Turkey- with a side of guilt.
We have had several comments and e-mails asking us to comment on the renewed calls for Turkey to take responsibility for the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the World War One era, the age of the "Young Turks" at the end of the Ottoman Empire. I can only say that I do not know enough about the history of the region to make a statement about the veracity of the Armenian claims. I do know that hundreds of thousands died, on all sides (including Churchill's forces at Gallipolli), and that whatever occurred, it was a tragedy for peoples of many nationalities.
I will comment on the calls for acknowledgement of guilt, however. I find it interesting that France
is the rabble rouser here, and can't help but wonder if this is a sublime ploy to keep Turkey out of the E.U. With her well documented problems in dealing with the resident Muslim population, and perennial double digit unemployment, do the French really want 73 million more Muslims to have unfettered access to the Cannes film fest? The French are careful to say that acknowledging guilt is not a deal breaker- but ten years is a long time, a lot can happen across the table, and under it, during ten years of negotiations.
Maybe I am wrong though, giving the French too much credit. Could it be that the member nations of the E.U. are once again projecting their demons onto a scapegoat? Germany is guilt ridden over the Holocaust, the British still flagellate themselves over "the troubles" in Ireland, France continues to fight colonial wars, and the rest of Europe knows removing Saddam was the right thing to do. So what's a group of hand-wringing Eurocrats to do? Point the finger, expose the (purported) guilt of another. Who knows, maybe this is simply the first of twelve steps to joining the E.U. I imagine it would go something like this:
"Hi. My name is Turkey. I have a genocide (insert loaded word here) in my past I need to face."
"Hi, Turkey! Now for Step 2- do you believe that the E.U. is a power greater than yourselves, and can restore you to sanity?"*
This is not to belittle the deaths of the untold number of people who died in the region, Armenians, Turks and others, in the War to End All Wars. I do not believe in collective, inherited guilt and find it hard to pass the blame (if there is any) of a long gone Empire on to a nation that did not exist at the time. I welcome any and all comments or e-mails from readers who are more knowledgeable about the history involved, perhaps some of you can shed some light on the subject. As for me, I'll continue to be skeptical about the Eurocrats, and to watch this very closely.
* Please don't send me any hate-mail about belittling 12 Step Programs. They seem to help many people and I am glad for them. If this offended you, get your own blog and complain about me. Just be sure to blogroll us!