Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nancy Pelosi, Arbiter of History

Gee! Who says that Nancy Pelosi can't get anything done? She's not attacking one of the burning issues of the 21st century, whether on not the Turks commmitted genocide against ethnic Armenians.

A proposed House resolution that would label as "genocide" the deaths of Armenians more than 90 years ago during the Ottoman Empire has won the support of a majority of House members, unleashing a lobbying blitz by the Bush administration and other opponents who say it would greatly harm relations with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq war.

All eight living former secretaries of state have signed a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning that the nonbinding resolution "would endanger our national security interests." Three former defense secretaries, in their own letter, said Turkey probably would cut off U.S. access to a critical air base. The government of Turkey is spending more than $300,000 a month on communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former congressman Bob Livingston, to defeat the initiative.

Pelosi, whose congressional district has a large Armenian population, has brushed aside such concerns and said she supports bringing the resolution, for the first time, to a full vote in the House, where more than half of the members have signed on as co-sponsors. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has passed such a resolution before, is set to vote on it today.

House Resolution 106, officially the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide, has been pushed doggedly by a congressman whose Southern California district contains the largest concentration of Armenian Americans in the country. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D) won his seat in 2000 after his Republican predecessor was sandbagged when then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert reneged on a pledge and pulled the bill from the floor after a last-minute plea from President Bill Clinton.

I had a friend once who was quite passionate about this, until he discovered that he wasn't actually Armenian after all - he was Lithuanian.

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