Corporate America Quietly Lobbying Against Genocide Bill



WASHINGTON (AP)–Corporate America typically hires lobbyists to pressure Congress on taxes and trade rules. But in an unusual — some say risky — move, five military contractors and an energy company have stepped into a fight over whether the U.S. should label Turkey’s slaughter of a million Armenians nearly a century ago as genocide.

The six companies have strong ties to Turkey, a key strategic ally of the U.S. in Mideast peace efforts and the fight against terrorism. None would state their position on the House resolution, but industry analysts and others said they likely lobbied against the measure to show support for Turkey, an important market for weapons and industrial products.

“They don’t want to be seen opposing a resolution that has a very evident human rights element,” said Rouben Adalian, director of the Armenian National Institute, a Washington research organization. “It would put them on the side of denying history and denying genocide.”

BAE Systems Inc., Goodrich Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Co., United Technologies Corp. and energy producer Chevron Corp. spent $14 million to lobby Congress in the first quarter of this year. Besides the genocide resolution, the companies lobbied on Pentagon spending, climate change, taxes and more.

United Technologies, which sells Sikorsky helicopters to Turkey, says it provided information to lawmakers “that helped round out their understanding of the international trade and national security interests involved.”

But businesses lobbying against the resolution are not being “good corporate citizens,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., its lead sponsor.

Lobbying on human rights issues comes with risks, said Gerry Keim, associate dean at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Several companies halted their efforts opposing restrictions on white minority-ruled South Africa in the 1980s when anti-apartheid activists applied pressure.

“Originally, they were concerned about markets in South Africa. Then they were concerned about markets here,” Keim said.

Other analysts say any public backlash against companies lobbying on the Armenia genocide resolution would be minimal because the firms serve governments, not individual consumers who could boycott their products.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not taken up the resolution and the Senate does not have a version. A spokeswoman for the House committee said its chairman has not decided when the resolution — or other pending bills — will be taken up as the House considers legislation on Pakistan, State Department funding and other matters.

1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered by the Ottoman Turkish government between 1915 and 1923 in what is recognized by historians and genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 21st century. Turkey vehemently denies its crime against the Armenian people, hiring multimillion dollar lobbying firms and former members of Congress to lobby against efforts to gain US reaffirmation of the  Genocide.

Turkey’s embassy in Washington did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

President Barack Obama, before visiting a World War II-era concentration camp in Germany earlier this month, said the world has an obligation to stop genocide, even when it’s inconvenient. His administration is working to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, he said.

While running for president, Obama promised to “recognize the Armenian Genocide” once in office, but he avoided the term during a speech in Turkey in April.

Putting the U.S. on record that the killings of Armenians 94 years ago was genocide gives credibility to the drive for international support to stop killings in Sudan, Schiff said.

But pressure on the six companies to avoid offending Turkey is intense.

Among the ventures between U.S. businesses and Turkey are a $3 billion contract from Northrop to a Turkish company to be a supplier for fighter jets. Goodrich Corp. and a Turkish firm agreed to a joint venture for maintenance and repair work on engine components. BAE Systems and a Turkish company jointly market and supply armored vehicles to the Turkish armed forces.

Chevron holds a stakes in a pipeline that crosses the country. Raytheon has agreed to sell to Turkey Stinger missile launcher systems valued at $34 million and is working to sell its missile defense systems.

Chevron said it lobbies on a range of interests, “including international issues that fall outside of a narrow energy policy focus.”

Representatives of the U.S. subsidiary of London-based BAE Systems PLC and Northrop referred questions to the Aerospace Industries Association. The trade group defended Turkey as a key U.S. ally and cited “large and growing commercial ties” between the two nations.

Raytheon and Goodrich did not respond to requests for comment.

Andrew Kzirian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee’s western region in Glendale, Calif., said backers of the resolution, which has been considered before, will not quit if it fails again.

“If you don’t call it out and call it for what it is, you have Darfur,” he said.


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  1. Manooshag said:

    Hye, each time I read of the Armenian Genocide the Turkish side is included: Turkey denies the deaths were Genocide, saying the number of casualties is inflated and was consequence of civil war. (The US apparently feels they must placate the Turks else the Turks will be ‘insulted’). As I see it the Turks tell the U.S. State Department JUMP and the U.S. State Department says HOW HIGH?

    Instead these articles shall include:
    Of the 50 states of the United States of America 42 states have recognized the Genocide of the Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Turks (and the all subsequent Turkish leaders, to date, in all their denials).

    Also, these articles shall include:
    Nations of the world, 20 have recognized the Genocide of the Armenian Christians as the first Genocide of the 20th Century, and recognize all the subsequent denials by Turkish leaders to date.

    Actually, as I see it, today, in the 21st Century, yet beginning in 20th Century, the Turkish leaders have been pursuing another Genocide, the second Genocide by Turkish governments – (not the Ottomans) the Genocide of their own Turkish citizenry, the Kurds.
    Darfur today, still. Who/when will be next?

    Actually, I had hoped that Barack Obama, our president, would in our American history books, be the leader who recognized Genocides. I hope President Obama would lead the fight, worldwide, for the cycle of Genocides to end….

  2. Manooshag said:

    I just concluded that if 42 of 50 states of the United States of America recognize the Genocide of the Armenian
    nation by the Ottoman Turks, (thus recognizing too, all the subsequent years of the Turkish leaders’ denials of the Armenian Genocide). Too, I find that of the citizenry of the United States of America, 85%, (eighty-five percent of our population) have spoken out morally against Genocides denied/committed, now Darfur and Kurds, thus are now speaking up against all Genocides committed in the past and Genocides yet to come……

    85%, voting for Congress persons and Senate persons. Morally, there is awareness that the time
    has come for civilized peoples not to tolerate despots whose agendas are killing innocents, terrorizing,
    slaughtering, raping, destroying homes/families. Survivors, left with vile memories – never forgotten….

    85% Morally. not politically. Morally, millions of our people have take their stance… The remaining eight states, have yet to join to end the cycle of Genocides, wherever/whenever. (Hawaii recently became the 42nd state to join (Obama’s birhplace).
    However, I do believe 85%, today, is large voting bloc against Genocides. Morally.