PELOSI’S MOST DANGEROUS PLOY
by Jed Babbin
Human Events, DC
O ct 15 2007
Congressional Democrats anxious to force a withdrawal of American
forces from Iraq are frustrated by their inability to muster a
veto-proof majority for legislation that would establish a firm date
for retreat. But what they cannot do directly they are now working
hard to do indirectly.
According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Incirlik Air Base near
Adana, Turkey is the transshipment point for about 70% of all air cargo
(including 33% of the fuel) going to supply US forces in Iraq.
Included are about 95% of the new "MRAP" — mine-resistant,
ambush-protected — vehicles designed to save the lives of American
troops. Turkey wasn’t always this helpful. In 2003, the Turks refused
permission for the 4th Infantry Division to enter Iraq through Turkey.
Turkey’s Erdogan government has indicated that if the House of
Representatives takes action on a non-binding resolution being pushed
by Speaker Pelosi, Turkey might revoke our ability to use Incirlik
as a waypoint for Iraq supplies.
At issue is the non-binding resolution passed on October 10 by the
House Foreign Affairs Committee that labels the 1915-1923 massacre
of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a genocide. Such resolutions can
be passed by either or both houses of Congress and are not subject
to presidential veto.
On October 11, Pelosi said, "While that may have been a long time ago,
genocide is taking place now in Darfur, it did within recent memory
in Rwanda, so as long as there is genocide there is need to speak
out against it."
But the resolution is gratuitous and Democrats’ timing suspicious.
It’s gratuitous because, in 1981, President Reagan referred to the
Armenian massacre as genocide in a proclamation commemorating the
Why, if Pelosi is so committed to ending genocide, aren’t she and
Senate Democrat leaders doing something about the ongoing genocide
in Darfur or the massacres of protesters in Burma?
Speaker Pelosi said, "This isn’t about the Erdogan government. This
is about the Ottoman Empire." Baloney.
The Democrat leadership could write and pass legislation insisting the
UN intervene to save the living instead of using the memory of the
dead to score political points. In neither case should we intervene
militarily. But the lack of concern for ongoing mass murder proves
the Democrats’ only purpose is to enrage the Turkish government and
end their cooperation on Iraq.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Not only are we dependent on Turkey
for our principal supply line into Iraq, we are in on the verge of
a crisis with Turkey, trying to convince the Erdogan government to
continue to refrain from attacking the PKK — Kurdish terrorist forces
— that have been raiding into southeastern Turkey for years.
While the president and Secretary of State Rice appeal for restraint,
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has called upon the Turkish parliament
to declare a mobilization against the PKK terrorists.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) told me, "We are a nation at war, and
our first concern must always be the brave men and women of our armed
forces, who I believe are done a great disservice by this symbolic
House vote. This is just one more example of Democrats in the House
being either oblivious or indifferent to the welfare of American
forces serving in harm’s way."
After the House committee vote, Turkish Ambassador to the United States
Nabi Sensoy was recalled to Ankara for consultations. In diplomatic
terms, the recall of an ambassador is a very serious matter, indicating
a near-break in relations between the nations involved.
Amb. Sensoy spoke to me and HUMAN EVENTS chief political correspondent
John Gizzi as he prepared to leave for Ankara.
Sensoy said he spoke to Speaker Pelosi and that she had made it very
clear that she would bring the resolution up for a vote on the House
floor next month.
The ambassador referred to the widespread agenda of interests that
Turkey and the US share, from the Balkans throughout the Middle East
and the Caucasus. He said it was a wonderful working relationship,
proving effective against terrorism.
Sensoy said the memories of the events surrounding the massacre of
Armenians are very fresh in the minds of his countrymen, many of whom
lost relatives in the carnage. He said, "…we are very sorry for
what happened. And we mourn the loss of life. But nobody is talking
about the hundreds of thousands of people who perished at the hands
of the Armenians in that period."
He added, "The sentiments of the Turkish people are totally disregarded
in this whole affair. And it is being presented that all of a sudden
the Turkish nation, after one thousand years of togetherness with the
Armenians went simply berserk and started killing the Armenians. The
real truth is that the population living in the east of the Ottoman
Empire at the time sided with the invading Russian army and they
attacked the Turkish population."
Turkey is our most under-appreciated ally. Its eighth president, Turgut
Ozal, was a great friend of America, once referring to his nation as,
"little America." When Ozal died suddenly in 1993, neither President
Clinton nor Vice President Gore went to the funeral, an insult the
Turks remember. Europe has been even less appreciative. Turkey has
practically begged to become a member of the European Union, but its
applications to what some Turks call the "Christian club" have been
stalled again and again because of European criticism of its human
There is a deep-seated cultural sensitivity among the Turkish people
and their government on the issue of the Armenian massacre nine
decades ago. Amb. Sensoy may have been thinking about the far-reaching
effects – including on Turkey’s application for EU membership —
of the House genocide resolution when he told us, "No nation would
like to be labeled with that greatest of human rights violations."
House Republican leaders are very concerned about the effects the
Democrats’ resolution could have. House Minority Leader John Boehner
told me, "If the Turks cut off our ability to use Incirlik, there’s
no question that this could jeopardize our troops on the ground
in Iraq. And frankly, if this is just the latest in the Democrats’
string of back-door attempts to force a retreat from the war against
al Qaeda, it’s certainly the most dangerous."
Speaker Pelosi is apparently so intent on forcing an end to American
involvement in Iraq that she is willing to interfere in our tenuous
friendship with Turkey. When she does, it will be an historic event:
the House of Representatives will be responsible for alienating a key
ally in time of war and possibly interdicting supplies to US troops.
Mr. Babbin is the editor of Human Events. He served as a deputy
undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush’s
administration. He is the author of "In the Words of our
Enemies"(Regnery,2007) and (with Edward Timperlake) of "Showdown: Why
China Wants War with the United States" (Regnery, 2006) and "Inside
the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse than You Think"
(Regnery, 2004). E-mail him at [email protected]
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress