The Turkish/US Crisis

Mapturkey "Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday relations between Turkey and the United States are in danger over a resolution branding as genocide massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One.

Referring to ties with the United States and the Armenian bill, Erdogan, with a Turkish idiom used to describe relations, said: "Where the rope is worn thin, may it break off."

The crowd of supporters broke into applause.

Ankara is a crucial ally in the region for Washington, which relies on Turkey as a logistical base for the war in Iraq. But U.S. popularity has hit rock bottom in Turkey because of the war and perceptions that the United States is failing to stop Turkish Kurdish rebels using north Iraq as a base from which to attack Turkey.

"This is as much about domestic politics in Turkey as it is in the United States," Turkish commentator Semih Idiz said."  Reuters


The present Republic of Turkey was founded in the ’20s as a specific repudiation of the policies and practices of the Ottoman Empire.  That empire was a multi-cultural, multi-national conglomeration welded together by the Ottoman Turks out of the wreckage of the previous multi-cultural and multi-national empire that had existed on the same ground.  That was the Eastern Roman Empire usually known as the Byzantine Empire.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former Ottoman officer created modern Turkey to form a "homeland" for the Turkish speakers of the Ottoman state.  The victorious Allied powers seem to have intended to carve Anatolia and Thrace up into colonial enclaves just as they carved up the Mesopotamian and Levantine parts of the Ottoman state.  Ataturk prevented that by raising a nationalist army and using it to drive Greek and other Allied forces out of what is now Turkey.  The republic that he formed said that all its residents were Turks, and insisted on that identity.  Most of the inhabitants of the new Turkey were ethnic Turks, but there were enough Greeks and Kurds (in the east) to cause a permanent problem.  Most of the Greeks left under an exchange of populations agreement with Greek Prime minister Venizelos, but the Kurdish problem lingers on to bedevil the Turkish state.  American sponsorship of near independence for the Iraqi Kurdish north has created an opportunity for anti-Turkish Kurdish guerrilla action against Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.  The Turks are understandably unhappy about this and are likely to enter Iraqi Kurdistan to suppress the Kurdish PKK guerrillas.  There is little that the US can do that will dissuade the Turks from this any more than the US could be dissuaded from entering Mexico if Mexican guerrillas were conducting analogous raids in the Southwestern US.  Hmmm.  That sounds familiar.

Now we have the ludicrous spectacle of the House of Representatives voting "symbolically" to declare that the genocide conducted under the rule of the Ottoman "Young Turk" government nearly a hundred years ago was what everyone knows it was (probably today’s Turks most of all).  For today’s Turks this was a crime committed by a government that no longer exists, a government that their present republic itself specifically rejected in its foundation documents.  The Turks are not of a mind to accept the responsibility for this crime.  They believe, correctly I think, that if they accept the term "genocide" applied to this crime, then the Republic of Turkey will become a target of increasing demands including reparations.  The Germans of today may want to do penance over the Holocaust but the Armenian Genocide is not something that Turkey accepts as its fault.

Practical effect?  Most supply into Iraq goes in overland, but some portion goes in by air.  The airbase at Incirlik, Turkey (Adana) and the use of Turkish airspace are important to that flow of traffic.  There has also been some talk of late of using a land route through Turkey out of Iraq if necessary. 

Perhaps the "all politics is local" crowd in Congress should think about unintended consequences before it votes on bills.  pl

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81 Responses to The Turkish/US Crisis

  1. rjj says:

    Does anybody know the history of this initiative?
    Who recommended it? Karl Rove (via a cutout)? Bob Shrum?

  2. lina says:

    Ludicrous spectacle just about sums it up. And all this time I thought Bush/Cheney had cornered the market on short-sighted, feel-good belligerence. Looks like Ms. Pelosi can dance with the best of them. Nice job Madam Speaker.

  3. J. Kemp says:

    You have recently posted that NATO is an outdated organization, or something to that effect. Perhaps an unintended consequence of the genocide bill would be the loss of Turkey as a NATO member, or possibly the unraveling of NATO, with Turkey as the first thread. Your thoughts?
    Thank you.

  4. Vigilante says:

    How can Congress engage in holocaust denial just after lambasting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia?

  5. jonst says:

    I am out of my mind with regard to this lunacy. However, I will spare you, and the readers, the rant bubbling up inside about the Congress. And Americans, in general. That WE, myself included, allow this kind of thing to go on.
    However, I was hoping that your readers, or you, if you have the time and inclination, would comment on something. Is the failure to rein in the Kurds conducting cross border raids in Turkey because, of some perverse reason/s, neither the US, nor the Kurdish ‘govt’wants to stop this kind of activity? Or is it a case of, for whatever reason/s, neither party is capable of stopping it? Or a bit of both?

  6. I enjoy your take on modern Turkish history. Well put.
    Having failed to reduce Bush’s war effort in any way, the majority vote in the US House of Representatives aims to show constituents some semblance of resistance to current policy, and this is what they have come up with: a “symbolic” line of needless antagonism that France approved last year. (Will we ban the veils next?) For me, this vote is a reminder of the same sort of righteous, dopey altruism that soothed enough consciences to get us embroiled in Iraq in the first place.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Bruce Wilder
    you need to come up with more than name calling. what makes you an expert on Turkish history?
    J. Kemp
    The end of NATO would not necessarily mean the end of the US/Turkish alliance, but this foolishness might. pl

  8. charlottemom says:

    Haven’t fully digested this issue, but am skeptical of this as mere mischief-making by the usual suspects (Lantos and his cohorts). Yet another wedge between between US, Iraq and Turkey. Oh, how can we make Iraq into more of a living hell? Increase regional chaos? Alienate the US even more?

  9. Yohan says:

    jonst, the Americans don’t have much of a presence along the northern border, we’re stretched enough as it is in the real hot spots. The deal that was signed recently between Iraq and Turkey that was supposed to defuse things was signed by Talabani’s Baghdad government, not Barzani’s Kurdish regional government who has the task of actually enforcing these issues on the ground, and who has an interest in inflaming Kurdish nationalism to score local political points against Talabani. After all, the KDP-PUK rivalry has only been papered over and continues under the surface. So the Kurds are in a bind, they can appease the hated Turks by attacking their brothers or they can let things continue and risk invasion.
    All three actors, the Turks, Americans, and Kurds, are acting emotionally and none will allow themselves to lose face by climbing down and so all will enter into disastrous policies.

  10. Yohan says:

    It is amusing to see US diplomats trying to justify their calls for Turkish restraint in the face of the precedents set by our own invasion of Iraq and by our cheerleading of Israel’s adventure in Lebanon under exactly the same circumstances that caused the current crisis along the Turkish border. Clearly, American officials have no sense of irony:
    “‘If [the Turks] have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go,’ said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.”
    It seems likely to me, though, that a Turkish adventure in the mountains of northern Iraq will turn out much the same as Israel’s adventure in the mountains of southern Lebanon…

  11. kim says:
    nancy said it’s been raised and set aside because of “poor timing” for twenty years. my (occasionally imperfect) memory says at least that long.
    has anyone here read the full resolution, or are we just going along w what the mainstream disinformation squad is telling us?

  12. mike says:

    Mr Wilder
    There was nothing incorrect or innaccurate about Col. Lang’s brief summary of Turkish history since 1918. Nor did anything he wrote merit the description “polemic”.
    To all:
    Most countries have shameful episodes somewhere back in their history to be found if searched for carefully enough. The Armenian genocide was only two or so decades after the “Battle ” of Wounded Knee – the final sad episode of a century of effective genocide of native Americans in the USA. And a mere seven decades after the UK’s guilt for the million deaths in the Irish Potato Famine. Portugal, Holland, France, the UK, Spain and the US are all guilty of participation in the transatlantic slave trade. One could go on and on and on dredging up such miserable and shameful episodes. But what is the point? The Turkish Armenian episode was nearly a hundred years ago. Surely it should be forgotten. What value is there in the American Congress self-righteously raking up the matter of the massacres? Let us all remember – “He that is without blame among you may cast the first stone” and “Cast not the mote out of your neighbour’s eye until you have cast out the beam from your own”

  13. Charles says:

    I think the analysis of Turkish responsibility is simplistic.
    Two historical precedents of mass murder are Germany under Hitler and the USSR under Stalin. Both Germany and the USSR subsequently were divided (though Germany is of course now reunited). Partition did not absolve either the German or the Russian people of historical responsibility, nor does it absolve the Turks.
    What can be said is that most nations have, at one time or another, committed genocide. The US has never fully dealt with its past–nor its present.
    The genocide resolution was ill-advised because the US has no moral authority and therefore no chance of persuading the Turks to review their own history. All it accomplishes is to divide our nations from one another. But I can’t accept the argument that, absent other measures of reconciliation, a change of government results in absolution.

  14. Steve says:

    The current theme of this thread makes the words of President George Washington in his farewell address, the more haunting as we evaluate past and present entanglements with nations that compromise our abiltiy to look the moral compass directly in the eye. Empire exacts a high price on the soul of the nation, while at the same time pushing truth and justice to the wings, and only allowing them to appear on the stage when it is safe to do so.

  15. CSTAR says:

    Gosh, I thought the possibilities would be limitless. Just think of all the historical injustices we could rectify. Maybe we could begin with the forced conversion/expulsion of the Moors and Jews from Spain.
    CSTAR (a.k.a. “El Catalan”)
    PS apropos mexican incursions, how do you say “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” in turkish?

  16. China Hand says:

    Col. Lang, I thought your summary was well put — accurate and to the point.
    The Armenian genocide was a tragedy, but one that belonged to a different era.
    Turks are sensitive to that distinction; most others aren’t.
    The unspoken portion of what you said is that Turks are also Muslims, and — like most Muslim cultures today — feel like Western media and political propaganda have put them in a desperate place.
    Meanwhile, there are lots of people out there — me, for one — who would, on point of principle, like to see greater justice for the Armenians.
    Yet I am not so foolish to think that this opportunistic move by the U.S. Congress in any way served my own goals (i.e. — furthering an international respect for human rights).
    The biblical maxim “Speak not of the mote in your neighbors’ eye ’til you have tended the beam in your own” is apropos.
    Only when our people have dealt honorably with the shame of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, the entire Iraq atrocity, and the rapidly approaching Iran and Oil crises will we have the requisite moral capital to even consider such a declaration.
    As things are, this spectacle was the height of hypocrisy and only worked to confirm Muslims’ worst estimations of the U.S.
    And meanwhile, AIPAC romps happily towards a war with Iran.

  17. Duncan Kinder says:

    Much of the thrust of this thread is – appropriately – directed to the implications a
    potential US / Turkey rift might have upon Iraq and related topics.
    However, it also would have implications upon Central Asia, Caspian Oil, Russian energy ambitions, and similar topics.
    Much of the population of Central Asia is Turkic, so Turkey enjoys high prestige and influence amongst those peoples and in that region. Also, many of the current efforts to counteract / undermine / bypass Russian influence and control in that area – particularly its stranglehold on pipelines to the West, involve alternative pipelines through Turkey.
    A Turkish / US rift would undermine these pipeline and other Central Asian efforts.
    It would be interesting to track Turkish / Russian relations to see if a Turkish / US rift is matched by a Turkish / Russian rapprochement.

  18. Mad Dogs says:

    In this instance, it seems that Congress is playing a game of: “Who’s more stupid? We are!”

  19. avedis says:

    Col. Lang,
    As an American citizen who has served this country as did my grandfather (WW1), father (WW2) and son and daughter currently (Army and Navy respectively) and as one who is concerned first and foremost with the interests of this country, I must agree with your perspective.
    That being said, the Armenian in me – my paternal grandfather and grandmother barely escaped the Turkish slaughter and lost most of their family in it – cannot help but feel a deep cynicism and saddness upon hearing remarks such as yours – and thre aree many others – that a genocide should be overlooked for political expediency.
    Sure, the present Turks are not the ones that did the killing, but neither are the present Germans responsible for the Holocaust. What if the government of Germany went into Holocaust denial mode? What about what “Vigilante” commented above?
    Right is right and truth is truth. And these are the values this country is supposed to stand for.
    What you are advocating seems like a slippery slope to me. Perhaps it is the “logical” move considering the costs and benefits given the US’ current situation. Perhaps sometimes “heart” is more salient than cold logic.
    I just think we should be cautious about the choices we make and the image we project to the world. If the bill fails due to Turkish pressure, then we certainly have opened ourselves up to appearing to be opportunists and holders of double standards.

  20. J says:

    in the wapo:
    Premier Says Turkey Is Ready For Split With U.S. Over Kurds

  21. Will says:

    The Treasure of Sierra Madre written by a German author “We don’t need to SHOW any stinking badges.”
    The Armenian Holocaust is driven by local politics. They have been working on it a long time. And finally they have the votes. AIPAC has long opposed it b/c it would harm Turkish/Israel relations. Foxman just did a 180 degrees on it.
    Why not, another boil that need to lanced. The Palestinian Nabka would be next. The Shoah is exploited to such a degree it’s a cottage industry.
    “Foxman Blinks On Armenian Genocide
    Under fire, ADL reverses course and now calls Armenian killings a genocide.
    Ben Harris – JTA ”

  22. avedis says:

    “in the wapo:
    Premier Says Turkey Is Ready For Split With U.S. Over Kurds”
    A couple of final comments on this subject from me as I have given it a little more thought.
    First, concerning the above quote (and link) posted by “J”, my thought is, “Yes. Exactly.”
    Just how solid of an ally is Turkey anyway?
    Recall the jump off of the Iraq invasion. They didn’t do us any favors there, but they still get all sorts of $ and mil tech from us. They successfully punk out our Executive branch and half of Congress on the Armenian resolution bill. They now threaten us again over the Kurdish issue…….is this how friends reciprocate?
    Where will it stop?
    For the Turks, the reaction to the Armenian bill seems to be a red herring designed to test the boundries of our symbiosis.
    It would appear that the Turks are finding US character to be nervous and soft. They are leading us around by the nose. They will do it more so now.
    At bottom, if the Turks are willing to break off relations over the Armenian bill, they they would be willing to break off relations over just about anything. That makes them an untrustworthy and a dangerous “ally”. They can’t be counted on in a crisis.
    Next……Many here seem to believe that the Armenian genocide was almost a hundred years ago and therefore doesn’t matter anymore. It’s irrelevant.
    I am deeply suspicious of a country that refuses to ackowledge massive atrocities its people have committed; even if somewhat historical.
    But more to the point, can someone here suggest a cut off point after which genocides don’t have to be recognized. Apparently 90 years is passed that point. We still hear so much about what the Jews went through in the 1940s. So it would seem that somewhere between 60 and 90 years is ok? Can we expect that by, say, year 2015 we can stop with all those Diary of Ann Frank shows, Holocaust memorials, etc?

  23. kim says:

    so, i read both resolutions, house and senate. they’re easy. they cite broad support. if i’m reading correctly (happens sometimes)they’re not blaming the current turkish state for the genocide, but are holding it accountable (with mention of other, unnamed, nations) for a failure to enforce penalty/punishment on ottoman officials who were convicted of leading the genocide.
    big secret:this issue ain’t goin’ away. might as well deal with it now, not wait a couple more years when it’ll be even more “poor timing”.
    a functioning administration would be on this w real diplomacy, working with the turkish government and w congress. working with, not threatening and blaming.
    imo. informed corrections appreciated.

  24. eaken says:

    Two interesting pieces from the recent plast:
    Video clip from BBC RE Israel/Kurdish relationship
    Take this with a grain of debka salt, but nevertheless interesting:

  25. J says:

    for those who are not familiar with the turkish-armenian conflicts at the turn of the 20th century, here is a more indepth of what many call ‘the forgotten’:

  26. Syndroma says:

    Charles, “Partition did not absolve either the German or the Russian people of historical responsibility”
    In the case of USSR it’s more complex. Why blame Russian people for the deeds of Stalin? Why not Georgians? Isn’t blaming Russians looks like blaming the victim?
    In a general case, who bears historical responsibility for genocide? Goverment which ordered it, people who committed it? Goverments fall, peoples partition.
    Maybe just “according to your deeds I will judge you”?

  27. Kunu-ri says:

    A fair and equitable solution of Turkish-Armenian problems are of much practical interest of the modern Armenian nation and Republic of Turkey. It is possible, in 1993 there has been secret negotiations between Nationalist leader of MHP, Turkes and pragmatic leader of then president of Armenia, Pedrosian to make peace, right in the middle of war between the new nation of Armenia and Azerbeijan. Turkish regognition of Genocide in return for Armenian guarantee not to pursue reparations and land demand. These were simple, easily manageable compromises to address sensibilities on both sides. In fact, a monument was proposed and accepted on the border with the inscription “ We are sorry” in Armenian and Turkish, facing the opposite sites. Unfortunately Turkes died before agreement was reached and Pedrosian sidelined by another faction less inclined to put practical considerations over the political ones.
    Each time the Genocide issue comes to the fore, extremists on both sides benefit, and Turks and Armenians who have most to lose, suffer, especially those who live in the region. While the issue is one of morality and fairness in California, it is one of bread and butter in Kars and Yerevan. If Turkey admits to Genocide, which they never would, how would that change the conditions in the border between Turkey and Armenia? Which Turkish politician will have the courage to suggest to open the border, resume normal trade relations with Armenia and enter a period of rapprochement with Armenia, now that the historical wrongs have been righted? Who would be able to guarantee, say, that there would not be indictment from Hague to prosecute Turkish Government officials for crimes against humanity? Demands for reparations? Return of Kars and Mt. Ararat to Armenia? Does anyone think Turks will ever accept this? Does anyone think that Armenian Diaspora would call it a day after the passage of Genocide amendment and go home? Does anyone know the position of current living Armenians in Turkey on the subject? And unfortunately, on both sides, all-or-nothing types are in majority regardless of the consequences for those living today, and it will remains so as long as Turks refuse to emphasize with the Armenians trauma, and Armenians refusal to heed the Turks’ national sensibilities and near past.

  28. jonst says:

    Well, I don’t know about the soldiers and marines there now, but back in my time, when I was in the Corps, I would consider this a rather abstract exercise by Congress. At a time my ass was on the line in a rather tangible manner. This particularly so given I would not be happy that my ass was there in the first place, because of an, ignoble,contributory role, played by Congress.
    Whether we have much of a presence, or not, on the border, it seems to me we have, potentially, a lot of leverage over the Kurds. If we are willing to use it. I would use it. Would it work in the end? Who knows? Would it cost us a well? Perhaps. I would still use it. I think the Kurds have something now they have not had for a while…..prosperity. All things relative. That makes people rethink what is in their interests and what is not.

  29. J. Rega says:

    No mention of Turkey’s status on entering the EU. A great deal of the current promise of the secularists is that European status would be given as reward for eradication of Turkey’s Ottoman (read Muslim) past and identity. Does anyone on these pages believe that there is any chance that a Europe in fear of losing its cultural identity will provide EU passports to Turks?
    The Turks to Europe are like the Palestinians to the Israelis, concession after concession is demanded with the promise of ‘more talks’ in the future. Meanwhile Turkey sits in identity Limbo – Muslim Turk or European Turk. Continual denial of the latter will result in the reemergence of the former – thin ropes indeed.

  30. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    I worked in the Senate of the United States for over a decade, including some years on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Mathias had a piece in Foreign Affairs some time back on the problem of ethnic lobbies:
    So I would make a few points:
    1.This is a good example of the problem of ethnic “lobbies” interfering with the conduct of US foreign policy and the damage they can do to the NATIONAL interest. Other such lobbies include the “Cuban” lobby, for example. These lobbies, for fund raising purposes, bend every effort to generate all manner of resolutions for Congress to pass. The lobby’s reps takes credit for the resolution and then ask their supporters for more money so more such “successes” can be wracked up. This money supports the offices and salaries of the ethnic lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere. Of course the politicians who succumb to the blandishments, pressure, and etc. are naturally rewarded with campaign contributions from grateful “ethnics”. [I guess “hyphenates” is not in the current pc lexicon.]
    2.The Armenian issue is a perennial and I recall working on it back in the 1980s. Naturally all sides are deeply concerned. The fact is that Congress –individual
    Senators and Representatives and Committees — about a century ago investigated the series of massacres of Christian Armenians which began in the late 19th century to 1915. I went back and read the Senate Foreign Relations hearings, and floor statements, of that era on the matter.
    3.The current Republic of Turkey was established in 1923. The massacres occurred prior during the reign of the brutal last sultan; the 1915 series were authorized by the “Young Turks.”
    4. The United States has had commercial relations with Turkey for over two centuries and diplomatic relations since the 1830s. President Jefferson appointed our first consul at Smyrna (Izmir) in 1802. Yankee traders (although British colonials at the time) are said to have called at Alexandretta (Iskenderun) as early as 1676. We had missionaries out there in the early 1800s engaged in educational activity and in contact with Christians in the region. They did NOT have a policy to “convert” Muslims by the way. They worked with local Armenian Christians, Bulgarian Christians, Maronites and etc.
    5. The United States, to advance our NATIONAL interests in the Eastern Med, had to navigate the dangerous waters of the “Eastern Question” the rivalry between European powers for dominance over the Ottomans. It is a fact that American naval engineers and shipbuilders in the 1830s created a new navy for the Turks after the Europeans devastated it.
    6. The United States and Turkey were NOT at war during WWI. Nor did the United States have any policy to carve up the Ottoman Empire as did Britain, France, and Russia. (Sykes Picot and all that). Hence, the US traditionally has enjoyed very good relations with Turkey and with the Turkish people.
    7. Turkey is a very important old friend and ally, irrespective of NATO which is unnecessary these days.
    8. Irrespective of what the “American” Armenian ethnic lobby may be angling for, it seems to me that Lantos and Ackermann want to use the resolution to exacerbate relations between the traditionally secular Turkish military and the rising Islamist social and political forces. Lantos and Ackermann are very astute players.

  31. Will says:

    A Turkish punitive strike against the PKK would be a waste of time, but a daring raid to capture the oil fields surrounding Kirkuk?
    It would drive a stake thru the heart of Kudristan. They may think w/ that kind of oil wealth, who needs the EU or the U.S.? But who would buy their oil?

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Obviously the Ottoman government intended and attempted genocide against the Armenian nation.
    I have to ask you, would you be equally engaged in this if it were not Armenia? There are many genocides in history.
    As you know there is an endless list of national crimes against humanity.
    How many more of these should we pass congressional resolutions about? How about Japan? The bestiality of the Japanese Army; in China, the Phillipines, Indo-China, with prisoners of war everywhere defines inhumanity. The Japanese have never really collectively acknowledged their criminality. The Army chaplain who baptised me was captured on Bataan and imprisoned on Luzon. He was a close friend of my father. The Japanese Army cut out his tongue to keep him from saying mass and then when he had recovered beheaded him. I want an apology and reparations from Japan for his death and all the other murdered Americans and Filipinos. Are you “in” for that one?

  33. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Does the resolution re: Armenian genocide adversely affect US military operations in Iraq? Does it place US troops in Iraq at a greater risk?
    If the answer is “yes”, then table the resolution, with the understanding that Congress will reconsider it at a later date.
    ‘Tis strange. In the executive branch, we have Wurmser and Cheney doing everything possible to launch a “low yield” strike on Iran that, in turn, will lead to an increase in US military deaths in Iraq as well as the increased possibility that Iranian and Shia milita will disrupt, if not sever, the Baghdad-Basra supply line.
    Now in Congress, we have resolution that will deeply effect supply routes or even exit routes via Turkey.
    One is left to ask: is the USG doing everything possible to destroy our nation’s youth?

  34. David J says:

    Daily Show:
    “If Congress had known the bill they had drafted would have real-world consequences, they’d never have let it get this far. The last thing this Congress wants is to do anything that might impact policy — or people — or things.”

  35. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In full disclosure, I should say that I lived in Turkey for years, and enjoyed the experience.
    Someone among you made the point to me that a mere change of government should not relieve a people of guilt for crimes collectively committed.
    I accept that.
    In Japan there was not even a change of government, but except for a few individuals like Homma and Yamashita and Tojo, post war Japan was not held to account for its crimes. Post war Germany was still Germany although it had different governments and the USSR was still the abomination that it was before; the Kulak massacres, the blood purges and the wholesale elimination of the Polish intelligentsia and officer corps.
    Turkey seems to me a different case. Turkish was the language of most people in the Ottoman Empire, but the empire itself was seen by its rulers as an ecumenical empire with a right to represent all Muslims, to rule the ‘umma in God’s name. The ruling class did not speak Turkish unless they were dealing with social inferiors. They spoke Osmanli, a language which evolved as a mixture of; Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, and French. That ruling class in government, business and religion were racially an amalgam of all the ethnic strands present in the empire to include the long held Balkan provinces. These people were routinely transferred around from one part of the whole to another. Anatolia was a major part of the empire but so were the Levant, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Thrace, the Arabian Peninsula, etc. There was an Ottoman parliament in Istanbul where delegates sat from all the places mentioned. The Sherif Hussein of Mecca was a prominent politician in that parliament. This was the great-grandfather of the present King Abdullah of Jordan.
    The Kemalist revolution that created Turkey changed all that. The state became nationalist rather than religiously based in nature. The new state sought to establish a regime that would acknowledge all those who had Anatolia and Thrace as a homeleand to be Turks with a common citizenship and a common national identity. Was that not a good idea? Do we prefer the ethno-religious community basis for society that we Americans have caused to be resurgent in Iraq?
    I think that the emergence of the Republic of Turkey was not a mere governmental change. The Republic of Turkey is a different country than the Ottoman Empire. Should that different country be condemned for the atrocities of the multi national and much larger Ottoman Empire? I think not. pl

  36. Matthew says:

    Col. or Clifford: Please explain Lantos’ supposed motivation contained in this statement:
    “8. Irrespective of what the “American” Armenian ethnic lobby may be angling for, it seems to me that Lantos and Ackermann want to use the resolution to exacerbate relations between the traditionally secular Turkish military and the rising Islamist social and political forces. Lantos and Ackermann are very astute players.”
    Why would Lantos want this?

  37. jonst says:

    “Who will buy their oil”. Are you trying to be humorous with that question?
    Just curious…you wrote: “- Muslim Turk or European Turk. Continual denial of the latter will result in the reemergence of the former – thin ropes indeed”
    So, in the end, what a people ‘are’, is determined by outsiders in a bureaucracy that did not exist fifty years ago. And may not exist (given some of the votes of the members states)50 years from now? Seems odd to me. Let Turkey be what Turks decide they want to be, would be my call.
    This is none of our business in the end. Pretty soon people will be passing resolutions condemning what we did to the Indian nation. Or the slaves issue. Maybe it will be the turn of the Belgians with regard to their acts in the Congo. Of course the people of the Congo have not come up with their AIPAC yet. I’m sure that is right around the corner.
    This kind of thing, as the Col noted, is endless. Endless. I am, frankly, astounded, gob struck, at how cavalier of an attitude Congress displays to both the interests of the nation, and the interests of our soldiers. This strikes me as near insanity.

  38. Kunu-ri says:

    Albayim, I am deeply impressed by the depth and wisdom of your last comment, both in its accuracy and insight. I have not seen anything like it in the MSM anywhere in years. Thanks in behalf of all Turks who are feeling betrayed and misunderstood for many decades now.

  39. Steve says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    Why did you leave out the Jewish lobby? It would seem that this lobby has more power than all the rest combined.

  40. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sağ olun.
    In Jordan they would say, “La shukr ala wajib.” I don’t know how to say that in Turkish. pl

  41. Duncan Kinder says:

    I agree that ethnic lobbies are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
    However, speaking as an Ivy League, Mayflower-descended, Brooks Brothers ( and Barbour! )-clothed WASP, let me state that the “special relationship” between the United States and England would be nowhere near so special if it were not for the WASP lobby.
    And, BTW, the royal family of Jordan actually is fancier than the British royal family and definitely much, much fancier than Princess Di.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As far as I know, the Ottoman Government was planning on prosecuting a number of Ottoman Military officers in connection with the Armenian massacres and dislocation. That activity ended with the Establishment of the Turkish Republic. The accused lived in Turkey with no action taken against them.
    The anti-Armenian policies were continued under the Turkish Republic, resulting in the periodic expulsions of Armenians from Turkish cities and the country side; part of the process of nation-building based on the West European model of what constitutes a legitimate nation-state.
    The treaty of population exchange between Greece and Turkey only formalized what each state was doing in its own territory: Turks expelling non-Turks and Greeks expelling the Muslims, Turkish or not.
    In this sad and sordid historical process one has to bear witness to the plight of the Pontic Greeks who had lived on the Southern shores of the Black Sea for at least 2000 years. They spoke a language that was a derivative of Ancient Greek but completely un-intelligible to the Modern Greek speaker and vice versa. This historical community was destroyed by the so-called secular progressive Turkish Republic.
    I really wonder why anyone would posit the Turkish Republic as model for anything other than a misguided and virulent form ethno-linguistic nationalism.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Osmanli was a form of Persian; its grammar was Persian and its vocabulary Turkic, Arabic, Persian, etc.

  44. Will says:

    “Who would buy the [conquered] oil?” was a straightforward question.
    The justification for a Turkish grab would be that it was native Turkoman patrimony. The reason would be to deny Kurdistan economic viability and in turn to give greater Turkey economic viability. It would be subject to sabotage and ECONOMIC SANCTIONS. The Arabs are self sufficient, the Israelis get oil from Egypt, the Balkans have oil deals with the Russians.
    The rest of the world would be deterred by economic sanctions from buying it. All that stuff about the inadmissibility of waging aggressive war to acquire territory. (Turkey is not Israel & Kirkuk is not the Golan)

  45. Lesly says:

    Now we have the ludicrous spectacle of the House of Representatives voting “symbolically” to declare that the genocide conducted under the rule of the Ottoman “Young Turk” government nearly a hundred years ago was what everyone knows it was (probably today’s Turks most of all).

    This resolution has come up for a vote for years now and it’s either shot down in committee or in either chamber. It will never be a good time for Turkey. If their ego and their airspace are that important we can “waiver” the resolution similarly to Bush waiving Section 907 of 1992’s Freedom Support Act in 2002, which I daresay has greater implications for Azerbaijan’s economy and therefore security than a non-binding resolution will have on Turkish reparations. The military build-up on the Kurdish Iraq border is months in the making and Turkey is all too happy to link an imminent/future PKK retaliation to the resolution.

  46. avedis says:

    Col Lang, “….have to ask you, would you be equally engaged in this if it were not Armenia? There are many genocides in history.
    As you know there is an endless list of national crimes against humanity.
    How many more of these should we pass congressional resolutions about? How about Japan? The bestiality of the Japanese Army; in China, the Phillipines, Indo-China, with prisoners of war everywhere defines inhumanity. The Japanese have never really collectively acknowledged their criminality. The Army chaplain who baptised me was captured on Bataan and imprisoned on Luzon. He was a close friend of my father. The Japanese Army cut out his tongue to keep him from saying mass and then when he had recovered beheaded him. I want an apology and reparations from Japan for his death and all the other murdered Americans and Filipinos. Are you “in” for that one?”
    Yes, I am “in” for that one as well, as far as an acknowledgement and an apology is concerned. As for reparations, I would agree to those as well, but only to the extent that victims still living are experiencing provable damages resulting directly from Japanese barbarism.
    I do not understand why the question of reparations comes up. I have read the bill and see no mention of such a thing.
    You see, part of the problem re; Turkey and Armenia is that Armenians living in Turkey are still second class citizens. The Republic of Armenia is still tormented by Turkey and its Azerbaijani brethern to the East. For example, when fuel oil pipelines and other vital supplies running into Armenia were deliberately cut off by Turkey/Azerbaijan during a brutal winter. The threat of attack and invasion looms large in the minds of Armenians and many feel that they have only their alliance with Russia to thank for their continued existance.
    It is entirely too facile to shrug the whole genocide off as belonging to a past government; an entirely different Turkey.
    As you well know, history is often the present in that region. 90 years is nothing in the cultural memory. Governments come and go. Actions are credited to homogenous peoples, tribes, religious sects; especially when those groups continue to display a prediliction for hostility. And the Turks do.
    I have to repeat the question, if the Turks really are a different people – and a better intentioned people – than the ones that committed genocide against the Armenians, then why not stand up, admit the genocide happened, offer a polite apology for what their fathers and grandfathers did and promise that it won’t happen again?
    That is so simple really. It would go a long way toward improving Turkish/Armenian relations. It would show some class on the Turks’ part.
    Instead, it is illegal – not social faux pas. ILLEGAL! – to discuss the Armenian genocide in Turkey.
    So pardon me if I – and many citizens of the Republic of Armenia and the diaspora – remain unconvinced that there is a “new” Turk afoot in the Levant.
    Getting back to your question again, generally, I think that stronger and more consistent condemnations of barbarism – followed by admissions of guilt and reparations – where ever and whenever it has (or does) occur would be a good thing for the world. I don’t see why it is a problem.

  47. J. Rega says:

    jonst wrote: So, in the end, what a people ‘are’, is determined by outsiders in a bureaucracy that did not exist fifty years ago.
    Unhappily, that is the overall legacy of the colonial period, at least for much of the Middle East, and the Islamic world in general. Turkey might be an exception to that, naturally, but outmoded traditionalisms like nationalism, super-imposed by colonial map-makers, are still encouraged by neo-colonial powers bent on the continued de-prioritization of Muslim identity.
    I have heard Pashtun say: “I am Pashtun first, Muslim second and Pakistani third”. I very much doubt that similar sequencing, say, “I am Arab first, Muslim second and Iraqi third” would be welcome at the U.S. State Department. It is the distant third place finish of Muslim identity that is the price of Turkey’s entry into the EU. Personally, I’m in favor or the prioritization of Muslim identity and the abandonment of fitna inducing political projects like nationalism. I suspect there are many Turks who feel the same way.
    I agree it is not the business of anyone except the Turks themselves, as long as they insist on following what I feel to be the discredited hope of assimilation into Europe. If and when Turkey re-assumes the mantle of leadership of the Muslims, something different will emerge.

  48. avedis says:

    Kunu-ri, “and it will remains so as long as Turks refuse to emphasize with the Armenians trauma”
    I agree, as well, with this part. However,
    “and Armenians refusal to heed the Turks’ national sensibilities and near past.”
    I do not understand this portion of your argument at all. Armenians are supposed to respect – or heed – “Turkey for the Turks” mentality and the past attempt by that mentality to annihilate them? How does this further co-existance?
    I have noted similar arguments from other “reasonable” Turks. The main sales pitch is that it is better for Armenians if Turkey isn’t made to face up to its past (and present).
    Is this coming from Turkish media and/or other party affiliates? Or is this really what some Turks have come up with through independent thinking? Not retorhicle, but genuinely curious.

  49. Grim says:

    Kunu-ri @ 5:59 AM and Col Lang @ 10:51 AM
    Marvelous posts both. Thanks.

  50. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The majority leader of the House of Representitives saaid the following today on FNS.
    “HOYER: Well, I think Turkey’s help to us is vital. More vital is the United States’ help to Turkey, Brit.
    Over the last half a century, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has far more advantage to Turkey than it has the United States.”
    OK folks. We will see… pl
    Oh, yes. Wilder. You don’t have the privilege of insulting me on my blog. Insult me on your own.

  51. Walrus says:

    Hoyer is simply demonstrating his narcissism and his lack of knowledge of history – including American history.
    90 years is not a long time to hold a grudge. Ask the Scots, or visit the Southern States of America.
    The Turks might want to “get over it” but the Armenians don’t and won’t.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Azeri Turks [Azar: from Persian – “Fire”] of the so-called Azerbaijan [“Land of Fire”] Republic were historical enemies of the Sunni Ottomans since it was the Shia Azeri that created modern Iran.
    It is truly a delicious historic irony to watch these two little Iranian provinces of Aran and Nakhchevan re-branding themselves as Aerbaijan Republic, beating the drums of pan-Turkism, and yet identifying themselves with Turan of the Persian Legends.
    In the Armenian-Ottoman-Turkish dispute they truly have no dog and are real suckers if they take any one’s sides.

  53. Matthew says:

    Col: I am confused by all of this. Angering Turkey, Israel’s only Muslim friend, cannot be Lantos’s goal. And encouraging anti-Americanism in Turkey surely isn’t Congress’s goal. Is this an an example of Congressional parochalism in action? Maybe the sponsors think they Armenian lobby will remember but the rest of the world–particularly those friends in Anakara–will quickly forget. It’s like Peter King’s support of the IRA. It was a meaningless insult to England. But it never affected the bilateral relationship. Maybe our Congresspeople are profoundly miscalculating…they mistake the Turkish memory for British forebearance?

  54. Kunu-ri says:

    In order to help J.Rega understand:
    “and Armenians refusal to heed the Turks’ national sensibilities and near past.”
    I do not understand this portion of your argument at all. Armenians are supposed to respect – or heed – “Turkey for the Turks” mentality and the past attempt by that mentality to annihilate them? How does this further co-existance?
    As far as Turks’ national sensibilities and near past, I don’t understand how you deduced it to be “Turkey for the Turks” argument. That exists, but is pretty artificial and comes pretty low in describing “Turkish sensibilities and near past.” At the end of WWI Turkey was an exhausted nation at the verge of extinction, with no army, government, treasury or hope. Istanbul was under Allied occupation, as well as four fifths of what is modern Turkey today was under a brutal occupation by Greeks, British, French and Italians. Only after a superhuman effort by a war weary population under the leadership of Ataturk it gained, yes, earned to be free and independent. The sensibility I refer to is the determination never to be in that situation again, and to pay any price not even to entertain the possibility. And the near past has met again and again with the resistance of former colonial powers to admit and accept the strides Turkey has made to become a modern, independent nation state. The people who refer to the traditional Turkish American friendship refer to the fact that US has always been at the front of other traditional world powers to see Turkey distinguish itself among emerging post WWI, post colonial nations with a future. Turkish people, as angry as they are at the moment know and sense this. This is what I am referring to when I cite the experience of the near past. Nobody in Turkey has, or will deny the constructive effect of the Marshall Plan after WWII, and more sensible ones may even grudgingly accept the fact that early entry into NATO kept Turkey protected from a Hungarian-Chekoslovakian-Afghanistan style invasion by the Soviet Union. Turkey showed its gratitude by sending a Brigade to Korean war which fought side by side the US Army, fending off the North Koreans and the Chinese, please, can you point out to a more concrete sign of a sensibility that responds to good will and royalty in a better way?
    Also, acccepting the fact that “Turkey for the Turks”argument exists and is used by the ultra nationalists, it only appeared after the establishment of modern Turkey in 1923 way after the massacres and turmoils of WWI had ended. In order to define a new Turkish identity, it served its purpose at the time, but has became insufficient in the last 30 years to address ethnic realities of Turkey which had always existed.
    With respects,

  55. al palumbo says:

    Genocide. Just sit quietly and meditate for a few minutes with that word rolling around in your head and see what thoughts come up.

  56. CSTAR says:

    Perhaps history is largely a torrent of horrible injustices. Can one really say anything sensible or at least not excessively sentimental about how to deal with the collective memory of these painful injustices? Restorative justice or reparations by those responsible certainly makes sense in the lifetime of those affected. Beyond that the requirement of restorative (material) compensation is less clear.
    Apologies by the perpetrator are always helpful, but of course rare.
    In any case it is very hard to see how pronouncements by a third party nearly a century after the event is of any material benefit.
    Am I missing something?

  57. Andy Mink says:

    I remember reading that Kurdish bands or tribal warriors inflicted much suffering on the Armenians during their death march into the Syrian desert. Is this true or of relevance here?
    As to Armenian reparations: These already took place to an extent. In the early 2000s the Cal. lawyer Bill Shernoff negotiated a small ($10 million, I think) settlement with U.S. insurance companies for survivors (or heirs) of the Armenian genocide. Shernoff had played an important role in negotiations for Jewish claims against European insurers. In the Armenian matter, he was supported by Cal. politicians.
    Reparation demands can hinder moral or historical reckoning. In recent holocaust restitution negotiations gvts. and corporations shied away from aknowledging responsibility, fearing that this could be used as pretext for legal action against them (specifically in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Claims Act). On the other hand, Germany combined the big slave labor settlement of 2001 with a declaration of historical responsibility. But the German model is not really useful here: The U.S. and the Adenauer gvt. regarded compensation of (mostly Jewish) “victims of Nazi persecution” as precondition for Western Germany´s re-admission among the “family of civilized nations.” After this, the Federal Republic negotiated numerous agreements with Poland, the Czechs, etc about letting “the crimes of the past not stand in the way of friendly relations in the future,” taking reparation claims off the table while usually making significant payments.
    Following Col. Lang´s arguments, I think that this model was never applicable for Turkey which fought its way into the “family of nations” in the early 1920ies against pretty heavy odds. The hour of legal action also has long passed (Shernoff´s chance in the courts was rather slim and his targets extremely tangential to the crimes). Although I strongly sympathize with Avedis here, outside pressure esp. from the U.S. doesn´t help to move official Turkey to aknowledge this history (in their schoolbooks…). If politicians here would be serious about this issue, patentiently organizing discussions, round tables and the like for the Armenian diaspora and Turkish officials and private citizens would be much more useful. This was done by German politicians like Hans Dietrich Genscher with regards to Poland.
    Andy Mink

  58. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Seems to me one could posit Lantos and Ackermann could be concerned that: 1) Rising Islamist trends in Turkey will cut against secular Turkish circles’ alignment with Israel and 2) give other Islamist parties and movements in the Middle East some ideas.
    Moving such a resolution through Congress sends a “message” of some sort to the Turks. In the past, the Turks thought that close alignment with the “pro-Israel Lobby” would insulate them somewhat from the Armenian issue and bring all manner of benefits.
    This is why some Turkish circles worked closely with the Neocons, for example. I seem to recall the days in the 1980s when Neocon heavies like Feith waxed fat through certain contracts involving Turkey and Israel.
    But Wolfie miscalculated when it came to the Iraq War now didn’t he? Those Islamists….pesky folks.
    So what are Lantos and Ackermann signaling to the Turks? Lantos and Ackermann are very astute players and their moves in Congress should be followed closely by those interested in the Middle East.
    You should say “pro-Israel lobby” to be pc and sort of mumble it under your breath after looking around the chat room. To be pc the “l” should not be capitalized.
    The new Mearsheimer and Walt book deals with the Zionist Lobby in extenso: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar, Strauss, 2007). But earlier works are also useful: J.J. Goldberg, Jewish Power. Inside the American Jewish Establishment (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Edward Tivnan, The Lobby. Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987).
    Here is an interesting tv show-documentary from the Netherlands. Think it will play on US TV?
    PKK-Kurdish Issue
    And the Kurdish issue? Consider the relationship of the PKK to the heroin trade:
    Start with this:
    then as examples:

  59. Will says:

    an article in Xinhua proclaims the first publication of the Asian genotype- saying in the future a person’s genes will be analyzed as easily as his blood is typed.
    The whole idea of nation as a repository of race and language is undergoing assault. What is a “Turk?” I’ve already commented that the “Turk” president has Arab blood and the premier’s name is Georgian origin, or vice-versa. A third of the “Turks” are “mountain turks” or Kurds. The Iskenderetta region, a gift of the French from Syria, are Alawite Arabs or Aramaens. DNA studies show the “Turks” are mostly “Hellenes.” Note well the original Turks originated from the steppes close to China and had slant eyes and wide cheekbones- still found in isolated pockets of Turkomans.
    Note well, the Azeris (the Ayatollah Khomeini was Azeri stock as well as a significant part of Northwest Iran), though they speak a form of Turkish are IRANIAN Indo-European DNA.
    The White Huns were Iranians.
    And a delicious Anatolian irony. Virgil extolled the Anatolian connection of the Latins by having the emigrant Trojan prince Aenus marry into the Latin race. But it was the non-Indo European Etruscans, speaking a language like no other (our word person is Etruscan origin) that are thought to have emigrated from Anatolia. One clue is DNA evidence from Tuscan and Anatolian cattle. There are, of course, others.

  60. Steve says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    Thank you for the reply. I only used “Jewish,” because you used “Ethnic.” I grew up in San Francisco. SF is a very interesting place when it comes to ehtnic issue’s.

  61. Nancy says:

    I feel all state sponsored acts of barbarism should be condembed. To my understanding the present bill condemns the murder of over 1 million Armenians by the then Turkish government, as an act of genocide. The bill does not say that present day Turkey is responsibile or needs to pay anything back.
    Perhaps Turkey wants an excuse to go into Iraq and that is why there are expressing such righteous indignation.

  62. Again demonstrating my ignorance but is the Turkish enmity towards their Kurdish population and the Iraqi Kurds a Muslim against Muslim issue? Is the US intervention really just accelerating tensions between Muslim populations and sects in the Islamic world? Where is the long-term ebb and flow of Muslim populations do the Turks stand and the Kurds stand? And is the interest in the Armenian tragedy/holocust in part their largely Christian faith? I could argue that the 20th Century will be known as the HOLOCOST Century and if not that the Century of World War or European Wide Civil War. Boy do we all ignore history at our peril!

  63. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Turkey’s top general has warned that military ties with the US will be irreversibly damaged if the US Congress passes a resolution that labels the first world war killings of Armenians a genocide.
    General Yasar Buyukanit told Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper that a congressional committee’s approval of the measure had strained ties between the two countries.
    “If this resolution passed in the committee passes the House as well, our military ties with the US will never be the same again,” he told Milliyet.
    Turkey, which is a major cargo hub for US and allied military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations and warned that there might be a cut in the logistical support to the US over the issue.
    About 70% of US air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkey as does about a third of the fuel used by the US military there. US bases also get water and other supplies carried in overland by Turkish truckers who cross into Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.”,,2191299,00.html
    “Eight former US secretaries of state – including Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright – have written to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, to ask her to prevent a vote on the issue.
    The bill has 226 co-sponsors. It calls on Mr Bush “to accurately characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5m Armenians as genocide”. The massacres were carried out by Ottoman troops beginning in 1915, before the creation of the republic of Turkey. Turkey rejects characterisation of the deaths as genocide and takes diplomatic and other measures against countries that adopt such a stance.
    Last year Ankara restricted military co-operation with France after the French national assembly passed a bill that would criminalise denial of the Armenian genocide. Turkey has not suggested it would retaliate against the US if the bill is approved. But some commentators suggest that, in extremis, Ankara could restrict US access to Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, which the US uses to supply its military forces throughout the Middle East.”
    “This draft resolution will put US soldiers in danger,” Egemen Bagis, an adviser to the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan, told CNN. “If our ally accuses us of crimes that we did not commit then we will start to question the advantages of our co-operation.
    “Yesterday some in Congress wanted to play hardball. I can assure you Turkey knows how to play hardball.”
    He promised that if the resolution was passed “we will do something and I can promise you it won’t be pleasant”.
    Turks bluffing? Wouldn’t count on it. If Americans on the ground in Iraq are put in increased danger as a result of this legislation we might well take a hard look at ethnic lobbies generally and hold their Congressional supporters accountable.

  64. CSTAR says:


    Was there any benefit for the U.S. condemning Japanese sex slaves, or apologizing for the overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy, or the Senate apologizing to blacks for failing to pass any anti-lynching laws because of the filibuster?

    If the slaves you mention(or their immediate descendants which themselves are victims) don’t receive a compensation (or independently an apology from the perpetrator) the condemnation has little more value than a generic condemnation of sex slavery. Fine, but without teeth (meaning tools for enforcement), it’s useless to prevent future occurences. Note that I’m not opposed to making a condemnation of a past atrocity. It’s just a very weak measure, taken only because it has little domestic political cost. A harder and more significant act would be to propose some kind of restitution to victims of the US invasion of Iraq. I’d like to see Pelosi propose such a measure, but of course it won’t ever happen.
    As far as apologizing, I thought I said that apologies by the perpetrator were always helpful. Maybe I should have used a stronger term than “helpful”.
    There are many situations, currently, in which restitution is a necessary prerequisite for peace. That contentious issue we can leave for another time.

  65. Arun says:

    My take is that Pelosi & Co are willing to stand up for the Armenians but not for the Constitution. Since they are not exactly dumb, it means that they do not believe that there is a strong constituency for restoration of the Constitution.

  66. Trent says:

    William, the Turkish enmity stems in part from the Kurds attempts to form an independent Kurdish state on what is now (at least partially) Turkish soil.

  67. Jose says:

    Wow did everyone miss he point, go to Wikipedia and search for Armenian-Americans, then concentrations.
    Who cares about the political realities in the Middle East when there is an election coming up and Congress needs all those rich Armenian-Americans?

  68. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Some data on your point:
    1.”WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian American campaign contributions hit a record high this election cycle, with more than $3.9 million in documented donations and an estimated $5 million in total campaign contributions to federal level candidates and committees, according to a study released today by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)…. Federal candidates/committees: $3,942,106 (4754 donations)
    * Republican candidates/committees: $1,506,706 (1548 donations)
    George W. Bush: $347,105 (350)
    Republican National Committee: $429,746 (209)
    Nat’l Republican Congressional Committee: $139,699 (277)
    Nat’l Republican Senatorial Committee: $23,740 (26)
    * Democratic candidates/committees: $1,396,833 (1585 donations)
    John Kerry: $336,578 (395)
    John Edwards: $55,350 (59)
    Howard Dean: $31,495 (71)
    Wesley Clark: $17,500 (22)
    Dick Gephardt: $15,500 (18)
    Democratic Nat’l Committee: $121,718 (84)
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: $61,402 (14)
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $40,857 (25)
    Among the Members of Congress who received the highest levels of campaign contributions from Armenian Americans were Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “Schiff Amendment” author Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Genocide Resolution lead sponsor Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA).
    2.Campaign Contributions per ARMENPAC listed at:
    3. Some academic background info:
    4. Text of Cong. Schiff’s HR 106, locate via THOMAS at Library of Congress website (search for H. Res 106)
    5. Original Sponsors:
    Mr. SCHIFF (for himself, Mr. RADANOVICH, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. KNOLLENBERG, Mr. SHERMAN, and Mr. MCCOTTER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
    6. Cross check the ARMENPAC (as an example) contributions to sponsors:
    Pallone : $1000
    Knollenberg: $4073
    Sherman: $1000
    McCotter: $1500
    You can use the same basic method for any of the ethnic lobbies to get a rough idea of how things work on the Hill. “Best foreign policy money can buy” as a former colleague of mine said recently in reference to a more high profile ethnic lobby.
    7. So, one might argue, our “fellow citizens” (such as they are) purchase votes in Congress which result in legislation which causes the deterioration of relations with a key ally while we are in a war. Our men and women serving in Iraq may thereby be placed in increased danger and our long range security interests in the region undermined.
    8. Seen any public opinion polls taken in Turkey per the US? Here is some background from 2005:
    “The Turkish were displeased by what they saw as an American attitude of pursuing unilateral policies aimed solely at protecting American interests. The Turkish people believed that the U.S. decision on Iraq was taken without regard for Turkey’s national interests or bilateral relations. In their eyes, the American intervention, and Turkey’s possible participation in it, would be harmful for Turkey, especially in the context of the Kurdish question. Therefore, it was not surprising that the Turkish nation opposed supporting the Americans in Iraq.”
    9. Want some polling data from the University of Maryland research center on public opinion for September 2007? Try this:
    “Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Turkish respondents name the United States—which guarantees Turkish security as a NATO ally and has urged the EU to accept Turkish membership—as the country that poses the “greatest threat” to Turkey in the future, Pew found. Among the Middle Eastern publics asked the open-ended question by Pew, only in Turkey did a majority name the United States. ”
    It’s an inside the Beltway thing.

  69. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “It’s an inside the Beltway thing.”
    What isn’t?

  70. Will says:

    the Col. stated upfront that Politics [often] is a local effect.
    But the most compelling reason to recognize and inversely not to deny any holocaust, no matter its age is the following (from the wiki quoting Hitler:)
    ” I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?[74] ”

  71. Charles says:

    Syndroma asks, “Why blame Russian people for the deeds of Stalin? Why not Georgians? Isn’t blaming Russians looks like blaming the victim?”
    Russia dominated the USSR. Stalin used Russian muscle to commit his crimes. The birthplace does not matter in assigning culpability. What matters is the auspices under which an act is done.

  72. anna missed says:

    Gosh, it looks like the Armenians have become for democrats – the new Cubans.

  73. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Anna Missed,
    on your point per Cubans:
    Note the very influential “Cuban American National Foundation” started by Jorge Mas Canosa.
    “Cuban” Americans “ethnically” (?) can be divided into: Roman Catholics, Jews both askenazik and sephardic, and conversos.
    “The Cuban Synagogues:The Cuban Hebrew Congregation (a.k.a. Temple Beth Shmuel) at 1700 Michigan Avenue was first organized by Askenazim in 1961. A Cuban Jewish architect named Oscar Sklar was asked to design the t temple in 1981. The wing at the Lenox Avenue entrance is the most interesting.
    Temple Moses is at 1200 Normandy Drive. It is a Sephardic Cuban synagogue; most of its members are of Turkish descent.”
    I cannot recall whether the Mas family was Jewish or in the converso category but that seems to have been the talk in DC I remember from the 1980s. At any rate,
    “On March 28, 1996, he received the title of Honorary Consul for the City of Tel Aviv at a gala dinner in Miami hosted by Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo and the Tel Aviv Foundation. The award was presented for Mr. Mas Canosa’s efforts on behalf of pro-Jewish causes, and his support for the State of Israel and the causes of freedom, democracy, and human rights.”
    Remember Meyer Lansky and Cuba?
    Illeana Ros-Lehtinen is perhaps the main Republican vector for this lobby and is a strong supporter of other ethnic lobbies. “Forced to flee with her family from the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro, Representative Ros-Lehtinen became the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban-American elected to Congress and a powerful voice for the South Florida community.”
    The logical policy IMO for the United States would have been to normalize relations like Canada and Spain and many others have and then to have moved in with some heavy investments to get a foothold and leverage in the future post-Fidel situation. There were and are ways to clear up the outstanding issue of confiscated and nationalized properties belonging to US interests. This matter was adjudicated and the claims courts decisions are well known and on file. I once worked on this issue.

  74. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    US press seems to have blanked out, so far, the significant Assad visit to Turkey this week.
    “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Turkey yesterday (October 16) at the beginning of a four-day visit, in another sign of a deepening rapprochement between the two countries less than a decade after they almost went to war over Damascus’s support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)….
    The rapprochement with Syria forms part of a strategy of what Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief foreign policy advisor, describes as “strategic depth” (Ahmet Davutoglu, “Stratejik Derinlik,” Küre Yayınları, 2004). Davutoglu maintains that the emphasis of previous governments on relations with Europe and the US has created an imbalance in Turkey’s foreign policy, which needs to be redressed by a more active engagement with the region.
    However, there is little doubt that the concept also has considerable emotional appeal for the AKP and its supporters, not only because countries such as Syria are predominantly Muslim but also because the idea of Turkey playing a more active role in the Middle East plays into the AKP’s strong Ottoman nostalgia and its vision of Turkey emerging as a neo-Ottoman regional power…..”

  75. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    An update from Turkey via Bloomberg, the only media source I have found to report this significant angle so far:
    “Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) — Turkey’s rage over a U.S. congressional resolution accusing it of genocide against Armenians nearly a century ago is being felt in quarters far removed from Washington: its own Jewish community.
    “Turkish Jews’ concerns for their safety have been fanned by comments from Foreign Minister Ali Babacan that there’s a perception in the country that Jews and Armenians “are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey.” Turkey’s complaint: Its usual allies among pro-Israel U.S. lobbyists didn’t work hard enough to block the resolution.
    “Turkey, which has close ties with Israel, has long relied on lobbying from Jewish groups in Washington to aid in fending off proposals like the one endorsed by a House of Representatives panel Oct. 10. But the alliance suffered a blow when the Anti-Defamation League, the largest U.S. organization aimed at combating anti-Semitism, issued a statement on Aug. 21 saying the killings of Armenians were “tantamount to genocide,” though it still opposed the congressional resolution.
    “Babacan, in an Oct. 6 interview with Turkey’s Vatan newspaper, said that “we would not be able to keep the Jews out of this business” if the resolution is adopted.
    Defaming Turkey
    “Three days later, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, he said that “the perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people, or the Jewish organizations let’s say, and the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey.” ….
    This article leaves out what some view as the connection between Israel and the PKK in Kurdistan in the context of Israel’s Kurd strategy since the Iraq War.
    For example, from 2004:
    “Israeli military and intelligence operatives are active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, providing training for commando units and running covert operations that could further destabilise the entire region, according to a report in the New Yorker magazine. ….By supporting Kurdish separatists, Israel also risks alienating its Turkish ally and undermining attempts to create a stable Iraq. “If you end up with a divided Iraq it will bring more blood, tears and pain to the Middle East and you will be blamed,” a senior Turkish official told Mr Hersh…”,2763,1243588,00.html
    See also for background:
    “At the same time, the Mossad recognized the intelligence-gathering potential and destabilizing possibilities of the non-Arab Kurdish minority in the Middle East, which is split among six countries: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Armenia and Russia.”…
    The Assad state visit to Turkey received major play on Turkish TV.
    It is said that Turkey is just now in the midst of mediating behind the scenes some key issues between Syria and Israel. Perhaps this explains why some pro-Israel circles in Congress support the Schiff bill HR106 at this particular time. Curious timing. One could posit such circles may wish to derail the Turkish mediation with Syria. Time may tell.

  76. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. From the spiritual leader of the Armenians in Turkey:
    “Mesrob II to take resolution concern to US State Dept.
    Reiterating his community’s objection to a resolution approved by a US Congress committee branding the 1915 killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenian Orthodox community on Thursday said he planned to speak with US State Department officials later in the day in order to voice his community’s stance.
    “Patriarch Mesrob II (Mutafyan) was received by President Abdullah Gül at the presidential palace.
    Patriarch Mesrob II (Mutafyan) was speaking to reporters following his talks with Turkish Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan in Ankara, where he also held talks with President Abdullah Gül later in the day.
    “The patriarch stressed that he would speak with officials from the US State Department over the telephone in order to express his views concerning the issue….
    “Mesrob II had already said earlier that the Armenian issue has always been used as “domestic policy material” and is constantly brought to the agenda in the United States. He urged keeping the Armenian community in Turkey out of ongoing controversy over the issue. “We’ve been concerned because this resolution will have an impact on the lives of Turkish citizens of Armenian origin living in Turkey. We are against this resolution. We have always been against this resolution. We will write whatever necessary to related officials in the US. We will exert the necessary efforts to prevent its passage,” he said earlier this week.”
    2. Here is a list of the “Armenia Caucus” in the 109th Congress:
    Perhaps the Caucus, and other, members sponsoring HR 106 should explain to their constituents and to the American people just how it is the Armenian community in Turkey (not to mention the Jewish community in Turkey) opposes the US Armenian “ethnic” lobby’s bill HR 106 which they support.
    3. Turkey has restored the ancient Church of the Holy Cross in Van.

  77. TimeShadow says:

    I have always opposed “symbolic legislation”. It’s just another example of the ongoing triumph of form over substance.

  78. Martin K says:

    Interesting conjectures: Turkey-Syria, Russia-Iran at the same time.

  79. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    More background on the situation:
    “And the Turks are friends with Iran, since both share a similar concern about Kurdish fundamentalism. The more the US does nothing about the PKK, the stronger Turkey’s friendship will grow with the Islamic Republic. Last year, in discussing ways to combat the PKK, Ankara welcomed Ali Larijani, the chief negotiator of Iran’s nuclear portfolio, weeks after Erdogan had met President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Azerbaijan in May 2006. One reason for the honeymoon was because it was in Iran’s interest as well to root out Kurdish fundamentalism. At the same time, Iran was searching for regional heavyweight friends in its confrontation with the US. While in Ankara, Larijani further upset the Americans by revealing that he had documents detailing US meetings with the “terrorist” PKK in Mosul and Kirkuk. Larijani asked, “If the US is fighting terrorism, why then is it meeting with the PKK?”
    “There is an unspoken tension between Ankara and Washington due to the fact that, whether it is unable or unwilling, the US has tolerated and ignored PKK activity against Turkey since 2003. Kurdish rebels are permitted to roam the streets freely and have access to stockpiles of ammunition in Iraq.
    In 2005, the Turks broke their estrangement with Syria when President Ahmad Nejdet Sezar visited Damascus to meet President Bashar al-Assad. The Americans had loudly asked him not to make the visit, but Sezar insisted. In February 2006, Ankara again defied the US by receiving Khalid Meshaal, the head of the political bureau of Hamas.”
    Larijani just gave up the nuclear portfolio. Is he brushing up on Kurdish issues and relations with Turkey prior to Turkish cross-border operations against the PKK?

  80. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. Here’s an interesting update and take you don’t find in the US media. It would be interesting to hear how the Armenian-“American” Lobby explains the present country of Armenia’s relations with Iran (and Russia.) And then explains the current lobbying of Congress per Schiff’s HR 106.
    “MOSCOW. (Levon Melik-Shakhnazaryan for RIA Novosti) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Armenia will add nothing new to the geopolitical alignment in the region.
    It will merely restate the obvious. The strategic partnership between Armenia and Iran is an established fact, and this visit is unlikely to be seen as anything of a landmark.
    Nor will it affect relations between Armenia and the United States. Armenia is effectively under a blockade, and America knows this. One of the indirect agents of the blockade is Georgia – America’s closest ally in the region. More direct participants are other U.S. partners – Azerbaijan and Turkey.
    In this context, friendly relations between Iran and Armenia are only natural. Whether one likes it or not, Armenia will be friendly with neighbors with which circumstances, history and common cultural background force it to be friends. ….
    Azerbaijan has been an active participant in many regional projects with a manifest anti-Iranian and anti-Russian bias. They include communications projects, oil pipelines, gas pipelines, and Caspian oil production…..
    In turn, Armenia’s relations with Iran are a fine example of the fact that Christianity and Islam can co-exist peacefully, and that the religious factor in inter-ethnic and inter-state relations needn’t play a decisive role.
    A Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran axis appears to be crystallizing.”
    2. For some context in the geopolitical narcissism vein, consult the American foreign policy Establishment’s geopolitical “guru”, Polish-Canadian Zbig Brzezinski:
    “An independent, Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, with pipelines running from it to the ethnically related and politically supportive Turkey, would prevent Russia from exercising a monopoly on access to the region and would this also deprive Russia of decisive political leverage over the policies of the new Central Asian states.”
    From his, The Grand Chessboard.American Primacy and Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 129.
    As I recall, Zbig was lining his pockets as a consultant to BP and the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project.
    ““Former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was a consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era, urging Washington to back the project. In fact, it was Brzezinski who went to Baku in 1995, unofficially, on behalf of Clinton, to meet with then-Azeri(Azerbaijan) president Haidar Aliyev, to negotiate new independent Baku pipeline routes, including what became the BTC (Baku-Ceyhan) pipeline.”
    “Brzezinski also sits on the board of an impressive, if little-known, U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC). The chairman of the USACC in Washington is Tim Cejka, president of ExxonMobil Exploration. Other USACC board members include Henry Kissinger and James Baker III, the man who in 2003 personally went to Tbilisi to tell Eduard Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step aside in favor of the US-trained Georgian president Mikahil Shaakashvili. [The pipeline passes through Georgia]
    Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, also sits on the board of USACC. And (now Vice President) Cheney was a former board member until he became vice president. A more high-powered Washington team of geopolitical fixers would be hard to imagine.”

  81. Zohrab Hadeshian says:

    The Turkish point of view is, that what occured in Anatolia almost 100 years ago, never occured; that the Armenians simply evaporated. Although it is true that every government has a sad history they would rather forget, that history is there for study with the hopes of never being repeated. In deed, history unattended is bound to be repeated.

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