Nazarian: ‘It is reasonable to assume that Rep. Delahunt’s signature on the Dear Colleague letter is a job interview sweetener for his upcoming gig as a Turkish government lobbyist’
The current co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Turkey have sent a Dear Colleague letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi to express their “grave concerns” regarding the imminent consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) in the House of Representatives. In their letter, they resort to the standard arguments against this measure, such as the strategic and military importance of Turkey for the United States, the economic fallout from alienating Turkey, and the United States’ policy not to condemn modern-day nations for the sins of their fathers.
As always, the use of the Incirlik Air Base by the United States Armed Forces and Turkey’s constant threats to withhold access to the base have taken a front and center role in the “strategic” importance of Turkey for the United States. The idea for this airbase was born out of a change in U.S. foreign policy following the successful detonation of a nuclear weapon by the Soviet Union in 1949. As a result, the National Security Council deemed it necessary to be able to destroy the vital centers and elements of the Soviet Union’s military capacity. Given that the United States did not posses any long-distance bombers capable of flying from bases in the U.S. or Europe to Soviet territory, the importance of establishing a base in eastern Turkey became a vital priority. The base became fully operational in 1955 and was originally called the Adana Airbase. (For those unfamiliar with the history of the Armenian Genocide, Adana was the site of the massacre of more than 30,000 Armenians by Ottoman Turkey in 1909). While an important air base, Incirlik has certainly lost much of its Soviet era luster and is not an irreplaceable part of U.S. operations in the region, as it is lead to believe by Turkey and its apologists. The use of the Incirlik Air Base is governed by the Cooperation on Defense and Economy Agreement between the U.S.and Turkish governments and has many implications for both countries and their status as NATO members. The withholding of U.S. access to this base, then, is not as simple as Turkish government apologists would like one to believe; neither is it a decision that the Turkish government can afford to make given its significant dependence on the U.S. for battle readiness, among other sectors.
On Dec. 15, three descendants of Armenians who lost their property in the Ottoman Empire filed a suit against the Turkish government for restitution of more than $63 million for illegally confiscated ancestral lands that includes the Incirlik Air Base. So, in effect, the Turkish government is blackmailing the United States against acknowledging the Armenian Genocide by threatening to withhold access to an air base that was built on illegally confiscated Armenian lands during the genocide.
The cosigners of the Dear Colleague letter site an economic fallout and the U.S.’s policy not to condemn modern-day nations for the sins of their fathers as two other reasons not to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution. In 2007, Congress passed a resolution expressing the believe that the government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for the coercion—by its Imperial Armed Forces—of young women into sexual slavery (known to the world as “comfort women”) during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930’s through World War II. So, in 2007, it was appropriate for the United States to condemn a modern-day nation for the sins of its father, and to do so with little fear of economic consequences from a country that underwrites a large part of our deficit as the world’s fifth largest economy with U.S. imports of well over $50 billion per annum. More interestingly, this bill (H.Res. 121) was co-sponsored by two of the co-signers of the current Dear Colleague letter, representatives Steve Cohen of Tennessee and William Delahunt of Massachusetts.
Even more striking is the recent change of heart by Delahunt regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution, given that he was a co-sponsor of H.Res.106 (the Armenian Genocide Resolution) in the 110th Congress and voted for the resolution as a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee in 2007. So, it was fine to vote for this resolution while it could more significantly “endanger” U.S. strategic interests at the height of the U.S. military engagement in Iraq in 2007, but it is not OK to do so in 2010. This change of heart by the outgoing Congressman could be explained by his close friendship with Bruce Fein, a frequent invitee of the Congressman while chairing a number of House Foreign Relations Committee hearings. Bruce Fein, among his many hats, is the resident scholar (Rottweiler) of the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA).
It is reasonable to assume that Delahunt’s signature on the Dear Colleague letter is a job interview sweetener for his upcoming gig as a Turkish government lobbyist.
Fein has been very busy with a recent string of lawsuits against David Krikorian (a Congressional candidate of Armenian American descent running against incumbent Jean Schmidt, the largest recipient of campaign dollars from Turkish sources), the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the University of Minnesota, all with regards to the Armenian Genocide. Fein could use all the help he can get for his newly found appetite for lawsuits on the Armenian Genocide. This litigation upsurge coincides with a recent $30 million donation by Yalcin Ayasli, the founder of Hittite Microwave of Chelmsford, Mass., to the TCA to stifle debate on this issue and intimidate individuals and organizations engaged in genocide awareness and affirmation campaigns. Ironically, Ayasli amassed much of his wealth through U.S. government contracts and grants. In essence, he is donating our money to the agents of the Turkish government, who are engaged in blackmailing the U.S. against acknowledging the Armenian Genocide by threatening to withhold access to an air base that was built on illegally confiscated Armenian lands during the Armenian Genocide.
While the apologists of the Turkish government can thread a laundry list of reasons against H.Res.252, this resolution is simply about the United States government acknowledging a historical wrong and acting in accordance with its own standards for justice and accountability.