Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dancing Around The Truth

The concern about offending Muslims has led to the retraction of a deserved award. What makes this incident even more disturbing is that such a retraction may lead to more revisionist history. Denying the facts of history will not bring us any closer to a lasting peace.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/08/AR2005060802253_pf.html :

Association Withdraws Award to U.S. Envoy
Ambassador Was to Be Honored for Dissent
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 9, 2005

"The American Foreign Service Association recently announced that John M. Evans, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, was to receive a prestigious award for 'constructive dissent' for characterizing as genocide the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. His comments stirred such a diplomatic tempest that Evans not only had to retract his remarks but also had to later clarify his retraction. Earlier this week, however, the selection committee met again and decided to withdraw the honor, known as the Christian A. Herter Award....The award is intended to foster creative thinking and intellectual courage within the State Department bureaucracy...Speaking to an Armenian group in California, Evans referred to the 'Armenian genocide' and said that the U.S. government owes 'you, our fellow citizens, a more frank and honest way of discussing the problem.' He added that 'there is no doubt in my mind what happened' and it was 'unbecoming of us, as Americans, to play word games here.' Armenian groups hailed his comment, noting Evans was the first U.S. official since President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to refer to the Armenian deaths as genocide. But the comments infuriated Turkey. Evans issued a statement saying U.S. policy, in which the United States 'acknowledges the tragedy' and encourages 'scholarly, civil society and diplomatic discussion' of the event, had not changed...."

Mr. Evans was accurate in this remarks. The Armenian slaughter in 1915 was indeed an act of genocide and, in some ways, similar to what is happening today in the Sudan. But acknowledging that Muslims have perpetrated genocide is politically incorrect these days. Mr. Evans backtracked and later referred to the genocide as "the Armenian tragedy"; even so, his belated political correctness was not enough, and he was denied his award. The motivation for the retraction of the award is suspect and indicates pandering to Turkey. Again quoting from the article:

"The timing of the association's decision appeared curious, given it came just before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington for a meeting with President Bush to bolster strained U.S.-Turkish relations. John W. Limbert, president of the association, said that no one at the organization can remember an award being withdrawn after it had been announced."

Appearing in the same edition of the Post was a story relating some details of President Bush's meeting with the prime minister of Turkey.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/08/AR2005060801630_pf.html :

Bush Praises Turkey, Offers Ally Little More
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 9, 2005

"President Bush praised Turkey yesterday as a close, democratic ally in the Middle East but stopped short of meeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's plea for greater U.S. assistance to defeat a Turkish terrorist group operating out of northern Iraq. Erdogan, whose country is considered the United States' closest Muslim ally, came to Washington seeking more help from the Bush administration in cracking down on a rebel group -- called the Kurdistan Workers' Party -- that has killed hundreds of Turkish troops in recent attacks. After meeting with Bush, Erdogan told reporters the president expressed concern about the terrorist groups but promised little in terms of new assistance to cut off the group's logistics and financing.'We are exchanging information,' Erdogan said. 'However, we don't think it is sufficient. We want [the cooperation] to be taken further.'...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), speaking on the floor, said Erdogan should 'move beyond recent tensions' with the United States and stamp out anti-American passions in his country. 'The first step is for Prime Minister Erdogan to speak clearly in defense of our partnership and to dispel a wave of anti-Americanism that runs counter to the last five decades of cooperation,' Frist said."
And what did the prime minister of Turkey want President Bush to commit to? Funding Turkey's conflict with another Muslim group. Now, perhaps the Kurdistan Workers' Party is a terrorist organization, but as far as I've been able to discern, the threat it presents is primarily to Turkey, which is considered by all other Muslim countries to be in violation of the Koran and haddiths simply by dint of Turkey's alliance with a Western nation. Furthermore, the United States has no business getting involved in such an inter-tribal conflict, very common within Islamic nations--unless that conflict threatens our national security.

Sorry, folks, but I don't trust Turkey, whose allegiance may be more to the nebulous concept of the Nation of Islam than to any Western ally. What assurance do we have that Turkey will not one day repeat, in the name of orthodox Islam, the genocide of 1915--especially if Turkey refuses to acknowledge the events of 1915; continues to look the other way at the anti-Americanism within its borders; and promotes, however obliquely, truth-telling dissent within our borders?

Meanwhile, Mr. Evans has been punished for speaking the truth. And suppression of the truth is always dangerous.


At 6/14/2005 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Mr. Evans is a poor excuse for leadership. I'm sure, on balance, Mr. Evans doesn't really care about the award, but I'm sure that he must be furious that in the modern definition of politics, truth must take a back seat to diplomacy; the two are not mutually exclusive.

Of course, the President did not mince words about Soviet atrocities during a recent visit to the Ukraine. Double standard?

At 6/14/2005 6:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Definitely the double standard! Islam/Muslims get "a pass" when other ideologies and groups don't--a dangerous policy.

At 6/15/2005 10:47 PM, Blogger Warren said...

I believe that most of this has came about from a policy of realpolitic.

In Turkey's case, the PC/Muslim attitude that our professional politicians and foggy bottom people hold might be secondary to stratigic consideration.

The effect is the same and I don't agree with the policy, but there it is!

At 6/15/2005 11:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for your comments.

I see your point about realpolitic. Yes, Turkey's location is a strategic one, but its democracy is relatively young. Moreover, many Turks harbor open hostility to the United States. Some of them feel that their leader are compromising "Islamic principles" in order to maintain their hold on power. Al-Qaeda and other groups are exploiting that concept.

What bothers me most about the two Post stories cited here are the overt and tacit denials with regard to historical events. Also, I am concerned that Turkey is positioning itself to take advantage of freer emigration to Europe. Freer emigration could well result in another surge of terrorists traveling even more freely.

Real politic or PC, we're seeing a compromise on the part of the Bush administration, and I question the worth of that compromise. I can only hope that these negotiations don't backfire later.

At 6/16/2005 10:25 PM, Blogger BigBubba said...

A society is in a real peril when free expression of opinion by its bureaucrats is inhibited.

At 6/19/2005 7:16 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Turkey is in danger. You can bet the Islamists want it converted to a theocracy that hates America and refuses to cooperate. I wouldn't be surprised if that isn't the next place to be heavily targeted by the terrorists. I heard a terrorism expert (http://outsidetheblogway.blogspot.com/2005/04/threat-of-international-terrorism.html) explain that their MO for the great takeover is to start with modern Muslim countries, overthrowing their regimes and installing their Islamists. And to accomplish this, they need the US out or at least at odds. Why else would Al Qaeda's only demand after 9/11 be that they want US troops out of Muslim countries?

At 6/19/2005 9:46 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for the link. Many Muslims just won't be satisfied until the entire world is a caliphate.


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