March 4, 2010
Source: Fresno Bee (California)
U.S. must not back away from this important issue.
The Armenian genocide resolution is back before Congress, and it faces an uphill battle for reasons having nothing to do with whether a genocide occurred almost 100 years ago. Turkey is opposed to the resolution and that makes Congress nervous because of that nation's strategic importance in the Middle East.
As we have said many times: The facts are clear. About 1.5 million Armenians were deported, starved and murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century's first genocide. The modern Turkish republic is not guilty of those crimes, nor are today's Turkish people. Yet they reject the idea that this history is formally recognized.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to vote today on a resolution declaring that "the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923." That measure is expected to pass the committee, but will have difficulty when it reaches the House floor.
This is an important issue in the central San Joaquin Valley, home to a large concentration of Armenian-Americans. The Bee reported this week that many of them are playing active roles in getting the measure passed. But Turkey has enlisted high-powered lobbying firms to fight the resolution. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, for example, is a paid lobbyist for Turkey.
Genocide resolution supporters own the moral high ground on this issue, but Turkey has been able to block past attempts with suggestions that it would not be cooperative with the United States if such a resolution passes. This nation should not give in to such threats.
One day, official recognition of the Armenian genocide will come, and that will confirm on paper what everyone already knows in their hearts.