is the other form of power in America based on the People’s faith in the ideals of the Nation and its founding. By speaking of government as the main way to do things, the People are not involved nor convinced of the need. For the 2004 tsunami the #1 contributer of relief was the American people via private donations and then the US Government. Everyone else on the planet trailed those two, by some distance. And the antics of the UN and the inability of those chosen to ensure that donations got to those who were needy marks a hard point to what the People of the US will hand out to and when.
    Look at the history of the US and realize that the faith of the American people to do things, to volunteer for far off-wars like the Greek Civil War and the Spanish Civil War speaks volumes as to what the People of the Nation can and will do… if you can convince them of the need. The Government is a sluggish thing and laggard in many regards, but the American People can deploy and employ faster than any other Nation on the planet when stirred to do so. Those that have preached for Government-centric approaches have sought to de-link the People from these things. Once done the support dwindles as does the outlook as Americans look askance at poorly run programs that seem to do little good and much ill by multinational actors.
    Americans, above all else, believe in one thing: If you want it done and done right, DO IT YOURSELF. That is how we come together to address things… and if you aren’t willing to prove powerful solutions that solve problems, then you are seen as acting in a fantasy land and get little support.
    Best our political elite remember that, as Americans have this habit of dropping what has proven not to work.

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