Opinion: Harman flip-flops on Armenian genocide resolution


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In the long, unhappy life of the congressional resolution to officially recognize and commemorate the Armenian genocide, there have been many moments (from the Armenian point of view, which I broadly share) of parliamentary treachery -- then-House speaker Dennis Hastert withdrawing the resolution at the last minute in 2000, both presidents George Bush vowing as candidates to officially recognize the genocide then dropping the pledge once in the White House, and so on.

Now we can add to that list ... hawkish South Bay Democrat Jane Harman! Even though Harman is one the bill’s 226 co-sponsors, she nonetheless wrote a letter to House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Tom Lantos Wednesday urging him to withdraw it from consideration, and announcing that she will oppose the very resolution she affixed her name to. Excerpt:


My father was a refugee to the United States from Nazi Germany. I understand the consquences of ethnic and racial persecution, and am comitted to fighting and condemning acts of genocide wherever they occur. That is why I agreed to cosponsor H. Res. 106. I am convinced that a terrible crime was committed against the Armenian people. That crime should be recognized and condemned. However, following a visit to Turkey earlier this year that included meetings with Prime Minister Erdogan, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch and colleagues of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, I have great concern that this is the wrong time for the Congress to consider this measure. Due to my security focus in the House, I have made 18 trips to the Middle East region over the past 14 years and am persuaded that Turkey plays a critically important role in moderating extremist forces there. Given the nature of the threat, I believe it is imperative to nurture that role -- however valid from the historical perspective, we should avoid taking steps that would embarrass or isolate the Turkish leadership.

In other words, the Turks are wrong, but they’re just too important to piss off. Jane’ll fight tomorrow’s genocide, but would rather not talk about yesterday’s. Still, the Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a vote for next Wednesday, and Democrats are predicting the bill will pass the House.

I wrote about the bizarre politics of saying ‘genocide’ back in April.