All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Did a business deal with Bell Helicopter doom a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide?

For the Armenians, Turkey's threats were just that: threats. "I think the U.S. and Turkish relations runs very deep," says Ross Vartian, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, a group representing 8,000 members which joined with 14 Armenian groups to form a coalition to support the resolution.

Over the decades, Turkey has fought any recognition of its World War I genocide, which is widely acknowledged by historians. But this time, Vartian says, "The Turks have been much more shrill." Vartian has little sympathy for the Texas representatives' reaction to the Turkish threats.

The Armenians weren't surprised by the midnight-hour political machinations. Turkey, they say, has succeeded with strong-arm tactics, halting similar resolutions in France and at the European Union in Brussels. But the massacre--to which Adolf Hitler referred when he advanced the argument that the rest of the world would look away from his extermination of Jews--is accepted in academic circles.

House majority leader Dick Armey said he'd be unlikely to support congressional action condemning Turkey's pre-World War I slaughter of the Armenians because of overall foreign policy concerns.
Mark Graham
House majority leader Dick Armey said he'd be unlikely to support congressional action condemning Turkey's pre-World War I slaughter of the Armenians because of overall foreign policy concerns.

As far as the role that Texas representatives in Washington--and Bell Helicopter--had in getting the resolution brushed aside, Vartian offers an alternative scenario. "I can't imagine what Texas would say if they wanted to sweep a chapter of their state's history with Mexico under the rug because of a business deal," Vartian says.

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