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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Turkey's actions can no longer be ignored

Today's Student Organization Neighborhood guest editorial comes courtesy of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Society and Politics Committee. The Student Organization Neighborhood is a biweekly column dedicated to giving a voice to student groups across campus.

It is all well and good that our president spouts rhetoric that gets him recognized by the Nobel Peace Prize Commission, but that should not overshadow some of his poor foreign policy decisions and reneging on campaign promises. Some of the allies that the United States supports most firmly are violators of international law, including human rights, religious rights, and non-proliferation violations. Turkey is a prime example.

Turkey is a de facto military dictatorship that opposes the U.S. in every major conflict yet we still call them our staunch and supportive ally. President Obama must affirm his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide and end America's silence on Turkey's denial of this heinous crime. Turkey should also recognize the Pontian and Assyrian Genocides, as defined by the U.N. Genocide Convention. These atrocities, which receive absolutely no attention in the U.S., resulted in the deaths of over two million of Turkey's Christian population.

After his tour of the European Union, instead of confronting Turkish officials about these genocides, Obama used his rhetoric of peace to pay lip service to government officials complicit in human rights violations. Unless Obama exerts some kind of pressure on the Turkish government, he sends the message that the U.S. is apathetic to the deaths of millions, so long as those deaths do not directly threaten U.S. interests.

It is not even as though Turkey is a particularly cooperative ally. Turkey has refused to open the northern border of Iraq without extorting massive fees from us. During the Cold War, they repeatedly privileged Soviet interests over those of the U.S.

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Below are some the of Turkish violations of U.S. and international law. The executive branch and particularly the State Department actively support Turkey diplomatically and financially, despite these realities. Turkey has invaded and continues to occupy 37 percent of the EU country of Cyprus, including Nicosia, the last divided capital of the world. Turkey has also committed war crimes on Cyprus, including the illegal seizure and sale of territory in the occupied zone and the illegal transfer of U.S. arms and equipment to Cyprus, as well as their ethnic and cultural cleansing in Cyprus. Turkey also settled 180,000 Turks on Cyprus in conflict with the 1949 Geneva Convention. They also have violated religious freedoms by denying rights granted in the Treaty of Lausanne and the UN Charter. They have also abridged the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.

The worst part is that these facts are unknown to the average American due to millions of dollars of propaganda in the form of lobbying groups, PR firms, think tanks, and media contributions. Turkey's lobbyist minions, hired under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, include former majority leaders of the House of Representatives, Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and Richard Armey (R-TX), and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL). The fact that our media and government can be so easily manipulated should be sickening. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember to do your own research through European and international sources and not believe what is spoon-fed to you by our own corrupt system.

Jeff Betters is the civic engagement associate director for the Society and Politics Committee, part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate. Please send responses to  

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