10/16 Boston Globe: Letters to the Editor

Politics bumps up against truth

October 16, 2007

IN YOUR Aug. 3 editorial "A genocide not to be denied," you argued that the Anti-Defamation League "ought to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenian people during World War I, and criticize Turkish attempts to repress the memory of this historical reality."

You took any possible nuance out of international politics, glossing over any consequences for Israel, "which needs to keep on good terms with Turkey, one of its few friends in the Islamic world." You were quick to assume that such an acknowledgement by the ADL would not affect Israel and Turkey's relationship.

Then in your Oct. 13 editorial "Inflaming the Turks," the nuance of international relations is back. Here you take Congress to task because its resolution acknowledging the genocide "has provoked an upsurge of nationalism that threatens US interests and would do nothing to lift Turkey's willful amnesia."

Clearly, when it is the interests of Americans that are affected, the Globe can more easily see that there are times when nuance is necessary. The United States and Israel both have a valuable ally in Turkey. Neither wants to strain its relationship by making pronouncements that can only increase the voice of nationalistic factions in Turkey.


I FIND it sad that the Globe suggests truth should come second to expediency, especially since you acknowledge the genocide of 1915-17. The so-called logic of realpolitik is often used to justify torture, the support of totalitarian regimes, and lying. If we are ever to have a government that we, and the rest of the world, can trust, we must begin by telling the truth, especially when it is not in our self-interest. I believe we should begin by telling the truth about our own failed policies, but no truth, including that of the Armenian genocide, should fall to expediency.


I AGREE with your editorial questioning the merits of inflaming the Turks at this time. Every decision we make, whether it be as an individual or a government, is based on risk vs. reward. It is obvious that to make an issue of the Armenian genocide now promulgates substantially more risks than rewards.

Beyond the scope of this issue is the fact that both Democrats and Republicans have been mired in an atmosphere of profound discord. From this stems an egregious desire to make each other look bad no matter what the consequences. Somehow the ability to have constructive discussion and open dialogue seems to take a back seat to partisanship. I find this sad, as it undermines progress that could be engendered by honest, constructive cooperation.

York Beach, Maine

IN "GENOCIDE vote sets a face-off with Bush" (Page A1, Oct. 11), President Bush says, "We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people. This resolution is not the right response to these mass killings."

I wish to bring to the attention of both the president and your readers that of the 3.5 million Christians who were slaughtered by the Turks in Asia Minor, 1.8 million were Armenians and almost as many - 1.7 million - were Greeks.

These estimates were presented at the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the city of Smyrna that I attended in Washington in 1997. I learned later that 750,000 martyrs were Assyrians.

As ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. said in 1918, "The Armenians are not the only subject people in Turkey which have suffered from this policy of making Turkey exclusively the country of the Turks. The story which I have told about the Armenians I could also tell with certain modifications about the Greeks and the Syrians. Indeed the Greeks were the first victims of this nationalizing idea."

STELLA L. JATRAS, Camp Hill, Pa.

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2007/10/16/politics_bumps_up_against_truth/