Tribune editorial: Cramer wrong to block vote on resolution

December 11, 2019
Source: The Bismarck Tribune

By The Bismarck Tribune Editorial Board

In this April 11 file photo, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., speaks to reporters after final votes, at the Capitol in Washington.

-- J. Scott Applewhite

It’s disappointing that Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., blocked a resolution recognizing Armenian genocide. It’s the third time a senator has blocked the resolution at the request of the White House.

Cramer, who co-sponsored a similar resolution when he was in the House, said the time wasn’t right for passage. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., blocked it in November and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., blocked it a week later. They both took their action at the request of the White House. Graham said he wouldn’t block it again.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Historians say the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was responsible for the murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923. It’s considered by many historians the first case of genocide in the 20th century.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan disputes that genocide occurred and said if the resolution passes his country will ignore it. Turkey wants a committee of historians to study the deaths.

U.S.-Turkey relations have been tense, especially in the last few months. The U.S. troop withdrawal from part of Syria resulted in Turkey launching an attack on Kurds who have been allies of the U.S. President Donald Trump was able to broker a truce between Turkey and the Kurds.

The Armenian killings also were discussed at the recently concluded NATO summit in London.

This is why the administration argues it’s not the right time to pass the resolution. However, from Turkey’s standpoint there will never be a good time. Turkey says the Armenians were killed in a civil war and that the death toll has been inflated.

The Tribune editorial board agrees with Cruz when he says there’s no good reason for the administration to object to the resolution. He argued that “allies can speak the truth to each other. We should never be afraid to tell the truth, and alliances grounded in lies are themselves unsustainable.”

Why should the U.S. care about a resolution on an event that occurred more than 100 years ago? Because we shouldn’t ignore genocide or allow a country to deny or hide its responsibility.

Cramer has a history of support for an Armenian resolution. As noted, he co-sponsored a similar resolution in the House. In September 2017 he tweeted a photo of actor Dean Cain and praised him for visiting Congress and raising awareness about the Armenians.

Cramer says he supports the spirit of the resolution but the time isn’t right. We disagree. The time is long past for Congress to acknowledge the genocide of the Armenians. We understand Cramer wanting to be helpful to Trump, but this was the wrong time to do a favor.

The Senate needs to quit stalling and approve the resolution.