Acknowledging The Armenian Genocide

BY YOUSSEF IBRAHIM, NY SUN

America has moral and strategic purposes in denouncing the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as a horrendous genocide perpetrated by Turks.

The facts are not in dispute. Ample documentation shows that for two years, hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians were forcibly marched out of their towns and villages, killed, starved, and crucified until death as part of a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign by the Young Turks government of the dying Ottoman Empire. Twenty-two countries, including those of the European Union — which Turkey aspires to join — have marked those events as genocide.

For Americans, the moral imperative is intuitive. Which Greek, Jewish, Italian, Irish, Hispanic, or black American in this kaleidoscopically diverse nation of immigrants — all touched in one way or another by discrimination — can look in the mirror and say, “It’s okay with me to kill people because of their religion, ethnicity, or origin”?

In that sense, the American Congress, which occasionally rises above its partisan instincts, was right to draft the resolution condemning the Turkish massacre nine decades after the fact. The Congress should now vote it in.

The American government’s strategic imperative to do so is even more compelling, regardless of the protests by Turkey and the Arab world. CONTINUE

October 16, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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  1. I have a feeling that when Black men kill other black men, the world Yawns and continues with business as usual. When Muslims slaughter other Muslims , the World Yawns and continues with Business as usual. The Armenians are Christian. murdered by Muslims. Now this seems all of a sudden to give some meat on those who would now raise the issue.I think by this that I am saying that the religion of those killed by the turks have much do do with the current initiatives!

  2. Soren, I disagree that Ibrahim’s advice is pragmatic.

    Ibrahim concludes his rational for the pragmatism of the Congressional Resolution thusly:

    In the grand scheme of modern Middle East history, the entire concept behind the Arab and Muslim world’s rejection of Israel is premised on Israel’s identity as a “Jewish state.” It is a rejection grounded within the notion of ethnic and religious cleansing. Now that Turkey has become an ascending democracy run by an Islamist party, it is imperative that Turkey signals its accord with the broader Western project of civil society and respect for minorities. That is why Turkey’s friendship and its NATO affiliation should come second to its assumption of responsibility for past crimes against humanity. The future is a reflection and a continuation of the past.

    This Congressional Resolution has no teeth in it and is therefore just a statement of opinion. Turkey has not reacted well to even a hint from any level of American government that it committed crimes against humanity. So much for thinking that Turkey is a democracy like America is a democracy.

    Surely, if America is bent on accusing Turkey of having committed genocide about a century ago, there should
    some purpose in mind.

    Just what is that purpose? Is it a feel good thing for Americans so they can say they call a spade a spade?

    As for historical Muslim Middle Eastern attitudes that Ibrahim notes foster Muslim nations to engage in ethnic cleansing within their nations of minorities and especially non-Muslims, where has the hue and cry been amongst the world’s Christians?

    Surely such a monstrous evil perpetrated on Christians should have roused great anger amongst the world’s Christians.

    Surely amongst those Western nations with a Christian majority, Christians would have banded together to get their governments to take action against those Muslim nations that have engaged in ethnic cleansing of Christians and other minorities downtrodden, poor and persecuted that Christians believe they have the moral duty to defend and help.

    Well as we have seen, not so surely at all.

    So just what is the purpose of the House of Representatives in passing this resolution condeming Turkey as having committed crimes against humanity? Is it to get Turkey to confront her past? Is it to get Turkey to become more Western by issuing a formal apology and mea culpa?

    What about the House of Representatives issuing a Resolution condemning ethnic cleansing and genocide and naming the names of those guilty of having engaged in those actions?

    As much as one might make the moral argument that the House of Representives are doing the right and moral thing with this Resolution, the purposeful objective behind this Resolution is clouded, if there is some definite objective in mind at all.

  3. In the last quarter of a century we can see the growth of the Middle East “radicals”.

    In Jordan and Egypt they are restrained by secular governments. Algeria surpresses them with lethal force. In Iran and Sudan they won.

    Turkey’s government could fall and the vacuum will be filled by Iranian sponsored agents and some Great Powers’ presence so as to weaken the US.

    US military lines of communication (especially logistics) to prosecute the war will require readjustments. At least Diego Garcia will prove worth the investment.

    The readjustments require additional funding and this can only mean US Treasury bond sales to foreign governments. There will be additional invisible taxes in the US to pay the bondholders when due.

    So long, Southeast NATO. It too, will require readjustments.

    Kol tuv,

  4. It’s precisely because of this presumed, but false, choice presented us–morality or pragmatism–that Ibrahim’s article is helpful, for it shows that in this case the moral choice actually is the pragmatic choice, that the Bush/Condi/Turkey position is either not pragmatic, just illusorily so, or at best it’s just pragmatic in the short-term, but counter-pragmatic in the longer run. Ibrahim’s argument is a good one to make, because who wants their position to only be labelled as sentimental, emotional, or pie-in-the-sky. Truth is, while I support the Armenian genocide resolution for moral reasons, appeasement with Islamic leaders does not work but harms–in fact it is the myopia of the State Dept and Bush that is unrealistic, not to mention immoral.

  5. Morality vs. Pragmatism

    Ibrahim and Bostom support the American Congressional Resolution being put forward calling Turkey’s century old genocide of Armenians as a genocide. The clothe their submission in Western morality.

    Pres. Bush has voiced strong objection to this Resolution in response to Turkey’s outrage at this resolution. Turkey is a key Muslim ally of America in her war with Iraq. As the American administration sees it, America can ill afford to lose its alliance with Turkey.

    The issue presents a dilemna of morality vs. pragmatism and that dilemna is not an easy one for either side to overwhelm the other with solid arguments.

    In an article, Turkey Genocide Resolution Does Unneeded Harm: by Frederick Kempe reported today at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&refer=columnist_kempe&sid=atBmLvVgT6Vo,

    the following extract from Kempe’s article is pertinent:

    Those who think this vote is about setting historic facts right aren’t paying attention to the present. What we’re dealing with isn’t some rogue, failed state housing sworn enemies but Turkey, the only Muslim country in NATO, a potential European Union country and the most-important front-line state in the struggle against Islamist extremists. It is the West’s leading bridge to and democratic model for the Mideast.

    It also is the country through which 90 percent of cargo passes for U.S. and allied troops in Iraq. At the very least, U.S. logistical problems will increase.

    Interestingly, this controversial dilemna is not new at all. According to Kempe, Bush Senior and Clinton wrestled with the matter before and managed to dissuade making Turkey’s historical genocide of Armenians an issue that America should be concerned with:

    President Clinton was able to prevent a similar resolution from reaching a House vote during his administration through weeks of intense lobbying and ultimately by convincing then- Majority Leader Dennis Hastert that passage would endanger American lives. Pelosi said Bush hasn’t made a similar effort.

    One can make great arguments both ways on this issue, depending on whether you take a moral or pragmatic approach.

    One thing is certain however is that from a pragmatic point of view, Bush’s reaction to Turkey’s reaction and threats underscores just how fearful Bush and his administration are of offending Muslim sentiments and sensibilities because they see the consequences of that happening could be that America loses not only its war in Iraq, but loses even more ground gained in terms of America’s power and influence and American interests per se in the Middle East become even more sorely prejudiced.

    Once again the great debate focuses on what policies vis a vis the Muslim Middle East and radical Islam are most effective in advancing American and Western interests.

    Are they policies borne of appeasement or policies borne of rage and a desire to dominate or destroy those nations and radical Islamists that seek to dominate and destroy the West.

    So far policies of appeasement appear to be losing America and the West far more then what they gain. Those policies have seemingly had the effect of emboldening and actually strengthening radical Islam. The result is that the Muslim Middle East is becoming more radicalized or seeking to appease the growing number of radicals in their midst. Further the Middle Eastern Muslim nations and societies themselves are becoming bolder and stronger in advancing their interests against Western interests.

    There are those who believe these policies of appeasement will in the end work out for the best for America and the West. There are those who believe such policies of appeasement are recipies for disaster and self destruction.

    The debate rages on, but so far the appeasers seem to have the upper hand.

  6. Andy Bostom, the author of The Legacy of Jihad, writes

    Protecting what is left of those Christians and the even larger groups of other ethnicities is not charity work but is essential for preserving Western interests. Indeed, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, in protesting Western pressure to own up to the massacres of Armenian Christians in 1915 threatened on Saturday to go after the Kurds in northern Iraq. Four years after the war in Iraq began, the fanatical Shiite majority government there has waged an ethnic cleansing war of its own, targeting both Sunni Muslims and Iraqi Christians. It has been savagely successful. Half of Iraq’s entire Christian minorities of 2 million — who represent 5% of the 25 million Iraqis, are now out of the country altogether, refugees looking for a new home.

    In the grand scheme of modern Middle East history, the entire concept behind the Arab and Muslim world’s rejection of Israel is premised on Israel’s identity as a “Jewish state.” It is a rejection grounded within the notion of ethnic and religious cleansing. Now that Turkey has become an ascending democracy run by an Islamist party, it is imperative that Turkey signals its accord with the broader Western project of civil society and respect for minorities. That is why Turkey’s friendship and its NATO affiliation should come second to its assumption of responsibility for past crimes against humanity. The future is a reflection and a continuation of the past.

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