Thursday, October 11, 2007

Turkey Hurts Only Itself By Denying Genocide

A courageous U.S. House Foreign Relations committee voted 27-21 yesterday to recognize the facts about the murder of more than a million Armenians in Turkey in 1915.

This morning, Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, condemned the vote and said it would harm relations between the U.S. and Turkey. Gul is another of these Muslims who would rather defend barbaric conduct anathema to the modern world than to adhere to humanitarian principles. He hasn't been president of Turkey long, but already he appears determined to stamp himself and his country an outlaw.

Later, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States and cancelled a Naval minister's visit to the U.S. It is seeking to roll over the Congress and somehow validate the genocide. This is a direct consequence of trends in Turkey that have been clear for some time now. Regardless of Turkish threats and actions, Congress should persevere with its stand.

Turkey has been slipping more and more under the grip of Islamic fundamentalism, spelling an end to the progressive and secular policies initiated by Ataturk after World War I. What a tragedy, most of all for the Turks, who are systematically destroying any chance they have to be accepted into the European Union. What Gul and his associates are doing would put the fez back on the heads of every male Turk and relegate that country to a backwater of Europe.

Also, Turkey is threatening to stop what it calls its support of U.S. efforts in neighboring Iraq. But the fact is that at the beginning of the second Iraq war in 1991, Turkey would not allow U.S. troops or supplies to cross over Turkish territory into northern Iraq and adopted a position of neutrality on the war.

More recently, Turkey has repeatedly threatened to invade northern Iraq itself, particularly Kurdistan, in a move to crush Kurdish rebels working for a separate Kurdistan to be carved partly out of Turkey. The Turkish premier, Recep Erdogan, an even more rabid Muslim than the Turkish president, has threatened a complete rupture with the U.S. if there is American resistance to a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq.

Ataturk successfully withstood efforts after 1918 to dismember the Turkish state. But the present regime may end in only facilitating it.

The U.S. has been a friend of Turkey for a long time, and, in 1947, gave major aid to both Turkey and Greece to forestall aggression from the Soviet Union. But if Turkey breaks ties now, so be it. Under those circumstances, we should support Kurdish aspirations to make southeastern Turkey a part of a Kurdish state. The vast majority of the population of southeastern Turkey is of Kurdish descent.

It is time for the Turkish government to recognize the 1915 genocide and begin to make amends for it, as the Germans have done with the Holocaust of World War II.

What the country's unsavory president is now trying to do, as much as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is doing in neighboring Iran, is to deny past genocides, perhaps in a move to generate new ones.

Congress should stick by its guns. It's high time we called these murders what they are, in part out of respect for Armenian immigrants to the U.S., in part simply because it is the right thing to do. In Germany, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, the world once stood aside while millions of innocents were murdered. Now, it is high time we should say, never again. It's a shame if that costs us past friends, but that is sometimes the price we have to pay for defending liberty.

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David Hiller, the Chicago-toady who has been sent to California to run the Los Angeles Times, now says he is going to do a blog internally at the Times, to talk about more nonsense, I suppose, such as running ads on Page 1.

And, foolishly, Hiller has arrogated onto himself a right to censor comments about this blog, and to ban all anonymous comments.

Under these circumstances, the only people I would think would comment would be James O'Shea, David Lauter and Marc Duvoisin, all of whom owe their jobs to Hiller.

Hiller is no blogger. He does not believe in freedom of speech. He is a propagandist, and there should be no support of his "blog." What we see also in this move is a reason by the Times should avoid printing blogs, such as the wishy-washy one of political bloggers Don Frederick and Andrew Malcolm. Blogs are meant to be provocative, not to be the platform for corporate lackeys.

As for his wish that everything he says be private within the company, we'll see how long it takes before Kevin Roderick is quoting from it in L.A. Observed. So I'd warn Hiller not to go into inappropriate matters, beyond boasting of his friendship with Kevin Starr and Donald Rumsfeld, or talking about how superior he considers Chicago food.

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