Foreign Relations and Forgetting

Article excerpt

* Foreign Relations and Forgetting

D'Amato is not the only slippery member of democracy's most exclusive club. After co-sponsoring a measure to designate April 24, 1990, a national day of remembrance for the Armenian genocide of 1915-23, fifteen Senators jumped ship when the bill became the target of feverish lobbying from influential quarters. The fifteen deserve individual mention: Patrick Leahy, Don Nickles, John Breaux, David Pryor, Kit Bond, Alan Dixon, Strom Thurmond, Jim Sasser, Orrin Hatch, Bob Graham, Daniel Inouye, Richard Bryan, Howell Heflin, Sam Nunn and Bob Kasten.

Between 1 million and 2 million Armenians are estimated to have been massacred by the Ottoman Empire. Although the resolution, introduced by Senator Robert Dole in September, distinguishes between the Ottoman rulers and the current Turkish government, Ankara still vigorously opposes the measure. For help in defeating the bill Turkey turned to Israel, with which it maintains a warm relationship, and several high-priced Washington lobbyists, some connected with Jewish organizations. Eager to assist, the Israeli Embassy encouraged Jewish-American groups to oppose the bill, until an embarassed Israeli Foreign Ministry ordered the embassy to cease such activity. But Turkey has an array of other champions: lobbying and public relations firms such as Hill and Knowlton, with which it has a $1. …