Oct 172007
Authors: Phil Elder

It seems Democrats in Congress are not satisfied with the degree to which Bush has alienated the Middle East.

Last week Congress proposed a bill, out of the proverbial blue and without any significant agenda, to name an act by the old Turkish Government (the Ottoman Empire) against Armenian civilians “genocide.”

In 1915, generals in charge of the Turkish government in an effort to ethnically cleanse their land ordered a systematic march – a “trail of tears” if you will – of over one million Armenian civilians to a barren desert in Syria, to ultimately die of thirst and exhaustion.

The act was deplorable /- this goes without question. However, its recognition, almost a hundred years after the fact and 85 years after the destruction of the government responsible, will do nothing but destroy one of the few true allies we have in the entire Middle Eastern region.

Since the inception of the modern Turkish government, their alliance with the United States has never wavered. Turkey sent troops to Korea to support the U.S. effort to prevent the loss of South Korea to communism in the early 50’s, when they had no interest in the region or benefits to gain from the act.

They allowed us to place nuclear missiles on their territory to aim at Moscow, an incident that put the nation in danger of nuclear annihilation.

Not only does the Turkish government deserve more credit from the United States, but also the current humanitarian aberrations that we may be able to actually stop, in my personal opinion, deserve more weight than a history lesson.

We could put this time and effort toward pressuring the Burmese government into stopping the censorship and brutal violence against Buddhist monks.

Perhaps Congress could get more aggressive in the fight against the Janjaweeds and reclaiming of the Sudan for its terrified and mutilated populace.

We might even be able to slow the abduction, armament and trafficking of child soldiers across Africa.

Perhaps we will get to these crises a century from now, once they don’t actually matter.

Instead of spending time accomplishing goals and improving our nation and the world, we have decided to launch a vehement crusade to discredit the Ottoman Empire by recognizing a deplorable humanitarian act as what it is, in the process possibly losing our last true ally in the region.

The Turkish consulate to Washington has left the United States and refuses, as of now, to negotiate his return.

Turkey has plans of shutting off use of their air bases by the United States, who need them in the war effort against insurgents in Iraq. More than 50 percent of our supplies and men go through Turkey on their way to war.

I do not support, nor do I dismiss as inconsequential, the genocide of any group of people. The institutionalized murder of Armenians during World War I was deplorable and those responsible should have been brought to justice.

But they weren’t. And suddenly (and without provocation) attacking the Turkish government for acts by their predecessor would be similar to attacking the Italian government for their annexation of Germania and Gaul 2,100 years ago.

The Democrats in Congress obviously need something to do. My personal suggestion is that they do their jobs.

Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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