Monday, October 15, 2007

What's in a word?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is bringing a bill to the House floor that would call the forced deportation and eventual murder of over a million Armenians in World War I- era Turkey a genocide. On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 27-21 to pass the resolution, and now its destined for a full vote.

It's a profoundly sensitive situation because it would damage US relations with a key ally. Currently, Turkey is one of the few countries left with troops in Iraq besides the United States. Even more importantly, they are allowing the US military to use Turkish bases to get supplies into Northern Iraq. 70% of US supplies go over or through Turkey. Turkey has recalled its diplomats and said the resolution would do "irreparable" damage to American- Turkish relations; the president himself made clear that the House vote does not indicate his position, and implored Pelosi to drop the issue.

But she's pushing forward, motivated to act now because of the survivors' advanced age.

"When I came to Congress 20 years ago, it wasn't the right time because of the Soviet Union. Then that fell, and then it wasn't the right time because of the Gulf War One. And then it wasn't the right time because of overflights of Iraq. And now it's not the right time because of Gulf War Two.

"And, again, the survivors of the Armenian genocide are not going to be with us."

Armenian Americans have a powerful political lobby. I don't know their connection with the speaker, but they usually support Democrats, and their sole issue is recognition of this terrible chapter of history.

Turks insist that the killings were not organized or systematic, and many Turks died in the chaos of the period as well.

4 comments:

Douglas E. Flynn said...

Nothing personal, but shouldn't we worry about American interests before Armeninan interests. This is a pathetic display of putting politics over the lives of American Soldiers in Iraq.

C. P. Coleta said...

Hey, if contrition worked for the Germans, why not for the Turks? But at the end of the day, it's a pretty lame bill from what's fast becoming a pretty lame Congress.

Stevekrik said...

Regardless of timing, I think it's sad that our only ally in that region is a country that thinks it's ok to pretend that a genocide of millions of people never happened. After WW2, Germany paid $20 BILLION in reperations (which would probably be close to a TRILLION dollars in 2007 dollars... All the world is asking is that the country that committed similar acts to the Armenians simply RECOGNIZE that it happened. Nancy Pelosi made a good point that there really hasn't been a good time to do this in the last 2 decades because of the Cold War in the 80's, First Iraq War in the 90's and this Iraq war for the past 5 years. The reason this is becoming more pressing is that the generation of people who this ruling would matter the most to is dying. My grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide (and trust me, it was a 1-sided ethnic cleansing) and she died a couple months ago. Now granted she didnt live each day wishing Turkey would recognize this event but she is the type of person this would mean the most to. It's important to write history while a generation of people are still willing to make a push to write it accurately. Once this last generation of survivors dies, there really won't be much incentive or proaction to get such a motion through Congress.

Douglas E. Flynn said...

What is recognition, if not just a word. I only have limited knowledge of what took place, but I have never heard any reason nor argument that this wasn't a genocide. It is clear that virtually everyone believes this historic event to be a genocide. That being said, if this resolution were to pass, what difference does it really? No opinions will be changed, no sanctions will be enforced, no reparations will be paid. What it does do is destroy our relations with one of our few and fast fading allies in the region. Besides, shouldn't this be a U.N. issue.