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Why Turkey? Why Now? (update)
Posted by: McQ on Friday, October 12, 2007

I've heard some lame reasoning before but this ranks right up there as some of the worst:
With tensions rising between the United States and Turkey over a resolution that labels the World War I-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces "genocide," many are asking why the House is debating the resolution now.
It was 90 years ago this massacre happened. The government and most likely every person associated with it are dead.

Turkey is a vital NATO ally.

So someone, anyone, tell me why, if, as Democrats argue, it is so important that we rebuild our image abroad, that we attack and impugn the honor of an important ally?

Ideas?

Well here are the excuses:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday said arguments that Turkey is too vital an ally to alienate has delayed the resolution for too long.

"I've been in Congress for 20 years. And for 20 years, people have been saying the same thing." Pelosi said Thursday. "There's never a good time. And all of us in the Democratic leadership have supported... reiterating the Americans' acknowledgement of a genocide."

"As long as there is genocide, there is need to speak out against it," she added.
Now that is one full ration of political gobbledygook.

Suddenly, having accomplished absolutely nothing, it is time for Congress to address a topic that wasn't on anyone's radar during the election and hasn't been a topic of conversation anywhere that I'm aware of.

So there has to be something else going on. And, as you might expect, the hint is given to us by Tom Lantos:
An one of the chief supporters of the resolution, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-California, was unmoved by the administration's arguments that Turkey would block the use of U.S. airbases on Turkish soil.

"The Turkish government will not act against the United States because that would be against their own interests," he told CNN. "I'm convinced of this."
Ha!

What a load of horse apples.

In fact, I'm convinced that Lantos, et. al., are banking on Turkey doing precisely that.

Says MEMRI:
A Turkish parliamentary delegation is on its way to the U.S. as a last move to prevent the passing of the resolution on alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during the World War I.

Columnist Fatih Cekirge of top selling Turkish daily Hurriyet wrote that the mandate of the delegation of MPs from AKP, CHP and MHP is stronger as it comes not only from the government but from the parliament – that is from the Turkish people – and the AKP MP Egemen Bagis, who heads the delegation, signaled that the warning they will deliver to the U.S. will also be very strong.

Turkey has repeatedly said that if the Congress passes the Armenian resolution U.S.-Turkey relations would suffer. It is now understood that Turkey will tell the U.S. that it might cut or restrict the logistical support that Turkey provides the U.S. military in Iraq through Incirlik airbase – also affecting the future withdrawal of U.S. from Iraq, via Turkey.
Or to put it in simpler language, this is another end run by Congressional Democrats designed to muck up the works in Iraq and make it more difficult to be successful there.

This is execrable stuff. It again demonstrates that just when you think Congressional Democrats can't sink any lower on the partisan-politics-over-the-good-of-their-country scale, they manage a new low.

Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who believes this blatant nonsense Pelosi and Lantos are spouting that now is an important time to condemn something which happened 90 years ago in a country which is very important to our effort in and to the stability of Iraq, is either hopelessly naive or terminally stupid. This is a deliberate attempt to alienate an ally in the hope of hurting the effort in Iraq.

And I find it be as disgusting a partisan political act as any that has come down the road in a long time.

UPDATE:
Welcome NRO readers. More thoughts on the subject here.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
And guess what, no one on the Republican side will take them to task.
Time-and-time again, the Donks do and say the most outrageous things
and all the Reps do is issue forth the most mealy-mouthed objections.

The Republicans are going down hard in 2008 and they only have
themselves to blame. The truly are the party of stupid!
 
Written By: Radical Centrist
URL: http://
These are the Copperheads.

 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Clearly something Congress should be wasting its time on: non-binding legislation that actually changes nothing. Regarding something that should be left to historians to decide. The only thing it will do is further alienate one of our NATO allies and our (and Israel’s) few moderate Muslim allies.

I agree, this is nothing more than a flagrant attempt to backhandedly poison the administration’s efforts in Iraq by isolating Turkey.

Not only can that exacerbate logistics (and certainly not just in Iraq), but it will reduce our prestige in efforts to urge Turkish restraint against the Kurds. Our cries may fall on deaf ears if and when they decide to step up against the Kurds in Iraq. Potentially, this could bring our two militaries into direct confrontation.

And liberals actually wonder why they are called Un-American? Here, once again, they show that they care more about political maneuvering for a few cheap points than the long-term security and interests of our nation. For all my disdain for the Republicans, I have to at least admit that I cannot think of a time when they did something this irresponsible.
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday said arguments that Turkey is too vital an ally to alienate has delayed the resolution for too long.
Heheh, shades of 2003. I guess Turkey slots in somewhere below France and Germany on the vital-ally-ness charts. It’s a shame that the irony meters in DC have been in disrepair so long.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Out of context I would pretty much agree to this resolution, except for the fact that I find it ridicules with these non-binding resolutions, period. But put in context it is so irresponsible that I would argue that it’s very close to treason!

If the Turks decide to punish the US – restricting access to bases, to the boarder etc. – I think this could backfire severely on the Dems for the coming elections!
 
Written By: Jon Herstad
URL: http://idioten.blogspot.com
I think its not about Iraq, but Iran. The Dems think if they can piss off Turkey it will hinder any effort to bomb Iran.

By the way, this is the party that thinks once they are in charge the whole world will begin loving America again.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Maybe this is some of that impressive diplomatic expertise the Democrats have been touting for themselves.

We simply don’t understand it because we just can’t grasp the essential brilliance of it.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Rep. Lantos is a Holocaust survivor, and thus most likely has a greater sensitivity to genocide and its deniers, than do the hacks who strain to find some way, on a daily basis, to characterize the Dems as traitors.

I actually tend to lean in favor of putting this on hold right now, but commentary like yours might well tip me over to the other side. The last thing I would want to do would be to associate myself with those who cannot analyze politics except through a lens of deranged hatred, and who coddle genocide-deniers the moment they threaten to be insulted.
 
Written By: Tano
URL: http://
So, Tano, shouldn’t Lantos be thinking "never again" and worry a bit about how this might affect our ability to hit Iran, a nation that has threatened to use nukes against Israel rather than settling older scores? and making sure our chances in Iraq are as good as possible, seeing as how it could descend into a genocidal civil war if we fail?

Even assuming Lantos is acting purely on his conscious, he’s been in Congress a long time...why is he getting support on this issue right now? Personally, I think we should have passed this measure the day after they denied access to our infantry division. I also am not so worried about Turkey’s reaction. We already have very high negatives there.





 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"he’s been in Congress a long time...why is he getting support on this issue right now?"

He was part of the minority until this year.
 
Written By: Tano
URL: http://
He was part of the minority until this year.
The Democrats had been in the minority since 1981?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Let me get this straight.

Turkey is threatening to act like a six year old and run home and take their ball with them, over a meaningless resolution that will have a media life of about 3 seconds, and it’s the Dems fault?

And as for relations with Turkey, I guess everyone forgot about how Bush pissed them off just prior to the Iraq war so badly that the war plan had to be changed, literally at the last minute.

(Not that would have an effect on the disaster - it was just a harbinger of the ineptitude to follow.)

Anyway, the real issue here is that our relationship with Turkey has gotten so crappy becuase of the Iraq war, that this resolution might be the be straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Having said all that, I do have to question Pelosi’s priorities here. The whole Congress is just a putrid sack-o-sh*t. Their major accomplishements in the past 7 years have been to send us into a disastrous war, give tax cuts to people who don’t need’em (twice!) and give the gummint unprecedented powers of surveillance. Oh, and spend money like there was no tomorrow to make sure they got re-elected. Quite a record.

Replace ’em all, I sez (except for Russ and Bernie and maybe a few others)
 
Written By: mario
URL: http://
Rep. Lantos is a Holocaust survivor, and thus most likely has a greater sensitivity to genocide and its deniers, than do the hacks who strain to find some way, on a daily basis, to characterize the Dems as traitors.
And, of course, you see nothing calculated about using Lantos to do this, do you?

How many times must you see Democrats try to use the "Absolute Moral Authority" card to finally catch on to the tactic? This is the Frost/SCHIP tactic on an international stage, and you willingly accept the premise without question. That says more about you than the people who are here questioning the tactic and the premise.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Mario wrote:
Turkey is threatening to act like a six year old and run home and take their ball with them, over a meaningless resolution that will have a media life of about 3 seconds, and it’s the Dems fault?
Dems are trying to pass it, and it may well last more than 3 seconds in Turkey. You think the Turkish administration wasn’t the Dems to hand them red meat on a platter?
And as for relations with Turkey, I guess everyone forgot about how Bush pissed them off just prior to the Iraq war so badly that the war plan had to be changed, literally at the last minute.
The way I remember it, they stabbed us in the back by not letting that armored division cross their territory, prolonging conventional combat by a week or more.

What do you think happened?
Anyway, the real issue here is that our relationship with Turkey has gotten so crappy becuase of the Iraq war, that this resolution might be the be straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The "relationship" with Turkey was going to get crappy as long as they moved towards Islamism and theocracy. If the main reason the Iraq war has them pissed off is that it is emboldening Kurdsw in Turkey and Iraq to make ware on Turkey, maybe if they took more reasonable measures on their side of the border, we could make more effort persuade the Kurds on our side to lighten up.
Their major accomplishments in the past 7 years have been to send us into a disastrous war
The most reasonable thing we’ve done with Iraq since the end of Gulf War I.
Give tax cuts to people who don’t need’em (twice!)

They gave tax cuts across the board, just it should be done.
and give the gummint unprecedented powers of surveillance.
You mean the same powers—or far more restricted ones—than the government has used in the past during war?

You’ve been reading the funny papers.

And believing them.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
That should read—
Give tax cuts to people who don’t need’em (twice!)
They gave tax cuts across the board, just it should be done.
and give the gummint unprecedented powers of surveillance.
You mean the same powers—or far more restricted ones—than the government has used in the past during war?

You’ve been reading the funny papers.

And believing them.

Sarcasm is entirely dissolved by formatting errors.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
To naive and (not or) terminally stupid I would add evil. Further, there isn’t a scintilla of decency among the ’loyal opposition. Sad but more problematic, just plain dangerous under the circumstances.
 
Written By: jhstuart
URL: http://
Count me among those who think this was an asinine thing to do. However, I do think the "question the timing" logic is going a little over the top. This description of the Armenian Genocide resolution:
a topic that wasn’t on anyone’s radar during the election and hasn’t been a topic of conversation anywhere that I’m aware of.

is really not accurate. No, it certainly wasn’t an election issue, but this has been one of those ever-present issues that are under most people’s radars for quite some time. The recognition/non recognition of the Armenian Genocide as such is a huge issue for Armenia and for the Armenian diaspora, and, clearly for Turkey. This issue has come before congress several times in the last few years (brought by many of the same representatives, incidentally those who have large Armenian populations in their districts), and it has always died, either in committee or never made it to the floor because the Republican leadership wouldn’t let it move forward. Last year, Democrats in the Senate held up the confirmation of Bush’s nominee for ambassador to Armenia over precisely this issue.

My point is simply that this resolution did not pop out of the blue. I’m a U.S. government analyst covering Turkey and Armenia among other countries, so I follow this issue closely, and I knew that when the Democrats came to power they would try to pass this bill because Dems like Pelosi have been pushing this issue for a long time and getting nowhere. So when Pelosi says:
"I’ve been in Congress for 20 years. And for 20 years, people have been saying the same thing." Pelosi said Thursday. "There’s never a good time. And all of us in the Democratic leadership have supported... reiterating the Americans’ acknowledgement of a genocide."
it actually is true. Again, let me reiterate that I think that the bill was grossly irresponsible and I truly fear for the future of our relationship with Turkey. However, I’m skeptical about suggestions that it was a calculated attempt to undermine the war in Iraq.
 
Written By: Nicole
URL: http://
Wow....for a party obesessed with "diplomacy", they seem to be having a tin ear to diplomatic consequences on this issue, don’t they?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I think Lantos has been on this issue for a long time, so I doubt he has any partisan reasons for the timing - he just couldn’t get support before now.

But hey, if the Turks are so touchy that they’ll react to something like this, then they aren’t that close of friends anyway.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
For all my disdain for the Republicans, I have to at least admit that I cannot think of a time when they did something this irresponsible.
Oh, start a war in a Iraq that has lead to tens of thousands of dead, numerous orphans and widows, called by a General who was part of it "a nightmare without end," cost hundreds of billions (likely well over a trillion by the end), hurt our national interest, helped Iran’s hardliners, and weakened our position in the world.

That’s a heck of a lot more irresponsible than Congress condemning genocide. And frankly, the American thing to do now is to undercut this un-American and irresponsible big government social engineering experiment using military means gone bad.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
But hey, if the Turks are so touchy that they’ll react to something like this, then they aren’t that close of friends anyway.
I’m sure Germany, France, Japan, China, Australia, Russia et al would be more charitable in the same scenario. It’s just those wacky Turks, overreacting as always.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
I doubt Germany minds that we’ve condemned the holocaust. Perhaps we should have worried about offending their sensibilities.

The why now question is legit though, this should have been done a long, long time ago, if it’s going to be done at all.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
France supposedly is pushing similar stuff in order to avoid having Turkey enter the EU. (according to the Economist.)

If this bill could wait 20 years, why not two more years to see what’s sorted out in Iraq and to let a Democratic president handle it. I mean, we’re told they will be beloved, and thus it wouldn’t hurt so much then. :)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
But hey, if the Turks are so touchy that they’ll react to something like this, then they aren’t that close of friends anyway.
Turkey’s touchiness about the subject has very little to do with us, and very much to do with their inability to come to terms with their own history, as well as resurgent Turkish nationalism. Our relationship with Turkey is definitely complicated, but it’s also strategically vital, which is why passing a resolution like this (their reaction to which was 100% predictable) was so irresponsible. Turkey is valuable not just because of the tactical and logistical support it provides to our operations in Iraq, but it also has one of the largest and most capable militaries in NATO. Furthermore, it’s a secular Muslim state that, although its democracy is far from perfect, is of tremendous symbolic importance in our struggle against radical Islamism. The West is losing Turkey, and has been for some time. The war in Iraq played a role and European hostility to Turkish membership in the EU hasn’t helped either. This issue is only going to further drive them away. We need to keep Turkey as an ally for many reasons, which is why we should avoid gratuitously pissing them off.
 
Written By: Nicole
URL: http://
""As long as there is genocide, there is need to speak out against it," she added."

That should be WAS genocide, not IS. I guess next there will be a resolution condemning the Canaanite genocide, or perhaps a resolution deploring the French Republic’s slaughter of royalists in the Vendee, and there are always various pogroms to condemn.

I was always under the impression that one of the reasons people came to this country was to get away from all that ethnic and nationalist hatred and crap. Now we are supposed to take sides? With all due respect to Lantos amd his sensitivities, we have enough problems with ethnicity and sectarianism here, we do not need to stir up more. If our resident Armenians want to continue this century old sh**, then they should go back to where it began, and take it up with the Turks. Leave us out of it. Get over it. Let the healing begin. Get some therapy.

Nicole makes much sense. For pragmatic reasons, THE FUTURE is more important, and Turkey is, at least at this point, more important to us than Armenia.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Check out the google adsense ad running in Qando now:

The Armenia Lobby
Waiting for Mearsheimer and Walt? Don’t. Armenians aren’t Jewish.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
This is crazy.

Since when is it okay to let other nations dictate when we can and cannot say the truth.
The Armenian Genocide did happen. That’s a fact.

Most people here seem to not argue against that, but use "this is not the right time" argument.
Well, guess what, there is not right time with Turkey. There never was, and never will be.

The cold war is over and we don’t need Turkey as much as they need us. Don’t forget, they are not our "friends" because of their good hearts, we pay them to be our friends.

We need them for the war in Iraq? Not really, we just need them to make the war cheaper. So instead of flying supplies in from Turkey, we’ll use other air bases and it will cost a little more gas money. Is that not worth acknowledging the truth?

We are a moral country, are we not? So why should be let Turkey to force us to be immoral?

This resolution is a good thing, if nothing else it will show us (and the rest of the world) the true colors of Turkey.
Try to think of it this way: step outside of the US-Turkey box and look at it from another perspective. What is the US House passing? A NON-BINDING resolution that acknowledges the truth. Is that really something to get bent out of shape for? Would any country other than Turkey react the way they have? Threaten not only US relations but also Israel? Does that make sense at all? Not only that, but the resolutions is only condemning Turkey for not recognizing its past - it’s not even saying that the current Turkish government is responsible for the genocide.
Again, ask yourself, is their response sane?
Like I said, if nothing else, this will expose Turkey for what they are. They even have laws against insulting "turkishness."

It’s a shame that a simple acknowledgment of the truth (with no strings attached) has to be fought over with tooth and nail.
 
Written By: John S
URL: http://
Since when is it okay to let other nations dictate when we can and cannot say the truth. The Armenian Genocide did happen. That’s a fact.
And it happened under the Ottoman Empire. How is that relevant now? Why PO a valuable ally for a nonbinding resolution? Who does that serve?

That’s all explained in the post, something, obviously, with which you disagree.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And it happened under the Ottoman Empire. How is that relevant now?
If Germany refused to acknowledge the holocaust, would we be wrong to condemn it in retrospect, or should we say "hey, it was just a genocide, but you know, it was long ago, and we don’t want to upset the Germans, and it really doesn’t matter if they acknowledge it..."

The point is that we shouldn’t be so wimpy as to not condemn an act of genocide just because another country will get upset. Indeed, why not pressure Turkey to come to grips with the reality — in a symbolic way, not with sanctions or anything else?

Because if Turkey wants to have nothing to do with us because of this, fine — if we’ve put ourselves in a position that we don’t dare upset the Turks, it says a lot about just how bad our foreign policy choices have been. Maybe it’s better to change our foreign policy than fear upsetting a minor power by pointing out the truth of a past genocide. I think even Machiavelli would pragmatically argue that letting the Turks shove us around here would be to show weakness in a way that ultimately will hurt our interests.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The Holocaust is in living memory and there are still survivors; the Armenian genocide is almost twice as old and almost certainly everyone affected by it is dead. I’d say that’s one rather significant difference.

You’ve said in other posts that you consider yourself a pragmatist, Scott, but you’re letting ideology cloud this issue. What purpose is served by condemning the genocide? It won’t change the minds of those who deny it; it won’t bring back anyone killed by it; it won’t make reparations for the descendents; it does not impede our adversaries (Turkey is an important friend); it doesn’t make us look "tough on genocide" (our responses to other genocides are far too uneven for us to be taken seriously on this); at best it nets a little more cashola and votes for congressmen in districts with Armenians. Fantastic, that’s all the reason I need!

If Congress is in such a genocide-condemnin’ mood, why not condemn the genocides perpetrated by the Australians against the aboriginies? That wasn’t even a half-century ago, so it’s plenty relevant. Would the Australians be less incensed? Would that mean our foreign policy is FUBAR because we’re too reliant on Australia as a friend? How about the atrocities commited by Japan against China, they could use a good condemnin’. Or how about Indonesia against the Timorese? Or any of dozens of other genocides? This isn’t about Turkey "shoving us around," anymore than it’s not about letting diaspora Armenians "shove us around." This is about maintaining important alliances and not making waves when it’s not necessary and when it will do us no good anyhow.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Let’s condemn past genoicide - current genocide - well, let’s call that Ethnic Cleansing.
We can save that condemnation till, say, 30 years from now.

And by all means, more meaningless, toothless, pointless, resolutions by Congress.
Good to know the moral party is in charge. Not getting anything worthwhile done, but still, in charge.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Let’s just condemn everything bad, ever.

Congress, the opposite of progress.
 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Because if Turkey wants to have nothing to do with us because of this, fine
Mr Foreign Policy expert.
Insults hurled at the current Turkish people for being descendents of a long dead government.

Yep, that’s a great answer, because surely the the Turks are going to just roll on this useless, pointless vote about something that occurred before even the daddy’s of everybody in Congress (except maybe Byrd...heh) had gleams in their eyes.

Now if the Prez did this you’d be screaming holy heck about the effects of it on our ability to keep good relations with Turkey and how we’re disrespecting their culture and how stupid old Chimpy McBush!tler doesn’t understand these aspects of the Turkish psyche.

Your true allegiance is so obvious at times, Professor Open-mind.
This is one of them.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, I’ve always thought it was wimpy of us to be afriad of insulting the Turks over the Armenian genocide, long before President Bush took office.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wimpy? Yeah, whatever.
You thought it was great for Bollinger to invite Ahmedinijad to Columbia and ambush him at first too.

I personally think a guy who thinks we have no business going into Iraq ought to at least be consistent and recognize we don’t have any business commenting on the barbaric activities of the (defunct) Ottoman empire by issuing toothless resolutions on actions almost 100 years past.
You don’t want to be the world’s policeman, you want to be the world’s scolding neighborhood mom (and with Pelosi and Reid in charge clearly you’re getting your wish).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

I personally think a guy who thinks we have no business going into Iraq ought to at least be consistent and recognize we don’t have any business commenting on the barbaric activities of the (defunct) Ottoman empire by issuing toothless resolutions on actions almost 100 years past.
So you think there is no difference between invading another country and taking a moral stand against genocide?

The funny thing is, I wasn’t going to comment to this post originally, but the idea that everyone is so worried about Turkey being insulted, and that this concern means we should avoid even condemning a genocide struck me as grossly absurd. What kind of country are we if we can’t even condemn a genocide because another country wants to be in denial of their past?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott Erb,

The kind of country that is happy to sell the "it’s to free the Iraqi people" as one of the arguments for the war in Iraq, but shies away from making a non-binding resolution to ACKNOWLEDGE the TRUTH because they are afraid of the reaction.

Speaking of being afraid of upsetting certain people, this reminds me of the Muhammad cartoons awhile back. I wonder what the same people who are opposed to this resolution based on the idea that we do not want to offend our "allies" thought about those cartoons.
 
Written By: John S
URL: http://
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I thought the Muhammad cartoons were extraordinarily irresponsible and tasteless, and showed off a hypocritical side to the tolerant, pluralistic facade Europe likes to present. Much like this resolution, they offended people we are trying to win the hearts and minds of, with no clear gain or benefit realized.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
The question was whether or not their response was legitimate (to the cartoons). I am sorry if I didn’t make it clear.

I don’t think it was.
I think we let Muslims in general get away with a lot of stuff what we would not put up with if they weren’t Muslim. And I am not about about our government, I mean us, people in general. Like your comment shows, for example, James O.

Hearts and minds? By doing what? Acknowledging the truth?
So in other to win their hearts and minds we have to turn away from great acts of evil? How perverted is that?
 
Written By: John S
URL: http://

 
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