The attempt on the part of the House Democrats to nail Turkey for committing genocide against the Armenians after World War I is the single most suicidal act of the Democrats, the Congress or the Bush-haters so far. Yet the silver lining is almost as large as the jacket itself.
My brilliant Russian-born colleague Lev Navrozov has more to teach Americans than anybody else I know. One column by him, one conversation with him, one lunch at his table can equal the information payload of a college education. Lev recalls a moment shortly after World War II when the Jews of the Soviet Union were pitched into panic. Why? Did the Communist Party promulgate Nuremberg laws of its own demanding Soviet Jews wear yellow badges and be herded into death camps? No, that was the Nazi way. Stalin was different.
Stalin panicked the Jews of his country by saying simply, "You know; the ethnic Russian is really not a bad fellow."
That was enough. The standout characteristic of the ethnic Russian was his hatred of Jews. Soviet Jews correctly recognized that seemingly innocent comment as the starting gun of a state repression against Jews. Stalin's approach was what they call "subtle."
I remember indentifying the most subtle form of anti-Semitism when I was growing up in the South. I was getting a haircut at about the age of 12. The man in the next chair asked the man beside him if he liked Florida. "Well," he replied. "I like the west coast of Florida." If you weren't Jewish that could have zinged right by you. There were very few Jews on the west coast of Florida at that time while the Jewish presence on the east coast was as prominent as on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The House resolution denouncing Turkey for its wanton slaughter of the Armenians is about as subtle as a stuffed moosehead. It is nothing less than a move designed to turn our most valuable Muslim ally into an enemy and provide a heaping platter of aid and comfort to our terrorist enemy. This attempt is blazing in its blatancy, and it speaks in praise of the basic goodness of the American soul that so many decent but misguided Americans are now saying, "Look, you got to call a spade a spade. The Turks did it. We can't whitewash the misdeeds of a country just because they're useful to us now!" And the expected — the desired — consequences are kicking in loudly.
Big anti-American demonstrations in heretofore friendly Turkey are impaling that friendship on the shards of Turkish mob fury. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Washington. America's use of Turkish air bases through which 90 percent of traffic between America and Iraq flow stands jeopardized. Turkish troops are poised to invade Iraq to root out Kurdish militants in the most stable and successful area of Iraq. And this is written at the very beginning of those consequences, at the point where the anti-Turkey resolution has not yet been carried by the House of Representatives but only approved in committee!
So, what about that silver lining?
We've been hearing good news from Iraq for quite a few weeks now. That good news seems to get inexorably better and better. Walter Cronkite pronounced us defeated in Vietnam. CBS's Katie Couric who holds Cronkite's job today admits American progress in Iraq. Those most opposed to the Bush administration have quit ridiculing reports that al-Qaida has been trounced in Iraq. The Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar Province are now America's allies and the people are handing the Americans more useable intelligence on the whereabouts of the terrorists than can be immediately acted upon. Casualty figures among American service personnel and Iraqi civilians are way down.
It may strike the fair-minded ear as a cheap barroom taunt or a McCarthy-ite accusation of treason to insinuate that leading elected Democrats prefer their own political success over an American military victory. Sorry. Five years of war in Iraq and at least four and a half years of implied "failure" in that war erect a "culture of failure" many Americans have joined with energy and enthusiasm.
Hitler's SS troops proudly wore tattoos under their arms so there would be no doubt who they were and what they were up to. This is far from suggesting that all who oppose the administration are Nazis. The only similarty I impute is the indelibility of their self-identification with the wrongness of the Bush administration and the inevitability of defeat in Iraq.
Cameras can document the limits of the devastation of, for instance, Hurricane Katrina. No camera can document the devastation of egos, political careers, reputations, credibility, future endeavors and the ability to hold your head high in your community if the war should turn any more dramatically in America's favor and "Bush should win!" Leading Democratic voices have invested in American failure in Iraq. They didn't exactly call their brokers and say, "Buy me a thousand shares of American Failure," but the effect is the same. If you'd been heavily invested in a buggy-whip factory way back then would you have welcomed the success of the automobile?
The good news from Iraq must be even better than we know for the Democrats to do anything as desparate as reveal themselves as open saboteurs of American interests by deliberating squirting ice water over the most sensitive exposed nerve of our friends, the Turks.
Was there a Turkish genocide against the Armenians? Most definitely. Adolf Hitler was widely quoted as pointing to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians as proof that the world would look on and do nothing. That was said to provide the impetus for the Holocaust. The Turkish attacks on the Armenians began in 1915. There's a genocide going on in Darfur right now. Why does that get shoved aside by Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats in favor of a genocide whose perpetrators can't possibly be alive any more?
The depressing but highly likely answer is to undermine America's relations with Turkey in a clumsy effort to staunch the flow of good news from Iraq.
"Mission accomplished" is not the backdrop Democrats prefer going into the presidential election of 2008.
"Republican disaster" would suit them much better.
Do we then overlook the genocides committed by our allies? Interesting question.
We overlooked the deliberate starvation of 6 million Ukrainians under Stalin when we accepted the Soviet Union as our ally against Nazi Germany. Do we pretend there was no racism and cruelty in the world-wide British, French, Dutch, and Belgian empires? All those colonial masters were our valiant allies. And why not? Winston Churchill swore he'd make a pact with Satan himself if it could help defeat Adolf Hitler. America has more than once denounced those Turkish crimes already. Why do the Democrats demand that America do so yet again? And why right now?
Is restating America's denunciation of genocide as vital a national move right now as winning the war on terror?
Republican frustration facing American failure has been a sad tune for a long time. But that tune is a lot happier than Democratic desperation facing American success.
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