French Parliament Approves Armenian Genocide Bill
Genocide: Revisionism and the U.S. National Interest
20 November 2000
When historical instances of systematic genocide
are overlooked by neo-Nazi historians, it is called revisionism.
are overlooked by the U.S. government it is called safeguarding
U.S. national interest.
Take, for instance, the Armenian Genocide.
In 1915, the military elite of the crumbling Ottoman Empire
(now Turkey) decided
to implement drastic measures against the Armenian minority
residing within its borders. By 1923, between 1.1 and 1.5
million Armenians had been systematically massacred by
Ottoman troops, while another 0.4 million had sought refuge
-many of them here in the U.S.
The facts and figures of the
Armenian Genocide are not new. They have been widely known
for decades. The bureaucratic
precision of the Ottomans, who kept detailed records of all "neutralising
activity" carried out by the Empire's troops, as well
as painstaking scholarly research conducted over the years,
have provided us with ample documentation, impressive in
its volume and clarity -see, for instance, http://www.armenian-genocide.org.
The Association of Genocide Scholars reported in 1998 that
had it not been for the testimonies offered by survivors
of Nazi concentration camps, the Jewish Holocaust would have
been harder to prove than the Armenian one, as the latter
has been so well-documented. In fact, the two instances of
genocide are closely related: Hitler himself referred to
the Armenian Genocide when arguing for the implementation
of his 'final solution' for the Jews: "Who, after all",
he wrote in a 1939 internal memo discovered in 1951 "speaks
today of the annihilation of the Armenians?".
numerous democratic nations around the world have officially
recognised the 1915-1923 slaughter of the Armenians
as an Act of Genocide. The long list includes Argentina,
Australia, Russia, Canada, Belgium, Britain, France, Italy,
Sweden and the Vatican. In addition, international bodies,
such as the United Nations (through its War Crimes Commission),
the World Council of Churches, the League of Human Rights
and the Union of Hebrew Congregations have published official
declarations recognising the Genocide. On November 16,
2000 the European Union added itself to the long list, by
for Turkey to publicly recognise the Genocide. Turkey claims
that, although 300,000 Armenians were exterminated, such
acts were not systematic and were sparked by internal strife.
of the few democratic national governments who have remained
largely silent over the issue has been that of the U.S.
On October 11, 2000, the U.S. House of Representatives found
itself before an opportunity to follow the example of other
Western nations by voting on a proposed resolution formally
recognising the massacre of the Armenians as an Act of
The resolution had been proposed by a bipartisan group
of representatives, and co-sponsored by a House majority.
things did not work out quite as planned. On the evening
of the vote, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Speaker of the House,
withdrew the resolution from the floor. The reason behind
the withdrawal was initially unclear, but later emerged in
full color: minutes before the vote was due, U.S. President
Bill Clinton telephoned Hastert and requested that he immediately
withdrew the resolution, as it could "seriously harm
U.S. interests if passed" [N.Y. Times, 10/20/2000].
precise nature of those threatened U.S. interests became
clear on the following day. Specifically, the Turkish government
issued a warning to the U.S. embassy in Ankara, stating
that, if the resolution was passed by the House, it would
to do the following: (a) ground U.S. planes which use Turkish
air bases to patrol and bomb northern Iraq; (b) cancel
a $4.5 billion contract to buy 145 attack helicopters made
in Texas; and (c) block a major U.S. backed $2.7 billion
project to pipe Caspian oil through Turkish territory to
Europe [N.Y. Times, ibid.; Reuters 10/20/2000].
The end of
the proposed Armenian Genocide resolution ensued rather quickly,
following Clinton's telephone call. The resolution
was withdrawn without questioning by the same U.S. governing
officials who have showed such humanitarian sensitivity to
the plight of Kosovar Albanians in Yugoslavia. Representative
Hastert, who withdrew the resolution, characteristically
stated to the press that "[t]he Congress, while it has
a right to express its opinions on critical issues of the
day, also must be cognizant of the consequences of the expressions
of those opinions" [N.Y. Times, ibid.]. Especially,
one might add, if those consequences involve the financial
dealings of U.S. arms and oil interests around the globe.
News Insider 2000
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