A resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide recently narrowly passed the United States Foreign Affairs Committee, just as in 2005 and 2007, but its fate in reaching a floor vote in Congress is uncertain. An American President, in an effort to please Turkish officials, has once again avoided using the word “Genocide” to describe the events that befell the Armenians in 1915: a campaign of race extermination.
Putting recognition of a historical event to a vote in government does not determine history so much as it determines a nation’s consistency with understanding and acknowledging it. Each time Armenian Genocide resolutions have been brought before Congress, we see the character of politicians. Today, practically all House Representatives who have voiced their stance acknowledge that the Genocide occurred, but a sizeable amount will not vote for a resolution acknowledging it.
The possibility of Turkey cutting off American access to a Turkish air base that the United States has been using in its wars in the Middle East and the progress of Turkey’s recent protocols for normalization with Armenia, that includes a “historical commission” between Turkey and Armenia, have been cited by numerous Congressmen as reasons enough not to pass resolutions condemning the Genocide, but these are excuses, not reasons. As the war in the Middle East winds down and when Turkey’s insistence of establishing unfavorable preconditions for Armenia with the protocols fails, passing the resolutions is fair game.
Additionally, Turkish lobbying to keep American presidents from using the word “genocide” is short-sighted. They know it’s said behind their backs, but only when it’s said in front of their face do they react. With the Committee resolution passing on March 4 and Sweden’s Parliament passing their resolution a week later, Turkey promptly recalled its ambassadors to the two countries. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said he could have 100,000 migrant Armenians deported, and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu threatened that “all options are on the table.” They were returned to the United States and Sweden after one month and one week respectively, once there were “signs” that the countries’ governments respect Turkish interests. Incredible! When a similar resolution passed in 2007, the Turkish ambassador to the United States was gone for a week.
All that happened to please Turkey was the administrative arms of the American and Swedish governments soon condemned the passing of the respective resolutions, and when Obama avoided using the word “Genocide” this past April 24, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan stated that the President respected Turkey’s “sensitivities.” It’s apparently no matter to them that American citizens are being more and more accurately informed of the Genocide or that Turkey’s officially sanctioned academic defense of the events of 1915 are repeatedly shown to be false.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan may have succeeded in winning the respect of these administrations, but not in winning the hearts of their nations’ populaces. The political battleground is a losing war for denial of the Armenian Genocide.