Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Congress should do its job

The Galveston County Daily News
March 3, 2010
By: Lincoln McCurdy

The United States is confronted with a daunting number of challenges in our nation’s foreign relations.

America is managing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to find ways to bring our troops back safely and without compromising our national security. We are working to maintain a nuclear-free Iran, secure our energy sources and prevent the growth and spread of international terrorist networks. In all these and many other areas affecting Americans and millions of others around the world, we have an ally in Turkey.

In a bizarre move during such turbulent times, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, are preparing to vote Thursday on House Resolution 252, which will recognize as “genocide” tragic events that took place nearly 100 years ago in the now defunct Ottoman Empire, despite many holes in the historical argument.

This begs the question: Why is the committee, at a time when we are dealing with pressing international and domestic issues, all of which require Turkey’s support and active participation, squandering its time on an issue that has no relevance to America’s foreign relations and interests?

The answer is simple: lobbying.

Despite much bravado about limiting the influence of special interests, money and manpower still control Washington’s agenda. In the United States, there are nearly 1 million Armenian Americans, concentrated in a number of congressional districts, who support a lobby that spends an estimated $40 million annually on furthering its agenda, which revolves around recognition of an “Armenian Genocide.” Their efforts also have made Armenia, a small landlocked country, the second-largest per-capita recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Proponents of the resolution frequently admonish its opponents by pointing to a moral obligation of Congress to pronounce that the now-defunct Ottoman Empire committed “genocide” against Armenians. In doing so, they choose to ignore the many well-regarded historians who dispute this claim.

Still, Armenian resolutions persist due to the efforts of a well-organized Armenian lobby that has turned hating Turkey into an existential cause.

The resolution comes up for a vote at a particularly strange time. Armenia and Turkey are trying to work through a diplomatic process, with the support of the United States, which lays out a road map to normalizing relations. This effort includes the establishment of a joint historical commission of scholars and experts.

Turkey’s leadership time and again has stated it will accept the findings of such a commission. It is telling that the Armenian lobby and its supporters in Congress not only oppose the normalization process, but, with even greater zeal, the establishment of this commission.

This issue, ultimately, should not be on the docket of Congress, which is neither the “conscience” of the world, nor its revisionist historian. It’s time to put an end to an dangerous game, but it will only end when Texans pay attention and tell Rep. Paul to oppose this resolution Thursday.

Lincoln McCurdy is president of the Turkish Coalition of America and a former U.S. diplomat. The coalition’s Web site is at

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