October 15, 2007
A Million and a Half is Genocide, a Million is Collateral Damage

Is the Speaker of the House really serious about genocide, or is she simply involved in a standard Washington power play?

Suppose we assume that a million and a half Armenians died between 1915 and 1923 in a systematic and deliberate campaign; personally I know of no reason to doubt that, but I’m not a historian of the Ottoman Empire.

Now suppose the House of Representatives, 92 years later, decides to label that systematic and deliberate campaign “genocide”.

What, exactly, is the difference between a systematic and deliberate campaign by Ottomans that killed a million and a half Armenians, and a systematic and deliberate campaign by Americans that killed a million-plus Iraqis?

Is it that last half-million deaths? Or the religion of the killers? Can the wingnuts come up with some defense based on intent, or will they, as usual, escape the dilemma by denying the facts?

And what’s the difference between wingnuts denying facts, and House Speakers choosing to spend time on century-old genocides to distract attention from an equal number of deaths the Speaker’s party funded? I mean, they’re different, but do they differ in levels of culpability?

[ Update: I don’t really understand what evidence TeddySanFran considers in thinking that Pelosi is trying to stop the war in Iraq with a semantic resolution about Armenians. The argument seems a bit far-fetched. I wish it were true, but I see no reason to think so. ]

[ Update 2: It has been pointed to me that a semantic non-wingnut argument holds up against my original statement. If we define genocide as the attacker trying to exterminate a group of people, then intent, and ratio of killed to spared, are critical. By those measures, American involvement in Iraq has not been genocidal.

My original point, poorly stated, was this: what is the moral difference between killing a million and a half people in an attempt to eliminate Armenians, and killing a million-plus people in an attempt to run off with the resources they live on top of? Is it less moral if one intends to kill a million people than if one does so unintentionally? In other words, what is the moral difference between the Ottoman actions the House condemns and the war in Iraq it funds? ]

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at October 15, 2007 12:28 AM
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You're little bit harsh on Mme Speaker, Chuck. Isn't it true that was the Republican party that funded the war? Now that the Dems are the majority, they failed to stop funding it.

Posted by: myth on October 15, 2007 2:55 AM

Well, the Speaker is the Representative from my district, so it's kinda more my job to call her on stuff than otherwise.

True, the Republicans funded the war, and voted it in. With nary a peep from most Democrats at the time, and nothing but peeps — no definite actions — now. "Failing to stop funding" something isn't all that different from just out-and-out funding it. You still have to vote to do it.

Certainly there are honorable exceptions to the rule of Democrats having all been magically deprived of their spinal cords by the donations of people who are really just out to smash their country-club rivals. Feingold and Kucinich immediately come to mind, for example.

But right now impeachment is something Conyers can't even push for, because the Speaker has forbidden it. Why? Does it make sense for the country, or is it an election strategem?

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on October 15, 2007 4:52 AM

I agreed. It's definitely an election strategem to the Dems, if I might say that's their thinking. No impeachment. They want Bush in office full term, to force the Repugs to have to either defending him during the election, or loosing Dubya's base of 20%. I know, it's despicable to play politics while our young men and women are killed everyday in a senseless war.

But I feel a landslide coming. And that will be the sound of "Democracy coming to the USA". Hope they will live up to their namesake.

Posted by: myth on October 16, 2007 2:32 AM
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