Condemning Turkey a Bad Strategy

Thursday, 11 Mar 2010 09:59 AM

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I believe that the Ottoman Turks, during World War I, committed genocide against the Armenian people when they slaughtered more than a million Armenians living in Turkey.

Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 23 to 22, as The New York Times described it, “to condemn as genocide the mass killing of Armenians early in the last century defying a last minute plea from the Obama administration to forego a vote that seemed sure to offend Turkey and jeopardize delicate efforts at Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.”

My reason for opposing the resolution is that we need Turkey, a NATO member, to assist our ongoing military efforts in Afghanistan, and I do not want in any way to endanger U.S. military forces in Afghanistan or Iraq. If Armenian lives were in danger today from Turkey — and they are not — I would urge our doing whatever we could, even using force, to save those lives as we did in the Balkans and as we should have done in Rwanda and Burundi in Africa.

But today, we are discussing a symbolic action condemning an act of genocide that occurred about a hundred years ago. Yes, that act should be condemned and will be sometime in the future appropriately denounced by the U.S. Congress if Turkey and Armenia don’t come to a resolution, but not today when we are fighting two wars in the Mideast and are beset with the possibility of further terrorist attacks here in the U.S.

I am not as supportive of Turkey as I once was. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of an Islamist party, recently embarked on a course of action to limit the constitutional prerogative of the Turkish army enshrined in the Turkish constitution by the founder of modern Turkey, Ataturk.

The government of Turkey has recently arrested and is pursuing Turkish army officers seeking to protect and retain a secular Turkey. It has also sought to reduce and possibly destroy the heretofore close relationship between Turkey and Israel. Nevertheless for me, the safety of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is paramount.

We should refrain for the time being from passing anti-Turkish resolutions regarding the Armenian genocide.

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