Commentary Magazine


On Armenian Genocide Resolutions

The Turks are wrong — and worse, stupid — to keep denying that a genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians in 1915. There is little doubt that mass killings occurred; to claim that it was not “genocide” is quibbling over terminology. I fail to see what Turkey would lose if it were to admit that genocide occurred. It’s not as if the current Turkish government or its immediate predecessors were responsible. The violence occurred during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. It would be easy enough for Turkish leaders to say, “We’re very sorry that these horrible acts were perpetrated by our countrymen under a previous regime that we repudiate and condemn.” They would thereby get considerable credit in world opinion. What’s the downside? At worst they might have to pay some reparations — but that’s something that prosperous modern Turkey could afford to do.

That said, Washington lawmakers are equally wrong — and worse, stupid — in trying to try to pass resolutions commemorating the Armenian genocide. That’s something the House Foreign Affairs Committee just did, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador from Washington. What good does such a resolution do? It does nothing to deliver justice for the victims, annoys a key NATO ally, and also does nothing to help the state of Armenia, which would benefit from better relations with its large neighbor, Turkey. This is one of those issues that are driven primarily, I believe, by the well-funded Armenian expatriate lobby (a group perhaps deserving an exposé by Mearsheimer and Walt, if the latter weren’t already so busy uncovering the nefarious influence of the Jews, excuse me, the Zionists). Lawmakers find it easy to go along with what they view as essentially a meaningless gesture to wealthy campaign contributors; but, in the process, they create major headaches for policy makers.

That’s something that Obama, Biden, and Clinton are discovering for themselves. After having supported Armenian genocide resolutions while in Congress, they are now lobbying their former colleagues not to pass a resolution that will make it harder to work with Turkey on pressing issues such as Iranian sanctions. Doesn’t Congress have anything better to do with its time? Like investigating the “scandal” of the college football Bowl Championship Series?