A proposed House resolution that would label as "genocide" the deaths of Armenians more than 90 years ago during the Ottoman Empire has won the support of a majority of House members, unleashing a lobbying blitz by the Bush administration and other opponents who say it would greatly harm relations with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq war.
All eight living former secretaries of state have signed a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning that the nonbinding resolution "would endanger our national security interests." Three former defense secretaries, in their own letter, said Turkey probably would cut off U.S. access to a critical air base. The government of Turkey is spending more than $300,000 a month on communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former House speaker Bob Livingston, to defeat the initiative.
How are things with Turkey right now exactly?
Turkey's ruling party decided Tuesday to seek parliamentary approval for an offensive against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, a move that could open a new front in the Iraq war and disrupt one of that nation's few relatively peaceful areas.
Some make the argument that such a resolution will only strain relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which denies that the genocide was in anyway systematically instigated or conducted by Turkish officials. For my part I say, if not now, then when? When Turkey is no longer a valuable ally to us in a region which is of prime national security importance to us? When exactly would that be?
Genocide is genocide, and Turkish official policy is still to deny that such genocide took place. This is inexcusable a century years after the event, after we've seen fit to condemn the Nazi Holocaust over and over. A resolution is only a resolution, and it will change neither what happened nor the modern Turkish response to it. But it will indicate our displeasure with nations that attempt to rewrite their history out of nationalist pride, embarrassment, or shame. History should be left to historians, but nations should be willing to stand in moral judgment of each other when circumstances warrant. Until Turkey is willing to accept the full scale of what happened, they should not expect the citizens of the United States in the form of their representatives in Congress, to standy idly by, silent.