Maybe Congress has no business debating Turkish history, maybe it is doing so for the wrong reasons. Yet if Turkey is to become the stable, Western-oriented democracy that it aspires to be, its politicians will have to learn, at least, to react the way everyone else does to nonbinding House resolutions: that is, with a shrug. ~Jackson Diehl
I think I know what Mr. Diehl is trying to say here. Even though I have argued that the genocide resolution should be passed over the objections of the Turkish government, while Diehl seems to think the entire thing is more or less irrelevant, he is making the proper point that Ankara’s threats and tantrums are absurd, do Turkey no credit and hurt the development of its domestic politics. But Diehl seems to be missing (as Diehl often will) the more important point, which is that the ultranationalists and Kemalists in Turkey are some of the biggest barriers to Turkey’s development into anything other than any other tinpot Near Eastern state. The propagation of the official lie that no genocide took place shores up their power and serves as a tool to suppress liberal dissidents of all kinds who oppose the regime. I have no illusions that Turkey will actually become a full Western-style liberal democracy, because its political and religious cultures are ultimately hostile to such a development. However, continuing to play along in their genocide denialism only strengthens the worst elements in Turkish politics while discouraging the relative few who have some genuine commitment to Western values.
Meanwhile, Ankara has to understand that it has a lot less influence in Washington after it refused to allow U.S. forces to launch part of the Iraq invasion from Turkish territory. The clueless Wolfowitz was assuring everyone right up till the end that the access would be granted and seemed to view it as a surprise when the access was denied, when it was plain for all to see that the government and public opinion in Turkey were both firmly against it (because they were quite rightly against the war). The Turkish government has a much weaker hand this time around and is almost certainly overplaying that hand.
Of course, Diehl makes a very odd statement, given the debates we have just had over the past two months. Did “everyone” react “with a shrug” to the nonbinding resolution on the “surge”? These people certainly didn’t. Come to think of it, almost everyone in both parties became quite animated by the entire question of a nonbinding resolution about the “surge.” Perhaps the Turkish government noticed this and determined that nonbinding resolutions were actually deeply serious and meaningful. If they ever thought this they would have been, much like Hewitt and his gang, very, very wrong.