Unfit for Command

by Patrick J. Buchanan

Observing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Democratic House imperil a U.S.-Turkish alliance of 60 years – by formally charging Turkey with genocide in a 1915 massacre of the Armenians – the question comes to mind:

Does this generation have the maturity to lead America?

About the horrors visited on Armenians in 1915, that year of Turkish triumph over the Royal Navy in the Dardanelles, which led to the ouster of First Lord Winston Churchill and of victory over the British-French-ANZAC invasion force on Gallipoli, there is no doubt.

Between 1915 and 1923, as modern Turkey was being torn out of the womb of a dying Ottoman Empire, a million or more Armenians died in massacres and a forced exodus. It was one of the monstrous crimes and terrible tragedies of a 20th century that abounded in both.

That Armenian-Americans wish to have their holocaust recognized is understandable. But that Democrats could not put off that request – for Congress to officially charge Turkey with genocide, 90 years ago – is not.

For what was the necessity for the House to take this sensitive moment in U.S.-Turkish relations to rub our allies’ noses in century-old sins by equating their fathers with Hitler and Himmler?

What was their motive?

Answer: House Democrats are pandering to an Armenian lobby that has long sought to have the United States formally declare that what Turks did to them is exactly what Nazis did to the Jews. The genocide resolution now goes to the floor, where Pelosi promises swift passage.

One trusts Democrats will be rewarded, for the damage they have done to the national interest is great.

In Turkey, America has always been regarded more warmly than the other Western democracies. We never declared war on Turkey in 1917. We were not party to the secret Sykes-Picot deal that carved up the Ottoman Empire. Though Woodrow Wilson agreed in Paris to accept a U.S. trusteeship of Constantinople, which would have put us on a collision course with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s nation, the Senate rejected it.

When, after World War II, Stalin pressed down on Turkey, the Turks were among the first beneficiaries of Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine aid. Turks reciprocated by sending their sons to fight beside Americans in Korea. They were then brought into NATO.

The Turks accepted U.S. intermediate-range ballistic missiles targeted on the Soviet Union, then accepted their removal as part of JFK’s secret deal with Nikita Khrushchev to end the Cuban missile crisis.

No nation has been a better friend or more reliable ally. Since the first days of the Cold War, Turkey hosted U.S. bases. And few nations are more crucial than this land bridge between Islam and the West, between the Middle East and Europe. Turkey is a crossroads of the world.

But the relationship has deteriorated.

The Turks opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing, rightly it turns out, that Saddam was no threat to the region. The Turks refused to allow us to use their territory for a northern front in the invasion of Iraq. Yet, today, Turkey is indispensable to Gen. Petraeus. Turkish drivers deliver munitions and supplies overland to Iraq. Turkish bases, like Incirlik, are used by the U.S. Air Force to support American troops in Iraq.

Ankara’s reward: to have Congress vote to condemn Turkey’s founding fathers as genocidal murderers.

Understandably, Turks are coming to see the alliance as a one-way street and themselves as forgotten friends. For we have failed to convince the Kurds we shelter in northern Iraq to rein in their terrorist cousins, who are using Iraqi territory as a privileged sanctuary from which to attack the Turkish army. Two dozen Turkish soldiers have been murdered in two separate attacks in recent weeks by the PKK.

When Pancho Villa raided Columbus, N.M., in 1916, and killed dozens of Americans, Wilson sent Gen. Pershing and an army of 12,000 into Mexico to run him down. Turks have the same right of hot pursuit, and they feel the same rage. For the Leninists of the PKK were responsible for a 15-year war in which some 37,000 Turks and Kurds died before 1999, when a truce was declared.

By reigniting a war of terror in Turkey and using bases in Iraq from which to attack, the PKK appears to be provoking a Turkish invasion of Iraq, which could deal a mortal blow to the U.S.-Turkish alliance and would be a disaster for U.S. policy in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iranian Kurds of a related terror group, PEJAK, have been conducting attacks inside Iran. Iran, like Turkey, has been responding with artillery fire into Iraq.

The United States needs to sit down with our Kurdish friends and explain that in return for U.S. protection, they are to rein in the PKK and PEJAK before they drag us into a wider war.

As for Ms. Pelosi & Co., they seem determined to prove the point that, no matter the failures of Bush & Co., the Democrats are unfit for command.