What Happened Actually?

Ali Günertem
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Just like it happened in 2000 during Bill Clinton’s tenure, the Armenian genocide resolution was adopted by a sub-committee, but was taken back before being put to a vote of the full congress. I would like to answer the question of, ‘what happened for the resolution to disappear so suddenly, just when the number of members of congress, who supported it, had reached the level of 230 something, and it looked certain that it would be adopted?’ by looking at what happened behind the scenes.
According to what we have read in the media, thanks to the successful activities of the Turkish lobby and of the Turkish embassy, the geographical importance of Turkey was once more understood and the resolution was suspended at least until the end of this congress. (This does not mean that the new congress to take over in January 2009 will not take up the matter once more. The best way to use the next 16 months to change the mind of public opinion will be the subject of the next article.)

Recently, I was listening to William Saffire from the New York Times. He said that the biggest worry of the Republicans for the 2008 elections was the continuation of the Iraq War; while for the Democrats it was the intra-party competition between Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. This was a news item that most of us had not seen in the media up to that time.
The first signs of this power struggle appeared when the Armenian resolution began to be debated. That there was a struggle behind the scenes was certain, but when it surfaced, this turned out to be very useful for the Republicans. Even though Clinton supported the Armenian resolution she was not talking much about it. However, House Speaker Pelosi’s insistence in her stubborn stance, because of promises to the Armenian diaspora, conflicts between her and President Bush, and her power as speaker of congress meant that a great political momentum built up behind this resolution. The resolution passed through the sub-committee of congress, amid a media interest that I am sure the Armenian lobby did not want. As all this was happening, the Iraq War was in full swing and the Republicans were looking for solutions to the unfavourable situation.

While the fact that Pelosi added the resolution to the agenda of congress, albeit with the wrong timing, was being supported by some Democrats, the Democrats, who had presidential hopes for 2008 began to pull back their support without much fanfare. All things considered, there was no chance of an ethnic lobby overriding the USA’s national interest, and there couldn’t have been. The Republicans jumped to this bait thrown by Pelosi and because of a wind created by the media, the sure votes were lost and the resolution was pulled back.
This matter that is bound to become an element of the presidential campaign, left the Democrats in a situation related to national security that they had not wanted. The subject was of great importance also in the 2004 elections, but presidential hopeful John Kerry managed, thanks to his experience as an officer, to hush the matter up. At the moment, the leading Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton, who is making the strongest run for the Presidency a woman ever has in the US.  The Republican strategy of portraying Democrats as weak on national security issues with kick into high gear in the summer months of 2008, when the campaign heats up.

The Democrats will have understood what kind of damage they have inflicted on their own party and thus on their election campaign. This matter, which was actually an internal political matter, has temporarily disappeared as an internal political debate. The fact that the Clinton team should be trying to have this matter disappear confirms what said by William Saffire. The suspension of the resolution, besides being due to successful lobby activities and diplomatic interventions, is also due to these behind the scenes developments.

(December 2007, 27th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07