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October 17, 2007
Second Thoughts in House on Armenian Genocide Vote
Realizing that there are times when standing on principle has devastating real world consequences, many members of Congress who supported the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide by the Turkish government in 1915 are now backing down as a result of pleas from the White House and threats from Turkey:
Until today, the resolution appeared to be on a path to House passage, with strong support from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California. It was approved last week by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Are we caving in to Turkey? Unless we really want to shoot ourselves in the foot by insisting on passing what amounts to a non-binding sense of the Congress, there isn't much we can do. Turkey is a vital ally and their logistical support for our operations in Iraq is crucial to our efforts there.
But this evening, a group of group of senior House Democrats had made it known they were planning to ask the leadership to drop plans for a vote on the measure.
“Turkey obviously feels they are getting poked in the eye over something that happened a century ago, and maybe this isn’t a good time to be doing that,” said Representative Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat who dropped his sponsorship of the resolution Monday night. .
Others who took the same action said that while they deplored the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, beginning in 1915, the modern-day consequences in the Middle East could not be overlooked.
“We simply cannot allow the grievances of the past — as real as they may be — to in any way derail our efforts to prevent further atrocities for future history books,” said Representative Wally Herger, Republican of California.
Beyond Iraq, there is Turkey's support for the War on Terror and all the cooperative ventures we've been carrying out with them. Finally, our bi-lateral relations with Turkey are vital to NATO and we can ill afford to severely damage those relations especially considering that Turkey is our closest Muslim ally.
Voting for the resolution would have been historic and would probably have made us feel good. But it was a bad idea to bring it forward in the first place given Turkey's implacable opposition to it.