ANCA-WR Government Relations Director raises Genocide–human rights record as basis for policy question. WESTWOOD–Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher was questioned on United States foreign policy on Turkey by Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region Government Relations Director Ardashes Kassakhian–during an address to an overflow crowd in Los Angeles on Wednesday–January 23. The Clinton Administration official–whose talk was entitled ‘Foreign Policy of the Bush Administration: A One-Year Assessment,’ delivered the lecture as part of the 22nd Bernard Brodie Distinguished Lecture on the Conditions of Peace. The Lecture is sponsored each year by the Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations at the University of California–Los Angeles.
During the question answer session that followed the lecture–Kassakhian asked Secretary Christopher on US policy on Turkey–given that country’s abhorrent human rights record–staring with the Armenian Genocide–and continuing today with the denial of this crime against humanity and the continuing massacres of ethnic Kurds in the region. ‘Turkey being a human rights abuser both past and present as witnessed during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the current massacres of Kurdish nationals within its own borders why is it so difficult to use the same standards for policies on Turkey as we do on other countries such as Iraq–Afghanistan–Libya and Iran?’ asked Kassakhian.
Secretary Christopher–who was the 63rd Secretary of State in US history–responded by reiterating the State Department’s Cold War-era perception of Turkey as a regional ally as well as a NATO member-nation and added that US policy should not encompass the consideration of domestic issues in Turkey.
Secretary Christopher criticized the Bush Administration’s policy of unilateralism during the first two thirds of his administration but praised Bush’s policies since the September 11th terrorist attacks. The former Secretary characterized the initial decisions by the Bush Administration as ‘anti-predecessor syndrome’ the tendency of most new administrations to try to do everything differently from their predecessors–especially when there is a change in the party in the White House.