Thursday, October 11, 2007

How far back do we go? (Updated)

A committee of the House of Representatives yesterday voted to use genocide as the descriptive word for the mass killings of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.

Since the government responsible for maintaining order during that terrible time no longer exists, I wonder what good can come from this exercise by an arm of the United States government at this particular time in history.

I was stationed in Turkey from the summer of 1959 to the spring of 1960. It was my only foreign posting during my Army enlistment. I made several trips to Istanbul, and I found the countryside and the people to warm and embracing. I also met several Turks of Armenian descent during my posting.

The Turkish government acknowledges the killings, but denies the genocide label.

How far back do we go to condemn genocide in the past? Aztecs and Mayans? Israelites and the people living in "the promised land?" The Cherokee "trail of tears?" Wounded Knee? Darfur?

Who benefits from this? Who, if anyone, is harmed by it?

Government warrantless wiretapping, a botched invasion of Iraq, the Constitution under attack...The House has more immediate and pressing matters at hand.

How many moons have been witness to atrocities? How about taking steps to be certain they never happen again, rather than picking at old wounds?
6:24 p.m. Congressman Tom Lantos was just on The News Hour debating, briefly, his committee's action. He was not persuasive. Actually, he sounded as though he were comfortable with playing a game of "chicken" with the Turkish government.
It was not Mr. Lantos' best moment.
How modern Turkey deals with this 8 year event in its past is of no concern to the United States. We should be minding our own business; we have enough to do.

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