Congress should not create needless conflict

By Scott Tibbs, October 15, 2007

As Congress considers a non-binding resolution to condemn the Turkish persecution of Armenians as genocide, the government of Turkey is loudly protesting while citizens take to the streets to protest the proposed action. (See articles here and here.) President Bush has urged the Democratic leadership in the House to not pass the resolution, but it proceeds anyway.

The first and most important question that Congress should consider in deciding whether pass this resolution is this: what is the benefit of condemning the actions of Turkey as genocide? Does this benefit the citizens of Turkey? Does this benefit the Armenians whose ancestors were persecuted? Will this bring about substantive changes in current American foreign policy as it relates to genocide? If Nancy Pelosi and other supporters of this resolution cannot point to a concrete benefit to passing this resolution, it should be scrapped.

While the positive effects of this resolution are questionable at best, the negative consequences are clear. Turkey is a military ally that we need in our war against terrorists in Iraq. If Turkey were to become uncooperative, it would hamper or efforts to put down the Iraqi insurgency and help Iraq form a constitutional republic that respects the rights of all Iraqis. If Congressional Democrats want to pull troops from Iraq, they should simply force the President's hand. Undermining our troops by alienating an important ally is not the way to end the war.

Another critical point to consider is that Turkey is one of the more moderate Muslim countries. Congress should avoid creating anti-American animosity that could give Muslim extremists an opportunity to gain more of a foothold with the population of Turkey. Given that our popularity has a nation has waned in the last several years as many Muslims are furious with our occupation of Iraq, does Congress really need to borrow trouble right now? Has Congress considered what stirring up anti-American sentiment will mean for Turkey in the next ten years?

When Baron Hill was campaigning to regain his seat in Congress last year, he told the Herald-Times "we are less safe from terrorism as a result of the Iraq War." I hope that Hill shows consistency by voting against this unnecessary resolution. Furthermore, Hill should denounce Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership for pushing this irresponsible and dangerous resolution. Angering one of our allies and creating more anti-American sentiment is not the way to "improve the reputation of the United States abroad", as Hill said we needed to do.

There's no doubt that Turkish crimes against the Armenians was a low point in history. But the fact of the matter is that it was over 90 years ago and the vast majority of those people who perpetrated these crimes (if not all of them) have passed away. If the Democrat-controlled Congress wants to take a stand against genocide, it should focus on current events where we can actually have a positive impact. An official resolution condemning the crimes of nearly a century ago does not help at all, but can hurt our troops greatly. Will Baron Hill stand up for reasonable diplomacy rather than meaningless resolutions?