Armenian Genocide Vote Irks Turkey
Going against the Obama administration, “a U.S. congressional committee approved a resolution condemning the 1915 slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Turkey’s foreign minister warned that such a vote would “damage ties with the Obama administration and set back reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia,” The New York Times writes, and Turkey quickly recalled its ambassador to Washington. As stated in The New York Times article, “historians say that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died amid the chaos and unrest surrounding World War I and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies, however, that this was a planned genocide, and mounted a vigorous lobbying campaign against the resolution.” Though President Obama made a campaign pledge in January 2008 that “ ‘as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide,’ ” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman before the vote and “ ‘indicated that further congressional action could impede progress on normalization of relations’ between Turkey and Armenia.” According to The New York Times, “the Obama administration had urged the committee to forgo a vote altogether,” for, as The BBC states, the Obama administration was well aware that “the non-binding resolution would harm talks between Turkey and Armenia,” and, as The Wall Street Journal writes, it could also “damage U.S. relations with Turkey, a vital ally in the Middle East and Central Asia.” The resolution was approved on a 23-22 vote.
- Why might some people advocate a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide? What can such a resolution accomplish? What can’t it accomplish? What are some of the challenges in balancing ethical dilemmas with political realities?
- Sedat Ergin, a foreign policy analyst for the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, is quoted by The New York Times as saying that “ ‘on one side of the scale, there is the Congress under the influence of ethnic lobby groups and on the other side, there are the greater United States interests in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Caucasus. . . . It is up to the American administration to come up with best choice between the two.’ ” How should individuals, groups, and nations respond to genocide denial? Why do you think the Obama administration urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to forgo the vote?
- In reference to reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia, The New York Times quotes Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying that “ ‘each interference by a third party will make this normalization impossible.’ ” How would you respond to Davutoglu’s statement? Why might recognizing the Armenian Genocide impact talks between Turkey and Armenia? To what extent can nations have strong diplomatic relations if they hold on to different versions of history?
- What is genocide denial? Why does Gregory Stanton, the president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, call genocide denial “the final stage of genocide”? Why does Elie Wiesel call genocide denial a “double killing”?