There was quite a scene in the Capitol rotunda this week: President Bush and many members of Congress honoring the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, with the Congressional Gold Medal. China is terribly upset with the U.S. over the award. But the honor is certainly warranted; the Dalai Lama is a compelling figure in the global fight for justice.
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That came on the heels of stories about some members of the House of Representatives scuttling away from earlier support for a nonbinding resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide. They fear Turkey's wrath, and want to protect military supply routes to Iraq that run through Turkey.
So the president is willing to anger China, a world power, and members of Congress jostle each other to get a photo-op with the Dalai Lama, but they don't want to risk making Turkey mad over historically established events that cost the lives of 1.5 million Armenians.
The irony didn't go unnoticed by a group of representatives who have been staunch supporters of the Armenians' search for justice, including George Radanovich, the California Republican. The group's statement read, in part:
"In this demonstration of moral virtue, Congress today stood up for what is right and would not be intimidated by threats from another nation. ... We will not let another country impede our efforts to speak out against inhumanity.
"As we take this principled moral stand in defiance of the Chinese government, we must similarly be willing to speak out on the Armenian genocide. If we as a nation are to be a moral leader around the world we must have the courage to recognize genocide whenever and wherever it occurs."
The U.S. has been willing to condemn past and present genocides, including the Holocaust and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Darfur, Ukraine and Bosnia.
But not, apparently, in Armenia. Bush, the State Department, the Pentagon and a high-powered group of former U.S. officials - paid by Turkey - have been working overtime to derail the Armenian genocide resolution.
This has turned into a serious test of the moral fiber of the House of Representatives. How will it fare?