If you're like me, you are probably wondering: what on earth are the Democrats doing -- or think they are doing -- by pressing the House vote on the Armenian genocide? Surely there is something more, perhaps a whole lot more, to this than the simpleton words that Nancy Pelosi recently offered.
This resolution is one that is consistent with what our government has always said about ... what happened at that time. When asked about criticism that it could harm relations with Turkey -- a key ally in the war in Iraq and a fellow member of NATO -- Pelosi said, "There's never been a good time," adding that it is important to pass the resolution now "because many of the survivors are very old."If Pelosi's concern for old people of Armenia strikes you as a significant reason to escalate hostilities between the US and Turkey, then you might be inclined to buy that. But I'm not. And you probably shouldn't be either.
So what is the possible purpose of this move, coming as it does at a critical juncture and regarding a resolution that, while putatively noble, can hardly be considered pressing, despite Pelosi's stated concern?
What is clear and what was certainly expected is Turkey's official reaction to the move. In fact, Turkey is now tabling a vote to authorize their military to cross into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels, something the US military and the Bush administration does not want nor need to happen at this point in time. Despite the fact that Turkey and the PKK have been scrapping for quite awhile, Northern Iraq has been relatively stable for sometime now and is viewed by the administration as a region of success within the larger conflict in Iraq. And therein lies the rub.
With the Bush administration vaulting the propaganda about Iran to new and lofty levels, which have now evolved into enmeshing Syria and North Korea, the Democrats may see the Armenia genocide vote as a way to signal the White House that the House can indeed have some effect upon the military efforts in Iraq. And not in a good way. They may even believe that by agitating Turkey, which certainly threatens a breakout of a small scale war in Kurdistan, Congress can demonstrate to the Bush administration that their imagined bombing program for Iran is to be reconsidered.
Not only are the Turks reevaluating the use of Turkish airbases by the US military, the ostensible alliance the US sees with Kurdistan would be severely weakened should the Kurds view the deliberate provocation of Congress less than favorably. Such a border skirmish would certainly evolve quickly into a larger theater and, in all likelihood, begin to affect US troops.
Above all, such increased conflict would certainly have its effects, not only upon the efficacy of the various Texas oil companies (among others) now operating in Kurdistan, but upon the ability to deliver that oil coming -- when it does come -- through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
If this is what the Democrats are doing, it speaks of some considerable cunning, the kind of cunning that I cannot help but fail to impute to the hapless Democrats, a group of cringing, witless enablers who have done nothing but allow the situation in Iraq to worsen and have sought to further aid the depredations of the Bush administration here at home.
And no matter what you think of the White House, if what is going on with the Armenian vote is this purposeful, it is not only terribly dangerous, it is terribly cynical. For, rather than actually stand up to the White House and vote to end funding for the Iraq occupation or to pass legislation explicitly denying the White House a military option on Iran, the Democrats have chosen a path to greater conflict. Because surely they must know that Cheney and his band of Hessians could care less about increased conflict in the region. In fact, Cheney's design appears to allow him to do nothing but increase conflict no matter what the venue.
Cheney does nothing but agitate for more war and he obviously doesn't much care about the effect this would have on US troops or the stability of Iraq. If the Democrats think that rattling the cage of the Turks will get this administration to back down, one wonders where they have been for the last six years.
This is all speculation, of course. And it is driven by my own inability to understand just why the House leadership is suddenly pressing this vote. It makes no sense. The Bush administration has managed to keep the Turks at bay so far but this vote and the position of the Democratic Congress has decidedly changed that and this fallout was both obvious and easily predicted. Pelosi's pursuit of this formalism at this time surely bespeaks of something else.
Either that, or we take Pelosi's word at face value and note her seeming lack of awareness about the larger implications that the genocide vote is having and will have. In which case, the Democrats really are as useless and craven as we've grown to expect.