The Biggest Story That No One's Paying Attention To...
...could be the one that ends with Turkey no longer being a key U.S. ally.
Turkey? The U.S.? Who cares? I can already see your eyes glazing over as you get ready to click the mouse and move on to another site but please, stick with me for a moment--this is going to be a HUGE story before the year is out, and I'll be very surprised if it isn't one of the major struggles between Congress, the White House, human rights activists, Iraq war backers, and a host of other folks.
Turkey is one of our few Muslim friends--certainly among the biggest, and a nation that allows us unfettered access to the Middle East including Iraq where we still have tens of thousands of forces fighting. We have bases in Turkey. We have many friends in it's government.
At least, we do for now.
At issue: the killings of Armenians by the Turks during World War I. There's a push in Congress to have the murders classified as a genocide, a move that deeply angers and provokes our Turkish friends, to the point where they're making all sorts of noise about changes in it's relationship with Washington if the vote goes through. This apparently has been coming up for years, only to be avoided, put off, or somehow delayed for the past 90 years, even as some two dozen other nations around the world already condemned the Turkish actions.
The media's doing it's job on this one--NBC Nightly News did a piece on the rift the other night, and George Stephanopolous asked Nancy Pelosi about it Sunday morning on his ABC talk show. MSNBC offers up the latest on the impasse, complete with a threat from a key Turkish military spokesperson about what happens to our relationship his nation if things play out against his government. And, if there's to be humor culled from alleged atrocities, leave it to HBO's Bill Maher to give it a try during his Friday night Real Time monologue, giving Congress backhanded praise for having the courage to take a stand against the Ottoman Empire.
One big question: why is this an issue now? Why, after nine decades of delay, is this an issue again in Washington especially when our relationship with Turkey has never been more vital? Stephanopolous asked Pelosi just that this morning, and she said, in so many words, that there's never been a "good" time for this roll to be called--that there's always something that got the Turks off the hook. Plus, she added, many of the Armenian survivors of the alleged genocide are very old, and are about to die.
What she didn't tell Stephanopolous is that there are TONS of Armenians living in her home state of California. That morsel came from NBC's Andrea Mitchell in her story about the impasse last week on Nightly News. The Washington Post adds, "House Resolution 106, officially the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide, has been pushed doggedly by a congressman whose Southern California district contains the largest concentration of Armenian Americans in the country. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D) won his seat in 2000 after his Republican predecessor was sandbagged when then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert reneged on a pledge and pulled the bill from the floor after a last-minute plea from President Bill Clinton." Read the whole Post piece here.
Is Pelosi taking the moral high ground by using her post as House Speaker to force a vote? Or, is she sucking up to a constituency at the expense of a long-time U.S. ally, putting the war effort and those involved in it at risk?
This is a sexy story: alleged genocide, world relations, politics, currying favor among special interest groups, and perhaps even our future access to what is easy the one of the world's powder keg regions.
And, the next time you see it on page one of a paper or catch it on the Internet, remember that you saw it here first.