Giuliani’s Armenian Problem

Rudy Giuliani’s choice of died-in-the-wool neocon Michael Rubin as an Iran adviser is disheartening but not particularly surprising. Yes, Rubin’s plan of directly antagonizing the Iranian government by supporting democratic activists and regime change would severely compromise our negotiating position and further encourage Iranian nuclear development, but let’s remember that Rudy is also being advised by Norman “The Case for Bombing Iran” Podhoretz and Daniel Pipes, who has none too subtly called for Israel to unilaterally disarm Iran. Giuliani himself has suggested bombing or nuking Iran’s facilities. Compared to Podhoretz, Pipes, and Giuliani, Rubin is positively moderate. But what I did find extremely disturbing about this appointment is that Rubin will, in addition to his Iran responsibilities, serve as Giuliani’s Turkey adviser. Let’s see what Rubin has to say about the Armenian genocide, shall we?

Rather than confront the question of whether Turkey is European — and what European identity actually means — many European politicians have used side issues to undercut Turkey’s membership drive. On December 15, 2004, for example, the European parliament passed three amendments calling upon Turkey to acknowledge that the Ottoman Empire had committed genocide against the Armenian people. The debate over issues that predate Turkey’s establishment has become one of original sin. While historians do not dispute the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during World War I, the historical record about the role of the Ottoman Empire’s Young Turks is far murkier than many European politicians acknowledge.

It gets worse:

The Anti-Defamation League has decided to label the events surrounding the deaths of Armenians during World War I as ‘genocide.’
There can be absolutely no argument that a million or more Armenians died during World War I. But, on issue of whether genocide—a deliberate plan to eradicate a people—occurred or not, there is a big gap between the narrative of Diaspora communities and that of prominent historians. The historical debate is more complex.
It is a shame that Abraham Foxman has made such a decision on political rather than historical grounds.

I go back and forth on the question of whether it’s diplomatically wise for Congress to formally condemn Turkey for the genocide. But it’s safe to say that there’s no way in hell I want a president who assigns Turkey policy to someone who denies the genocide even happened.

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