If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past few days, you may have seen the words “Turkey,” “Armenian” and “genocide” pop up in a few headlines. What’s happening is that back in 1915, Turkey started killing Armenians to force them out of the country. A total of 1.5 million Armenians were killed. While Turkey recognizes that “hundreds of thousands” of Armenians were killed, they say this was the result of a war that ended when Turkey was officially created in 1923. They refuse to recognize the situation as genocide.
Enter the United States. Although there were repeated warnings from both the Bush administration and Turkey about the consequences of Congress labeling the killings as genocide, a House Committee voted to do just that. As a result, an already strained relationship with Turkey has become worse. Already Turkey has called back its U.S. Ambassador.
Why do we care if Turkey is unhappy with us? The fact that we have Turkey is a key supply route for troops in Iraq doesn’t help anything. Check out these facts from this AP article:
About 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkey as does about one-third of the fuel used by the U.S. military there. U.S. bases also get water and other supplies carried in overland by Turkish truckers who cross into Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.
In addition, C-17 cargo planes fly military supplies to U.S. soldiers in remote areas of Iraq from Incirlik, avoiding the use of Iraqi roads vulnerable to bomb attacks. U.S. officials say the arrangement helps reduce American casualties.
Additionally, Turkey now wants to go into Iraq and stir up shit with Kurdish Rebels (a move opposed by the U.S. because that area is one of the few relatively stable areas in Iraq). Obviously pissing these guys off is not in our best interest.
What’s the right thing to do here? Do we pass a symbolic bill condemning Turkey for a genocide that happened almost a century ago and risk the lives of our troops and Iraqi civilians, or do we let Turkey get away with not taking responsibility for an atrocious violation of human rights and continue tip-toeing around the issue to maintain a tense, yet necessary relationship?
I don’t have the answer, but I do question the motives of the House Committee in pushing this forward. If the Bush administration wasn’t trying so hard to persuade them otherwise, I wonder if this would have gotten so far. There might be a certain truth in the words of Turkish President Abdullah Gul: “Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once more dismissed calls for common sense, and made an attempt to sacrifice big issues for minor domestic political games.”
What do you think we should do?