House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she plans to press ahead with a vote on a resolution labeling the World War I–era mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Washington for consultations, and Gen. Yasar Buyukanit warned that Turkey’s military relationship with the U.S. “will never be the same again” if the measure is approved.
What the commentators said
It’s true that more than 1 million Armenians were murdered more than 90 years ago, said Niall Ferguson in the Los Angeles Times (free registration required). But Ottoman Turks did the killing. The Turkish Republic wasn’t even around then, so “this posturing and irresponsible Congress” should stop pointing fingers at Ankara and worry about things that are happening today.
Armenian Americans “notched a political victory” by getting the genocide resolution this far, said Fred Hiatt in The Washington Post (free registration). Just “imagine what the Armenian diaspora” could accomplish if it devoted its influence to making Armenia “less poor and more free,” in the present. “It's even possible that modern Armenia would be as democratic as modern Turkey.”
This controversy is throwing fuel onto an “explosive, dangerous situation on the Turkish-Iraq border,” said The Washington Times in an editorial. Kurdish extremists have been stepping up attacks into southern Turkey, and Ankara has been threatening to respond by sending soldiers into Iraq. Washington needs all the pull it can muster to keep its “critical ally” from taking this “dangerous, destabilizing step,” so “responsible adults on Capitol Hill need to bury the Armenian genocide resolution.”
Look, said the Calgary Herald in an editorial, “there is not a shred of doubt that the genocide happened.” If Turkey wants to be respected on the “world stage,” it will have to move past its “prickly” nationalism and admit the truth.