BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Unprecedented, exciting, unexpected, encouraging, positive, beneficial, hope-inspiring, satisfying, legitimating, wonderful, great, and countless other adjectives and participles are probably going through people’s minds regarding the UNANIMOUS passage on Thursday, December 12 of S. Res. 150, the U.S. Senate’s version of the measure passed by the House of Representatives on October 29.
Before proceeding, let’s clear one thing up. It seems to be unclear to people that there is no procedural “next step” to these resolutions. Specifically, there is no presidential, executive branch of government, action that can be taken by Donald Trump. He will not even have the option of signing or vetoing a “bill” because it will never land on his desk. Both were stand-alone statements of position/policy by the respective chambers of the U.S. Congress.
However, this does not mean that the president can’t act and establish a policy that is in line with what the House and Senate adopted. I don’t think that Trump, left to his own devices, will land on the side of truth and justice when it comes to the Armenian Genocide and Turkey. Turkey’s President Erdoğan seems to have some sway over Trump. Whether it is because of the Trump holdings in Turkey or the U.S. president’s affinity for autocrats, I don’t know.
Nevertheless, because of Trump’s arrogance, petulance, and self-importance, he might be goaded into taking a stand on the Genocide. This could come about if Ankara over-reacts to passage of the resolution prompting Trump to respond in turn. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevloot Chavooshoghloo (Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu) was already threatening U.S. access to two air bases in Turkey if the package of sanctions Congress is preparing to impose on Turkey goes through. A combined response by Turkey to both of these unfavorable developments might just trigger Trump.
Even more interesting for me are two other aspects of this development: how it came to be and its legal/judicial ramifications.
Just a few days ago, to all outward appearances, it looked like the Senate’s Genocide resolution had stalled. But it turns out the ANCA was playing the political game like a grandmaster plays chess. Our Washington voice had recognized that the matter had come to a point of no return. Senators were ready to pass the resolution. Yet somehow, a few of them were prevailed upon by Trump to throw procedural obstacles in the path of the Genocide resolution. But that was akin to what happens in a chess game where one of players is up in pieces and slowly trades equal pieces until her/his advantage is relatively greater and proceeds to win the game. Those few senators were the “trades”, the last gasps of a losing player. I am also pleased to have been wrong about those senators who had earned my ire by throwing those last few bombs. It also didn’t hurt our cause any to have a queen waiting in the wings to pounce in the form of Kim Kardashian who posted on Instagram about the resolution pending in the Senate for her 153 million followers to see.
Now that the legislative branch of the U.S. government is on record with unambiguous recognition, will that affect how the judicial branch of government perceive cases that come before it related to the Genocide? This is very important since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled California’s Genocide-era life insurance claims law unconstitutional because it supposedly infringed on the federal government’s exclusive prerogative, under the U.S. constitution, to establish and conduct foreign policy (recognition of the Genocide being seen as a matter of foreign policy). Do this pair of resolutions change the legal calculus? I think it would be a great service to our U.S. communities (and Armenian worldwide) if the Armenian Bar Association were to prepare and distribute a layman’s-language analysis of this matter. I look forward to reading such a document.