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“Interest Group Foreign Policy”

October 13th, 2008 . by Matt

Interesting article with lots of examples from Doug Bandow at antiwar.com.

Capitol Hill was recently roiled by an issue of no obvious concern to America: the World War I genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population. But the tendency of Washington policymakers to concoct foreign policy to satisfy influential interest groups has become quite common, from Haiti to Israel to Eastern Europe to Turkey.

Consider the emotional controversy over the Armenian genocide resolution. What conceivable relevance did this issue have to the U.S. government?

The genocide was begun almost a century ago by a nation that no longer exists. Everyone who planned the murders and most likely everyone who participated in the killings are dead. The successor state of Turkey is unlikely to stage a repeat performance. Most congressmen know little enough about U.S. history, let alone the circumstances of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Yet if our esteemed solons feel competent to judge the Ottomans, why stop there? Should Congress denounce Italy because the Romans destroyed the city of Carthage and sowed the ground with salt? Or chastise Mongolia because Attila the Hun spread death and desolation throughout Eurasia? Perhaps Britain deserves chastisement for botching the partition of India and Pakistan.

Surely the murderous expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and other states after World War II warrants attention. Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia should not be ignored. But also deserving mention is Ethiopia’s brutal depredations against Eritrean secessionists. And who can forget the horrors committed by alleged republicans during the French Revolution?

Of course, the Armenian genocide resolution was introduced to bash Turkey, not to teach history. The Armenian lobby hoped to use the U.S. Congress as its club. In seeking to advance its agenda, the lobby exhibited an almost frivolous disregard for the impact on U.S. foreign policy. Only when the magnitude of the threat to U.S.-Turkish relations become too obvious for even a hermit to miss did the House Democratic leadership sideline the resolution. Whether Congress should have yielded to Turkish pressure after making the measure a priority is an open question. But on its merits the resolution should never have come up.

There is more, and I invite everyone to have a read. However, he left out the comfort woman resolution out of his fairly comprehensive list. The comfort woman resolution illustrates the point – a complicated issue from long ago, with complicated causes, with questionable testimony before the congress, for the purpose of an ethnic minority living in America to pursue their agenda of bashing Japan.

2 Responses to ““Interest Group Foreign Policy””

  1. comment number 1 by: ponta.

    Thank you for mentioning the comfort woman resolution in “your” list.

    “Why stop here ” is a good question. I guess the U.S. will come up with the resolutions as to the war-time sex slave against Korea, Germany and the U.S. herself if she wants to be morally consistent.

  2. comment number 2 by: john k

    So who decides when the “statue of limitations” runs out on genocide?

    What about Molosovic, Ceauşescu, for example. Are those who are still alive, whom were affected by such acts, do they provide the limitation to the said crimes?

    When is a crime no longer a crime because, of time?

    All countries have periods of their history that are bleak and by today’s standards, unacceptable. How one moves on is important.

    If said country fails to recognise such acts, by today’s litmus test, and no real clear separation of “part of” said bleak period of history and today exists, then should it be recognised as progressive?

    The EU has maintained a consistent line with Turkey, for example, for acceptance into the EU. It hasn’t beaten a stick over its head, or lobbyed it (US style) it has simply said, if you want to be part of “our club” you must play by ‘our’ rules…ie recognise the acts of their past as being, not “acceptable”. “Justice” for said acts, can only come from within.

    US foreign policy is all too clear to everyone around the world. Domination, not reconciliation.

    Fringe groups in countries like the US, end up having a disproportionate view of themselves and a voice to match. Such are the consequences of freedom of speech and a political system that is self-serving.