Tuesday 17 October 2017 Last Update: 03:45 AM

Why House resolution 252 should be strenuously opposed

Published: 11-30-1999

Next Friday, March 4th, is a pivotal day in US-Turkish relations. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider House Resolution 252, the so-called "Armenian Genocide Resolution" which calls upon the President to “accurately characterize” the historical events in Armenia “as genocide”.

What is wrong with this resolution:

1. It is no coincidence that the Resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, so the Committee must consider the foreign policy implications of the Resolution, which are significant. The Resolution, if passed, could completely disrupt and upend any progress on the Turkey-Armenia Protocols (which are in a precarious state and do not need any further interference).

2.  Turkey is a staunch ally of the United States and US strategic interests would be severely disrupted by the passage of this resolution. The US has a major military base at Incirlik, with profound strategic importance to the United States. Passage of the resolution would exacerbate tensions and precipitate a severe crisis in US-Turkish relations.

3.  The US Congress should not be making foreign policy decisions which could disrupt America’s bilateral relations with Turkey, a major ally. President Obama needs the flexibility to implement the “model partnership” the President envisions with Turkey (this resolution could derail or curtail that initiative).

4. The practical effect of this Resolution will be to paint a very negative picture of all Turks around the world, including Turkish-Americans. If this Resolution is passed, it will forever stigmatize all Turks around the world, including Turkish-Americans. This is definitely not the appropriate role for a Congressional Committee.

5. The House Committee is the wrong forum for this issue. This House Committee should not assume that it is merely commenting on historical events when it considers this proposed resolution. The Resolution reaches a conclusion on the Genocide issue which is yet to be resolved by a historical commission under the Turkey-Armenia protocols. Isn't the historical commission the proper forum for this debate (which can weigh the documents and relevant information), rather than a political body in the House of Representatives? Is the US Congress the institution which decides on labels for historical events not involving the United States?
6. America has been grappling with its own difficult historical issues, such as slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. Congress should first focus on America's own history, and unresolved historical issues before becoming the arbiter and decision maker on historical events which occurred in other countries almost 100 years ago, and about which I daresay most Congressmen are not at all knowledgeable (except for information they have been provided with).
7. America has a tradition of fairness and honesty. To take an issue of this magnitude and make it into a political issue is completely inappropriate. Let the historical commission do its work without interference!
8. The Foreign Affairs Committee has an illustrious history. Its origins can be traced to 1775 when the Continental Congress created a committee “for the sole purpose of corresponding with our friends of Great Britain, Ireland and other parts of the world”. The Committee members have included Benjamin Franklin and John Jay. Two American Presidents have served on the Committee, John Quincy Adams and James Polk. Throughout American history, the Committee has been involved in many major foreign policy issues. The Committee should not damage its reputation by diving headfirst into this political quagmire.

The Resolution is plain and simple a bad idea, and is ill-advised. No good will come of it. It will settle nothing and create only ill will. The House members need to use their political savvy and put this one in the drawer and leave it there - and move on to current and pressing domestic and international issues which call for immediate attention.
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The author, Mark Meirowitz is a business lawyer in Manhattan. He also holds a doctorate in Politics and has taught undergraduate courses in Politics, History and Law at various colleges in the New York City metropolitan area. He can be reached at Mark@Meirowitz.com.
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