Friday, October 12, 2007

Armenian Genocide, Turks, Bush&Congress:

I wrote about it here and here.

Norman Geras opines here:

On being tactful about historical crimes

The Guardian today gives formal editorial backing to the judgement of one of its journalists yesterday that it would be unwise for Congress to declare the Turkish genocide against the Armenians a genocide.

At Comment is Free, Christopher Beam expresses a certain impatience with this approach:
Genocide could have chosen a more convenient time to make its way onto the congressional docket. Honestly.

A question might be added here. How far must such tact as the Guardian advises extend? So as to improve relations with Iran, should other countries soft-pedal on Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial? Should one shut up about the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s, as a way of trying to persuade Mugabe to go quietly? Honestly.

Odd, that the usually fiercely anti-American Guardian finds this one topic on which to go soft on Bush. Could this be part of the reason?

Members of the left-wing Workers' Party chant slogans as they wave Turkish flags during a protest against the U.S. and its passing of a bill describing World War I-era killings of Armenians as genocide, in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. Despite intense lobbying by Turkish officials and opposition by U.S. President George W. Bush, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill by a 27-21 vote, a move likely to be considered an insult by most Turks. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta)

Strange bedfellows. Genocide denying nationalistic socialists and Guardianistas. Stranger than fiction, I swear.

Turkey is not really speaking from a position of strength here, and the "repercussions" it promises the Americans may well backfire:

But while the threat of repercussions against the U.S. is appealing for many Turks, the country's leaders know such a move could hurt Turkey's standing as a reliable ally of the West and its ambitions to be a mediator on the international stage.

The Turks did suspend military ties with France last year after parliament's lower house approved a bill that would have made it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey amounted to genocide. But Turkey has much more to lose from cutting ties to the U.S.

The United States is one of its major business partners, with $11 billion in trade last year, and the U.S. defense industry provides much of the Turkish military's equipment.


Will Mearsheimer&Walt write a sequel to their book,

The Armenian Lobby?

At Spiegel Online, Gregor Peter Schmitz tells us that Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby, was recently asked whether other interest groups had a similar influence in Washington. Walt’s response: the actions of Armenian-Americans or Cuban-Americans would never have the same far-reaching effects on US foreign policy.


Spiegel provides this accounting of the Armenian lobby:

Armenian-Americans are particularly active in California, New Jersey and Michigan — which happens to be the constituency of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House. Her Californian colleague Adam Schiff, who promoted the resolution, has the issue to thank for his own political career. His predecessor in the constituency lost his seat when he failed to push through the resolution in 2000.

Armenian groups have been bombarding their representatives over the past few years with an unusually massive PR drive. Their most important umbrella group “Armenian Assembly of America” has 10,000 members and an annual budget of over $3.5 million. It employs four different influential PR firms in Washington to keep the suffering of the Armenians on the agenda in the US capital.

Read the rest:

The Van Del Galien Gazette


Later: Hah! I'm not the only one to puzzle over this "problem from hell":

My own view is that Congress should avoid passing a symbolic resolution that will do little or nothing to help Armenian victims or their descendants, but that will hurt vital American interests.

That’s not, of course, the way Armenians see it, and they form a powerful lobbying group that donates a lot of money to politicians especially in states like New Jersey, Michigan, and California. (It is no coincidence that legislators from those states are leading the push for the Armenian genocide resolution.)

While I disagree with them on the merits of this legislation, I sympathize with their grievances and respect their right to seek redress in Washington. That’s the way our political system works. It’s common, and completely innocuous, for various ethnic groups to get involved in lobbying. It’s only a scandal, it seems, when the lobbyists in question are Jewish. In that case, their activities are denounced in odious anti-Semitic tracts, most of them published by groups like the John Birch Society, the Lyndon Larouchites, and the Ku Klux Klan, but some of which appear bearing the imprimatur of supposedly prestigious institutions like Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.


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