Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Armenian genocide vote losing to cynical calculations

It was a grand and appropriate gesture, befitting statesmen, by the US House of Representatives to officially dub the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as “genocide”. The US need not have made the first move on this, but it did it in line with its assumed role as a global leader, as a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, reality hit the House representatives, real hard. It is not the truth that prevails, even if it is a genocide. Usually it are the hard, cynical ground realities that win.

Turkey understood that well when it warned the US that its special relationship with Turkey was at stake if the resolution was passed. That would mean loss of Turkish logistical support for the US war in Iraq. That could also mean that Turkey would go ahead, despite pleas for restraint from the US, and invade Iraq to flush out its Kurd rebels.

Worried about antagonizing Turkish leaders, House members from both parties have begun to withdraw their support from a resolution backed by the Democratic leadership that would condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago, reports The New York Times.

Earlier President George Bush had asked the House to reconsider passing the resolution, because of its repercussions on relations with Turkey.

A brave effort by the House seems now doomed. Bush seems to understand global realities and play them better than the House representatives. The US does not have the moral leadership of the world, nor should it try to adopt that posture.

In the months to come, the US will bluff and bluster, rant at Russian and Iran, say it is promoting democracy, justice and freedom around the world. But as the folks in the White House already know, this is only propaganda. The folks in the House were naïve enough to take it seriously, and tried to be genuine promoters of good causes around the world.

Turkey has promised to turn over documents and support a conference to determine whether there was a genocide of Armenians. That conference would take years to convene, and maybe years to arrive at any conclusion. But it may now provide the House of Representatives a fig-leaf of an excuse to get out of the embarrassment their idealism got them into.

Related articles:
The Armenian genocide, and Turkish denials

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