Sen. Obama vs. Speaker Hastert:Integrity vs. Immorality

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Sen. Obama vs. Speaker Hastert: Integrity vs. Immorality
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Oct. 27, 2005.

There have been so many developments on Turkish-Armenian issues in recent days that the avalanche of news reports has overwhelmed the e-mail boxes of Armenian newspapers. The fast pace of unfolding events has also made the task of political commentators more difficult.

Here are some quick comments on a few recent developments:

1) Ever since the House International Relations Committee approved by an overwhelming majority the two resolutions on the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian-American community has been waiting to see if the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, would be kind enough to allow one of these resolutions to come to the floor of the House for a final vote. The question is: can Armenian-Americans apply sufficient pressure on the Speaker to make him realize that he and some of his Republican colleagues would lose a lot more in the next congressional elections than gain by sitting on these commemorative bills? We are not even raising here the issues of morality and doing the right thing, and other noble, but unfortunately irrelevant concepts, such as truth and justice. The Speaker may have forgotten that on April 19, 1984, he delivered remarks on the House floor supporting a similar congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide that was approved by the full House. “Over a million Armenians were exiled and eventually murdered by the Ottoman Turks beginning on April 24, 1915. As a result of this genocide, the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was effectively eliminated through a carefully executed government plan,” Cong. Hastert uttered those words before becoming Speaker. He also voted on June 5, 1996, for the Radanovich Amendment, to cut U.S. aid to Turkey, until that country recognizes the Armenian Genocide. The measure was adopted by a bipartisan majority.

2) Speaking of morality -- a rare commodity for politicians these days -- US Senator Barack Obama (Dem.-Illinois), seems to be one of those rare Members of Congress with integrity. When harassed by Azeri journalists during his recent trip to Baku over his signing of a letter to Pres. Bush asking him to recognize the Armenian Genocide, he bravely told the Azeris: “I believe the letter sent by the Senators to President George Bush to recognize the genocide of Armenians reflects historic facts.” He is quoted by AzerNews as saying that the letter to Bush indicated that a large number of innocent Armenians were killed during the genocide. “By signing the letter, I also defended the interests of the State of Illinois [that] I represent. Killing civilians anywhere in the world should not be allowed, ” Sen. Obama said. Not too many politicians would stand up in hostile territory and defend their principled position on an issue.

3) While the Armenian-American community is trying to push through a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide, a small group of Turkish-Americans, the so-called “Daughters of Ataturk,” are trying to propose a counter bill to commemorate the alleged “massacre of 2.5 million Turks in Eastern Anatolia by Armenians between 1915 and 1923.” This must be a sick joke. I don’t think these shameless “ladies” would find a single member of Congress who would stoop so low as to sponsor such a preposterous lie for a fistful of Turkish Liras!

4) In a recent column, I wrote that the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Faruk Logoglu, had done a very poor job of defending the interests of his country during the deliberations of the House International Relations Committee on the Armenian Genocide bills. I speculated that Amb. Logoglu may be recalled to Ankara due to his inability to block the passage of these bills in committee. Subsequently, Hurriyet reported that Amb. Logoglu would be leaving his post shortly. Turkish Foreign Ministry officials must have been dissatisfied with the Ambassador’s inability to fight the Armenian Genocide bills. According to Hurriyet, Amb. Logoglu would no longer be affiliated with the Foreign Ministry. Instead, he would join or head his own private think tank.

5) The British Foreign Ministry just announced that the infamous UK Ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbott-Watt, would be leaving her post next January. The readers probably recall that she insulted Armenians worldwide last year by brazenly denying the facts of the Armenian Genocide! We say goodbye to her and good riddance! Would she be interested, by any chance, in replacing Amb. Logoglu at the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara?

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