The U. S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution declaring the deaths of Armenians in the early 20th century genocide:
ISTANBUL, Oct. 11 — Turkey reacted angrily today to a House committee vote in Washington on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, calling the decision “unacceptable.”
In a rare and uncharacteristically strong condemnation, President Abdullah Gul criticized the vote by the House Foreign Relations Committee in a statement to the semi-official Anatolian News Agency, and warned that the decision could work against the United States.
“Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once more dismissed calls for common sense, and made an attempt to sacrifice big issues for minor domestic political games,” Mr. Gul said. “This is not a type of attitude that works to the benefit of, and suits, representatives of a great power like the Unites States of America. This unacceptable decision of the committee, like similar ones in the past, has no validity and is not worth of the respect of the Turkish people.”
Turkey is a member of NATO, bidding for EU membership, and, after Israel and the KSA, one of our closest allies in the Middle East, a region in which it’s not as though we had allies to burn. Turkey’s government has been quite secular for
more than nearly a century, which one would think is a quality to be cherished rather than spurned. Turkey has other bones to pick with us as well, in particular the use of Iraqi Kurdistan adjacent to Turkey as a base for incursions by Kurdish separatist guerrillas.
Why now? (asks Steven Taylor) I can hazard a guess. The largest concentrations of Armenians in the U. S. are in New York, Fresno, Los Angeles, and Detroit, all in states with electoral significance. I’d hazard a guess that U. S. Armenians, among which this matter has been a cause célèbre for a century, have been lobbying this issue like mad since November 2006.
I don’t know what the truth of the matter is. I do know that the official Turkish position is that many of the deaths were due to fighting among Armenians, some in fighting between Turks and Armenians, and that Armenians killed Turks, too. My suggestion: everybody should open up their archives. Let’s get to the bottom of the controversy.
In the meanwhile I don’t think that alienating Turkey makes a great deal of sense but I see it as just another step towards the U. S. isolating itself from the rest of the world. One country at a time, guys. One country at a time.