A few readers have asked for my two cents on the ramifications of the Armenian Genocide bill, speaking as a guy who’s spent two years in Turkey.
First, reject any argument you hear that the Turks will get over this quickly, or that they will soon realize that they need us more than we need them. For starters, right now it’s entirely possible that we need them more than they need us – for use of Incirlik Air Base, for efforts against al-Qaeda in the region, for their troops in Afghanistan, for their continuing example that a Muslim country can be a functioning democratic Republic with free elections and free press, etc. (Turkey’s political system is far from perfect, but it works for them, and it is eons ahead of the country’s Arab neighbors.)
I knew many fine folks who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara while I was in Turkey; more than a few were Democrats. They cheered the Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill… until they realized this mean Pelosi would pass the Armenian Genocide resolution, and make their jobs exponentially more difficult for years to come.
To me, this resolution comes down to cost against benefit. We get the benefit of denouncing violent acts from nearly a hundred years ago. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., contends that this act will restore American moral authority around the world, a strong an argument as I’ve ever heard… for making members of Congress take drug tests. When it comes to this resolution, 1.5 million Armenians will love it, 80 million Turks will hate it, and the rest of the world will be indifferent.
Our foreign policy is now in the hands of Pelosi: willing to meet with Syrian dictators, but refusing to meet with Turkish members of parliament.
Is the aim of this to louse up our effort in Iraq? If the upside were bigger, and the downside were smaller, this kind of talk would be easier to dismiss.