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Whose Genocide Counts? | The Nation

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Whose Genocide Counts?

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Thank God! We have been waiting almost 100 years for the House Foreign Affairs Committee to do it and at long last they did, those statesmen and stateswomen! They voted to declare the 1915 massacres of Armenians by the Turks an official genocide.

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Nicholas von Hoffman
Nicholas von Hoffman, a veteran newspaper, radio and TV reporter and columnist, is the author, most recently, of...

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What would he tell Obama to do?

Bank of America's Ken Lewis has done his bit to reinforce the idea that the CEOs who got us into this mess are a pack of liars.

Now, don't you feel better? Isn't the world a better place for this courageous act on the part of our legislators? Aren't we all freer? Stronger? Safer? More long-lived? Healthier? Richer? Wiser and better sexually adjusted?

What's next? A resolution condemning Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and the slaughter visited on the Egyptians at the Battle of the Pyramids? And how about a little legislative attention for the Romans killed by Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Better look into that one, too, guys.

Do you think that the House Foreign Affairs Committee might, after it has righted any number of ancient wrongs, look into what the Sam Hill is going on now? This very committee has a direct responsibility for the death of 600,000 Iraqis and the flight of some 2 million more from their homes. Does that bear a little looking into? While they are putting the genocide label on others, would the gentlemen and gentleladies of the committee consider putting some sort of label on themselves?

The horrific murders of the Armenians occurred almost a century ago. However, the murders in Iraq are going on now, fellas. Does that fact suggest that you might have more urgent business than chewing over crimes of yesteryear?

The answer is no, thanks to the Armenian lobby. Many persons of Armenian extraction live in vote-rich California, which explains why these politicians have flung themselves into the study of bygone events. Once again the pander bear stalks the land.

No countervailing Turkish lobby exists in California, but in Turkey, people are riled up over their being called names by disreputable American politicians. So we are faced with two dangers to counterbalance each other.

Danger number one is what will happen if Congress does not pass a resolution calling the events of 1915 genocide. That might result in a couple members of the California Congressional delegation losing their jobs a year from November. Danger number two is what happens if they go ahead with their genocide resolution. The Turks could kick the United States out of our Air Force Base at Insirlik, which it needs to carry on its shenanigans in Iraq. The Turks could do quite a few other things that we would not like to see them do, but better to cave in to another pressure group.

Committee chairman Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California, hit it on the head when he said, "We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people...against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price."

So Lantos and the rest voted for the resolution and for our people paying "an even heavier price."

And those people on Capitol Hill can't understand why their poll ratings are even lower than Bush's.

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