Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Interview with Congressman Brad Sherman

An Interview with Brad Sherman
By Khatchig Mouradian
The Armenian Weekly
Volume 73, No. 30, July 28, 2007

WASHINGTON (A.W.)—Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) serves on the House Committee on International Relations. I talked to him on July 16 about the Armenian Genocide Resolution and the prospects of passing it in the Committee and later in the House of Representatives. To watch the video of the interview, visit

Khatchig Mouradian—Congressman, now that we have a majority in the House supporting the Armenian Genocide Resolution, where do we go from here?

Brad Sherman—Well, we got to go to Committee. There, my biggest fear is the weakening of the resolution. As you know, six of us introduced the resolution and I’m the only one who was on the relevant committee at the time. And my fear is some will say they would support the resolution but ask for amendments. There are some amendments we can support. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if this resolution, with all humility, pointed out that the United Stated has done some terrible things in its history, and that we’re not lecturing others without looking at ourselves. We’ve passed many other resolutions in this Congress talking about the terrible things the United States has done in its history. So [our next step is] getting it through the Committee, and having a Speaker who has the courage to deal with the president when they try to vilify her for bringing this bill up.

K.M.—And how is the situation in the Committee now?

B.S.—We have co-sponsors representing roughly half of the Committee. A number of people are not co-sponsors in the Committee but will vote for it. Timing is part of this. Do we get a chance to mark it up in July? Do we have to wait till September?

And the other part is: Can the other side come up with some sneaky amendment (and their goal would be to eliminate the word genocide)? I mean, this resolution has many words, but there’s one word that has to be in it. And I’ll be there fighting in Committee. We’ve gotten through the Committee before, and we have to do it again, because we have a speaker who has the courage to put it on the floor.

K.M.—You referred to the “other side.” Can you talk about this other side and how they’re mobilizing in recent years?

B.S.—The Turkish government has hired the most expensive lobbyists here in Washington. They are flying my colleagues to Turkey for trips and they are making a variety of claims as to how the resolution would affect U.S.-Turkish relations. They fail to talk about how Turkey reacted to the French Parliament when it passed a similar resolution. French exports to Turkey have almost tripled since then.

We’re up against two of the most powerful former members of Congress [Dick Gephardt and Bob Livingston] who have been hired for some of the largest fees.

K.M.—What are the chances of having the resolution put on the floor?

B.S.—Pelosi is dedicated, but the community has to remember that the attack will come to the White House, and that attack will be the questioning of the dedication of all of us to the national security of America.

They will say, “Aha! You are hurting our troops in Iraq.” They will go beyond that and will claim that this is somehow politically motivated and is simply catering to one particular community. The fact is that this resolution represents the truth, and we in our Committee just a few weeks ago voted to chastise Japan’s sexual enslavement of women during World War II. And if we can criticize Japan, we can criticize Turkey.

K.M.—Why is it important for the United States to stand up and recognize a genocide that took place 92 years ago in a different part of the world?

B.S.—First, recognition is important because of what it means to the Armenian community and to those who actually survived those terrible events. Secondly, genocide denial is the last step of genocide: You destroy the people, and then you destroy the memory. Genocide denial is also the first step of the next genocide. After the Rwandan genocide, others in Africa thought they could get away with genocide in Darfur.

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