This week, Democratic leaders in the House will seek to pass a non-binding resolution officially classifying the mass-murders of Armenians by the Turks in World War I as genocide. This is a terribly ill-timed and strange move on the part of the Democrats. If it passes there could, and likely will be, significant detrimental effects on U.S. – Turkish relations. Detrimental effects that we cannot afford.
Certainly, what the Turks did to the Armenians in 1915 is a genocide. There is no argument here and there should be no argument anywhere. Additionally, genocide needs to be condemned wherever it is found.
But why now? Our relations with Turkey are already strained by the coalition forces’ inability to curb the increasing number of Kurdish militias staging incursions into Turkish territory. Also, we need Turkey. They are one of our few Muslim country allies and the most moderate of Muslim states. Passing this resolution will only prove to have negative effects on our relations with little good in return.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Turkey’s top general, General Yasar Buyukanit, warned that the passing of this resolution may result in the U.S. losing access to Incirlik Air Base, a key cargo and transportation hub for our military. He also added that, “If this resolution passes the House, our Military ties with the U.S. will never be the same.” These are huge implications not only for us, but for the greater war on terror. We need Turkey on board and we need Incirlik Air Base.
It is indeed important that history be accurate and refer to genocide for what it is. But why can’t this be done during a time of peace or at least when our key international issue is not bordering the country we are about to deeply offend. This genocide occured nearly 100 years ago, what will a few more years of waiting to do this harm? If Congress is intent on this, they should pass this measure in 2015 at the 100 year anniversary or when it is less politically harmful. But now is not the time.
So, there are two options that we have that may serve to solve the problem, we could pull the resolution from the table or have it defeated. Or we could pass the resolution then encourage the Turkish parliament to offically classify our treatment of the American Indians in the 1800′s as genocide and then call it even. I prefer the former. This is a strange and unnecessary move on the part of the Democrats, if it passes and Turkey does indeed follow through on their threats, we had better place full blame on Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.