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October 10, 2007

Bush: It's not a genocide, it's a historic mass killing!

Congress defied President Bush today and passed a resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks in the early 20th Century.

Here's a statement from committee chair Tom Lantos on the passage of H. Res 106.

Eager to preserve relations with Turkey, Bush urged Congress to reject the resolution:

Congress rejected a plea by the Bush administration yesterday over a resolution officially recognising as genocide the deportation and massacre of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman empire.

George Bush warned of the negative repercussions should Congress use the word genocide to describe the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and their exile.

"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror," Mr Bush said. [BBC]

Earlier this week, Turkey's president, Abudullah Gul, wrote to Bush to warn that relations between Turkey and the USA would suffer if the bill passed.

If Turkey is going to abandon us over the symbolic recognition of a 92-year-old historical fact, I'm not sure it's such a valuable ally.

Update: In 2000, Bush used the word "genocidal" to describe the slaughter of the Armenians.

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Comments

Fine... isolate Turkey. They killed millions of Armenians. And would do the Kurds if no one was watching.

Try getting a bloody American to acknowledge the "mass killing" of two and a half million or more Iraqis since Bush 41 AND Clinton 40, as genocide. Good luck. Will another two and a half million be piled into the pit in eight to sixteen years of Clinton 44 or Obama?

Frederick George Wilson, ashamed citizen of the united states of America

turkey is the sort of "model Islamic democracy" that the neocons dreamed about when they were laying plans for Iraq back in 2000. The model democracy has decided it can cross kurdish borders and bomb kurds as it sees fit.

With allies like that, we can count on an extra decade of death in Iraq.

The grandfather of an old girlfriend escaped the genocide when he was a child. The Turks raided his village, but he squeezed himself into a tiny crawl space under a boulder. No other member of his family survived. He emerged at night, and, traveling only in darkness for two weeks, reached the border. He became a successful businessman in the US. But he never forgot. And he knew what it was he saw.

I wonder whether there is any wisdom in national parliaments passing historical judgments about other countries other than provoking resentment and tensions. What will they do next, pass judgment on the 'degeneracy' of modern art or the 'irrefutable' truth of big bang? Can't they just stick to their main responsibility of enacting legislation to deal with the concrete problems of *today* and *tomorrow*? The question before us is whether the world public is doing anything useful to stop the bloodshed in Iraq, Darfur, Myanmar, or other places of the world. Are they doing anything useful to stop the environmental destruction of the globe that will have serious consequences for tomorrow's generations?

Bush is the biggest dumbass alive. (Points the Prez to the nearest OED, two floors up from My Pet Goat.)

Really, he should be on the comedy circuit because he's gotta be the biggest joke in the universe right now.

Anon, if Congress has the power to declare war or impose sanctions on other countries, it ought to be able to offer a collective opinion for the record.

You may not care what a majority of Congress thinks about an issue. If they're not going to legislate, it's just a symbolic gesture.

But symbolic resolutions aren't a slippery slope to Nazism. Sure, Congress endorses some bad ideas--like the vote affirming the degeneracy of MoveOn's "General Betrayus" ad. It's not resolutions that's the problem, it's the content of some of them.

There was a genocide of the Armenians committed by Turkish Ottomans. There have also been Turkish oppression of the Kurds and mass deportations of Greeks. All this is true, and its a lie to say otherwise.

That having been said- the resolution is reckless and stupid.

Turkey has been perhaps America's only real ally with a majority Muslim population. They, who control the Bosphorus and the Dardenelles, stood with us through the entire Cold War Period. ( I sailed through these straits, so close to Istanbul I could have hit it with a rock. So near, so far )

This will only serve to antagonize a proud nation, a nation that may already be slipping into the orbit of a Muslim world that won't have the slightest problem with what happened with the Christian Armenians. The EU and the US competes to censure Turkey and will be so surprised when it turns its back on us.

Shame on the US Congress. They spoke the truth, in the most public, ignorant, and useless way possible. I now want the Turkish Parliament to condemn the American genocide of the Indians, and for the Japanese Diet to issue a forceful statement on the evils of American slavery of blacks.

The situations are not identical--the US doesn't deny slavery the way the Japanese dance around the issue of sexual slavery--but the fact is that such high pronouncements by national legislatures about friends will do no wrong and could do great harm.


--such high pronouncements by national legislatures about other nations, nations that are friends, will do no good and could do great harm.--


You are plum wrong !
Turkey has been out of the orbit of Islam for 84 years when they formed a Secularist state (and are still)!
basis of your comments are unfounded and I find you biased and a denialist.

They have been out of the orbit of Islam. But there are Islamists there, and they want to undo the secularism that has existed and that does still exist...and that I hope will exist for a long time to come.

It does seem as if Turkey is indeed moving away from secularism. My father-in-law spends several weeks/months a year there on business and has commented on the religious influence taking stronger root. His company advises that he not reveal he is a Christian, let alone a Catholic, even though there are great Chrsitian sites to see. He has also spent a great deal of time in Qatar and UAE (Dubai) and feels that Turkey is heading in that direction. More theocratic, less secular.

--basis of your comments are unfounded and I find you biased and a denialist.--

I am sympathetic to Turks and to Turkey. Please re-read my comment carefully.

I think that great crimes were committed by Turks in the past that should be acknowledged, as I think great crimes were committed by America and England and Germany and Russia in the long ago and not so long ago past.

Which does not mean that these are not good countries, with their own mighty contributions to the world.

The US Congress essentially sought to embarrass and betray an ally,in an effort to appear more moral than the evil Turk.

But as an individual citizen of the world--I say that it is the Turkish government and Parliament that should condemn these crimes of the not so distant past, and not the sniveling US Congress of lawyers and whores.

More power to the secular Turks. Who would show the greatest strength by admitting the truth of what happened to the Armenians, as the Germany of today is the greater for facing the truth of the 1930s and 1940s with an unblinking eye.

The historical Armenian tragedy should be dealt with between the Turks and the Armenians. It is to be hoped that the bitter passions on both sides will fade enough for the process of healing and reconciliation to proceed.
What has the US legislature got to do with this? It can only be seen as ineffectual rhetoric at its best, it is not in anyones interest to alienate the Turks who are sensitive and defensive on the issue, which is a complex one, and ultimately a consequence of the breakdown of the European world order by the western powers and Russia.
Rejection and condemnation by the European Union and the USA will only strengthen nationalist extremists of both the secular and religious varieties.
Non-Americans will wonder at condemning Turkey for the evils of a vanished world, from a nation that has issues from its own past, to be dealt with. The Philippines genocide, the Vietnam war, Iraq, support for murderous regimes, just to name a few.

The historical Armenian tragedy should be dealt with between the Turks and the Armenians. It is to be hoped that the bitter passions on both sides will fade enough for the process of healing and reconciliation to proceed.
What has the US legislature got to do with this? It can only be seen as ineffectual rhetoric at its best, it is not in anyones interest to alienate the Turks who are sensitive and defensive on the issue, which is a complex one, and ultimately a consequence of the breakdown of the European world order by the western powers and Russia.
Rejection and condemnation by the European Union and the USA will only strengthen nationalist extremists of both the secular and religious varieties.
Non-Americans will wonder at condemning Turkey for the evils of a vanished world, from a nation that has issues from its own past, to be dealt with. The Philippines genocide, the Vietnam war, Iraq, support for murderous regimes, just to name a few.

I have to agree with Anon in that I'm against all symbolic resolution BS. There is plenty of real job that needs to get done, if congresspeople care about it they can write it on their blogs...

It's just a matter of priorities. How are we finding time to pass meaningless resolutions and not finding time to pass *actual legislation*?

Do your f*cking jobs for a change.

The murdered Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink 'never refrained from using the word genocide' but 'made clear that this term had a political meaning, rather than a historical one, and he was strongly critical of the strategy of the Armenian diaspora of pressuring Western governments into official recognition of the Genocide label', believing that outside interference obstructed efforts to improve relations between Armenians and Turks. When the French parliament debated a law criminalising denial of the Armenian genocide, he said that if the law was passed he would go to France and deny the genocide as a protest against the law.

I find myself agreeing with Phantom for once – and also Persse. There is no doubt that what occurred in Eastern Turkey in WW I was an atrocity that is as best described as genocide as with any other word. There is also no doubt that a great many, probably a majority, of Turkish citizens agree with their government that such was not the case. They’ll argue that it was in the middle of the war, that the Russians were exploiting and encouraging Armenian grudges for their own predatory purposes, that the Armenians had killed plenty of Turks already, etc. etc. Get an Armenian or Turk on the subject and you’ll get an earful. It would be better if the Turks finally acknowledged that what happened was in fact basically genocide, but while Kurdish trouble is simmering on both sides of the border in their southeast, that’s not going to happen.

This doubtless has more to do with the fact that there are a good many more Armenian-American than Turkish-American constituents. That Armenian rage has persisted now for several generations in America is testimony to the fact that what happened ninety-odd years ago in Turkey, was, if not genocide, something awfully close to it. The question is: do we have a dog in this fight, and if we really do, is this the best time to beat Turkey over the head with this particular stick? Armenian and Kurdish independence/irredendist ambitions will surely be conflated in Turkish opinion. Not only is Turkey of critical logistical importance for carrying out the war in Iraq, but also the Turkish government has been making noises about possibly having to fight the Kurds across the border in Iraq, which, if it should come to that, would doubtless not have entirely felicitous consequences. (I might add that from the start I’ve had nothing but the most profound disgust and contempt for the BushCo Iraq project, but I think that if passing this resolution is an attempt to rein Dubya in, it will only backfire.) Tossing fat into this particular fire at this particular time is not exactly the wisest thing Congress could do.

As for Bush’s words, I’m sure George synthesized his profound understanding of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora, Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, the First World War, the Kurdish question, the subtleties of international law and diplomatic parlance, his encyclopedic knowledge of the logistics of his war, and his uncanny and unerring instinct for international opinion and consensus, to arrive at the wise and precise statement he so brilliantly crafted all by himself, without any help from Condi.

Oh you dummies. First of all, none of you seem to really have any understanding of the events. Or of the current geo-politcal stakes involved. And I've got news for you dumb bunnies: most of the Armenians were killed by their Kurdish neighbors, not by the Turks. I know the history, and I've spent time in both Armenia and Turkey as well as Georgia and Azerbaidjan. Why won't you peoeple spent some time traveling and reading, and less time prattling and blathering about things of which you clearly know little or nothing. Ugh, dumb Americans.

travel is expensive, dangerous sometimes and uses up a lot of oil so do tell us, c, where we might read up on these facts of history that are missing from our opinions. [and my Armenian and Turkish, uh, need a little brushing up]

And I've got news for you dumb bunnies: most of the Armenians were killed by their Kurdish neighbors, not by the Turks. I know the history, and I've spent time in both Armenia and Turkey as well as Georgia and Azerbaidjan.
I read that 'a significant chunk of the Armenian genocide was carried out by Kurds, trying to curry favor with the Ottomans' (from the comments to an entry on A Tiny Revolution). According to your understanding of the history, is this credible?

The Turks had the control, and the primary responsibility is theirs.

Just as when East European helpers helped the Nazis kill Jews, the responsibility remained in Berlin.

But yes, the Kurds were happy to kill Armenian Christians in vast numbers, and perhaps it makes one temper enthusiasm for the Kurdish cause. That and the fact that they still adhere to "honor killings" in a big way.

Turkey has recalled their ambassador, and that is only the beginning of this. This will harm US interests in many ways, and for years.

There was never any possible upside to these hijinks, not for the US , not for the Armenians either, and a downside that could be forseen by anyone who cared to think for a second.

The Turks cut military ties with France when the French assembly passed a similar provocation. The Turks probably won't do that to the US, but any reduction in cooperation will have consequences re the Iraq war, in any future withdrawal from Iraq, or in regional security separate and apart from that.

Every representative who participated in this juvenile stunt is to be condemned.

What has Turkey done for us lately in terms of actually fighting terrorism? They've been pretty good about enabling our ruinous occupation of Iraq. If Turkey were to kick the US out today, it would be a net loss to global terrorism and a net gain to the US--because we might actually have to leave Iraq some time in the next 20 years.

Yes, Turkey's a secular authoritarian regime with more personal freedom than the average country in the region--and that's good for US interests. Turkey's regime is no way contingent upon its friendly relations with the US.

Besides, it's the secular ultra-nationalists who are paranoid about calling the Armenian genocide by it's right name.

Frankly, I think this whole snit on Turkey's part has more to do with US reluctance to support their desired incursion into Northern Iraq. The fact that Blackwater employees were recently busted for trafficking arms to the PKK probably didn't help.

If Turkey's loyalty to the war on terrorism hinges on the US House of Representatives' opinions about early 20th Century Ottoman history, Turkey isn't a very stalwart ally, is it?

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