Waving Armenian flags wave flags at an LA march commemorating the Armenian genocide
Waving Armenian flags wave flags at an LA march commemorating the Armenian genocide
Sergey Markedonov*

MOSCOW — For the first time, the U.S. Congress has recognized the mass killings and deportations in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 as genocide. So why now?

It doesn't seem that the United States has anything really to gain from the country of Armenia. Two of the four borders of the country are closed, and its main military ally is Russia, whose efforts to maintain the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh are keeping Transcaucasia from a new large-scale conflict.

Nor does it appear that the resolution — which the U.S. House of Representatives adopted on Oct. 29 — will worsen Armenian-Turkish relations. There have been no relations between Ankara and Yerevan since the collapse of the USSR. And it is unlikely that the adoption of a resolution will change this.

The topic of the Armenian genocide comes up in the U.S. every time Ankara's behavior displeases Washington.

What, then, is the significance of the move, especially given that there's no telling if the resolution will even pass? A similar project is under consideration in the U.S. Senate, and the executive branch has even more reason for caution given the intricacies of relations with NATO allies, Turkey being one of them.

The document says a lot about how U.S. foreign policy operates. First off, it highlights the constant struggle between values and pragmatism. It's also a reminder that the topic of the Armenian genocide comes up in the United States every time Ankara's behavior displeases Washington.

Commemorating the Armenian genocide in Greece — Photo: Achilleas Pagourtzis/Pacific Press/ZUMA

The United States is clearly and consistently fighting the emergence of any competitor in Eurasia. The point here is not the deeply rooted Russophobia of American politicians, because in fact, Washington is ready to take measures against anyone who tries to break the status quo without taking into account U.S. interests. The bipartisan support the resolution received in the Oct. 29 vote is a case in point.

The adoption of the resolution turns out to be a mirror for all of the parties involved, including Turkey, whose hard-line position on the genocide topic isn't just a matter of avoiding responsibility for the past. It's also about not wanting to set new precedents, because while the issue is ostensibly about Armenians and Greeks, people are also thinking about the Kurds.

The purpose of the mirror, furthermore, isn't just so the stakeholders can gaze at themselves. It's so that they can also learn something.


*The author is a researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security in the Russian Institute of International Studies

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