When Will It Be a Good Time?

Back in the seventies, we weren’t supposed to offend Turkey by daring to raise the issue of Genocide recognition so that efforts at drug interdiction (Turkey was an opium/heroin producing and later transit country) would not run afoul of the Turks’ ire. Of course there was the big, bad Soviet Union against whom Turkey was a “bulwark” (don’t laugh too hard, knowing how much aid they milked from Moscow).
In the eighties it was still the red-scare argument, even with Gorbachev and glasnost, we had to attend Turkey’s ridiculously tender ego.
In the nineties, it was the first Iraq war and later the Iraq embargo. It didn’t matter that the Turkey’s border with its southern neighbor made Swiss cheese look positively solid.
Of course now we’re hearing about how Turkey is such an important supply route for U.S. forces in Iraq that it would endanger American soldiers’ lives if Turkey’s “righteous indignation” led it to shut down those routes.
Notice the pattern?
So we have a situation where those who argued that not attacking pathetic Iraq was tantamount to Chamberlainian appeasement are now doing just that–appeasing Turkey and succumbing to its morally bankrupt blackmail (excuse the redundancy). So H. Res. 106 is being held hostage.
But the “it’s a bad time” angle isn’t the only farcically vacuous argument being presented. The right wingnuts have taken up the banner of “the Democrats are trying to intentionally screw up the U.S.-Turkey relationship so the Turks will retaliate, thus undermining the war effort” argument. I suppose they should know, since they supported the Iraq invasion that undermined the serious efforts in Afghanistan.
Then we have the typical hyper-cynical approach to “politicians” (you should spit when you read that word here, for proper effect). So, all this a ploy by the resolution’s advocates to placate the Armenian community, but not really do anything in the end. In tandem with this thinking, some of our strongest supporters in Congress, including the Speaker, seem to be catching heat. This mindset is akin to the royalty of yore killing messengers who brought bad news. Let’s get over ourselves and help our staunch advocates help us get the resolution passed.
Here, while discussing our internal front, let me caution all my compatriots. One of the games being played is the “divide and conquer” one. In more than one piece in the media, I’ve read the “Diasporans are the troublemakers, in Armenia, people don’t care and just want jobs” notion. True or not, this speaks to the necessity of ever tighter bonding and communication among ALL Armenia’s. At the very least, we must be alert to this ploy and counteract its dangers.
Of course we have the oh-my-gosh, Turkey-will-invade-Iraq bluff being conducted by Ankara. Whether they do or don’t, now that authorization for such an incursion was given by parliament 507-19, has precious little to do with the Genocide resolution. The Turks will or won’t engage the Kurds based on other, much more relevant, considerations, not the resolution. By all accounts, Turkey invading Iraqi Kurdistan could place its neck in a noose similar to the ones discovered by the U.S. in Vietnam and Iraq, the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan, and Israel in Lebanon. But, this empty threat sure is a handy string with which to manipulate its Washington puppets.
Speaking of puppets, how about the letter from “eight former secretaries of state” opposing 106? In no particular order, let’s check their moral stature, their standing, to take such a position. Colin Powell lied to start a war, Henry Kissinger is widely recognized as a war criminal, Alexander Haig laid claim to the presidency (out of constitutional turn) when Reagan was shot, George Schultz is known for dozing off at important meetings, James Baker helped Bush Jr. steal the presidency, Lawrence Eagleburger–I can’t even fault for anything at the moment since he is so eminently forgettable, Warren Christopher may be the only slightly credible one in the bunch, and Madeleine Albright showed her true colors in the murderous bombing campaign of Serbia.
But all this noise, this larger-then-ever effort by Turkey to obstruct passage of an Armenian Genocide resolution at the earliest possible stages of the process speak to something. The “we’ll kill Kurds in Iraq” bluff, the massive, very nuanced, propaganda campaign in the American media (and even the British Economist), and the bluster of the Turkish military are the collective gasps of denialism’s emphysema. In all this, too, the Turks are bluffing, hoping the House of Representatives won’t notice that Turkey needs the U.S. more than the reverse. They’re also hoping that the same legislators won’t notice that H. Res. 106 is not about Turkey, but the Ottoman Empire, to which the Turks vehemently disavow being connected. (Of course they ARE the legal successors of the empire, but they can’t have it both ways). Both of these truths have been stated by members of Congress and should be amplified through our media efforts.
I might not have made the assertion of the above paragraph in public until a few hours ago. Fortunately, I’m late in writing this piece. Consequently, in the October 19, 2007 LATimes I saw Graham Fuller’s “The ally that isn’t”. In this piece, Fuller, a long time Turcophile, who evidently has a book about Turkey due out in December, contends that Turkey’s and America’s interests are fundamentally at odds with one another. While the specifics of what he contends may be equally worrisome for Armenia’s, the fact that Fuller actually has something other than good things to say about Turkey signals to me a shift in the winds. If that’s not enough to convince you, on October 13, the LATimes ran an obituary of Mehmed Uzun, a Kurd, persecuted by Turkey because he stood up for Kurdish language rights.
We’re close. It’s not so much the resolution but the level of public discourse raised by it, the brewing awareness of the Genocide in Turkey, and the geopolitical realities of our homeland’s region. We must keep fighting this battle. Make the argumen’s in the paragraphs above to your Representative, especially the ones two paragraphs above. Explain how it is an expression of American values to pass this bill. Even more important, get your friends and relatives, especially non-Armenia’s, who live in districts with scant or no Armenian population, to contact their members of Congress and advocate passage of 106. Perhaps for the first time, passage of the resolution has immediate salience to our long-term goals. Let’s do it– get on the phone and fire up your keyboard!

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