Politico‘s Laura Rozen paints a disturbing picture of the chain of events that ultimately led the House Foreign Affairs Committee to pass the Armenian “genocide” resolution last Thursday.
Until last week, it appeared that the White House had made a calculated decision not to ask House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman to refrain from bringing the resolution to a vote. Previous administrations have often made such requests in order to prevent damage to the U.S.-Turkey alliance.
The decision to acquiesce to the vote appeared to be motivated by politics and the administration’s desire to keep Obama’s campaign promise that he would recognize the Armenian genocide.
But, as Rozen details in her piece, the story is more complicated. Secretary of State Clinton called Berman last Wednesday night – the evening before a vote that had been on the legislative calendar for a month – to indicate that the vote could jeopardize U.S-Turkey relations. But it was too late. Berman called the vote and it passed by a single vote.
Rozen’s sources suggest that the White House simply dropped the ball. The only other plausible explanation I can conceive is that Clinton’s last-minute phone call was a purposefully ineffective ploy designed to persuade the Turks that the administration tried to prevent the vote. If that is the case, it is not working.
It is worth nothing that State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley indicated Saturday that the White House opposes bringing the resolution to a full House vote.
Another aspect of this story that is important to emphasize – and that Center for Strategic and International Studies Turkey Project Director Bulent Aliriza makes toward the end of the clip above – is that the impact of last weeks’ vote cannot be found on any one specific issue such as the United States’ use of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase or Ankara’s diplomatic cooperation on Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan.
Rather, the effect will be broader and more difficult to measure. Votes of this kind will likely strengthen anti-American elements within the Turkish political system and make it more difficult for the Turkish government to undertake unpopular decisions in support of American objectives.
— Ben Katcher