Let’s for a minute think about the American administration and the issue of officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide. America is in a tough position. It has never denied the Armenian Genocide, and has lately insisted that Turkey should be the first to recognize the Armenian Genocide as such, not America.

This policy was first revealed in an unnamed interview to the Los Angeles Times that I reported a month ago. An official U.S. press release from February 8, 2007, now quotes Asst. Secretary of State Daniel Fried stating the same idea:

I’ve always been of the view that democratic countries need to take a hard look at the dark spots in their own history. And by the way, I start with my own country. We do have dark spots in the United States. Our past includes a past in which slavery was an institution that existed in this country for centuries. We fought a civil war to end it and still its affects linger to the present day. That is a dark spot and we had to confront it honestly.

Our treatment in the 20th Century of Japanese-Americans in World War II; our treatment of American Indians were dark spots in our history. We had to deal with this honestly and painfully.

Our view is that Turkey is going through a process of looking at its own history with Armenians. The killings in 1915 were horrific. They need to be looked at honestly and without taboos, but not because Americans say Turkey should look at this. It should be looked at because Turks in the process of building a democracy and deepening a democracy are looking at these issues for their own reasons.

I think this process is going on in Turkey. It is painful, it is emotional. There are nationalist forces and it was an extreme nationalist, it seems, who murdered Hrant Dink and there are millions of Turks who reject this dark legacy of nationalism including the hundreds of thousands of Turks who marched in the streets of Istanbul at the Hrant Dink funeral saying things like we are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dink, which I interpret as Turkey’s rejection of nationalism.

So my argument to the Congress will be that this natural, painful process in Turkey needs to be allowed to unfold with encouragement and support, but not pressure from the outside. That will be my argument.

Now I don’t expect that everyone will accept it, but I will make the case as best I can. And it won’t be just me. There will be more senior people than I making the case and pointing out that Turkish-U.S. relations should not be damaged for no good purpose.

But this is obviously a very emotional issue and I believe it is in Turkey’s interest for its own reasons to take steps to examine its past and to reach out to Armenians worldwide and to Armenia despite the fact that Turks don’t like all of the things that Armenian communities say.

What Fried is saying is actually rational, if you insist on the idea of “Turkey reaching out to Armenia.” The 1919 court martials in Turkey to punish the perpetrators of the Armenian massacres were pushed by Britain, which occupied what would be Istanbul at that time. When the first criminal, Kemal Bey, was hanged in the Bayazkirt square as a result of the trial, many Muslims marched in the streets calling the executed murderer a Turk victim of foreign occupation. They would not accept punishment of their compatriot criminals when the British were the ones who pushe. (this is from Taner Akcam’s A SHAMEFUL ACT book that I am almost finished reading) .

What the U.S. administration is saying is that look, if we pass a resolutin acknowledging the Armenian Genocide we will end up promoting Turkish nationalism and maybe lose the hope for Turkey ever recognizing the Genocide. The claims is basically that they want the best for Armenians (as always).

This new argumentation seems very reasonable and even compelling, although Mr. Fried would not be qualified as the most honest politician (you figure out why).

If we agree with Mr. Fried’s compelling argumentation, the theory still lacks in answering how and if ever Turkey will come to acknowledge its crime against the Armenian nation. If the American adminisration finds that Turks need to recognize the genocide before America does so, why is America ignoring the growth of denialist institutions established by the Republic of Turkey in major American universities? Freedom of Speech? Perhaps. But these are institutions established by foreign governments to spread a particular agenda and fabricate history. The same rhetoric was not used by America not to to fire its ambassador John Evans when he acknowledged the Genocide saying though his statement did not reflect the American foreign policy. On the other hand, it is also true that the Bush administration did not prevent Andew Goldberg’s “The Armenian Genocide” from airing on PBS last year.

Can’t the administration still tolerate the passage of the resolution in Congress and tell Turkey that it doesn’t reflect the administration’s position? Congress represents the people of America, and if the people want to have an official proclamation acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as such, the administration can disagree and tell Turkey they are still cool.

The other question is whether the people of Turkey will ever recognize the Genocide. There are few, if any, countries that have voluntarily addmitted of being guilty of genocide. Germany was not the organizer of the Nuremberg trials. Cambodia’s perpetrators are still unpunished and say they still do not see a reason” why they would “have killed our own people.” Rwandan history is not told in Rwanda. The Sudanese president denies the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and even “open minded” America, in the words of Asst. Secretary State Daniel Fried himself, finds the genocide against the Native Americans a “treatment” that was a “dark spot.”

Again, I still find Mr. Fried’s arguments reasonable. But as the case of Hastert turned out to have been, there are things that we may not know at this point. After all, Fried said he would be lobbying the Congress not to pass the resolution:

Later today I am going up to meet with key figures in the Congress about this bill and I expect our efforts will continue.

It is not clear who the “key figures” are, especially when Mr. Fried said in the official interview transcript that a meeting between the Turkish foreign minister with the House Speaker Pelosi did not take place (apparently she refused to mee with Gul), because

The Speaker, let me put it this way, does not always listen to all the advice from the administration.

Being asked about the resolution again, Mr. Fried finally gets to the point as close as he can get. He says he wants more people – like the only Turk who has won the Nobel Prize and been tried for “insulting Turkishness” after referring to one-million Armenian deaths – in Turkey to approach the subject themselves and be honest about history by taking America’s example:

The debate in Turkey about its history, the position of writers such as Orhan Pamuk, the position of intellectuals, the participation of Turkish scholars in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission some six years ago is all the result not of any outside pressure. Orhan Pamuk doesn’t care at all what the Americans think. It’s the result of internal Turkish processes. I applaud these, and I hope that Turkey for its own reasons will do everything it can to reach out to Armenia and Armenians.

Great nations are not afraid to confront the dark spots of their past. The United States had to do so and we were not our best selves, we were not true to our best traditions until we had done so.