Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- There are three relevant questions concerning the Armenian genocide.

(a) Did it happen?

(b) Should the U.S. House of Representatives be expressing itself on this now?

(c) Was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's determination to bring this to a vote, knowing that it risked provoking Turkey into withdrawing crucial assistance to American soldiers in Iraq, a conscious (columnist Thomas Sowell) or unconscious (blogger Mickey Kaus) attempt to sabotage the U.S. war effort?

The answers are:

(a) Yes, unequivocally.

(b) No, unequivocally.

(c) God only knows.

That between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians were brutally and systematically massacred starting in 1915 in a deliberate genocidal campaign is a matter of simple historical record. If you really want to deepen and broaden awareness of that historical record, you should support the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial in Washington, D.C. But to pass a declarative resolution in the House of Representatives in the middle of a war in which we are inordinately dependent on Turkey is the height of irresponsibility.

The atrocities happened 90 years ago. Not a single living Turk under the age of 102 is in any way culpable. Even Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian community in Turkey, has stated that his community is opposed to the resolution, correctly calling it the result of domestic American politics.

Turkey is already massing troops near the Iraq border, threatening a campaign against Kurdish rebels that could destabilize the one stable front in Iraq. The same House of Representatives that has been complaining loudly about the lack of armored vehicles for our troops is blithely jeopardizing relations with the country through which 95 percent of the new heavily armored vehicles are now transiting on the way to saving American lives in Iraq.

And for what? To feel morally clean?

How does this work? Pelosi says: "Genocide still exists, and we saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur." Precisely. And what exactly is she doing about Darfur? Nothing. Pronouncing yourself on a genocide committed 90 years ago by an empire that no longer exists is Pelosi's demonstration of seriousness about existing, ongoing genocide?

Indeed, the Democratic Party she's leading in the House has been trying for months to force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq that could very well lead to genocidal civil war. This prospect has apparently not deterred her in the least.


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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