Austin Bay

But find the less volatile moment. The Clinton administration judged the year 2000 as too volatile to pass the House resolution. President Clinton valued U.S.-Turkish relations, and the United States needed access to Turkish airbases to enforce the U.N.-mandated northern no-fly zone that helped protect Iraqi Kurds from Saddam. Clinton got then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert to kill the resolution.

Those Turkish bases now supply and support U.S. troops in Iraq. No matter one's opinion on Iraq, antagonizing Turkey when it provides air and logistical bases supporting U.S. troops actively deployed in a combat zone is foolish and craven. A Turkish decision to shut down these facilities would cut a major coalition supply line. U.S. troops in Iraq would face increased risks.

This is reason enough to delay passing the resolution. There are others. For two years, Turkey has threatened to invade northern Iraq in order to destroy Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases. The Iraqi government and Washington have both promised Turkey they will "act against the PKK." Turkey says it is tired of waiting -- and has an army on the Iraqi border prepped for action.

Cynics suggest Turkey has been waiting for an opportunity to slip U.S. calls for military restraint and launch a decisive attack to finish off the PKK. The resolution provides Ankara with just this opportunity. Conceivably, Washington could "trade" a deferred resolution for a Turkish promise to restrict its operations in Iraq to "hot pursuit" situations, special-forces actions and surveillance. Diplomats on both sides might structure such a transparent but useful give and take.

Note I said deferred resolution. 2015 may be as volatile as 2007. Historical horrors like the Armenian genocide really don't have anniversaries or centennials, or at least they shouldn't. They do deserve recognition and remembrance as instructive history, but recognition should not do damage to the present. 2015 -- a hundred years after the Armenian massacre -- strikes me as the perfect time to pass the resolution.


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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