10/22 NYSun: Backtracking on 'Ally' Turkey Damages Credibility

Backtracking on 'Ally' Turkey Damages Credibility

October 22, 2007

Over the past three weeks Turkey has deployed 60,000 troops to its border with Iraq, the Turkish parliament has voted overwhelmingly to authorize an invasion of northern Iraq, and Turkish generals have threatened to block almost 75% of supplies to American forces in Iraq, which are transported through Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan promised further hostilities if Congress did not back away from a nonbinding resolution labeling the Turkish massacre of 1.5 million Armenian Christians in 1915 as "genocide." For good measure, the most recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 80% of Turks profoundly dislike America.

That is true friendship for you. These savage reactions and dire threats come from a country that President Bush, along with five American presidents before him, firmly embraced as one of our country's closest allies. Turkey is a member of NATO and a nation of 71 million that aspires to join the European Union — which is led by France and Germany, two countries that passed much tougher measures condemning the Ottoman Empire's butchery at the turn of the 20th century.

Congress is playing its own shameful part in this foreign policy farce, backing down last week in the face of the Turkish onslaught. Prompted with money and donations by a collection of hired lobbyists, including a former speaker-designate of the House, who once promoted similar resolutions before a fistful of dollars from Ankara swayed his mind.

Led by such principled luminaries as the current House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine who last week was running around mumbling, "What genocide?" a majority of the co-sponsors of the Armenian genocide act melted away.

For his part, Mr. Bush — who as a presidential candidate in 2000 spoke of Turkey's "genocidal campaign" against the Armenians — told lawmakers last week they had better things to do than sort out the history of the Ottoman Empire.

Is it any surprise that in opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of the American public says it holds such representatives in low regard?

For Turkey, a secular democracy that has ruthlessly oppressed its Kurdish minority for the past 30 years, a mea culpa is not even on the charts.

By law, the mere mention of the Armenian genocide is an insult to "Turkishness," so taboo that people have been shot to death over it by nationalists or sent to jail by the government.

Perhaps typical of such a chauvinistic mind-set, Mr. Erdogan warned that the entire edifice of American-Turkish relations — which he amazingly described in an article in Friday's Wall Street Journal as being "like a spider web" — could collapse.

"Spider web" could only come from the mind of the leader of the ruling AKP Party, which millions of secular Turks accuse of conspiring to envelop Turkey in Islamic veils and ideology. Certainly, inveighing the powers of hell over a toothless commemoration of a historical massacre 90 years ago suggests an absence of peaceful intent.

Without a doubt, the dismantling of the resolution gives Turkey and Muslim Arab countries in the region a pass on ethnic intolerance. Armenians are neither the first nor the last. Nearly 50 million Middle Eastern minorities, including 20 million Kurds and another 20 million Arab Christians, along with the non-Muslim Sudanese, Druze, Yazidis, and Bahais continue to be crushed under the sway of a Turkish or Arab strain of chauvinistic Islam.

For all the grumbling about how the whole world hates America, much of it still follows in American footsteps. There isn't a place on earth that has not embraced versions of the American model, from the Internet to cinema to free business enterprise and creativity. Sadly, we have just given that world a very poor example by folding, and damaged in the process America's credibility in speaking out against brutality in Darfur and Burma.

But what takes the cake in this charade must be a statement by Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat of California, who asserted to the New York Times that the aborted resolution "split Jewish lawmakers." He argued that some of them believed that failing to support Turkey might "endanger Israel's security in the region."

Seriously, does the honorable representative think that it is possible to find American Jews, Jews anywhere, who would be "split" over condemning the genocide of a people because of their religion or national origin?


Source: http://www.nysun.com/article/64973