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Friday, October 12, 2007

Are the Dems Pushing the Armenian Genocide Bill in Backdoor Attempt to Hurt Our Efforts in Iraq?

In the LA Times, Jane Harmon explains her reasoning for changing her mind on the Armenian Genocide bill she once co-sponsored.

One point she made got me to thinking.

I originally co-sponsored the resolution because I was convinced that the terrible crime against the Armenian people should be recognized and condemned. But after a visit in February to Turkey, where I met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and colleagues of murdered Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, I became convinced that passing this resolution again at this time would isolate and embarrass a courageous and moderate Islamic government in perhaps the most volatile region in the world.

So I agree with eight former secretaries of State -- including Los Angeles' own Warren Christopher -- who said that passing the resolution "could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia."

Perhaps that is exactly why they are picking this time to push this bill, because Turkey is a key ally to us in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Having failed in all their attempts to force defeat upon our troops, especially now that good news is coming from Iraq on a weekly basis, is this just another attempt to anger an ally of ours and to harm our relations with Turkey as well as our efforts in Iraq?

The last time this came up, according to the NYT, Bill Clinton urged Dennis Hastert to withdraw the measure before the full House could vote.

The question of what happened to the Armenians in Turkey beginning in 1915 has perennially transfixed Congress and bedeviled presidents of both parties.

When the issue last arose in 2000, a similar resolution also won approval by a House committee, but President Bill Clinton then succeeded in urging a Republican speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, to withdraw the measure before the full House could vote. That time, too, Turkey had warned of canceling arms sales and withdrawing support for American air forces then patrolling northern Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations.

This measure has passed our Foreign Affairs Committee by a vote of 27-21 and is due for a full house vote in November, 2007. Turkey has warned of damage to bilateral ties if Congress passes the measure.

The timing is very suspicious given the failure of the Democratic politicians to force any time lines or withdrawal for Iraq.

More from Jane Harmon:

As one whose own family was decimated by the Holocaust, I respond very personally to charges that I would deny the existence of savage acts of inhumanity against a group of people because of ethnic, religious or racial differences -- be they Jews, Darfurians, Rwandans or Armenians.

Yet that's exactly what I was accused of last week after I sent a letter to Rep. Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging him to withdraw HR 106, which I had co-sponsored earlier in the year. Some Armenian Americans, whose passion I appreciate, have misinterpreted my determination that the time is not right to vote on such a resolution as "denial" of the Armenian genocide. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No question: The debate raging in Washington over the Armenian genocide resolution is personal. Similar resolutions have passed the House twice -- in 1975 and 1984 -- and we are poised to pass another before Thanksgiving. Whether it will be brought to a vote in the Senate remains unclear.

From NPR:

In the wake of a House committee vote to label as genocide the deaths of more than 1 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks a century ago, Turkey's ambassador to the U.S. is leaving.

According to the Associated Press, Ankara has recalled him for consultations. A spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry says the ambassador will be gone for a week or 10 days — time to discuss the matter.

Condemning genocide is important, but condemning something that happened almost a century ago, when the risk of doing so is to endanger our National Security interests as well as our troops lives, leads me to believe that the timing is too coincidental and that there is ulterior motive for going ahead with it at this time.

Seventy percent of American air cargo and a third of the fuel the U.S. uses in neighboring Iraq passes through the its air base in Incirlik in southern Turkey. Prior to the bill's passage, Turkish politicians had warned of possible retaliation by blocking the use of Incirlik. (Source)

So, is this a back door method to harm our efforts in Iraq or is the timing of this just coincidence?

[Update] I hit publish and then see that I am not the only one questioning the timing and that the Democrats are not all untied about this bill.

But Democrats are not united behind the measure, Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, has sent a letter to Pelosi on Thursday opposing the resolution, saying the resulting backlash threatened by Turkey could disrupt "America's ability to redeploy U.S. military forces from Iraq," a top Democratic priority.

And the top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that bringing the resolution up for a final vote would be "totally irresponsible."

"The fact is that Turkey is a very good ally of the United States. They are critical to our security, not only her to but our troops oversees," Boehner said. "Let the historians decide what happened 90 years ago."

Subtlety has never been Pelosi's strong suit and if she thinks people cannot see right through her antics with the timing of this...she is wrong.