The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

By Skeptik Sininkian

What would Americans think of a world leader who–years from now–during a visit to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan–placed a wreath on the grave of Ossama Bin Laden? I doubt that there would be a single person who would be able to justify the act–no matter how revered Bin Laden would be amongst his own die-hard–fanatical followers. Well–I know how I would feel–because last week–President Bush traveled to Turkey and in an amazing display of spinelessness–placed a wreath of flowers on the tomb of Mustafa Kemal–aka Ataturk–the father of modern Turkey.

What’s going to follow isn’t Republican bashing because I think Senator Bob Dole (retired Republican from Kansas) was one of the most intelligent–articulate–and pro-Armenian leaders we have ever had. And had I been writing a column back when President Clinton and Hillary visited Turkey–I would have had some choice words for those two bumpkins as well. I’ll give all the conservatives out there who read my column (all three of you) a few seconds to breathe into a paper bag a few times–and then we’ll move on.

Now–I was never amongst the die-hard supporters of Gov. George W. Bush when he was running for President. And after the whole Florida fiasco–I realized that this is one cat on which we needed to keep a very close eye. After all–the whole outcome of the 2000 election seemed a little too convenient–even if he had won by 5 or 500 votes. It just seemed strange. I also–never thought that Bush was a terribly bright person. He was a mediocre student who had his family give him everything on a silver platter. Now–even if you ARE a Bush supporter and can argue against these points until the cows come home–you can’t argue with the last point: President Bush is one of the most unintelligent Presidents we have ever allegedly elected.

How else do you explain him going to Istanbul (was Constantinople once) and kowtowing to the Turkey–a nation that refused to give Americans access to the northern front in Iraq and attempted to extort BILLIONS of dollars from the US in exchange for assistance they should have given to us at no cost. It makes me sick to my stomach to see an American President give so much attention to a thug nation like Turkey. Turkey has contributed nothing to American security in the last fifteen years. Our airbases that are located in Turkey are more beneficial to them than to us. And what good were those airbases during the Iraq war?

Yet Bush still praised Turkey and promised to push for its acceptance into the European Union (EU). Of course Bush expects Turkey to be accepted into the EU with him clearing the way; because that’s exactly how he has received everything he has been ever given in life–from education to employment–from major league baseball teams to his job in the White House. The same way Bush’s father pressured folks at Yale University to accept his mental midget son "Dubya" into one of the most prestigious academic institutions of the world–Baby Bush expects to pressure Europe’s elite to welcome a human rights abuser and economically irresponsible nation like Turkey–into one of the most elite nation clubs in the world.

Someone please tell me–what was Bush thinking? I know he doesn’t read newspapers for some ridiculous reason–but has no one in the State Department informed him that Turkey didn’t lift a finger to help during his pre-planned invasion of Iraq? Well–after reading briefings from White House officials–the answer is apparently "no."

I read part of press gaggle by a Senior Administration Official aboard Air Force One en route to Ankara–Turkey–and there were more than a few parts of the gaggle that made me want to gag. My favorite quote is the following:

What a gem of a quote. Picking this statement apart is easier than arm wrestling a five-year-old.

Turkey never worked out any "Europeanized" vision of itself especially one where they drew a separation of mosque and state. If anyone questions this–let them simply visit eastern Turkey–where as recently as October 2000–a 300 year-old Assyrian Orthodox Church was converted into a Mosque ("300 years old Church was converted to Mosque with one Petition," Kurdish Observer October 25–2000.) But if remaining "true to its own national traditions" means that Turkey has continued to oppress its minorities with draconian laws and regular massacres–than maybe this official has a point. I just don’t get it. If Turkey is such a model nation and such a great example of a secular democracy–then why are people always trying to sell Turkey to the rest of the world? Wouldn’t we see it for ourselves? When I read statemen’s like the aforementioned–I feel like I’m listening to a used car salesman give me his best pitch for a lemon–just hoping that the new paint job will distract me from the fact the heap of junk is missing tires and an engine.

Armenia’s–Greeks–Assyrians–Kurds–and all other minorities oppressed by the Turkish authorities–past or present–need to speak out against this outrage. How much longer will American tax payers need to foot the bill of millions of dollars of aid to Turkey and watch as they meddle with American interests. We need to take a page out of the history of Jewish American activism and ensure that Bush pays a political price for his misguided actions. In May 5–1985–after the late President Ronald Reagan visited a German military cemetery at Bitburg–where 49 of Adolf Hitler’s dreaded Waffen SS troops were buried–as a gesture of reconciliation–Jewish Americans jammed the White House phone lines with calls of protest.

After his political faux pas–Reagan felt such heat from Jewish Americans that he pushed for the adoption of the UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide in Congress–only a mere 37 years after it was adopted by everyone else in the world. Was West Germany any less of an ally during the Cold War than Turkey is in the Middle East Conflict? Exactly. So why is it that we–Americans–must take Bush’s faux pas sitting down? I don’t know about you–but I–for one–plan on voting this November and it’s not going to be for a Bush sequel or my name isn’t Skeptik.



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