The nonbinding House resolution says the deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million of them, amounted to "genocide."
Bush and his officials had lobbied hard against this, and they deplore the result:
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement expressing "regret" for the committee's action, warning the resolution "may do grave harm to U.S.-Turkish relations and to U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East."
Yes, it may well be expedient to pander to the political pathologies of a strategically useful country. But some lines just shouldn’t be crossed.
The 1948 Genocide Convention obliges its signatories (including, since 1988, the US) “to prevent and to punish” genocide. The record on this has been somewhat mixed, shall we say. But if such action is too often beyond our will, then we can – we must – at least bear witness to such atrocities, call them by their proper name, and make sure they aren’t forgotten.
As Hitler put it: “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?”
Not the leader of the free world, alas.
I’m sure relations with Iran could be usefully improved by acquiescing in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s own brand of sly denial – any takers?
Update: Simon Tisdall (via Norm) has a novel take: “As most Turks see it, this… is an insulting, gratuitous interference in their sovereign affairs.” If so, then merely talking about early 20th-century history now constitutes “extraterritorial meddling”. I’m not convinced.
It may also be worth noting that the genocide pre-dates not just the current Turkish government and the births of almost all living Turks; it pre-dates the very formation of the Republic of Turkey from the Ottoman rubble.