In the midst of the First World War, the Young Turks who had taken over the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against their Armenian subjects. At least a million Armenians were murdered - with nauseating cruelty - or died of abuse, heat, hunger and thirst.
The only reason any survived was that the Turks lacked the administrative skills and technologies to kill everyone. Not every captive fit into the burning churches. On the death marches across Anatolia into the Syrian desert, guards ran out of bullets. And even sadists grew weary of bayoneting children and clubbing old men to death.
Women were raped by the tens of thousands. Many were raped repeatedly. Then they were killed. Or enslaved. Or left to die of exposure by the roadside.
Ancient communities were annihilated. A magnificent culture - the remnants of the world's first Christian kingdom - drowned in blood.
Only Turks question this history. The eyewitness accounts are extensive - not only from Armenian survivors, but from American and German consuls and missionaries. The documentation is readily available (texts crowd one of my bookshelves).
Hitler cited the Armenian Genocide as an inspiration for the Holocaust - the lesson he drew was that the Turks got away with it. The world never intervened. Apologists for the Allies blamed the war. The truth is that the eyewitnesses went ignored: Armenian lives had less value then than do those of Darfur refugees today.
Last Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution formally declaring the Armenian tragedy what it was: genocide. Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to bring the resolution to a vote on the floor, after which it would go to the Senate.
We need to stop it. It's a travesty and a betrayal. Of Armenian-Americans. And of our troops.
Make no mistake: I'm on the Armenian side in the court of history. When the same resolution came up in years past, I supported it. The Armenian survivors - their descendents, at this point - deserve justice.
And I have no sympathy with the Turks. The Turks are jerks. After the United States supported them unswervingly for more than a half-century, they stiffed us the single time we needed help - when we asked to move an Army division through Turkey on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
And the Ankara government has led an internal campaign of anti-Americanism far more lurid and vicious than the old Soviet bloc's anti-Western propaganda. It's not just Turkey's Islamists, but its secular nationalists, too. The anti-American hatred spewing from the Turkish media is uglier than Barbra Streisand at four in the morning.
The Turks tormented their Kurdish minority for decades - and express outrage when Kurds respond. Now they're threatening to invade northern Iraq, while whining that honor-killings, pervasive corruption and anti-Western venom shouldn't deny them membership in the EU.
Despite all that, we've got to kill this resolution. It's not the wording - but the timing.
Legislation similar to this has come up repeatedly in Congress, yet it's always been defeated - in 2000, because of pressure from the Clinton administration. But if the resolution passes the House and Senate now, the Turks plan to evict us from Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey, to halt our military over-flight privileges and to shut down the supply routes into northern Iraq.
That's what the Democrats are aiming at. This resolution isn't about justice for the Armenians. Not this time. It's a stunningly devious attempt to impede our war effort in Iraq and force premature troop withdrawals.
The Dems calculate that, without those flights and convoys, we won't be able to keep our troops adequately supplied. Key intelligence and strike missions would disappear.
The Pentagon might be able to improvise other options. But the loss of the base and those routes would definitely hurt our troops. Severely. And we'd be more reliant than ever on a single, vulnerable lifeline running from Kuwait.
It's a brilliant ploy - the Dems get to stab our troops in the back, but lay the blame off on the Turks. They pretend they're responding to their Armenian-American constituents - while actually moving to placate MoveOn.org.
For the Democrats in Congress, it looks like a cost-free strategy. For our troops? When did the Dems give a damn about our troops? This resolution isn't a stand in favor of historical justice. It's an end-run that ducks behind the bench. It's one of the most cynical betrayals in our legislative history - of our troops, of Armenian-Americans, of the Kurds under threat from the Turkish military and of the people of Iraq.
We can't let Pelosi & Co. get away with this one. We need to call the Dems on it and make it clear that we, the people, know what they're trying to do.
Every human being with a drop of Armenian blood deserves justice. This isn't it.