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13 October 2007

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Syndroma

Charles, "Partition did not absolve either the German or the Russian people of historical responsibility"

In the case of USSR it's more complex. Why blame Russian people for the deeds of Stalin? Why not Georgians? Isn't blaming Russians looks like blaming the victim?

In a general case, who bears historical responsibility for genocide? Goverment which ordered it, people who committed it? Goverments fall, peoples partition.

Maybe just "according to your deeds I will judge you"?

Kunu-ri

A fair and equitable solution of Turkish-Armenian problems are of much practical interest of the modern Armenian nation and Republic of Turkey. It is possible, in 1993 there has been secret negotiations between Nationalist leader of MHP, Turkes and pragmatic leader of then president of Armenia, Pedrosian to make peace, right in the middle of war between the new nation of Armenia and Azerbeijan. Turkish regognition of Genocide in return for Armenian guarantee not to pursue reparations and land demand. These were simple, easily manageable compromises to address sensibilities on both sides. In fact, a monument was proposed and accepted on the border with the inscription “ We are sorry” in Armenian and Turkish, facing the opposite sites. Unfortunately Turkes died before agreement was reached and Pedrosian sidelined by another faction less inclined to put practical considerations over the political ones.

Each time the Genocide issue comes to the fore, extremists on both sides benefit, and Turks and Armenians who have most to lose, suffer, especially those who live in the region. While the issue is one of morality and fairness in California, it is one of bread and butter in Kars and Yerevan. If Turkey admits to Genocide, which they never would, how would that change the conditions in the border between Turkey and Armenia? Which Turkish politician will have the courage to suggest to open the border, resume normal trade relations with Armenia and enter a period of rapprochement with Armenia, now that the historical wrongs have been righted? Who would be able to guarantee, say, that there would not be indictment from Hague to prosecute Turkish Government officials for crimes against humanity? Demands for reparations? Return of Kars and Mt. Ararat to Armenia? Does anyone think Turks will ever accept this? Does anyone think that Armenian Diaspora would call it a day after the passage of Genocide amendment and go home? Does anyone know the position of current living Armenians in Turkey on the subject? And unfortunately, on both sides, all-or-nothing types are in majority regardless of the consequences for those living today, and it will remains so as long as Turks refuse to emphasize with the Armenians trauma, and Armenians refusal to heed the Turks’ national sensibilities and near past.

jonst

Well, I don't know about the soldiers and marines there now, but back in my time, when I was in the Corps, I would consider this a rather abstract exercise by Congress. At a time my ass was on the line in a rather tangible manner. This particularly so given I would not be happy that my ass was there in the first place, because of an, ignoble,contributory role, played by Congress.

Yohan,
Whether we have much of a presence, or not, on the border, it seems to me we have, potentially, a lot of leverage over the Kurds. If we are willing to use it. I would use it. Would it work in the end? Who knows? Would it cost us a well? Perhaps. I would still use it. I think the Kurds have something now they have not had for a while.....prosperity. All things relative. That makes people rethink what is in their interests and what is not.

J. Rega

No mention of Turkey's status on entering the EU. A great deal of the current promise of the secularists is that European status would be given as reward for eradication of Turkey's Ottoman (read Muslim) past and identity. Does anyone on these pages believe that there is any chance that a Europe in fear of losing its cultural identity will provide EU passports to Turks?
The Turks to Europe are like the Palestinians to the Israelis, concession after concession is demanded with the promise of 'more talks' in the future. Meanwhile Turkey sits in identity Limbo - Muslim Turk or European Turk. Continual denial of the latter will result in the reemergence of the former - thin ropes indeed.

Clifford Kiracofe

I worked in the Senate of the United States for over a decade, including some years on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Mathias had a piece in Foreign Affairs some time back on the problem of ethnic lobbies:

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19810601faessay8185/charles-mcc-mathias-jr/ethnic-groups-and-foreign-policy.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_interest_group


So I would make a few points:

1.This is a good example of the problem of ethnic "lobbies" interfering with the conduct of US foreign policy and the damage they can do to the NATIONAL interest. Other such lobbies include the "Cuban" lobby, for example. These lobbies, for fund raising purposes, bend every effort to generate all manner of resolutions for Congress to pass. The lobby's reps takes credit for the resolution and then ask their supporters for more money so more such "successes" can be wracked up. This money supports the offices and salaries of the ethnic lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere. Of course the politicians who succumb to the blandishments, pressure, and etc. are naturally rewarded with campaign contributions from grateful "ethnics". [I guess "hyphenates" is not in the current pc lexicon.]

2.The Armenian issue is a perennial and I recall working on it back in the 1980s. Naturally all sides are deeply concerned. The fact is that Congress --individual
Senators and Representatives and Committees -- about a century ago investigated the series of massacres of Christian Armenians which began in the late 19th century to 1915. I went back and read the Senate Foreign Relations hearings, and floor statements, of that era on the matter.

3.The current Republic of Turkey was established in 1923. The massacres occurred prior during the reign of the brutal last sultan; the 1915 series were authorized by the "Young Turks."

4. The United States has had commercial relations with Turkey for over two centuries and diplomatic relations since the 1830s. President Jefferson appointed our first consul at Smyrna (Izmir) in 1802. Yankee traders (although British colonials at the time) are said to have called at Alexandretta (Iskenderun) as early as 1676. We had missionaries out there in the early 1800s engaged in educational activity and in contact with Christians in the region. They did NOT have a policy to "convert" Muslims by the way. They worked with local Armenian Christians, Bulgarian Christians, Maronites and etc.

5. The United States, to advance our NATIONAL interests in the Eastern Med, had to navigate the dangerous waters of the "Eastern Question" the rivalry between European powers for dominance over the Ottomans. It is a fact that American naval engineers and shipbuilders in the 1830s created a new navy for the Turks after the Europeans devastated it.

6. The United States and Turkey were NOT at war during WWI. Nor did the United States have any policy to carve up the Ottoman Empire as did Britain, France, and Russia. (Sykes Picot and all that). Hence, the US traditionally has enjoyed very good relations with Turkey and with the Turkish people.

7. Turkey is a very important old friend and ally, irrespective of NATO which is unnecessary these days.

8. Irrespective of what the "American" Armenian ethnic lobby may be angling for, it seems to me that Lantos and Ackermann want to use the resolution to exacerbate relations between the traditionally secular Turkish military and the rising Islamist social and political forces. Lantos and Ackermann are very astute players.

Will

A Turkish punitive strike against the PKK would be a waste of time, but a daring raid to capture the oil fields surrounding Kirkuk?

It would drive a stake thru the heart of Kudristan. They may think w/ that kind of oil wealth, who needs the EU or the U.S.? But who would buy their oil?

W. Patrick Lang

Avedis

Obviously the Ottoman government intended and attempted genocide against the Armenian nation.

I have to ask you, would you be equally engaged in this if it were not Armenia? There are many genocides in history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history
As you know there is an endless list of national crimes against humanity.
How many more of these should we pass congressional resolutions about? How about Japan? The bestiality of the Japanese Army; in China, the Phillipines, Indo-China, with prisoners of war everywhere defines inhumanity. The Japanese have never really collectively acknowledged their criminality. The Army chaplain who baptised me was captured on Bataan and imprisoned on Luzon. He was a close friend of my father. The Japanese Army cut out his tongue to keep him from saying mass and then when he had recovered beheaded him. I want an apology and reparations from Japan for his death and all the other murdered Americans and Filipinos. Are you "in" for that one?


Sidney O. Smith III

Does the resolution re: Armenian genocide adversely affect US military operations in Iraq? Does it place US troops in Iraq at a greater risk?

If the answer is “yes”, then table the resolution, with the understanding that Congress will reconsider it at a later date.

‘Tis strange. In the executive branch, we have Wurmser and Cheney doing everything possible to launch a “low yield” strike on Iran that, in turn, will lead to an increase in US military deaths in Iraq as well as the increased possibility that Iranian and Shia milita will disrupt, if not sever, the Baghdad-Basra supply line.

Now in Congress, we have resolution that will deeply effect supply routes or even exit routes via Turkey.

One is left to ask: is the USG doing everything possible to destroy our nation’s youth?

David J

Daily Show:

"If Congress had known the bill they had drafted would have real-world consequences, they'd never have let it get this far. The last thing this Congress wants is to do anything that might impact policy -- or people -- or things."

W. Patrick Lang

All

In full disclosure, I should say that I lived in Turkey for years, and enjoyed the experience.

Someone among you made the point to me that a mere change of government should not relieve a people of guilt for crimes collectively committed.

I accept that.

In Japan there was not even a change of government, but except for a few individuals like Homma and Yamashita and Tojo, post war Japan was not held to account for its crimes. Post war Germany was still Germany although it had different governments and the USSR was still the abomination that it was before; the Kulak massacres, the blood purges and the wholesale elimination of the Polish intelligentsia and officer corps.

Turkey seems to me a different case. Turkish was the language of most people in the Ottoman Empire, but the empire itself was seen by its rulers as an ecumenical empire with a right to represent all Muslims, to rule the 'umma in God's name. The ruling class did not speak Turkish unless they were dealing with social inferiors. They spoke Osmanli, a language which evolved as a mixture of; Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, and French. That ruling class in government, business and religion were racially an amalgam of all the ethnic strands present in the empire to include the long held Balkan provinces. These people were routinely transferred around from one part of the whole to another. Anatolia was a major part of the empire but so were the Levant, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Thrace, the Arabian Peninsula, etc. There was an Ottoman parliament in Istanbul where delegates sat from all the places mentioned. The Sherif Hussein of Mecca was a prominent politician in that parliament. This was the great-grandfather of the present King Abdullah of Jordan.

The Kemalist revolution that created Turkey changed all that. The state became nationalist rather than religiously based in nature. The new state sought to establish a regime that would acknowledge all those who had Anatolia and Thrace as a homeleand to be Turks with a common citizenship and a common national identity. Was that not a good idea? Do we prefer the ethno-religious community basis for society that we Americans have caused to be resurgent in Iraq?

I think that the emergence of the Republic of Turkey was not a mere governmental change. The Republic of Turkey is a different country than the Ottoman Empire. Should that different country be condemned for the atrocities of the multi national and much larger Ottoman Empire? I think not. pl

Matthew

Col. or Clifford: Please explain Lantos' supposed motivation contained in this statement:

"8. Irrespective of what the "American" Armenian ethnic lobby may be angling for, it seems to me that Lantos and Ackermann want to use the resolution to exacerbate relations between the traditionally secular Turkish military and the rising Islamist social and political forces. Lantos and Ackermann are very astute players."

Why would Lantos want this?

jonst

Will,

"Who will buy their oil". Are you trying to be humorous with that question?

J.Rega,

Just curious...you wrote: "- Muslim Turk or European Turk. Continual denial of the latter will result in the reemergence of the former - thin ropes indeed"

So, in the end, what a people 'are', is determined by outsiders in a bureaucracy that did not exist fifty years ago. And may not exist (given some of the votes of the members states)50 years from now? Seems odd to me. Let Turkey be what Turks decide they want to be, would be my call.

This is none of our business in the end. Pretty soon people will be passing resolutions condemning what we did to the Indian nation. Or the slaves issue. Maybe it will be the turn of the Belgians with regard to their acts in the Congo. Of course the people of the Congo have not come up with their AIPAC yet. I'm sure that is right around the corner.

This kind of thing, as the Col noted, is endless. Endless. I am, frankly, astounded, gob struck, at how cavalier of an attitude Congress displays to both the interests of the nation, and the interests of our soldiers. This strikes me as near insanity.

Kunu-ri

Albayim, I am deeply impressed by the depth and wisdom of your last comment, both in its accuracy and insight. I have not seen anything like it in the MSM anywhere in years. Thanks in behalf of all Turks who are feeling betrayed and misunderstood for many decades now.

Steve

Clifford Kiracofe,

Why did you leave out the Jewish lobby? It would seem that this lobby has more power than all the rest combined.

W. Patrick Lang

kunu-ri

Sağ olun.

In Jordan they would say, "La shukr ala wajib." I don't know how to say that in Turkish. pl

Duncan Kinder

I agree that ethnic lobbies are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

However, speaking as an Ivy League, Mayflower-descended, Brooks Brothers ( and Barbour! )-clothed WASP, let me state that the "special relationship" between the United States and England would be nowhere near so special if it were not for the WASP lobby.

And, BTW, the royal family of Jordan actually is fancier than the British royal family and definitely much, much fancier than Princess Di.

Babak Makkinejad

All:

As far as I know, the Ottoman Government was planning on prosecuting a number of Ottoman Military officers in connection with the Armenian massacres and dislocation. That activity ended with the Establishment of the Turkish Republic. The accused lived in Turkey with no action taken against them.

The anti-Armenian policies were continued under the Turkish Republic, resulting in the periodic expulsions of Armenians from Turkish cities and the country side; part of the process of nation-building based on the West European model of what constitutes a legitimate nation-state.

The treaty of population exchange between Greece and Turkey only formalized what each state was doing in its own territory: Turks expelling non-Turks and Greeks expelling the Muslims, Turkish or not.

In this sad and sordid historical process one has to bear witness to the plight of the Pontic Greeks who had lived on the Southern shores of the Black Sea for at least 2000 years. They spoke a language that was a derivative of Ancient Greek but completely un-intelligible to the Modern Greek speaker and vice versa. This historical community was destroyed by the so-called secular progressive Turkish Republic.

I really wonder why anyone would posit the Turkish Republic as model for anything other than a misguided and virulent form ethno-linguistic nationalism.

Babak Makkinejad

Matthew:

Osmanli was a form of Persian; its grammar was Persian and its vocabulary Turkic, Arabic, Persian, etc.

Will

"Who would buy the [conquered] oil?" was a straightforward question.

The justification for a Turkish grab would be that it was native Turkoman patrimony. The reason would be to deny Kurdistan economic viability and in turn to give greater Turkey economic viability. It would be subject to sabotage and ECONOMIC SANCTIONS. The Arabs are self sufficient, the Israelis get oil from Egypt, the Balkans have oil deals with the Russians.

The rest of the world would be deterred by economic sanctions from buying it. All that stuff about the inadmissibility of waging aggressive war to acquire territory. (Turkey is not Israel & Kirkuk is not the Golan)

Lesly
Now we have the ludicrous spectacle of the House of Representatives voting "symbolically" to declare that the genocide conducted under the rule of the Ottoman "Young Turk" government nearly a hundred years ago was what everyone knows it was (probably today's Turks most of all).

This resolution has come up for a vote for years now and it's either shot down in committee or in either chamber. It will never be a good time for Turkey. If their ego and their airspace are that important we can "waiver" the resolution similarly to Bush waiving Section 907 of 1992's Freedom Support Act in 2002, which I daresay has greater implications for Azerbaijan's economy and therefore security than a non-binding resolution will have on Turkish reparations. The military build-up on the Kurdish Iraq border is months in the making and Turkey is all too happy to link an imminent/future PKK retaliation to the resolution.

avedis

Col Lang, "....have to ask you, would you be equally engaged in this if it were not Armenia? There are many genocides in history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history
As you know there is an endless list of national crimes against humanity.
How many more of these should we pass congressional resolutions about? How about Japan? The bestiality of the Japanese Army; in China, the Phillipines, Indo-China, with prisoners of war everywhere defines inhumanity. The Japanese have never really collectively acknowledged their criminality. The Army chaplain who baptised me was captured on Bataan and imprisoned on Luzon. He was a close friend of my father. The Japanese Army cut out his tongue to keep him from saying mass and then when he had recovered beheaded him. I want an apology and reparations from Japan for his death and all the other murdered Americans and Filipinos. Are you "in" for that one?"

Yes, I am "in" for that one as well, as far as an acknowledgement and an apology is concerned. As for reparations, I would agree to those as well, but only to the extent that victims still living are experiencing provable damages resulting directly from Japanese barbarism.

I do not understand why the question of reparations comes up. I have read the bill and see no mention of such a thing.

You see, part of the problem re; Turkey and Armenia is that Armenians living in Turkey are still second class citizens. The Republic of Armenia is still tormented by Turkey and its Azerbaijani brethern to the East. For example, when fuel oil pipelines and other vital supplies running into Armenia were deliberately cut off by Turkey/Azerbaijan during a brutal winter. The threat of attack and invasion looms large in the minds of Armenians and many feel that they have only their alliance with Russia to thank for their continued existance.

It is entirely too facile to shrug the whole genocide off as belonging to a past government; an entirely different Turkey.

As you well know, history is often the present in that region. 90 years is nothing in the cultural memory. Governments come and go. Actions are credited to homogenous peoples, tribes, religious sects; especially when those groups continue to display a prediliction for hostility. And the Turks do.

I have to repeat the question, if the Turks really are a different people - and a better intentioned people - than the ones that committed genocide against the Armenians, then why not stand up, admit the genocide happened, offer a polite apology for what their fathers and grandfathers did and promise that it won't happen again?

That is so simple really. It would go a long way toward improving Turkish/Armenian relations. It would show some class on the Turks' part.

Instead, it is illegal - not social faux pas. ILLEGAL! - to discuss the Armenian genocide in Turkey.

So pardon me if I - and many citizens of the Republic of Armenia and the diaspora - remain unconvinced that there is a "new" Turk afoot in the Levant.

Getting back to your question again, generally, I think that stronger and more consistent condemnations of barbarism - followed by admissions of guilt and reparations - where ever and whenever it has (or does) occur would be a good thing for the world. I don't see why it is a problem.

J. Rega

jonst wrote: So, in the end, what a people 'are', is determined by outsiders in a bureaucracy that did not exist fifty years ago.

Unhappily, that is the overall legacy of the colonial period, at least for much of the Middle East, and the Islamic world in general. Turkey might be an exception to that, naturally, but outmoded traditionalisms like nationalism, super-imposed by colonial map-makers, are still encouraged by neo-colonial powers bent on the continued de-prioritization of Muslim identity.

I have heard Pashtun say: “I am Pashtun first, Muslim second and Pakistani third”. I very much doubt that similar sequencing, say, “I am Arab first, Muslim second and Iraqi third” would be welcome at the U.S. State Department. It is the distant third place finish of Muslim identity that is the price of Turkey’s entry into the EU. Personally, I’m in favor or the prioritization of Muslim identity and the abandonment of fitna inducing political projects like nationalism. I suspect there are many Turks who feel the same way.

I agree it is not the business of anyone except the Turks themselves, as long as they insist on following what I feel to be the discredited hope of assimilation into Europe. If and when Turkey re-assumes the mantle of leadership of the Muslims, something different will emerge.


avedis

Kunu-ri, "and it will remains so as long as Turks refuse to emphasize with the Armenians trauma"

I agree, as well, with this part. However,

"and Armenians refusal to heed the Turks’ national sensibilities and near past."

I do not understand this portion of your argument at all. Armenians are supposed to respect - or heed - "Turkey for the Turks" mentality and the past attempt by that mentality to annihilate them? How does this further co-existance?

I have noted similar arguments from other "reasonable" Turks. The main sales pitch is that it is better for Armenians if Turkey isn't made to face up to its past (and present).

Is this coming from Turkish media and/or other party affiliates? Or is this really what some Turks have come up with through independent thinking? Not retorhicle, but genuinely curious.

Grim

Kunu-ri @ 5:59 AM and Col Lang @ 10:51 AM

Marvelous posts both. Thanks.

W. Patrick Lang

The majority leader of the House of Representitives saaid the following today on FNS.

"HOYER: Well, I think Turkey's help to us is vital. More vital is the United States' help to Turkey, Brit.

Over the last half a century, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has far more advantage to Turkey than it has the United States."

Incredible!

OK folks. We will see... pl

Oh, yes. Wilder. You don't have the privilege of insulting me on my blog. Insult me on your own.

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