Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dead Armenians, Peeved Turks, and Congress

The American House of Representatives, in a remarkable display of international solidarity and moral rectitude, voted to join 21 other nations in recognizing the first major genocide of the 20th century.

Just one problem. The genocidal country is Turkey. And the Turkish government doesn't like to be reminded about one of the dying Ottoman Empire's last gasps. In fact, Turkey would just as soon have everyone accept the official Turkish version of events.

International Relations: Nothing's Ever Simple

Today, over two thirds of the cargo, and about a third of the fuel, heading for American forces in Iraq go through or over Turkey. And, Turkey provides water to U.S. bases in northern Iraq.

All of which makes the good will of Turkey important.

And, right now, a little hard to maintain, thanks to the House of Representatives doing something decent.

Turkey's ambassador to America is back in Turkey, for at least a week of discussions. At least, that's what a Turkish official said.

Background: The Armenian genocide in Turkey

1,500,000 of the 2,500,000 (Christian) Armenians in the Ottoman Empire just happened to die, unexpectedly, during WWI (1915-1916), with mop-up clusters of death running as late as 1923 or so.

Survivors say that it was a genocidal operation. Eyewitnesses say it was a genocide. So do scholars who study genocides.

If fact, genocide scholars give the Ottoman Empire credit for the first big genocide of the 20th century. Which makes Turkey an international trend-setter, considering genocidal operations of the 20th century.

Despite this claim to fame, the Turkish government, while admitting that Armenians died, say that there was no genocide, and resent statements to the contrary.

I've thought this is a little odd, since the current Turkish government is the successor of a string of coups and elections dating back to 1923. That's when Mustafa Kemal led Turkey out of the mess left by Turkey's Ottoman Empire.

Back to the Present

America went through something like this back in 2000, with the resolution going nowhere after the White House said that it would hurt American security. And no, I don't think this is evidence that the 9/11 (2001) attack was an American plot.

I do, however, think that it's ironic, and moderately disgusting, that in order to deal with Islamic fanatics, it's necessary to cooperate with a Muslim country's secular government.

Countries Acknowledging the Armenian Genocide,
One way or another

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Lithuania
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Uruguay
  • Vatican City
  • Venezuela
  • Wales
A pinch of salt is appropriate when someone claims to be glad to admit mistakes, but in this case, I really am. In a previous post, "Ahmadinejad's Plan for Peace: Banish the Jews to Alaska" (October 7, 2007), I wrote that academics would probably regard the Armenian Exodus as a disputed claim. Researching today's post, I found that the Armenian Exodus is generally accepted as a real event.

Facts from


Anonymous said...

President Bush keep reminding us that we should not forget 9/11. He has justified the invasion of Iraq and the war on terror because of 9/11. Now the president Bush is asking the Armenians to forget the killings of over 1 million Armenians but remember the death of about 3,000 tragic deaths on 9/11. Where is your moral consistency President?

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for leaving a comment.

A statement that I'll most likely be repeating a great deal as the next American presidential election looms is, "this blog is not intended to be political." However, since politics are inextricably enmeshed in the war on terror, politics will seep in.

President Bush, whatever one thinks of his policies and origins, is in the unenviable position of being at the desk where "the buck stops." There's more on the general topic in "It's Different, When You're in Charge."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.