FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
I do not say to Congress, “Do not pass a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.”
It was a genocide. It was against the Armenians...
…and the successor state to the one that committed said genocide has not adequately addressed the actions of its predecessor. The new President campaigned on the issue, and top foreign policy adviser Samantha Power (back from internal exile from her previously calling the new Secretary of State a “monster”) is known for her stance on it. And, at the end of things, there are a variety of reasons why we should make a policy of calling things by their true names, geopolitical awkwardness or no. So I do not ask that they do not pass this resolution.
I do ask, that when they do, and events unfold as the below suggests (H/T: Glenn Reynolds):
If, as many now predict, the U.S. Congress this spring does pass a resolution recognizing an Armenian genocide, the effect will not be to spur Turks to critically examine late Ottoman history. To the contrary, the Turkish public will interpret the resolution as nothing more than a cheap insult against the whole of Turkey delivered by an imperious America and facilitated by vindictive supporters of Israel. Because the issue commands considerable emotional resonance across all sectors of Turkish society, the possibility that Congress might pass the resolution right before Turkey’s municipal elections on March 29 could hand Erdo?an an irresistible opportunity to demagogue the issue. For one, playing up the issue would reinforce his contention that Turkey’s honor is under assault and that he is the man to defend it, thereby immunizing him against criticism that his habit of indulging in inflammatory drama has harmed Turkey’s image and interests. But more significant is that the issue would force even his hard-core opponents to rally behind him in a show of defiant national unity. The damage to Turkish-American and Turkish-Israeli relations could be considerable.
…that the administration and Congress not be surprised. I would think that this would be a reasonable request, except that I’m not really convinced that the Turkish/Israeli blowup at Davos has impacted Democrats’ collective consciousness yet. Those guys don’t really think foreign affairs as a discrete policy platform, if you know what I mean? It’s always about what impact foreign policy issues have on domestic policy ones, not the other way around; which is why we’re about to stumble into a trade war with Europe over the protectionism in the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Debt Bill.
Crossposted at Moe Lane.