If we must have meaningless congressional resolutions, can we stick to condemning MoveOn.org or Rush Limbaugh? This sudden need to condemn Turkey for a century-old atrocity isn’t going to accomplish anything positive. In fact, it’s going to greatly erode (and already has without even being passed yet) the relationship with a stable ally in a strategic part of the world (the Middle East).
To be sure, Turkey needs to come to grips with it’s past. The slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in WWI ranks right up there with the worst genocides in history. For that nation to be so resistant to acknowledging it, is truly bizarre.
But here’s the thing: it’s their issue to deal with. Here in the U.S., I think we’ve done a fairly good job of recognizing our own indiscretions –slavery, treatment of native Americans, imperialism, detaining Japanese Americans in WWII, etc.- few of which are on the scale of what the Turks did to the Armenians. The key is that we recognized, and in some cases, made attempts at atonement to some degree. And we did it on our own. We would have resented, say, a piece of legislation in the German parliament in 1998 denouncing slavery in the U.S.
If the Turkish genocide campaign continued today, that would be another story, of course. All pressure to end the genocide would be appropriate. Right now, no one responsible for what happened is even alive.
Strangely, the Turks dealt harshly with the government that was responsible not long after it happened, but today they seem to want to sweep the whole incident under the rug. I’m not sure why that is, but the U.S. Congress rubbing there faces in it now isn’t going to help them own up to it and it isn’t going to help anything diplomatically or politically in the Middle East.
Anyway, Juan Cole says it all much better and more authoritatively than I can, so at this point I defer to him.