<em>Guest Post by Mindy Kotler</em>: Failing to Comfort

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(Los Desatres de la Guerra by Francisco Goya , 1810)
Mindy L. Kotler is director of Asia Policy Point, a nonprofit research center providing objective information and scholarship on Northeast Asia to the American policy community.
Steve Clemons is right that comparing the U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 121 (passed July 30th), the Comfort Women Resolution (CW), to H. Res. 106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution (AG) that was passed out the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 10th is both wrong and dangerous. There is also little similarity in style, substance, and intent between these two human rights resolutions.
Among the many differences between the resolutions, a critical one is that the Armenian Resolution has no endgame other than to condemn Turkey. There is no suggestion for a solution, support for those who are trying to do the right thing in Turkey, or even understanding of how its passage can affect U.S. foreign policy interests in the region.


The AG Resolution is one long (30 sub-sections) and emotional Resolved Clause (resolutions are usually composed of several Whereas and Resolved Clauses) condemning Turkey. It only asks the U.S. President to show appropriate acknowledgement of a Turkish genocide against the Armenians. How is that constructive? The job of U.S. Congressional resolutions should be to solve problems, not to make bigger ones.
The CW Resolution, in contrast, was composed as a road map to affirmatively rectify an historic injustice. Backed by rigorous scholarly research, the CW Resolution confirms that the Government of Japan, within its own legal and legislative system had never offered a formal, honest apology to the CW. The Resolution also compliments Japanese efforts to reconcile with the CW, and ties this historic wrong of state-sponsored forced prostitution to the fate of women and families in the brutality of contemporary warfare.
Most important, experts on Asian regional security were involved in the writing of and backup research for the CW Resolution. There is a consensus, even among those who opposed the legislation, that resolving and ending the vituperative historical debates in Asia about national conduct during World War II is important. The lingering resentments block the establishment of a workable regional security architecture and cooperation. With Japan being an important American ally East Asia, it is in Washington’s interest to encourage Tokyo to settle these issues justly and quickly.
By contrast, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, as it now stands, is simply one long laundry list of accusations; a jeremiad that increases the tension in an already brittle U.S. relationship with Turkey. The CW Resolution is a tool, while the AG Resolution is a club. Yes, what the Ottoman Turks did to the Armenian people was horrific, but just wanting the Turks today just to feel bad is not the job of the U.S. Congress.
–Mindy Kotler

Comments

6 comments on “<em>Guest Post by Mindy Kotler</em>: Failing to Comfort

  1. Paul says:

    It was not Ottoman Turkey that committed these crimes; It was the Pan-Turkist Young Turks, headed by Enver, Talaat, and Jamal Pasha.

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  2. googa says:

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  3. Brian says:

    I am Irish, married to a turkish woman and living in Istanbul. I have researched this subject extensively and conclude that people died on both sides, Armenians and Turks. There were many crimes on both sides also, but a genocide? No, i don’t think so. Also, the modern republic of Turkey would have no responsibility in this matter anyway, even if it was true, which it is not. It is very ironic to hear pronouncements about this period of history from the likes of the USA and france, 2 of the most bloodthirsty invaders on earth, historically in the case of France, and still the case with the USA.

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  4. sona says:

    Mark L
    It is controversial because it threatens US national strategic intersts and because it was Ottoman Turkey when the genocide occurred. Kemal Attaturk reinvented Turkey and took on the Ottoman Sultans to do that. Today’s Turkey is not guilty of that genocide but Ottoman Turkey was. The resolution is so much arrogant hubris coming from an unaplogetic nation guilty of calculated genocide of and landgrab from native Americans and slavery of peoples from a faraway continent to get to where it is today.

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  5. MarkL says:

    I find it so odd that in the context of a war which was grounded in an utterly false sense of moral rectitude, the passage of a simple, clear, morally correct condemnation of a heinous act is so controversial.

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  6. rukus says:

    I think that what this says about the Bush administration is the most interesting.
    The administration has or had no ability to head this legislation off at the pass? Did the administration just not care? Or know about it?
    With the Bush administration this impotent and Congress finally gaining some courage, it should be an interesting year ahead for foreign relations.

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