17 October 2007
The Caucus, Political Blogging From The New York Times, http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/
By Brian Knowlton, October 14, 2007
As the Bush administration deals with a House committee resolution equating the killings early last century of more than a million Armenians in Turkey to genocide, Nancy Pelosi appeared to hint that a call from President Bush might influence whether she brings the sensitive matter to the full House.
The House speaker, one of four Congressional leaders to appear on the Sunday talk shows, repeated her vow to move the genocide question to the full House for debate now that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed it.
But when George Stephanopoulos asked the key question – how would she react if Mr. Bush or Defense Secretary Robert Gates called her to say that they were “just certain that this is going to put our military at risk” – she replied: “The president hasn’t called me on it, so that’s hypothetical. He hasn’t called me on it.”
Since the committee vote Wednesday, Turkey, a crucial transit point for U.S. military shipments to Iraq, has issued nearly daily warnings that its cooperation may be at risk – a point underscored Sunday by that country’s top general.
The issue is nettlesome for both the administration and Democratic lawmakers, exposing the former to charges of seeming apathetic about Ottoman-era atrocities, and the latter to charges of being indifferent to American troops in Iraq.
Republicans said Sunday that while the Armenians’ deaths were a deeply deplorable part of history, the safety of American troops had to be paramount. “I don’t think the Congress passing this resolution is a good idea at any point,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, on ABC’s “This Week,” “but particularly not a good idea when Turkey is cooperating with us in many ways, which assures greater security for our soldiers.”
It is unclear whether the administration, which has already pulled out the big guns on the topic – with letters and public pleas from both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and a presidential comment shortly before the vote – might still change Mrs. Pelosi’s mind. But she made the point twice Sunday that she had yet to hear personally from Mr. Bush.
“We’ve never had a conversation about it,” she said. “I’ve heard from the secretary of state and others in the administration, but I’ve never heard from the president.”
Mrs. Pelosi also cautioned the administration about any thought of armed action inside Iran over U.S. complaints that anti-American militants in Iraq are getting help from Iran. Any U.S. action, she said, should take place inside Iraq, and if Mr. Bush does wants to take action in Iran, he will need a congressional authorization. “That’s what I believe,” she said.
Mrs. Pelosi did not dispute that votes may be lacking to override President Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP. Democrats say the bill is vital to protecting low-income children’s health, but Mr. Bush and other Republicans say it reaches too far into the middle class, with too high a bill.
A vote is set for this week, but Mr. Stephanopoulos told the speaker that “your counterparts on the Republican side up here in the House guarantee – guarantee – that you’re not going to override his veto.”
She replied: “And isn’t that sad for America’s children?”
“We’ll try very hard to override it,” she said. “But one thing’s for sure: We won’t rest until those 10 million children have health care.”
When Mr. Stephanopoulos probed to see whether there was any room for compromise, the speaker said that the bill already reflected compromise; she would yield no further on coverage of the 10 million – which she said, again, would cost no more than 40 days’ worth of military operations in Iraq.
But Mr. McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said that a compromise was a must. “There will have to be a deal,” he said on ABC. “We’re not going to leave children — uninsured children uncovered.” Separately, Representative John Boehner, the House minority leader, agreed.
But just as with the genocide resolution, Mrs. Pelosi indicated that a phone call from the president might help move things: “We’ll talk to the president at the right time, when he makes an overture to do so, but not an overture that says, ‘This is the only thing I’m going to sign.’ ” she said.
Mr. McConnell suggested that Democrats were playing politics with a drawn-out, high-stakes override attempt that in the end would amount to “a pebble in the ocean.” Mr. Boehner concurred. “This bill was designed not to pass,” he said on Fox News Sunday.
Mrs. Pelosi rejected the charge.
Meantime, after some stunningly candid comments by the former U.S. top commander in Iraq, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez — who last week called the war “a living nightmare with no end in sight” — one pro-war lawmaker did not hold his fire.
Senator John McCain, no wallflower in his support for the war, said that he had in the past heard the general advocate the very strategy he now criticizes.
But what, Bob Schieffer asked, is a general to do? “We don’t want generals making policy. That’s for the civilian leadership. But should they resign? Should they be willing to speak out?” (Much the same question has absorbed officers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, “the intellectual center of the United States Army,” as Elisabeth Bumiller reported today.
Mr. McCain, son of an admiral, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, and a Navy pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the answer was simple: First, they should always give honest responses when asked their opinion.
And second, “If you think the country is going in the wrong direction and it’s going to cost the needless loss of young Americans’ lives then, of course, you should stand up and you should leave your position. And I know that’s a very tough decision for people to make.”
45 comments so far...
Politics, politics, politics.
We need Iran and Turkey as allies. So what happens.
Congress annoys Turkey over something that was done
years ago by another government in Turkey.
Bush waves sabers in the air and threatens to
Children need health care. Bush vetoes a bill for
healthcare for children that almost EVERYONE agreees is a good idea.
Oh yes, the reason Bush doesn’t phone Pelosi is because no one is left in the administration to tell him what to say.
Politics marches on. Who cares about the United
— Posted by janye
Turkey’s history of human rights violations is atrocious, with many of their crimes happening since WWII with tacit approval (and often much more than that) of the United States government. While I certainly believe the world must acknowledge the blatant Armenian genocide, I find the hypocrisy exhibited by the U.S. government (especially in light our our own responsibility for the genocide of the native American population, as well as the more recent violent deaths of over a million innocent Iraqi civilians) to be testing the bounderies of my gag reflex.
— Posted by Thomas NYC
King Leopold of Belgium wiped out most of the population of the Congo in the early years of the 20th century. Between 3 and 30 million people.
— Posted by Karen
Speaker Pelosi is doing her job. She has the House of Representatives speaking the truth and damn the consequences. How would the Jewish community like it if the world denied the Holocaust? The Armenian people have been seeking justice, in the form of a proclamation from America, for at least 50 years. That is a long time to avoid telling the truth!! Keep up the good work, Speaker Pelosi.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, BRING THEM HOME, ALIVE. NOW.
— Posted by Don Fitzgerald
I’m concerned that the vow of “Never again” that came after the Shoah has been replaced with this administration’s suggestion that “Now is not a good time to bring it up.”
— Posted by Shea
Since the Democrats don’t have the guts to really confront Bush and his dashboard puppy supporters by cutting off funding, perhaps this is an effort to undercut the war effort by offending the key ally ( logistically, anyway ) in the region. Offend Turkey, which might respond by cutting off the landing rights at Incilrik, block off the roads, etc, etc, etc, and making the war that much more difficult to prosecute.
But I don’t think the Democrats are that conniving as a whole. As much as I think this war is insane, and serves no purpose but to feed the military industrial complex and the oil companies with money, as well as being a revenge fantasy lived out by Bush, and part of a grand scheme to encroach on China ( for the future war with the Chinese that’s likely going to be in the future ), this action is rhetorical pointlessness. That’s one of the few things this Democratic-controlled Congress seems to be any good at.
— Posted by Matt
Take care of the children’s health care first before you go around making political statements about genocide all over the globe. Nothing should distract from this priority and I want to see the democrats show determination and hardwork.
Madame Speaker is not doing her job until this health care legislation over rides GW’s veto.
— Posted by Leticia P. Carlos
When did over a Million and a half people become just “More than a million Armenians”?.
Is the new York Times attempting to play down the number of innocent victims of Genocide?
May I respectfully ask how this compares with the number of innocent victims murdered by American forces during the illegal invasion and subsequent disastrous nightmarish occupation of Iraq?.
Have we matched the numbers of innocent children and women and Old people massacred yet?
Will the perpetrators of this massacre be held to account in the court of human justice?
— Posted by We Love Ha Ha
American lectures on morality are so justifiable at times and that might be the case even here, just so long as the Turkish Prime Minister hasn’t read, ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.’
— Posted by Jazzbeaux Beiderbecke
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dems are just doing the Turkey thing simply as an annoyance to President Bush. It’s as if they huddled up together and said “what can we do to annoy the bejeezus out of Bush. Oh, I know, pick off one of the few allies that he has.” I don’t think Pelosi is necessarily a witch for doing it. It’s just how the game is played.
As for the Dems using this as a covert way of putting an end to the war, I had thought of that, but apparently, it’s not a very effective way. According to articles on CNN and MSNBC, a response from Turkey wouldn’t necessarily put an end to sending supplies. It’s just that the supplies would have to come from farther away, and thus cost more.
From CNN’s Babara Starr:
The initial assessment is that any cutoff from current access to Turkey would force the U.S. military into longer cargo flights, which would mean extra costs for fuel and for wear and tear on equipment. It may also look for other air hubs in Jordan or Kuwait, officials say.
As for S-CHIP, I have yet to hear how the Dems are going to fund it. I mentioned a clip from Jon Stewart about a week ago somewhere on this blog. The basic argument from Republican Sen. Trent Lott was that the cigarette tax might not be enough. Higher cigarette taxes might cause people to quit smoking (something even the Dems say is a good side-effect of the higher tax). In which case, if people quit smoking, there will be less money from the cigarette taxes, which means S-CHIP would then lack funding. Even if the higher taxes don’t cause people to quit smoking, there are other reasons to do so. You’re basically stuck in a position of hoping adults continue to smoke and harm themselves in order to get taxes out of them and fund S-CHIp.
— Posted by lordvoldemort
I don’t understand our Congress. This is something that belongs with the State Department and the United Nations. Besides that, its in the history books. Why should this be a priority with Pelosi and Bush?
— Posted by cliff jones
Anyone else find it ironic that on a nearby holiday, when we happen to eat turkey mainly, we celebrate the beginning of the Great American Genocide of the native population? Who the heck are we to point fingers? Ms. Beiderbecke’s cite there (#9) is only a tiny part of our continent-wide assault.
Also, really idiotic to be insulting Turkiye when they are the strongest military in the region AND tossing munitions into Kurdistan. Maybe we could make up for it by passing a resolution condemning the American Genocide and remarking that it was many times the size and duration of the Armenian one.
— Posted by Dan Stackhouse
It is very difficult to understand why the democrat led Congress would further decimate our international relationships by allowing ourselves to be used as a pawn by the Armenian lobbyists. We have very few friends in the Muslim world as it is, and now the Pelosi and her minions intend to destroy the few that we do have.
As a democrat Ms. Pelosi I ask why are you wasting our times and resources and further endangering our troops by unnecessarily insulting one of our few remaining allies? Why haven’t you accomplished any of the promises that you made when you took office? Is the war over as you promised? Are our borders secure? Do all of our kids have health insurance? Are all of our brothers and sisters in New Orleans able to sleep comfortably in a safe home tonight, like you and your family are? Ms. Pelosi if the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then why are you wasting our time, our money and insulting our few remaining friends? If this is the best you have to offer your leadership reign is a disastrous failure!
— Posted by James
Jazzbeaux @ 9
Well said. Of course, wise introspection in order to avoid hypocrisy is a lost art in America … what it being a sign of weakness and all.
Also, this is an obvious round-back way of placing pressure on the White House by goading Turkey into prohibiting use of their air base.
I think the $10 000 000 000 in debt forgiveness the Republican congress gave Turkey at the beginning of the “war” will suffice in keeping the base open.
It is sad that Congress has to resort to punitive measures because they know the media circus that would ensue if Congress defunded the OCCUPATION ( notice .. not the TROOPS)
If Bush chooses to leave the troops in harms way after given ample time and money to get them out, the only treason committed would be his own.
— Posted by northrhombus
OUR INEFFECTIVE CONGRESS , IN TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING A HUNDRED YEARS TOO LATE, MAY BE JEOPARDIZING THE EVENTUAL WITHDRAWL OF OUR TROOPS FROM IRAQ. LET THEM MAKE OUR WITHDRAWL OF TROOPS THEIR PRIME CONCERN AND GET US OUT OF THIS QUAGMIRE BUSH HAS FOISTED ON US, FIRST!
— Posted by ROBERT SAX
When I just read this headline I honestly thought that Nancy was upset about Thanksgiving Day - that is my image of her.
— Posted by Chuck L.
I think you will find our “Friends” in Turkey have been well compensated for their “Friendship”.
There is no possibility of Turkey stopping the US from using the bases.
This is all a huge smokescreen.
Means that they do not actually do anything “Real” to bring the ongoing nightmare in Iraq to an end.
— Posted by Louise
genocide is a dream and just history can decide the reality , it isn’t mission of the any community that is in the world .
— Posted by cagri guc
We did not reslly vote in a Democratic Congress for this type of trivial work. We have large issues that concern all Americans, not just a few thousand Armenians in Pelosi’s district. The whole world knows and records that the massacre of the Armenians in 1915 was a crime against humanity. It does not require a statement from our Congress. If you have some real business to take care of, get on with it…From a “yellow dog” Democrat.
— Posted by c. perry
President Bush doesn’t do phones.
As far the the “ineffective Congress” conundrum, the Democrats simply don’t have the votes to end the Iraq War.
The Iraq War now is a Republican Party War and they’re not about to give it up.
And about “ineffective,” tell that to all the folks who recently received minimum wage increases, thanks to the Democrats. Tell that to all the little kids who don’t have health insurance, thanks to the Republicans, but stand a good chance of being covered now, thanks to the Democrats. I could go on, but surely you get the point.
Rather than bash the Democrats, it would be better to severly bash the Republicans who are holding things up. Rather than bash the Democrats, it would be better to vote more of them into the Congress.
— Posted by Inquirer
The numbers of Iraqis affected by the American invasion, driven into internal and external exile, and prematurely dead from war conditions, are of approximately the same magnitude as the numbers of Armenians affected by the Turks almost a century ago.
— Posted by Steve Bolger
#15 is so right this just another distraction by “bush” for incompents.past and what left of his
LEGACY AS THE WORST PRESIDENT ERA///
GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ NOW
— Posted by PHIL
in times of war many bad events happen, what would have happend if the Armenians and there Russian allies had defeated the turks and Kurds much the same?
— Posted by robert dervish
I don’t get this at all…………….How can we trash Iran about the holocaust when we don’t recognize Turkeys’ murder of the Armenians. And if Pelose is using this as a political tool, I think she better get a conscience. That was one of the reasons I voted for the Dems………….If they have given up morality, I might as well join the other team.
— Posted by toby
Why the United States is trying to make things better in such a weird way, using its narrow political lighthouse? I think, it’s a total lie and the Congress does merely make believe itself to this blurry point, closing the eyes of the others for a bunch of blinds in the House. “The killings”, if it’s real, should initially be observed in detailed way with the historians from both Turkey and Armenia. This is to be rule. As a result, I’m very disappointed with the bill that has just passed in the Congress.
— Posted by Sansal E.
President Bush has ceased caring about our nation, our troops, our allies, and everything else. It will all be somebody else’s mess. This is what goes with his sense of entitlement?
What sort of parent raises a kid to think like that? Further, what kind of “religion” encourages thinking of this sort?
— Posted by Carl Ian Schwartz
The formal recoginition of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks must be recorded. The question is “Why now?”. How will this improve cooperation amongst current allies and current events?
As mentioned by other contributors, we should not forget what happened to the indiginous people of the Americas, or the mass starvation of Ukrainians, by Stalin.
Turkey has been attempting to join the European Union, as its first Moslem member nation. There are Human Rights issues that concern the Europeans vis-a-vis the Turkish treatment of the Kurds. My point is that there are more players in this matter, than Congress’s need for an immediate historical reckonning. A reckoning, I might add, that is already common knowledge. While such a resolution is historically important, it’s equally important to bring the Iraq fiasco to a equitable conclusion, whereby the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites don’t exterminate one and other. We know Turkey’s historic propensity for human rights violations, why encourage more of it, by inciting it right now? We don’t need another hostile Moslem country.
What we need is to hold off on this resolution, and more importantly find a Secretary Of State who can actually accomplish something more than school-marm hectoring of our allies.
— Posted by Jack Shearer / Sonoma
“We did not reslly vote in a Democratic Congress for this type of trivial work. We have large issues that concern all Americans, not just a few thousand Armenians in Pelosi’s district. The whole world knows and records that the massacre of the Armenians in 1915 was a crime against humanity. It does not require a statement from our Congress. If you have some real business to take care of, get on with it…From a “yellow dog” Democrat.”
— Posted by c. perry
Well said, c. perry. Every person of good conscience abhors acts of genocide both past and present. Pelosi should be dealing with other initiatives that are more compelling and crying out for attention. I am not insensitive to any ethnic purging, etc., but I question the reason for this media circus at the moment. Let’s get on with the real business of Congress.
— Posted by Peter G.
#17 - Turkey CAN and most certainly WILL refrain from letting the US use bases and fly over Turkey if they choose to do so (they’ve done it before — France ring a bell?). And this will make life much harder for the troops. There couldn’t be a worse time to address this question.
— Posted by Busybee
Whatever. This is sooo stupid. The fate of the Iraqi people depend on a bunch of congressmen who are bankrolled by Armenian-American lobby groups. Nice. Very nice, seriously. What the hell are these ethnic-gangs thinking?
I wonder how this lame resolution is supposed to stop the “genocide in the making” in Iraq. That was the point of this history-dredging resolution in the first place? The Romans killed the Carthageans, so what?
It is very nice to see that, for all this talk of democracy, human rights and “standing up to whatever whereever they occur”, the fate of millions of Iraqis can be easily decided in a sub-committee of the US Congress.
This is so hypocritical. I don’t like Bush, but I am starting to not like Pelosi either…
— Posted by Jeff Christensen
Oil hit an all-time high of $85 a barrel this morning, sending shock waves throughout the global economy. Traders are nervous about an escalation in the Iraq war, as well they should be.
This is what happens when puddingheads in Washington decide that taking stances is more important that tending to the people’s business.
True, Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians. But who are we to talk? Have the Democrats in Congress forgotten Vietnam and Cambodia? Does the daily slaughter in Iraq not count?
The same idiots who approved this resolution blithely fund the war in Iraq year after year, then turn around and condemn someone else for killing civilians. Who are they kidding?
America, apparently. Is we dumb, or what?
— Posted by Tuffy Albondigas
For every complaint launched against President Bush, Nancy Pelosi has placed herself firmly in line to receive the same. For every short sighted ill- thought out plan of action offered up by Bush, Pelosi is second only in title.
Was disrupting the now non-existent Ottoman Empire a major policy issue in ‘06?
Pelosi’s amateur and dangerous efforts to end the War in Iraq by disrupting our relationship with a major ally in the Middle East during a time of war in the same region is both breathtakingly asinine and counterproductive.
— Posted by AnnabelleDickson
The so called ‘genocide’house committee resolution is not expected to go through full house and what ever symbolic they wanted to achieve to please the critical Armenian vote niche in california has been achieved.Now the diplomacy will take care off the required mending work for keeping US-Turkey relations on an even keel.
— Posted by Arun Mehta
Because of US invasion millions of Iraqis leaving their countries via TURKEY and other countries.And most of these people die on the way to their destination.if Pelosi wants to do a favor,had better provide a shelter for these efected children of Iraqis.also if she is serious about so-called genocide,she also must bring up other real genocides attention to US Congress in the world.
— Posted by DINÇER SALDIRIS
Perhaps while they’re at it congress can pass resolutions on all of Ottoman Empire’s mis-deeds. If we’re going to lose an ally might as well go all out. What about Smyrna and the Greek Genocide? Ms Pelosi has NO idea of history; or perhaps the Greeks can reclaim Istambul and rename it its original Greek name, Constantinople … we can then turn the mosque back to its original purpose as a church known as Aghia (St.) Sophia.
Pelosi is just after the Armenian support and donations, let’s not ignore the political motives of power at the expense of the interest of our country and troops.
Let’s also give Turkey an excuse to invade northern Iraq in persuit of Kurds now that the US influence as an ally of restraining Turkey has been destroyed. Anyway, who elected Pelosi Chief of Staff?
— Posted by Jennifer
The democratic Machine which is using this atrocity to undermine our ability to wage war is sickening, by attacking our support structure for the war in that region the only thing they are doing is endangering our troops and enbolding the enemy. If the democratic machine wants to look into more current events
Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. That said today’s Democratic Congress Chooses to discuss events of history with out passing any thing binding for either. It saddens me to think that the congress of today would use an event that took place almost a century ago to attack the war effort. It angers me that they are wasting our tax dollars to do it. What they need to worry about is:
Securing our Borders,.
Fix social security,.
and winning the war on terror.
But as expected they are all talk and no action.
If you are a Democrat its time to tell your party to get off the Fence (I.E Take some action other than passing nonbinding resolutions)and take a stand based on their principles! But that said ,Methinks perhaps they already are.
— Posted by Jim
“Have the Democrats in Congress forgotten Vietnam and Cambodia? Does the daily slaughter in Iraq not count? asks one of the earlier contributors
They all count, but unlike the Armenian Genocide, none of them are denied.
The House Committee decided to stand up for the truth, despite all the temptations for continuing to lie to themselves and to the American people.
It was nothing less than a vote for the return of conscience into American politics, something which the American Ambassador to Turkey in 1915 advocated: http://tinyurl.com/ywnzrc
— Posted by Socrates
Pelosit & company have really crawled into the gutter on this one. Pelosi is just having a little “fit” because she has not been noticed in the last few months. Will the Times please ask the Presidential candidates if they support this resolution
Draft - Pelosi & Chavez
posted by: jimmyjames in florida
— Posted by jimmyjames
Odd that this is even the business of a US Congress. Their putting their ’stamp’ on it is totally irrelevant. It happened. Nothing can change or alter that fact. Why it’s even being discussed now is rather ironic considering that the current genocide in Darfur continues on unabated. Will this too finally be labeled a genocide, but only in another 100 years?
Actions have always spoken louder than words, and this entire government is just honing its skills as wordsmiths (except Bush, of course, who has difficulty conquering his own mother tongue) - we need good people who are actually willing to ‘do’ something constructive (versus destructive), not just spew out worthless time-wasting words.
— Posted by David
The inanity of this condemnation is as ridiculous as holding the Government of Macedonia responsible for Alexander’s slaughter of the Tyrians. How about we go after the Russians for the slaughter of the Polish officers in the Katyn Forest? Hey, the dems can pick any century so to ensure that we have no allies left.
— Posted by Carl S. Victor
Why would any resonsible person attempt to push our sons and daughters further into harm’s way. Pelosi has seen what happened to the French after their vote on this issue. I truly think this act is nothing short of treason. Who would have condemned England or France during WW II.
— Posted by Chris Bronson
You can’t top the narcissism of the hypocrites in America who did to Iraq what the Ottomans did to Armenia.
— Posted by Steve Bolger
Pelosi opened up a can of worms with this assuming Bush would comdemn it. Then the dems and their cohorts,the media, could spend the next week or so yowling about how Bush and republicans condone genocide. Perhaps Bush is simply allowing the democrats to make jerks of them selves over it. Giving them enough rope so to speak.
— Posted by Kathy
I can’t help but wonder why Ms. Pelosi chose this particular moment in time to anger the Turks to the point that they are willing to, not only close our Air Force Base at Incerlik (which is vital to monitor the nuclear ambitions of the Syrians), but also they have every intention to now invade Northern Iraq? By the way, somebody should inform Ms. Pelosi that the “Phone Call” she is talking about should have been made by HER prior to pulling such a bone head stunt. xoxoxo ~jim
— Posted by Jim
In the 2004 election, one of Kerry’s major charges against Bush was that Bush’s “unilateralist” foreign policy had “alienated our allies.”
Now the Democrats are guilty of exactly the same thing: They are alienating one of our key allies, Turkey, and they are doing it unilaterally, without consulting anyone else. Evidently Pelosi didn’t ask the Pentagon, or any of our other NATO allies, what they thought about passing such a resolution at this particular time. Nor did the Democrats ask Petraeus about this when they had him before their committees only a few weeks ago.
If the Democrats pass this resolution, the Republicans can hang it around their necks as sheer hypocrisy in the upcoming Presidential campaign. If Bush points that out to Pelosi, I’ll bet that she’ll retract the resolution then.
— Posted by Steve L.