Turkey pulls envoy after U.S. vote on “genocide” label
WASHINGTON — A congressional panel voted on Thursday to label as “genocide” the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador from Washington.
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee voted 23-22 to approve the nonbinding resolution, which calls on President Barack Obama to ensure U.S. policy formally refers to the killings as genocide.
The vote triggered an immediate condemnation from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who recalled Turkey’s ambassador to Washington for consultations. Erdogan said he worried the measure would harm Turkish-U.S. ties and efforts by Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia to end a century of hostility.
I imagine that the Press Secretary of Turkey could offer this explanation:“For some reason, the Armenians decided en masse to march into the Anatolian wastelands but in their impetuous whimsy forgot to bring any food. Now this occurred during World War I, so perhaps there was a shortage of updated Michelin guides. (The French army would have been using them to rate the trenches at Verdun.) Those silly Armenians kept missing the Howard Johnsons and ended starving to death–except for the thousands who must have accidently shot or bayoneted themselves.”
For some reason, most people don’t believe the Turkish explanation. However, the Japanese do.
Japan, too, has suffered from an unkind skepticism regarding “accidents” that may have happened in the topsy-turvy of the ’30s and ’40s. Apparently, millions of Chinese civilians died while the Japanese army was in the neighborhood. Given China’s large population, that may have been a statistical inevitability. There also could be a nutritional explanation. If, in 1937, 300,000 people in Nanking evidently chose to massacre and decapitate themselves, that might have been a reaction to all the monosodium glutamate in Chinese food. Yes, well, the Samurai Code evidently does not require credibility.
Fortunately, with my experience in the Chicago financial markets, I have a solution to Turkey’s and Japan’s bad reputations: Guilt Futures. Just pay, trade or coerce another country into taking the blame. It might not be historically valid, but we should let the marketplace determine who wants to be guilty. Sudan probably could use a little extra money to finance its ongoing genocide; an extra massacre or two on its resume would hardly be noticed. France might be willing to swap its Huguenot massacres or Nazi collaboration for more conveniently remote crimes. In the case of Nanking and the other atrocites, China and Japan could overcome history by finding a mutually agreeable scapegoat: Tibet.
Alas for Turkey, it is not a rich country. The guilt future for the Armenian genocide should offer more than a few tons of figs. Of course, if the Turks offered military bases and unlimited use of their airspace, then there might be a willing culprit. After all, what are allies for?….
Today President Obama apologized for America’s massacre of the Armenians. As a national expression of remorse, the President encouraged people to eat raisins and read William Saroyan.