Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Forget Turkey

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
New Republic
by Irshad Manji
The only remaining superpower in this world has responsibilities beyond its borders. The moral issue stands high in exercising this responsibility. Some cynics would say that America has already lost its moral standing and recognizing the Armenian genocide will not restore it. But I agree with Irshad that even the longest trip starts with a first step. Whether the time has come for such a step depends on the fortitude of the full Congress. The reason for being an ally should not override the reason for telling the truth no matter how much it hurts. If America waivers then it is a discredit to itself. Likely Turkey will show less respect towards America in the future.
What the Armenian Genocide Resolution Is Really About

Now playing on Capitol Hill: a political drama over whether Turkey deserves denunciation for its mass deportation and murder of Armenians starting in 1915, otherwise known as genocide.

Initiated by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, this symbolic vote has sparked more than symbolic anger from at the White House--and from the Turkish government itself. The Bush administration insists that now is the not the time to be offending Turkey, which borders Iraq and provides the United States with key access routes in its war on terror.


The timing of this resolution should raise questions--all the more so because of who initiated it: Democrats in Congress. They are the gang for whom success in today's Iraq, not slaughter in yesterday's Turkey, is the signal issue in America. HBO's Bill Maher nailed that point when he quipped, "This is why the voters gave control of the House to the Democrats. To send a stern message to the Ottoman Empire."

Still, there is at least one important reason to recognize the Armenian genocide now, and it relates directly to America's implosion in Iraq: Democracy has been redefined not just in the Middle East, but also in the United States. These days, American politicians must pay attention to "voters" who live well beyond their shores.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put it, "Some of the things that are harmful to our troops relate to values--Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, torture.... Our troops are well-served when we declare who we are as a country and increase the respect that people have for us as a nation."


America remains the only country in the world with a universal constituency. Domestic politics in the United States often have a profound effect in every corner of the earth, from determining immigration flows and investment patterns to handing leaders and their heirs the excuses they crave to blur the lines between God and government.


How many countries enjoy a reach so long and far that non-citizens would care enough to want a say in its leader--or journalists would care enough to speculate how the rest of the world would vote?

America's universal constituency is what House Democrats are acknowledging in their Armenian genocide resolution.


The campaign is on. Welcome to democracy.

IRSHAD MANJI, author of The Trouble with Islam Today and senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, is writing a book about the need for moral courage in an age of self-censorship.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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