This week the House of Representatives debated a resolution that would have given official recognition to the attempted genocide of Armenians at the hands of Turks. Speaking through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Obama administration said it “strongly opposes” the designation of the massacres as genocide. Obama’s strong opposition tells us a lot about truth claims and Obama’s lack of culturist sensibilities.
President Obama says he does not want to offend Turkey. The fact that he does not care if he offends Armenia lays implicit in this declaration. Thus President Obama is bending truth to accommodate raw power relations. As such he could be said to be making policy based on an objective analysis of the situation.
Unfortunately, the world is made of subjective interpretations. As the controversy suggests, everyone has a side in this debate and the outcomes have political implications. President Obama admitted as much when he went to Egypt and Turkey and apologized for alleged western crimes in the Islamic world.
Being generous, we could accept that President Obama’s hopes lie in mutual revelation of sins leading to forgiveness and international understanding; open dialogue from this view could lead to the end of nations taking sides. However, his unwillingness to discuss Islamic sins and eagerness to discuss western ones, shows an imbalance in this generous narrative. Unfortunately, it shows a willingness to completely buy into the Muslim narrative.
Whether you denounce the American bases in Iraq or Islamic attacks upon India, we can agree that the non-Islamic world and the Islamic world are in competition. When we take a “human rights” perspective and deny sides exist, we end up pouring money into enemy nations, such as Afghanistan, in the name of nation building and supporting Islamic nations, such as Kosovo, in the western sphere. We end up taking the Turk’s side as easily as we take the Armenian’s side.
In foreign policy we should side with our friends and understand that some folks are our foes. Armenia, as a Christian nation, falls within the sphere of western related powers. We should back them. In terms of narrative, it would run against our values to never admit wrong. However, to only admit to our faults and deny Islamic nations’ crimes, feeds into a narrative whereby attacking us is justified and adopting our values is corrupt.
A culturist approach assumes that sides and competition exist. It also recognizes narrative’s great impact on public and international opinion, and the geo-political implications such narratives have. As such a culturist approach would have us singing our virtues overseas and condemning the Armenian genocide in the strongest terms possible.