Bush warns against Armenia genocide bill


President George W Bush has urged US legislators not to pass a resolution declaring the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks to be genocide. “This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings,” he said hours before a vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

[This is one more example of Bush appeasing the Islamists.]

Such a move, already taken by France’s parliament, would do “great harm” to US relations with Turkey, Mr Bush added. Turkey admits many Armenians died in WWI but denies any genocidal campaign.

Ahmadinejad warns against passage of Holocaust bill

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Iranian legislators not to pass a resolution declaring the killing of Jews by Nazi Germany to be genocide. He said the bill’s passing would result in a “significant weakening” of his country’s ties with itself.

It is highly unusual for the White House to make such a dramatic last-minute intervention in Congressional business, the BBC’s Justin Webb reports from Washington.

With the opposition Democrats now in charge in Congress, they could force a vote, dealing a potentially grave blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to keep Turkey on side, our correspondent adds.

Turkish indignation

Speaking before Mr Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the passing of the resolution would be “very problematic” for US policy in the Middle East.

It could, she added, destabilise US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan because Turkey is a main hub for US military operations in the region.

Even if it passes and is then adopted by the House, the bill will not be binding.

But the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford, in Istanbul, says that this will have little impact on the reaction in Turkey.

Ankara has pulled out all the stops to prevent the genocide resolution reaching Congress for a vote, she adds.

Politicians have travelled to Washington to lobby lawmakers, while the country’s prime minister and president have both contacted Mr Bush.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned of “serious problems that will emerge in bilateral relations if the bill is adopted”.

Border tensions

All this comes on top of mounting anger that the US is not doing enough to counter the Kurdish separatist PKK group, which mounts deadly attacks on Turkey from inside Iraq, our correspondent says.

The Turkish prime minister said the government was preparing a motion seeking approval to launch military action in Iraq, which might go before parliament as soon as Thursday.

Some Turkish analysts believe the passing of the US resolution would make it harder for the Turkish government to resist public pressure to cross the border.

However, the US warned Turkey not to pursue Kurdish rebels into northern Iraq.

“We do not think it would be the best place for troops to go into Iraq from Turkey at this time,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Armenian pressure

Armenia alleges that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in an organised campaign to force them out of what is now eastern Turkey in 1915-17.

That is strongly denied by Turkey, which says that large numbers of both Turks and Armenians were killed in the chaos surrounding World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire when Armenians rose up.

It is still extremely difficult to establish a set of undisputed facts about what happened in eastern Anatolia almost a century ago, the BBC’s regional analyst Pam O’Toole says.

But the issue has been kept alive by the powerful Armenian diaspora.

Last year, the lower house of the French parliament declared the killings a genocide.

Ankara argues that there were massacres by both sides at the time but completely rejects the allegation that there was a state policy to kill Armenians.

Some Turks fear if those events are recognised as genocide, that could open the door to claims for compensation or even territory, our analyst says.

Story from BBC NEWS:

October 10, 2007 | 16 Comments »

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16 Comments / 16 Comments

  1. The very person who coined the word “genocide,” Raphael_Lemkin (a Jewish man by the way), was largely motivated by his observations of the Armenian atrocities and the need to distinguish such crimes against human groups based on who they were rather than what they did, regardless of whether they were during war or not. To reply to Ted’s issue with the present UN Convention definition, Samantha Power says it perfectly in her masterpiece Pulitzer Prize-winning book A_Problem_from_Hell:_America_and_the_Age_of_Genocide:

    “‘Genocide,'” as defined in the UN treaty, suffered then (as it suffers now) from several definitional problems…On the question of how many individuals have to be killed and/or expelled from their homes in order for mas murder or ethnic cleansing to amount to genocide, there is–and can be–no consensus. If the law were to require a pre-specified percentage of killings before outsiders responded, perpetrators would be granted a free reign up to a dastardly point. The law would be little use if it kicked in only when a group had been entirely or largely eliminated. By focusing on the perpetrators intentions and whether they were attempting to destroy a collective, the law’s drafters thought they might ensure that diagnosis of and action against genocide would not come too late. The broader, intent-based definition was essential if statesmen hoped to nip the crime in the bud.” (pg 63 in my 2003 copy, but a new edition came out last month)

    Also, the resolution before Congress has nothing to do with prosecuting a crime retroactively, which would be wrong, only with retroactively applying a word to accurately characterize well-documented events of history. Powers quoting Teddy Roosevelt in slamming those who for the sake of pragmatism refused to recognize what was going on in Armenia and “put safety in the present above both duty in the present and safety in the future”:
    “Until we put honor and duty first, and are willing to risk something in order to achieve righteousness both for ourselves and for others, we shall accomplish nothing; and we shall earn and deserve the contempt of the strong nations of mankind.” (Fear God and Take Your Own Part, p.377)

  2. Simply put, it is a crime of genocide to “kill[ing] members of a group”.

    Wikipedia advises

    The convention was passed in order to outlaw actions similar to the Holocaust by Nazi Germany during World War II. Because the convention required the support of the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc, it excluded actions undertaken by those nations. As a result, the convention excludes from the definition of genocide the killing of members of a social class, members of a political or ideological group, and that of cultural killings.

    The United States became a state party to the convention in 1988, though only with the proviso that it was immune from prosecution for genocide without its consent. This proviso was also made by Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Yemen, and Yugoslavia.

    The American Heritage Dictionary, for example, says that genocide is “The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.”

    Thus, the law, Soren quoted,redefined the term to apply when “part” of a group is the victim rather than the entire group. Furthermore, a “group” may be “national” or “religious”. Also “systematic and planned” was deleted from the crime.

    In this decision on Serbia,, only 8000 victims were involved. Some argue that 5000 of these were simply missing. How many Taliban or Iraqi were killed in the attack on Afghanistan and Iraq? I am sure many multiples of this figure. So why don’t these killings fall within the crime of genocide. There is nothing in the law which distinguishes one from the other.

    I will be interested to read what the court had to say about when a killing of part of a group becomes a crime of genocide.

    Now as we know there were killings on a massive scale by the Turks at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time there mas no crime of genocide or even a definition. The Nuremberg trials applied ex poste facto law. By what criteria should we judge the killings of the Armenians? It seems to me that when you kill 1.5 million people you do so not to win a war but to destroy a people. So for me the dictionary is the appropriate standard to view it. But 100 years later you don’t put anyone on trial to enforce ex poste facto law. So were are only trying to label it.

    I personally reject the UN definition. It is not enough to be labelled genocide to kill part of a people on the scale of Serbrinica. It must be many multiples of that with the intent to wipe out a people in a given location.. Anything less is not genocide or shouldn’t be, but it may be a war crime.

  3. UN Definition of Genocide according to 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

    “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:
    A. Killig members of the group;
    B. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    C. Deliberately inflicting on the group the conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    D. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    E. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

  4. Find a definition of a Holocaust (keeping in mind the extremely low standard of inhumanity that the Nazi regime set mid-twentieth century) and then call it by its rightful name – divorced of the politics of the day. To do otherwise would lead to the politicization of The Holocaust as jlichty points out in comment #1. Just because Islam has been known to conquer by the sword does not make the Armenian Holocaust any less severe or significant.

    I fear that partisanship is getting the best of some people and they are becoming so polarized that they can no longer recognize true suffering. The matter of who is the cause the suffering is up for debate but the physical, emotional and life-threatening consequences of bad religion, bad leadership and bad ideologies must not be swept under the table because one is on the left or on the right of the political spectrum.

    We must not appease Islamic leaders just because they show minimal signs of wanting weak alliances with the West at their convenience and advantage (recall Turkey did not allow US to use their air bases at the beginning of the Iraq war). Decisions on matters of morality need to be separated from the global struggle for power, influence and prestige.

  5. Oh yes, thanks Bill Levinson (#9) for the clarification, you are correct the repeated Armenian genocide comments came up under the Abe Foxman book not the Walt & Mearsheimer book, I’d confused the two. Here’s the link to the Abe FoxmanBook, and I know many of the commenters in the bogus 1-star spam reviews are white supremacist neo-nazi types because of my past interactions with them on Amazon. Foxman’s position on the genocide is making their Jewish Lobby cry find sympathetic ears. Even I, a passionate Christian Zionist, am very seriously grieved not just by Foxman’s stance, but by Israel’s. The way I deal with it is by reminding myself that many leaders (not just Israeli leaders, but Bush and Condi) just don’t operate as if they had faith in God. They just do not seem to believe that if they do the right thing morally, then God will take care of the details. It reminds me of back in the Tanakh when ancient Israel was repeatedly chastised for seeking alliances with Egypt and others, for trusting in chariots and horses rather than in God. Anyway, even minimal understanding of Islam teaches that submitting to an Islamic demand (such as Turkey’s threat), is perceived as a victory giving momentum for the next step in the jihad (and here I mean the total jihad, diplomatic, economic, strategic, etc, not just violent). I do not think submitting to Turkey on this is even pragmatic, besides the fact that it’s immoral. Finally, this situation reminds me of the pragmatism argument for the repeated willful failure of US administrations to fulfill their promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. So I find it especially hypocritical and disturbing to hear Israel or Jews speak against or remain silent regarding recognizing the Armenian genocide for the sake of pragmatism.

  6. You mean Abraham Foxman and his Antisemitism enabling and Denial League?

    Once again, the double standard. You have nothing to say critical about the Bush administration not willing to recognize the Armenian genocide, yet are all over the Anti-Defamation League.

  7. Laura I never said it was OK with me I was trying to point out that the use of the word Genocide in such a general non distinctive manner demeans, dilutes and makes real Genocide of which the mass murder of native Americans,Cambodians and a few other examples but the general casual use of the term waters down the Jewish Holocaust, this is demeaning and a banalization of the meaning of the word Genocide(The extinction of a people through violent means) In all wars people died on all sides, and the bulk of all casualties have been non combatants. Is the killing of 10000, a genocide? or fifty? or 100? 1 million ? or 2 or3 million? Mass murder at random as serious as this is ;without the motivation, and the actionable planning and ideology to destroy a whole nation by killing all of them, is not GENOCIDE! The Turksm Afgans,Persians, are brutal vicious and without conscious, as you or I might recognize. Different people different rules of behavior. The Americans killed a million civilians in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. 20-25 million German civilians in world war 2, hundreds of thousands of Japanese in ww2 etc. Hell read the History of the World and you will see that what the Turks did against Armenians is no different than what happened in all of Human History if not worse.,

  8. Turks behavior towards the Armenians was essentially no different than they behaved against any other nation they were at war with, especially when the Turks had the Power. I served with a Turkish Battalion in Korea and saw their brutality in combat and I can say first hand that this is their way and it is part of their culture and military tradition.

    So this is acceptable by you?

  9. There are many ideas that have been manifested by this article, but comment that struck home for me was the comment by yamit82.

    Yamit makes the point that brutality is part of the Turkish culture and military tradition and therefore their slaughter of Armenians should not be labeled genocide.

    I agree that the Turks are and always have been a brutal people. I will also add, however, that brutality is the tradition of most military cultures.

    The Europeans, on the other hand, have attempted to assuage their consciences by making a game out killing and instituting uninforceable and often silly rules and regulations.

    Where I disagree with Yamit’s opinion, however, is if we excuse a nation of genocide because their culture is brutal then we eliminate the term genocide altogether.

    The truth is, all cultures and their militaries are in fact brutal whether they follow a code of conduct or not. Killing thousands of people “the legal way” by dropping tons of explosives on them isn’t brutal?

    Therefore, when over a million helpless Armenians or any other people are killed by the military of Turkey, Germany, Somalis or whatever, there can be no excuse for their horrible action; it is genocide. If we don’t call it such, it will give the powerful the moral perogative to destroy the weak.

    On a personal level, it would certainly give me the excuse slaughter every living Turk because some Turkish SOB raped an unknown Easter european ancestor 200 years ago and gave me my curious Turkish appearance without any apparent connection.

  10. The Turks are correct in defending themselves from the slanderous accusations of the by and large Liberal and Democratic, non Muslim West.


    Turks behavior towards the Armenians was essentially no different than they behaved against any other nation they were at war with, especially when the Turks had the Power. I served with a Turkish Battalion in Korea and saw their brutality in combat and I can say first hand that this is their way and it is part of their culture and military tradition.

    While I sympathize with Armenians they when they had the opportunity behaved no better towards the Turks.

    In this I reluctantly side with Bush.

  11. Add this example to the innumerable examples of the Muslim tail wagging the American dog metaphors.

    The American government is beyond shame.

    And yet we are to believe that a vast Jewish lobby controls American policy in the Middle East.

  12. And don’t forget the air passage to Iraq. Even so, woo-hoo, the resolution passed committee 27-21. Thank God (Someone Bush & Condi seem to have no fear of), because who would take us seriously if we ever used the word “genocide” again if we denied it’s application to the Armenian slaughter. What hypocrites we who ever mention the Holocaust look like. In fact, I was curious to see the reaction to the ludicrous Walt & Mearsheimer book The Jewish Lobby, so checked out the Amazon “reviews,” bogus propaganda that they are, and repeatedly the reviewers were pointing to failure of Jews to recognize the Armenian genocide as proof of the Lobby and other negative accusations.

  13. I believe the Baku to Ceyhan oil pipeline has a terminus at Ceyhan, Turkey.

    Last year Bulgaria gave approval for 3 US bases on its territory. NB that Bulgaria and Turkey share a common frontier.

    The only redeeming social value gleaned from the pending Congressional Armenian proclaimation is that it does not hold Israel responsible for this pre WWI event….at least as of 11 October 07.

    Kol tuv,

  14. This decision by Bush falls in line with his decisions about elegal emigrants, the fence, the appeal to Texas to show leniency to a dispicable killer of two girls, wanting Israel to give Israel away for two states living side by side in terrorism, keeping a person like C. Rice at his side, alienating his own party by appeasement of those countries who wish to destroy us, cowardice toward Iran, embarassing our country with the International Community and other situations too numeous to account. Maybe worse than all is his stabbing Israel in the back with regards to the radical Palistinians without any consideration about harming the only country who, through thick and thin, sided with the USA. America, think long and hard about the next election and make your decision, not on polical considerations, but on what you want the USA to represent.

  15. This Bush intervention to accede to Turkey’s sensibilities, is not brought about by a desire to appease Muslims as much as it derives from fear of losing yet more ground in the Middle East. The report quotes
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying:

    “the passing of the resolution would be “very problematic” for US policy in the Middle East. It could, she added, destabilise US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan because Turkey is a main hub for US military operations in the region.”

    Add this example to the innumerable examples of the Muslim tail wagging the American dog metaphors.

    The American government is beyond shame.

  16. Maybe Bush wants to start questioning the Holocaust so as not to offend the Iranians. Boy has the architect of the Bush Doctrine gone wobbly.

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