2007-10-11

Turkey, Armenia and the US Congress

As much as I believe the notion that there was an Armenian Genocide, why was it so important for the US Congress to pass a bill condemning it?

These days, post "Mission Accomplished", any sort of action from US Politicians condemning things like Genocide is hollow and hypocritical.

For Turks, raising the issue of the Genocide is very touchy. No one likes it when another nation tells them off for doing something wrong, even if it is true.

Turks, like the Japanese, have to eventually come to terms with their nation's past. Acknowledging the Armenian Genocide is certainly part of this. However, it is not going to happen overnight, and it is certainly not going to be helped by the US Congress passing a bill condemning it.

Personally, I would love it if the Turkish Government issued statements condemning America's invasion of Iraq, as well as their invasion of Haiti, their meddling in Guatemala, Honduras and Chile and, of course, the shameful way Americans treated Native Americans during the 19th century. These stains on America's history are as Genocidal as anything Turkey could manage, and killed more people as well.

If Congress could also pass a bill condemning American actions in the 19th and 20th centuries I would probably take this current bill more seriously. As it stands, however, no government that heads a nation with a checkered past has the right to publicly condemn the checkered past of another nation - and that includes my own country, Australia, and their treatment of Indigenous Australians in the 19th century (a treatment that was essentially genocide by omission, rather than commission, but still, in effect, the same thing).

Certainly scholars and historians, as well as Armenians and informed Turks should come out and continue their criticism of early-20th century Turkey. Historical records and proof of the event needs to be disseminated amongst Turks to show them that their history is not as wonderful as they think. Turkey will eventually agree that the Genocide did take place, but that will not happen now, and nor will it happen in the next ten years. Moreover, having the US Congress condemn the Genocide will do nothing to convince Turks - in fact it will make them even less likely to believe it.

3 comments:

Ron Lankshear said...

Back when I was young in UK we had a book by a girl who managed to survive so the killings have always been a fact. And I did like William Saroyan;s books. So I was amazed to find out that the Turks had made mentioning it illegal. And that in 2006 the French made denial illegal. So why are the USA passing such bills? Turkey did not allow invasion of Iraq from Turkey as was planned and I note today they look like they will cross into Iraq to attack the Kurds who have been killing Turkish soldiers.
So I suppose some USA want pressure on Turkey.

Ron Lankshear said...

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1191257286794

Israel is now worried at the situation between Turkey and USA. I thought Turkey was an ally and here is the USA upsetting them. Is this Democrats just wanting to mess up George Bush or what are they up to.

One Salient Oversight said...

If this was, say, New Zealand making this decision, or even France or Germany, maybe nothing would come of it other than bluster and hot air.

But because it is America doing this, and because of America's stupidity since 2003 in showing the world that they're quite happy to let hundreds of thousands of Iraqis die, the ramifications are immense.

Turkey can quite conceivably kick out the Americans from their bases in Turkey. They could also invade northern Iraq to deal with the Kurdish threat (real or imagined).

Turkey's not innocent here by any means. They did try to wipe out Armenians 90 years ago and any incursion into Northern Iraq would make an already bad situation even worse.

But this wouldn't have happened had Congress just kept focused on removing Bush and solving Iraq rather than making moral pronouncements from a weak moral position.