Symbolism, Turkey, and China

Steny Hoyer was on Fox News Sunday with Britt Hume, talking about Turkey, genocide, and congress:

HUME: All right. Let’s talk about this bill relating to the Turks, the Armenians and the word genocide.


HUME: The bill has been reported. It’s not yet been acted on. Will it come to the floor, in your judgment?

HOYER: Yes. I schedule the bills, and I’m telling you it will come to the floor. It will come to the floor before November 16th.

HUME: And where do you think the votes are right now?

HOYER: I think we’ll pass this. It passed out of committee 27- 21, closer than I think it would have been. So congress is going to have a full vote on the resolution passed by House Foreign Affairs Committee. As NPR said:

Before the vote, chair Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) warned fellow committee members they had a sobering choice to make.

“We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word ‘genocide,'” Lantos said, “against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying.”

So we have Congress critters acknowledging that their vote of conscience would put our troops at risk, and they went ahead with it anyway. We need Turkey to help assist the Defense Department in their logistical operations, and we are about to make them upset over the symbolism of the word genocide. I would argue that such action is a bad idea.

But, what other symbolic action is about to make one of our most important allies very upset? What if we needed the support of a country to, for example, enforce sanctions against North Korea, or begin a sanctions program against Iran? What if that country could make non-proliferation a success, or an empty promise, at their will? Would it be wise to undertake a symbolic gesture like, perhaps, awarding a Congressional Gold medal to the biggest thorn in their side, the Dalai Lama?

Even world leaders are coming around and granting more official audiences with the Dalai Lama, despite implied (and not-so-implied) reprisals from China, who still consider him a separatist threat. The Asian powerhouse has canceled three meetings with Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with the exiled Tibetan last month, and they have also already expressed displeasure with both President Bush’s private meeting with the Dalai Lama on Tuesday and his receiving a Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor – on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Just asking…

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