Feature

Rethinking Turkey's past

Nearly a dozen House members from both parties have withdrawn their support for a resolution calling World War I-era killings of Armenians genocide. Everyone agrees a million Armenians died, said National Review Online, but damaging relations with Turkey

What happenedNearly a dozen House members from both parties this week have withdrawn their support for a resolution calling World War I–era mass killings of Armenians genocide. A group of senior Democrats plan to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to put the matter to a vote this week as planned to soothe Turkey’s government, which has threatened to cut logistical support for the Iraq war. “Turkey obviously feels they are getting poked in the eye,” said Rep. Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat.

What the commentators saidThe “frustrating” thing about this kerfuffle is that nobody disputes that more than 1 million Armenians died, said Travis Kavulla in National Review Online’s PhiBetaCons blog. Turkey’s leaders merely assert that their predecessors in charge of the Ottoman Empire weren’t trying to “exterminate” all Armenians, which would be genocide. Lawmakers are actually contemplating jeopardizing the war effort not over “whether killings occurred, but what the killers were thinking when they did it.” How irresponsible.

“Bewildered” lawmakers can’t be expected to sort this out, said historian Norman Stone in the Chicago Tribune. If Armenians could prove their case, they would have taken the matter to “a properly constituted court.” They haven’t, because much of the evidence—including alleged interior ministry telegrams ordering that all Armenians be wiped out—turned out to be forgeries. The best thing for Congress to do is drop the whole thing, and “let historians decide” whether this was genocide.

Washington should concentrate on soothing the Turks, said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. “Now is not the time to sacrifice an essential ally in a current war,” especially not over something that happened 90 years ago, “however worthy the reason.”

Congress should drop this “ill-timed and unnecessary resolution” altogether, said the Baltimore Sun in an editorial. Turkey’s threat to crash into Iraq’s oil-rich North to chase Kurdish separatists has already sent oil prices skyrocketing into record territory. Washington should focus on getting Iraqi Kurds from sheltering separatist terrorists to keep the war from spreading, and fueling a new energy crisis.

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