18 October 2007

2087) "I Am Afraid Stephen Kinzer Has Also Been Led Astray, Especially With His Statement Below" Yuksel Oktay

"Armenia's official narrative of what happened in 1915 is largely true. Turkey's official narrative is largely false."

The above statement by Stephen Kinzer is largely false. As a Turkish-American who has been involved in the Armenian issue since 1965, when the Armenians first started commemorating an alleged Armenian genocide, I reject Kinzer's evaluation. .

Like all the editorials and columns written by distinguished journalists in other newspapers since tha passage of the resolution in the House Committee for Foreign Affairs, on October 10, Kinzer's commentary is based on the premises that the Armenian genocide took place, and that only the timing was wrong. Like others, Kinzer does not mention the fact that Armenian terrorists killed tens of thousands of Turks long before 1915 when they fired the first shot and rebelled against the Ottoman government and sided with the Russians during the First World War to create a state of their own on lands where they were not the majority. Their uprisings in many cities and towns in eastern Anatolia received the support of many Diaspora Armenians who had left Turkey before 1915 and some western powers.

The long resolution is full of distortions and fabrications which may be totally foreign to the members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and yet some did vote for it, including the chairman Tom Lantos for revenge, except those who had a sense of reason, voted against it. It would have been better if Kinzer had elaborated on the false resolution rather than condeming Turkey for an alleged genocide.

There was no genocide but death on both sides due to war conditions, not a pre-meditated plan to exterminate the Armenians. The relocation was certainly sad, mandated by the war conditions but those in the western part were not subject to relocations. Nancy Pelosi should come to her senses and not bring this ill-conceived and hateful resolution to the House of Representatives for the sake of all parties involved, especially the US.

Yuksel Oktay

Led astray Stephen Kinzer
October 16, 2007 10:00 AM

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/stephen_kinzer/2007/10/reckless_nanc y_pelosi.html

Last year's Pulitzer prize for non-fiction was awarded to a devastating book called Imperial Reckoning. It is a triumph of historical research that accuses Britain of having committed genocide in Kenya during the 1950s.

Will the United States Congress endorse this claim and pass a resolution condemning Britain? Of course not. Congress is not equipped to make such judgments. More important, that is not the job of Congress. It exists to make laws, no to condemn evil-doers from past centuries.

There is another reason why Congress will never condemn the British for killing hundreds of thousands of Kenyans, and for what Imperial Reckoning calls "their campaign of terror, dehumanizing torture and genocide." Kenyans in the United States do not have a powerful lobby that wins influence in Washington by channeling millions of dollars into election campaigns.

That is not the case with Armenian-Americans. After years of intense effort, they have persuaded the house committee on foreign affairs to approve a resolution declaring that Turks were guilty of genocide against Armenians in eastern Anatolia during the spring of 1915. The speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, has pledged to bring this resolution to a vote by the full House, where it will almost certainly pass. In doing so, she satisfies the wealthy Armenian community in her home state of California.

She also commits a reckless act that reflects the deep corruption of the American political system - and does no good for Armenia or Armenians.

Passage of this resolution will set off another wave of anti-American sentiment in Turkey, a Nato ally that happens to be the most democratic Muslim country in the world. Worst of all, it will intensify hatred between Turks and Armenians, two peoples who need to build bridges to a common future, not consume themselves in recriminations stemming from atrocities of a century ago.

In considering the resolution that accuses Turks of genocide, thereby placing them on a level with Nazis, members of Congress must answer two questions.

First is whether the slaughter of Armenians in 1915 constitutes genocide. That depends on one's definition of genocide. The United Nations, in a treaty approved in 1948 and ratified by more than 120 countries, accepts a sweeping definition in which the murder of a single person, or even causing "mental harm" to a single person, can constitute genocide. Neither this treaty nor the UN existed in 1915, but by its definition, the Ottoman campaign against Armenians, in which hundreds of thousands perished, almost certainly constitutes genocide.

For years the Turkish authorities have sought to deny the truth of what happened in 1915. Their campaign of denial is a shameful blot on Turkey's national conscience. A complex matrix of fear and mendacity lies behind it. That, however, is no excuse. Armenia's official narrative of what happened in 1915 is largely true. Turkey's official narrative is largely false.

The second and more fundamental question Congress must consider is whether it should make decisions about which powers from past centuries were genocidal and which were not. If the job of Congress is to respond to political pressure, it should embrace this resolution. If it wants to contribute to peace among nations, it should not.

Passing this resolution would place a moral obligation on Congress to decide whether Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Portugal, Cambodia and China are guilty of genocide - not to mention the United States itself, which was built on piles of native American and African bones. Few members of Congress, however, reflect on such abstract concepts as moral obligation.

Turkey's position on this issue is wrong. So, however, is the position of the Armenian-American lobby. It seems uninterested in reconciliation. The resolution for which it has worked so hard, and paid so much money, is producing exactly the results it seeks. It undermines efforts at reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, and also weakens the Turkish-American alliance that is one of the few points of light in the dark relationship between today's Christian west and the Muslim world.

Armenians whose ancestors perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915 deserve truth. They deserve an apology. Most importantly, they deserve advocates who will ensure that their legacy is not only honored, but also lends itself to the peace for which many of them have vainly hoped for decades.

If Pelosi and her comrades in Washington cared to go beyond rhetoric, expediency and the lust for campaign contributions, they would be seeking to promote the urgently important process of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. Instead they have chosen to take a lamentable and revoltingly cynical political step.

What the foreign affairs committee did on October 10 has already led Turkey to withdraw its ambassador from Washington. It may lead Turkey's parliament to forbid the US army from continuing to use the air base in southern Turkey from which huge amounts of supplies are shipped every day to American soldiers in neighboring Iraq. That, and the fueling of anti-Americanism in Turkey, may weaken the national security of the United States.

Taking steps that have such an effect is not always wrong. All should rejoice when even the slightest hint of morality penetrates the brutally cynical word of pay-to-play Washington politics. This, however, is not a case of morality against realpolitik. It is another depressing confirmation that Congress - as personified by Pelosi - leaps to grasp temporary political advantage and inflame world tensions when it should be trying to calm passions and promote reconciliation.


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