By Brantley Hargrove in Congress

Nashville Scene /rep_steve_cohen_among_those_ur.php
March 2 2010

Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat whose district includes Memphis,
is Tennessee's first Jewish congressman. With that in mind, does it
seem a bit odd to anyone else that, according to a letter to the
House Foreign Affairs Committee obtained by The Hill, Cohen would
join Texas' Kay Granger and Kentucky's Ed Whitfield in opposition to
a House resolution that would recognize as genocide the killing of
1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I?

To be fair, Pith isn't sure what to think about these kinds of
resolutions. Do they really make a difference? Sure, a resolution
recognizing the innumerable wrongs perpetrated against blacks in
this country was deserved -- no, required. In fact, Cohen himself
introduced legislation in the House that would apologize for slavery
and Jim Crow laws.

So it seems out of character for a relatively progressive Jewish
congressman to work to kill a resolution to recognize the wholesale
slaughter of a people as what it is: genocide. Of course, there are
a handful of arguable reasons why we shouldn't inflame our Turkish
allies. For one, an attempt to forge a long-nonexistent relationship
between Armenia and Turkey is under way, though some Armenian writers
question the motives underlying it -- possibly pipelines through the
country to the oil- and gas-rich Caspian Sea.

Which leads us into a second reason why certain legislators might
argue against the resolution: Billions of barrels of oil and trillions
of cubic meters of natural gas reside in the Caspian Sea region,
with nothing less than energy security and a pipeline through Turkey
at stake.

Last, but almost certainly not least, most of our military shipments
to Afghanistan and Iraq are funneled through an airbase in Turkey.

They've threatened to cut our access before -- although it's been
argued pretty persuasively, in terms of who needs who, that Turkey
stands to lose more with a souring of Turkish-American relations than
we do.

Sure, there are some sensible arguments to be made for abandoning this
resolution. But then there are men like Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust ever took place. The question
is, Congressman Cohen, does refusing to utter the "G" word unanimously
when speaking of the Armenian genocide amount to the same thing?