(U-WIRE) PITTSBURGH – Beginning in 1915, 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey were killed in an organized campaign by the Ottoman Empire to push Armenians out of the country. Today, most of us recognize the Ottoman Empire’s actions as genocide, an effort to free Turkey of all Armenians – most of us, that is, except for the Turkish government.
So Democrats in Congress are pushing to make it official. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that Democrats are planning to pass a resolution that will condemn the mass murders by the Ottoman Empire as genocide – a word that has the Turkish government on edge.
Turkish military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said that if the resolution passes, Turkey’s “military relations with the United States can never be the same,” according to The New York Times.
The Turkish government recognizes that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed, but not as a result of genocide. They maintain that the deaths were the result of the Turkish War of Independence that ended in 1923 with the formation of modern Turkey.
Acknowledging the Armenian genocide is clearly a problem in Turkey. In 2005, Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish Nobel Prize-winning novelist, garnered much criticism from the government for denouncing the mass killings, leading Turkish nationalists to initiate a criminal case against him.
The case was eventually dropped on a technicality but the situation shed light on the Turkish government’s disturbing inability to recognize history for what it is.
But as important as it is to establish a world consensus on the fact that the 1915 killings were, in fact, genocide, it is also necessary to make sure our relationship with Turkey is not harmed.
The proposed Democratic resolution seems to be asking for another enemy in the Middle East. And if it passes, it will make the Iraq war a lot more difficult to fight. The United States could lose access to military bases in Turkey that are necessary for shipping fuel and other supplies to Iraq.
The reality behind the resolution may not even be solely the acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide. Instead of being honest and straightforward about ending the Iraq War, this resolution seems like a technique by the Democrats to try and end the war underhandedly. If Turkey ends up refusing the United States access to its bases, then fighting the war would be much more challenging to fight.
Armenians in the United States have, for years, been lobbying for such a resolution. Democrats in Congress seem to be so occupied with pleasing their constituents that they are failing to grasp the damaging realities that the resolution could have on the current military strategies of the United States.
Before they were elected as the Congressional majority, Democrats promised that America’s image on the world stage would improve with their leadership. They ensured us that, with their pragmatic direction, the United States would be well liked across the globe.
However, this resolution would be accomplishing the opposite. The United States hardly has the international clout or credit to succeed at such an endeavor.
We cannot change the Turkish government’s mindset with a simple vote, making this an ineffectual effort.
It is critical for the United States to recognize and encourage historical accuracy, but the resolution will do more negative than positive, making it the wrong solution to the problem.