Ambrose: Political opportunism explains bad timing of Turkish resolution

It’s hard to imagine a congressional action more pointlessly provocative than passing a resolution that Turks committed genocide against Armenians some 90 years ago. But here come House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats, and some Republicans, with an ironclad determination to do just such a detrimental thing to their country.

The cost could be high. The Turks dislike this idea and warn they may quit letting the United States and its allies use Turkey as a crucial avenue for military supplies in Iraq if the condemnatory declaration passes in the House and Senate.

This Muslim democracy, which has been a vital ally, may also refuse to cooperate in other ways. One example: Our leverage in keeping Turkey from going to war with our Kurdish friends in northern Iraq could be lessened as a result.

And what exactly would the resolution achieve? No one can possibly think that a congressional vote will make this atrocity any more real or true, or alter an understanding that is dependent on witnesses, evidence and scholars, not elected officials.

It’s not as if the judgment of humankind is dependent on majority votes in the U.S. Congress, or as if anyone alive in Turkey today had anything to do with what happened then. The thought that a condemnation now might help dissuade others from repeating such vileness is an extraordinary stretch.

Why on Earth should it be the job of Congress to go around saying what it thinks on this or any other distant historical event? How about Congress paying more attention to current events and leaving assessments of past iniquities to historians, as critics have suggested?

Considering the disadvantages such a futile resolution would heap on us during our present, perilous struggle with Islamic fascists, you begin to wonder what’s up with Pelosi and friends. Utter, total, half-crazed incompetence, maybe, or could it conceivably be a traitorous hatred for their own land?

It’s got to be something else. And so as you read more on the subject, you find the answer: a Reuters story reporting that some 2 million Armenian-Americans have been lobbying for years for a resolution of the kind recently approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“U.S. representatives in Congress and state governments now realize the Armenian community has a lot of political power and they can make contributions to political causes and various parties,” Armenian-American filmmaker Michael Hagopian told the Reuters reporter.

In other words, U.S. representatives shrug their shoulders when a Turkish military leader warns of an irreparable tear in U.S.-Turkish relations or the Pentagon notes how logistically dependent we are on Turkey in the Middle East, but they do multiple bows when some political opportunity shows its face.

While it seems the Democrats might have little to worry about in the 2008 elections, they might keep in mind the final impossibility of fooling many while pleasing a relative few. Even short of that calculation, they might want to get serious about their jobs. These are no ordinary times, and politics as usual could do us marked damage.

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