Another Perspective

Hippie Diplomacy

So what if Turkey is an important friend of the U.S.? All the more reason for Democrats to shower it with contempt.

By 10.12.07

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Democrats love to berate President Bush for his "cowboy diplomacy," saying it has angered our friends and isolated us in the so-called international community. Then they go and engage in hippie diplomacy that does exactly the same thing.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted yesterday to label Turkey's 1915 slaughter of ethnic Armenians as genocide. The committee did this in the full knowledge that this would enrage Turkey, a strategically important American ally.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to bring the bill up for a full House vote.

Now, how in the world can this possibly be a good idea?

Supposedly the vote is a matter of conscience. America simply must declare the 92-year-old atrocity a genocide -- now -- so we can live with ourselves. But this is all about politics. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Schiff represents California's 29th district, which includes Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and other areas just east of Los Angeles. The committee's chairman is Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif. Lantos represents California's 12th District, just south of San Francisco. Pelosi, of course, represents San Francisco.

Oh, and California has about half a million Armenians -- the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia. Glendale, Calif., has the largest Armenian population of any city outside Armenia.

So to ingratiate themselves with their constituents, California Democrats are sparking an international incident and alienating America's strongest Islamic ally.

Turkey today recalled its ambassador to the United States. It has threatened to stop assisting us with the Iraq war. (Turkey allows us to transport materials through and over its country.)

All eight living former secretaries of state signed a letter opposing the resolution and sent it to Nancy Pelosi. They understand that although the resolution is historically accurate, it is diplomatically foolish.

A Turkish grad student at Duke University has written a compelling comment explaining why the resolution should not be passed.

"While I believe it is historically credible to call the 1915 massacres a genocide, the current international political climate means this bill would do little to advance justice, prevent further genocide or promote the stated American aim of supporting democracy in the Middle East," said Yektan Turkyilmaz, a graduate student in cultural anthropology.

"The effect of the 'genocide' bill, even before being passed, has been to invigorate ultra-nationalists in Turkey who see the bill as evidence of America and Armenia conspiring to paint Turks as victimizers," Turkyilmaz said. "It does not strengthen groups in Turkey and Armenia open to better relations through dialogue.

"A better way to pursue those goals is proposed in another bill regarding Turkey, also currently in Congress," Turkyilmaz said. "That bill condemns the assassination this year of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and calls for the continuation of the investigation of his murder."

Turkyilmaz is no patsy for the Turkish government. He was imprisoned there two years ago for investigating the Armenian genocide. He's just realistic.

This is a diplomatic disaster. It might even harm the war effort. And Schiff and Co. are doing it just to help their electoral prospects.

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About the Author

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.