The Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee has spurned the advances of the White House and voted to call the actions of the Ottoman Turks against the Armenian minority in 1915 a genocide.
For the Democrats, presumably, it was more than enough that President Bush was against the measure — then they knew they must be for it.
Sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons. According to the AP:
A U.S. congressional panel defied President Bush on Wednesday and approved a measure that he said would damage U.S. goals in the Middle East.
The measure that would recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians as a genocide had been strongly opposed by Turkey, a key NATO ally that has supported U.S. efforts in Iraq.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s 27-21 vote now sends the measure to the House floor — unless the Democratic leadership reverses course and heeds Bush’s warnings.
At issue is the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, says the toll has been inflated and insists that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
Up until now, President Bush has been rather Wilsonian in his conduct of foreign policy, but he is downright Kissingerian on this issue. The requirements of statecraft tell him that he must ignore the mass slaughter of all those Armenians — for the greater public good, of course.
Bush and other senior officials had made a last-minute push to persuade lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee to reject the measure.
“Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror,” Bush said hours before the vote.
So holocaust-denial is OK sometimes, eh? What is this, Situation Ethics?
If King Abdullah wants us to withdraw our recognition of the Shoah in return for his support of the “War on Terror”, will we do that, too?
The Foreign Affairs Committee’s Chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., warned of the potential fallout if the proposal passed. Lantos, a Hungarian-born survivor of the Holocaust, supported a similar resolution two years ago.
“We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people … against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying,” Lantos said.
Replace “Armenian” with “Jewish” in that declaration. How does it sound then?
I don’t know the ins and outs of Armenian-Jewish relations, but this is interesting:
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The issue flared in Massachusetts a few months ago. A local Anti-Defamation League leader was fired after saying he agreed the killings were genocide. Days later, the ADL reversed its stance, saying the killings were “tantamount to genocide.” The man was rehired.
Critics had questioned how a group dedicated to remembering Holocaust victims could be credible without recognizing the Armenian killings as genocide.
It’s extortion time again with the Turks:
In the fight over the congressional resolution, Turkey raised the possibility of impeding logistical and other U.S. military traffic now using Turkish airspace.
Is a protection racket really appropriate behavior from an “ally”?
Condi is pulling out all the stops:
Earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates conveyed their concerns.
Passing the measure “at this time would be very problematic for everything we are trying to do in the Middle East,” Rice told reporters at the White House.
And Grandma Pelosi is making nice with the Armenians:
Yet with the House’s first order of business Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that Turkey’s position was a hard sell. She introduced the Supreme Patriarch of all Armenians, Karekin II, to deliver the morning prayer — a daily ritual intended to be apolitical.
Turkey is threatening us:
“Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes and Turkey reacts as strongly as we believe they will,” Gates said. He also said that 95 percent of new vehicles designed to better protect against mine attacks are being flown through Turkey to get to Iraq.
I say call their bluff. Let them cut off their nose to spite their face.
Pelosi and the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, met Wednesday with Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy but emerged from the meeting unswayed. Hoyer told reporters he expects a floor vote on the measure before the House adjourns for the year.
Hoyer said he hoped that Turkey would realize it is not a condemnation of its current government but rather of “another government, at another time.”
We live in interesting times.