American Hellenic Institute

AHI Calendar

 
Facebook Image
Op-Ed on “Executive Branch Appeasement of Turkey Continues”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
December 28, 2007—No. 84 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “Executive Branch Appeasement of Turkey Continues”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the National Herald, 12-8-07 page 13, the Hellenic Voice, 12-12-07 page 5 and the Greek News, 12-10-07 page 36.

Executive Branch Appeasement of Turkey Continues

By Gene Rossides

December 4, 2007

The latest example of the Executive Branch appeasement of Turkey to the detriment of U.S. interests concerns the Armenian Genocide resolutions in the House of Representatives, H. Res. 106 and the Senate, S. Res. 106.

The vote on H. Res. 106 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee took place on October 10, 2007. The resolution passed 27 to 21 on October 10, 2007, despite a massive lobbying campaign by the White House, the State and Defense Departments and the Turkish government.

The government of Turkey is spending over $3.6 million annually for lobbyists including former Congressmen Bob Livingston and Dick Gephardt, DLA Piper and Fleishman-Hillard, public relations specialists.

As a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush pledged that he would make sure that “our nation properly recognizes” that: “The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts.” Bush however failed to use the term genocide in the annual April 24 presidential statement on the subject. President Clinton also refused to use the term genocide in his April 24 statements. April 24 is the date generally considered the start of the killings of Armenians in 1915 by the “Young Turks” under the Pashas which lasted into 1923 under Ataturk.

Bush urged the Congress and the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee not to vote for H. Res. 106. The State and Defense Departments went all out to defeat it.

The State Department obtained the signatures of all eight living former secretaries of state on a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) which contained a warning that H. Res. 106, a non-binding resolution “would endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

I concur with those 27 Representatives who voted for H. Res. 106 and who, in effect, question the thesis of the joint letter and its accuracy.

I concur with Congressman Brad Sherman (D-California) a principal sponsor of H. Res. 106 who said in his opening statement in the Committee on October 10, 2007 prior to the vote:

“What happened in 1915 to 1923? In the area now encompassed by Turkey, the Armenian population was two million. Eight years later it was virtually zero. Our own ambassador to the Ottoman Empire stated what happened: ‘When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.’

Or turn to Mustaffa Arriff, the last minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire, who said, ‘Our wartime leaders…decided to exterminated the Armenians, and they did exterminate them.’

It is right for this Congress to recognize a genocide particularly when it is denied. Genocide denial is not only the last step of a genocide, it is the first step in the next genocide. When Hitler had to convince his cohorts that the world would let them get away with it, he turned to them and said, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’

Opponents say that Turkey will be angry….This Committee has condemned particular actions of such great allies such as England and Canada. We cannot provide genocide denial as one of the perks of friendship with the United States.

• • • •

We are told that if we pass this resolution Turkey will react against us. Beyond the moral bankruptcy of such threats lies Turkey’s long-standing practice of trying to win through intimidation, and then when a resolution is passed, doing little or nothing. Despite threats of harsh retribution, Turkey has taken either no steps at all, or token diplomatic steps, against Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, and more than 10 other countries that have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Forty of the United States have recognized the Armenian Genocide, and their trade with Turkey has gone up. My own state of California formally recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1997 and our exports to Turkey have been doing just fine, thank you.

The best example, and the biggest battle, was France, which in 2001 was threatened by Turkey with a trade boycott if it recognized the Armenian Genocide. The French went ahead and recognized that genocide. The chart shows you what happened—a near tripling of French exports to Turkey.

• • • •

This resolution is supported by virtually every scholar of genocide, and by both the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Arab-American Institute.

Finally, we are asked, ‘Why act now?’ Turkey will be a better ally if we speak the truth. Turkey will be an even better ally if Turkey speaks the truth.

But we also have very personal reasons to act now. Today, at this Committee meeting, we have with us four people who survived the Armenian Genocide. They are in their 90s and 100s. We cannot tell them, ‘Wait. Come back in a few years.’ Let these survivors see the country that gave them refuge also give them justice—while they are still here to see it.”

Clearly there are several alternatives to Incirlik air base in Turkey for logistical support of our troops in Iraq. And Turkey’s troops are not welcome in Iraq.

Because of the Turkish threats to stop the use of Incirlik air base and overflight rights by the U.S. if the House of Representatives passes H. Res. 106, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the principal sponsors of the bill have postponed bringing the bill to the House floor for a vote at this time.

Congressman Sherman put it well when he wrote “Americans must ask Turkey, when has it become fashionable for friends to threaten friends?”

Turkey’s negotiating tactics

It is important to remember Turkey’s negotiating tactics. Martin Gilbert, the world renowned historian and biographer of Churchill, in a conference at the Library of Congress on the Armenian Genocide summarized Turkey’s negotiating tactics as follows:

  1. Admit nothing and deny everything;
  2. lie; and
  3. attack, attack, attack.

Turkey’s threats against the U.S. if the House passes H. Res. 106 is an example of “attack.” The Executive Branch (White House, State and Defense Departments) response is shameful and exposes a deep weakness in our diplomatic policy. The State and Defense Departments of successive administration have practiced a policy of appeasement of Turkey and a policy of double standards on the rule of law for Turkey.

U.S.-Turkey policy based on false premises

The added disgrace of the Executive Branch policies regarding Turkey is that they are based on false premises.

Ted Galen Carpenter, the Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies of the respected CATO Institute in Washington, D.C. is one of our nation’s leading defense and foreign policy analysts. His recent remarks on U.S.-Turkey relations on November 13 at an American Hellenic Institute (AHI) Noon Forum are important. Dr. Carpenter set forth clearly and cogently the reason why the “conventional wisdom in American foreign policy circles regarding Turkey” is in error.

He lists four assumptions of the “conventional wisdom” and then demonstrates that each of them is “partially false or totally false.”

His remarks should be required reading in the State and Defense Departments, the National Security Council and the Congress. The AHI will distribute these remarks to each Representative, Senator, the President and Executive Branch officials.

Dr. Carpenter stated that the conventional wisdom in American foreign policy circles regarding Turkey asserts the following four propositions:

First, that Turkey has been a loyal ally of the United States since the earliest days of the Cold War and remains a loyal ally.

Second, that Turkey is a force for stability in the Middle East and Central Asia in addition to its role within NATO and European affairs.

Third, that Turkey is basically a Western secular country.

Fourth, Turkey is a good candidate that should be admitted to the European Union in the near future.

Dr. Carpenter in his remarks demonstrated “that every one of those assumptions is either partially false or totally false.”

What is needed in the interests of the U.S. is a critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations by the Congress, the Executive Branch and the academic and think tank communities.

Get active- call and write the President and your representative and two senators and tell them it is not in the interests of the U.S. to continue appeasing Turkey and applying a double standard on the rule of law for Turkey.

###

For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or georgia@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.