State Department’s Panic over Genocide Bill Shortsighted

WikiLeaks dropped a torve of documents on Turkey

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

“Any U.S. determination of the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ would set off a political firestorm in Turkey, and the effect on our bilateral relationship – including political, military, and commercial aspects – would be devastating,” a cable recently released by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks quotes the US Ambassador to Turkey as saying in 2010.

In the same cable, while then US Ambassador James Jeffrey criticizes Turkey’s preconditioning of a Karabakh conflict resolution to its ratification of the Turkey-Armenia protocols, he insists that future relations with Armenia will be linked to the Genocide issue.

In reviewing a recent trove of documents released by WikiLeaks, it appears that US officials in Turkey, and subsequently the State Department, had fallen prey to the Turkish denial machine and pursue a shortsighted effort of continuously warning Washington about the negative impact of a Genocide resolution on US-Turkey relations.

Earlier this month, Asbarez reported on another cable, dated January 2010, quoting US Ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey as saying that the fate of the Turkey-Armenia protocols will have the most “profound effect” on the Turkey-US relations.

In a cable dated August 2009, the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Doug Silliman says: “The number one threat to U.S.-Turkish bilateral relations is if the USG [US government] or Congress were to endorse a resolution labeling the World War I Armenian tragedy a genocide.” The cable is what is called a “scenesetter” prior to a scheduled visit by former Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) to Turkey. In it Silliman advises the Wexler, who chaired the US-Turkey Congressional Caucus before resigning in 2009, that “Turkey’s best defense against a resolution would be to normalize relations with Armenia as soon as possible.”

Immediately after the 2006 mid-term elections, when Democrats seized power in Congress, then US Ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, wrote to warn the State Department that “there is rising concern here that the U.S. Congress will approve an Armenian genocide resolution for the first time in 2007. This would have a deleterious effect on our relations, and could endanger support Turkey provides for our efforts in Iraq.”

“In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. midterm election, Turks started to raise with Embassy officials questions regarding the possibility of a sense of the Congress resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. This remains a neuralgic issue in Turkey,” Wilson told the State Department in the cable dated November 6, 2006 in preparation for the arrival of the Connecticut Republican Rep. Chris Shays’ delegation to Turkey.

“When a similar resolution nearly made it to the House floor in November 2000, when U.S.-Turkish relations were on excellent footing, their Ambassador had his bags packed, ready to leave; other sanctions were under consideration. When the lower house of the French parliament passed a law in October that would criminalize denial of an Armenian Genocide, reaction in Ankara was strong, though measured. While the bill has yet to become law, Turkish-French bilateral mil-mil relations are currently frozen and trade has suffered,” warned Wilson.

“We believe reaction to a U.S. Congressional resolution would be considerably stronger. In an election year — 2007 features both presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey — with nationalist feelings running high, reaction likely would be swift and retaliatory, despite our efforts over the past 18 months to put our bilateral relationship back on even footing. Examples of actions that would damage our regional priorities: We could be denied use of Incirlik Air Base, which currently serves as a hub to move close to 60% of air cargo to Coalition forces in Iraq. Habur Gate on the Turkey-Iraq border is also a key transit point for sustainment fuel for our troops, as well as for Iraq in general. Any slowdown or cut-off there would hurt U.S. warfighters in Iraq,” added Wilson in the 2006 cable.

A similar alarm was sounded on August 8, 2007 by the then Deputy Chief of Mission to the US Embassy in Ankara, Nancy McEldowney.

“House passage of an Armenian genocide resolution would likely jeopardize U.S. national security interests in Turkey and Iraq, complicate the security environment for U.S. citizens and USG [US Government] personnel, and work against those in Turkey calling for open discussion on the tragedies of 1915,” McEldowney asserted.

“The USG [US Government] has worked hard to encourage a candid discussion in Turkey of the tragedy suffered by ethnic Armenians during World War I. The Turkish and Armenian governments have discussed establishing joint commissions of academics and historians to establish the facts, in parallel with efforts to establish official bilateral relations. The January 2007 murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has contributed to growing calls for changes to Penal Code Article 301, which criminalizes insulting ‘Turkishness,’ and stifles Turks, ability to discuss fully the events of 1915. A U.S. Congressional resolution labeling this tragedy a ‘genocide’ would trigger an intensely negative and nationalist response, and would work against those in Turkey calling for a comprehensive review of the events and for normalizing bilateral relations with Armenia,” claimed the Embassy official, adding “A resolution would also have negative consequences for U.S. national security interests in Iraq and elsewhere.”

The most glaring example of this State Dept. paranoia and kowtowing to Turkish denialist rhetoric comes in a cable by then US Ambassador Ross Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the October 10, 2007 passage of the Genocide Resolution by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

After briefing the State Department about the reaction in Turkey and official government statements and response, Wilson reported: “As of 1300 local October 11, there has been no change that we can determine in the Turkish Armed Forces’ security posture in southeastern Turkey, which continues at a high counter-terrorism ops tempo.”

In a blatant expression of cowardice Wilson said: “The long holiday weekend will temporarily lower our profile.”

It appears that successive US representatives in Turkey have become the harbingers of their host country’s propaganda, rather than the true defenders of the democracy, human rights and justice, for which the US stands.

In recent hearings the latest nominee for the US Ambassadorial post in Turkey,  Francis Ricciardone, has demonstrated that the same pattern still continues. We have also seen the same in Azerbaijan, where the US Ambassador there, Matthew Bryza, acts more like an Aliyev advisor than a US envoy.

If only Armenia were so lucky to get a US Ambassador who represents the historical truth and does not parrot a shortsighted US State Department policy.

It had one, but he got fired when he spoke the truth!

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21 Comments

  1. Krikor Sarkissian said:

    My government (US) has lost it’s moral leadership in the world.Sad very sad and unethical !

  2. manooshag said:

    Hence, over years,Turks have led Americans of the USA State Department to choose to be with the Turks lies on the issue of Genocide. Actually, Turkish Genocide of the Christian Armenian nation… wherein Turks eliminated and disposed of millions of Armenians either through slaughters, tortures, rapes, starvation, kidnappings and worse. Victims whose families were eliminated, victims who lived with the horrors of the Turk marches to the desert… where most were left to die.
    The shame of this segment of the American government’s position – ignoring the inhumanity of the known evidences of the Turkish deliberate eliminations to steal the nation via eliminating its citizens! Thus, ignored even as was addressed by the State Departments own Ambassador Henry Morgenthau. Too, via the New York Times in the years of the slaughtering of a whole nation. Too, formation of the Near East Foundation as American citizens offered aid to Armenian victims… American citizens thus addressed this crime against humanity… For shame as those within our USA government who, for various diverse and inhumane reasons ignored these crimes of Turks… ever addressed as the deliberate killings and violations of the Christian peoples of Armenia, also of Greece, Assyrians, Pontics, and more. (More recently, the removal of Ambassador Evans who mentioned the Turkish decimation of the Armenians…
    IMAGINE… an American citizen, not allowed to mention the Turkish Genocide had occurred!!
    These actions of the USA State Department are as if those of uneducated and ill informed who hold office in the USA State Department – knowing but, for some convoluted thinking ignores – still today – the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation – now nearly 100 years. Leaders in the USA government kow tows to a criminal nation, Obviouly, too, a wonder that the USA State Department tolerates the Turkish acts AGAINST the USA… constant/unceasingly daring… “IN YOUR FACE TO THE USA GOVERMENT” and “IN YOUR FACE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE” brazenly and openly – assert their abuses to our nation, to our leaderships… What is a Turkey holding over the government of the USA that permits the Turk to act so obscenely against the greatest republic the world has known… WHY?
    Over years the Turks insisted that Turks were the best allies to the USA, whereas, TRUTH: Turks would not/could not admit that it was the USA who was the best ally TO Turkeys.,, who abuse the alliance shamefully. USA leaderships tolerate Turkeys flagrant acts EVEN IN THE USA…WITHIN WASHINGTON DC, – IN YOUR FACE – TO AMERICAN CITIZENS… TO THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.
    Currently there is issue of the Congresswoman Schmidt, wherein Turks have provided her with ONE HALF MILLION DOLLARS ($500,000). She claims these monies were accepted via her attorneys and she is, supposedly, seekS ways to return it to the Turks… RETURN THESE MONIES TO TURKS!!!!! WHO ENDEAVORED TO ‘PAY OFF’ A MEMBER OF THE USA CONGRESS!!! WHAT NEXT TURKEY??

  3. The Truth said:

    as we can see Turkish administration has at least twice skillfully mislead the Armenia ‎‎/Armenian presidents , in order to have “something in the hand” – simply something – which would able Turkey ‎and White House (too) to fight Armenian Genocide resolution in US Congress..

    1)In 2005: http://news.am/eng/news/71946.html
    2) Armenian-Turkish protocols

    ‎ No doubt: Armenia should think of national interest of Armenian but nevertheless, some ‎international powers jointly with Turkey have put traps for Armenian administration …by ‎giving empty promises Armenia is being made part of the ugly and immoral „policy of ‎killing Armenian resolution in US Congress” and so on !‎

    Why should a country like Germany or even US be interested in official recognition ‎Armenian Genocide? We all know that a country like Germany would be the last to recognize ‎the Armenian genocide officials, given the share responsibility of German Empire … and US ‎is using differently the territories of West Armenia ‎

    • Դրօ said:

      Germany has recognized the Armenian Genocide. The Germans even made a documentary about it and a very good one. It’s called, “Aghet – Ein Völkermord” (Aghet – A Genocide). It has English subtitles. Watch it.

      • The Truth said:

        @Դրօ ,
        Germany is playing a double game- Germany is refusing still to call a genocide by its real ‎name and official Germany is cooperating ( partially in secret) with Turkish government and ‎official Germany is happy that Turkey is denying the Armenian Genocide ! We all know that ‎official German is against the opening of archives of German Banks … Official Germany ‎should act in the same way as is German Empire did help Turks to get Armenian territories ‎without Armenians. Therefore Germany should help Armenia people to put an end to denial ‎policy of Turkey instead allowing Turkey and Azerbaijani group to make dirty propaganda ‎against NKR!. The government of Germany should be the first to demand from Turkey to ‎recognize Armenian Genocide but instead official Germany is hiding skillfully behind Turkey ‎and if this not possible Germany is looking to US! WORSE: Germany is even one of this ‎countries in EU which shows in hidden understanding for the close Turkish-Armenian borders ‎by agreeing a solution to NKR issue, will make for Turkey easier to open the borders ‎

  4. Parsik said:

    You Armenians are so shortsighted and naive in politics, I sometimes wonder how in the world you have survived in a rough disposition you are destined to be in!
    You could never grasp and digest the bitter taste of geopolitical realities that USA for the sake of his own national intrerest will never and ever sell Turkey to a small and depopulating and resource-free country like Armenia.

    Wake up and drink some coffee and come up to your senses, there are other ways for Armenians to reach their historical rights on Western Armenian lost lands, as Khrimian Hayrik found out a century ago, never put your hopes and anticipations on supposingly civlilized and Christian West for attaining Armenian interests!

    • Arto said:

      I agree with you. But how did the US sell itself to a small and depopulating resource-free country like Israel in the face of 300 million Arabs?

    • Edward Demian said:

      Yes Barsik
      We have been short sited and not assessed our natural resources properly. We do have a natural resource which is very plentiful, but which we have not taken advantage of more effectively. That is H2O. The stuff of life. We have been foolishly allowing it to just flow away after we just used a little bit of it domestically. But when you mentioned natural resources, you caused me to ponder the predicament. And then I realized that water is a natural resource, an element as real and tangible as Iron, or silver or oil. Thank you for the inspiration. NK (Artzach) is now richer than Azerbaijian.

  5. Hovo said:

    My biggest disappointment of the US government in the Armenia-Turkey genocide approach is that what the US presents as excuses are LIES. The US government is even lying to itself besides the people of the United States and the world. And the lie is? That we need Turkey!??? No we do not need Turkey, Turkey needs the US and Europe, and very badly at that. I wonder how will Turkey pay the US when the bill is presented to them how they got saved from the Soviet Union? By this fact alone, the US OWNS Turkey! All these “oh Turkey won’t allow the US deployment from its territories” is all a bunch of show. If the US really needed to it will ORDER Turkey, not ask, and there isn’t a damn thing Turkey could do about that. The reason that Turkey is getting away with murder is not that they are smart, the reason is that in the US government there has a bunch of SPINELESS COWARDS and ENEMIES OF HUMANITY currently running the show. Armenians will only get someplace when these pseudo-politicians are removed from their positions and replaced with real leaders.

    • manooshag said:

      Hovo, I agree. Clear the USA State Department of the influences of Jewish interests against ANY
      “OTHER” GENOCIDES- ESPECIALLY THE ONGOING/UNENDING GENOCIDE OF THE TURKISH LEADERSHIP (STILL OF THE OTTOMAN MENTALITY AND INTO ALL SUBSEQUENT TURK LEADERSHIPS INTO 2011)!! Even an Israel, into today, still bandying
      about in various committees, departments, et al…. STILL incapable of recognize the first Genocide of the 20th century!! If the nations who were party to the recognition of that Genocide of the Armenian nation, judged the Turks for their crimes, IMAGINE!! NONE OF THE GENOCIDES THAT FOLLOWED (ISRAEL JUST A GENERATION LATER) THEN ALL THE CYCLES OF GENOCIDES SHALL ENDED… EARLY – IN THE 20TH CENTURY!!

  6. Bubba said:

    Looks like the truth is slowly leaking out to the world and all of your ARF Armenian efforts to shore up the walls of 100 years of deceit, distortion and outright lies are staring to crumble right before your eyes! You seriously underestimated the Turkish and Turkic people and grossly overestimated yourselves! You didn’t count on the numerous ammunition which Armenians themselves provided Turks over the past 40 years (which have been slowly accumulating as evidence and will be presented in numerous courts throughout the world [when the time comes] and the media as massive PR campaigns using your own material)! Your position becomes more tenuious each day. Soon, we will see what the final outcome will be!

    • Basilius said:

      FInal outcome, huh? Or “Endlösung” in other terms? Souds a lot like it.

    • manooshag said:

      Bubba, why has a Turkey paid an American Congresswomen, Schmidt, one half millions of dollars ($500,000) to use against her own nation’s capitol in Washington DC…. what is a Turkey seeking from it so-called ally – enough to pay a Schmidt – to gain from within the halls of the congress of the USA?? Huh??

  7. Krikor said:

    I did not know that the Amrican forign policy is dictated from Ankara.
    What is human rights when it comes to political machinations.
    Where is the promisses made by Obama and Pelosi.
    Shame

  8. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    Turkey had been the sole beneficiary of the American policy of isolationism and the competition in the Western colonial powers to win them over, in the post World War-I era. Turkey was extremely lucky in that it attacked Russia during the Bolshevik revolution when the latter was in its weakest state. The budding Soviet Union during the 1920’s was desperately trying to win over their surrounding Muslim populations at any price.
    Those conditions no longer exist today in Turkey’s favor. The Western nations, indeed the entire world is familiar with the Islamic threat and the catastrophic atrocities they are capable of inflicting upon everyone. They now are aware of the necessity to neutralize the Islamic nemesis.
    What should have happened in the second half of the 1800’s when Russia was about to liberate the eastern half and the Western third of Turkey, until it got thwarted by the Western powers, may very well happen now if Turkey continues moving in its anti-Western, pro-Islamic ways.

    Armenia will give the newly unified Western powers the legal/moral justification to reclaim the land from Trabzon to Giligia for Armenia and reclaim the western third of Turkey for Greece, as both have been the cradle of Western civilization. Turkey would end up occupying the area around Konya just a fifth of its current territories as their historical birthplace just as president Wilson had charted for them in 1918.

    • Ali said:

      …..and Turkey will happily give 4/5ths of its territory in a silver plate… with roses ….

    • Ali said:

      BTW… who was Woodrow Wilson ?… nobody gives a damn on what he thought or charted for a place a million miles from where he lived… he had no writ on Turkey to accept his proposal

  9. Tatul Sonentz-Papazian said:

    It is time to remember the great poet’s message… Just read the hidden message by reading the second letters of each line… therein lies our strength!

    TESTAMENT

    Look! A new light is ascending!
    Who brought this sun to our world?

    Gaze upon this golden star,
    Arriving through fire,
    Embracing the world, riding
    Before dawn, steeds of porphyry,
    Infusing light and ecstasy,
    Giving to the new world and men
    Lasting bliss and harmony.
    And who turned on this restless light,
    Opening the gates to the crimson blaze?
    Tell me, what hand set the fire
    To illuminate with flame-red flare and
    Spirit? Who set this diamond of a light
    Glowing with such glare in a
    Setting darkened with blight…?

    By being a bearer of life’s stress,
    Lowered to the depths of slavery –
    Running stream of wisdom in an
    Arid plain of insanity –
    How many years and centuries,
    In your long, long history,
    Clinging to the bare truth
    By sheer will, you bore witness…?

    Is there no river cresting along the
    Dark banks where our homeland was?
    Clamoring against serfdom,
    Ever flowing through endless time
    Passing through hideous darkness,
    It carried the seeds of this sunrise –
    Simmering visions of distant dreams
    Born on its waves for eons…
    Under the burden of an existence
    Singed by sorrow and strife, still
    A spirit alive, a stream aflame,
    Lighting a new crimson torch
    And hailing the coming triumph…

    Bygone embers are afire now,
    Nothing dampens our radiant spirit,
    Our shining star soars anew
    Bright as this world ablaze…
    Accept the sun – the only one
    For ages to come – and beyond…
    Always rising, always aloft,
    Clearing the skies of all tarnish,
    Beckoning us towards justice
    Scrubbed of all blemish and grime…
    It cautions us with fiery plumes,
    Signaling us to stand firm…
    Ever present, ever bright.
    Let it always remain in sight.

    Issued in fire and dazzling light,
    Steady hands should hold these scales
    Cradling the spirit of our insight,
    Lest it fumbles, dropped by us
    Into gaping, ghastly depths…
    A great page from our past of import,
    Stable and just as our people’s soul,
    The sturdy mainstay of wisdom’s court.

    ——————— Yeghishe Charents

    Translated by Tatul Sonentz

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