Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Never Wrong To Do The Right Thing

I've commented from time to time on the Armenian genocide question, here, here, and most recently, here. The U.S. House of Representatives seems poised to vote on a resolution labeling the death of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that she plans to move ahead with the vote, here. In response to criticism that this would harm relations with Turkey, Pelosi observed:

"There's never been a good time," adding that it is important to pass the resolution now "because many of the survivors are very old. When I came to Congress 20 years ago, it wasn't the right time because of the Soviet Union. Then that fell, and then it wasn't the right time because of the Gulf War One. And then it wasn't the right time because of overflights of Iraq. And now it's not the right time because of Gulf War Two."

I've never put much stock in symbolic, empty, feel-good resolutions--the recent Congressional circus over the resolution (where our junior Texas senator was allowed to be ringleader) being a case in point. The Armenian genocide resolution is not of that nature, however, and the time is now or never, as the last remaining Armenian Genocide survivors are quickly passing on.

Predictably, President Bush is dead set against the resolution, maintaining his consistent policy of coming down foursquare on the wrong side of history. Comments by Republican leaders are appalling. Senator Mitch McConnell noted that "there's a genocide museum, actually, in Armenia to commemorate what happened," as if to ask, "What more do these people want?" Senator Lindsay Graham stated "I'm not worried about World War I. ... I'm worried about what I think is World War III, a war against extremists, and Iraq is the central battle front and Turkey has been a very good ally," as if our current mess in Iraq exists in some sort of ahistorical vacuum, totally unconnected to the consequences of World War I.

The Turks are recalling ambassadors, threatening and blustering. Their armed forces chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit noted--instructively--that "we could not explain this to our public." Probably not--particularly after almost 90 years of the Big Lie. I love Turkey, and have a genuine fondness for the country and the friends I have made there. But on this issue, they can, to put it in East Texas vernacular, go butt a stump. This resolution is the right thing to do, at the right time.

As one would expect, Daniel Larison monitors the situation in 4 recent posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Also, Spengler connects Turkey's current Kurdish problem with its unresolved Armenian genocide issue. I have never been as enthusiastic as some about Kurdistan, as noted here. This prejudice is based on their more than willing complicity in the Armenian genocide. As Spengler notes, "Turkey’s military leaders enlisted Kurdish tribes to do most of the actual killing in return for Armenian land. That is why Kurds dominate eastern Turkey, which used to be called, “Western Armenia”. It is not without irony, that as Spengler observes "the Armenian genocide, in short, gave rise to what today is Turkey's Kurdish problem."

And this behavior is not all ancient history, either. In the 1980s and 1990s, while the Turkish government looked the other way, Kurds in southeastern Turkey murdered and terrorized the Suriani Christian population of Mardin province. Most fled, and Kurds took possession of their businesses, homes and farms.

More from Spengler:

Nations have tragic flaws, just as do individuals. The task of the tragedian is to show how catastrophic occurrences arise from hidden faults rather than from random error. Turkish history is tragic: a fatal flaw in the national character set loose the 1915 genocide against the Armenians, as much as Macbeth’s ambition forced him to murder Banquo. Because the same flaw still torments the Turkish nation, and the tragedy has a sequel in the person of the Kurds, Turkey cannot face up to its century-old crime against the Armenians.

Shakespeare included the drunken Porter in Macbeth for comic relief; in the present version, the cognate role is played by US President George W Bush, who has begged Congress not to offend an important ally by stating the truth about what happened 100 years ago. The sorry spectacle of an American president begging Congress not to affirm what the whole civilized world knows to be true underlines the overall stupidity of US policy towards the Middle East.

It is particularly despicable for a Western nation to avert its eyes from a Muslim genocide against a Christian population.... It was not quite the same as Hitler’s genocide against the Jews, that is, the Turks did not propose to kill every ethnic Armenian everywhere in the world, but only those in Anatolia. But it was genocide, or the word has no meaning. To teach Turkish schoolchildren that more Turks than Armenians died in a “conflict” is a symptom of national hysteria. [and] touches upon a profound and well-justified insecurity in the Turkish national character.


Mimi said...

I appreciate your words as I've been torn. Thank you.

Milton Burton said...

Terry, I am basically in agreement with you on this question. But to me it is both a moral issue and an issue of historiography. And to me the notion of encouraging the U/S. Congress to make either historical or moral judgements makes about as much sense as handing a loaded .357 to a five year old. --