Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Genocide Politics

The George W. Bush administration has gone on the offensive against a non-binding House resolution recognizing as "genocide"...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The George W. Bush administration has gone on the offensive against a non-binding House resolution recognizing as "genocide" the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in the former Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. Administration officials argue that the resolution, which has majority support in the House, could harm relations with Turkey at a particularly crucial time.

The influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), voted 27-21 to endorse the legislation last Wednesday, despite the pleas of President Bush, who said it threatened to undermine U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

"We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915, but this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings," said Bush. "Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror."

Armenia and Turkey have long opposed each other’s versions of events during and after World War I. Armenia claims that up to 1.5 million were murdered or starved to death as part of a systematic effort by the Turkish government to end the national liberation of the Armenian people, and it considers Turkey’s actions as "the first genocide of the 20th century."

Turkish officials do not deny that mass killings took place but argue that the deaths resulted from widespread fighting that occurred during the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire, clashes that also left hundreds of thousands of Muslim Turks dead.

Turkey claims that 600,000 Armenians died after they allied themselves with Russian forces invading the Ottoman Empire and maintains that they were not the victims of a government-sponsored campaign of genocide.

Last Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a joint appeal to Congress and offered to provide House members with a classified briefing to discuss what they described as the "national security interests" at stake.

Legislators who voted for the measure defended it as a stand against state-sponsored atrocities.

"I am Jewish. I have both a moral and person obligation to condemn all acts of genocide no matter where or when they occur," said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, in a statement. "Our nation’s relationship with Turkey is important. Our relationships with all other countries are important. But our relationship with humanity matters as well. I cannot vote to deny that the horrific actions of the Armenian genocide occurred."

Turkey severed military ties with France after its parliament voted in 2006 to make the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime. Following the U.S. congressional vote this week, Ankara ordered its ambassador in Washington to return home for "consultations" but says he has not been formally withdrawn.

"A similar reaction by the elected government of Turkey to a House resolution could harm American troops in the field, constrain our ability to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and significantly damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey at a key turning point in their relations," said Rice and Gates in the letter, as reviewed and reported by the Associated Press.

On Thursday, Gates warned of the "enormous implications" for U.S. military operations in Iraq if Turkey limited flights over its airspace and restricted access to Incirlik Air Base.

"All I can say is that a resolution that looks back almost 100 years to an event that took place under a predecessor government, the Ottomans, and that has enormous present day implications for American soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen in Iraq, is something we need to take very seriously," Gates told reporters in London.

Turkey provides significant logistical support for the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq. About 70% of all air cargo sent to Iraq passes through or comes through Turkey, as does 30% of fuel, and virtually all the new armored vehicles designed to withstand mines and bombs, according to Gates.

The legislation also comes as Turkey’s government prepares to seek permission from parliament to carry out a cross-border offensive against an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq, in retaliation for rebel attacks that have killed 29 Turkish soldiers, police, and civilians in the past two weeks.

Washington has warned that a Turkish military attack across the border in Iraq could throw into chaos the only relatively stable region of Iraq.

The PKK, an armed separatist group whose goal has been to create an independent socialist Kurdish state, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Europe, and NATO, and Turkey claims it has been responsible for more than 30,000 deaths, the majority of them civilian, when it began using political violence in the early 1980s.

Turkey conducted its last major operation into Iraq in 1997.

Turkish President and head of the Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Abdullah Gul called last Wednesday’s committee vote "unacceptable" and said, "Some politicians in the United States have once again sacrificed important matters to petty domestic politics despite all calls to common sense."

The Armenian resolution debate has also unleashed an aggressive lobbying campaign by Ankara, which is spending more than $300,000 a month on sophisticated public relations specialists and former Washington lawmakers to help defeat the measure.

The Turkish Embassy is paying $100,000 a month to lobbying firm DLA Piper, which is associated with former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, and $105,000 to the Livingston Group (connected to former Republican lawmaker Robert L. Livingston), and it recently paid public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard $114,000 a month, according to records filed with the Justice Department.

Khody Akhavi writes for the Inter Press Service.

Citations

Khody Akhavi, "Genocide Politics," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, October 16, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share