Woodrow Wilson, the 28th American president, is looking down in horror at what the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWC) is doing in his name.
Most Americans are not aware of the DC-based organization, or that their taxes comprise one-third of its multi-million dollar annual budget.
The WWC was created by Congress in 1968 through the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Act to commemorate the late president's "ideals and concerns" and memorialize "his accomplishments."
The WWC has in several ways, however, violated its Congressional mandate.
The WWC itself claims that it "takes seriously his [Wilson's] views." In fact, it has knowingly disregarded many of his views.
And while it professes "to take a historical perspective," the WWC often closes its eyes to history.
Case in point: In mid-June of this year, the WWC plans to travel to Turkey to bestow its coveted Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Curiously, the WWC won't provide this writer with a press release about it. We know about the award only from the Turkish media and a call to the WWC's communications chief.
AN UNDESERVED AWARD
The WWC's director, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, says that Davutoglu "personifies the attributes we seek to honor at the Woodrow Wilson Center" and has "catalyzed" Turkish policy.
It is appalling that the WWC would honor a top official of a country that in so many ways is a major human rights violator. Moreover, Davutoglu's own record — including his much- ballyhooed "zero problems with neighbors" policy — is undistinguished.
But even more to the point, Davutoglu's policies are the very antithesis of Woodrow Wilson's "ideals and concerns."
TURKISH TEMPER TANTRUMS
Let us start with Davutoglu's eruption against America due to a US House committee's approval in March of a resolution (Res. 252) that reaffirmed the factuality of, and historic US interest in, the Armenian genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey.
Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador. Davutoglu then announced that the House committee vote was an insult to his country's "honour," as if Turkey's continuing cover-up of genocide is somehow honorable. A top official of Turkey's ruling AK Party threatened the US with "consequences." Turkey's relationship with America, he warned, "would be downgraded at every level ... from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq to the Middle East process ... there would be a major disruption."
These were not just nasty overreactions by Turkey. They were also nonsensical. The US has, after all, reaffirmed the Armenian genocide as "genocide" at least five times: three resolutions passed by the full House (1975, 1984, and 1996); an official proclamation (No. 4838) by President Reagan (1981); and a US legal filing with the International Court of Justice (1951).
Davutoglu threw the same sort of tantrum a week later — withdrawing his ambassador and making threats — when the Swedish Parliament recognized the Armenian genocide.
Turkey has thrown similar fits when some 20 other countries, the European Parliament, a UN sub-commission, the Vatican, and others recognized the Armenian genocide.
No other alleged "ally" threatens the US as frequently and consistently as does Turkey.
Thus, far from "catalyzing" Turkey's policies, the foreign minister is carrying on his government's tradition of threats and genocide denial. If such behavior "personifies the attributes" that the WWC "seeks to honor," the Center's standards must be low indeed.
DAVUTOGLU'S DOUBLE STANDARDS
"Turkey will not allow anyone else to evaluate its history," Davutoglu blustered after the House committee and Swedish Parliament votes.
He seems unaware that countries constantly evaluate other countries' histories. Davutoglu evidently thinks that Turkey should be uniquely exempt from the judgments of others.
Davutoglu also seems blissfully unaware that the United Nations, the US, and many other nations and international organizations have condemned and continue to condemn various countries' past (and present) crimes such as the Holocaust, genocides, bloody revolutions, and crimes against humanity. These include the genocide now taking place in Sudan.
Not surprisingly, Turkey and Davutoglu have a horrendous record regarding Sudan.
THE TURKEY-SUDAN GENOCIDE AXIS
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was invited to visit Turkey two years ago while he was under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for "war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, blasted Turkey for inviting the Sudanese dictator. Turkey defiantly proceeded to welcome al-Bashir with a red carpet, an honor guard, and a 21-gun salute.
True to Turkey's tradition of genocide denial, President Abdullah Gul downplayed the Sudanese mass killings, attributing them solely to "politics ... poverty and environmental conditions."
Then last year, after Davutoglu's appointment, the Turkish government once again invited al-Bashir, the target of an ICC international arrest warrant. Only after a huge international outcry was the visit eventually canceled. Davutoglu, like his country, has a blind spot when it comes to genocides.
In the meantime, of course, Davutoglu's Turkey has been busy accusing other countries — notably China and Israel — of genocide. The hypocrisy is incredible. Should not Turkey first acknowledge its own genocides against not only Armenians but also Assyrians, Greeks, and Kurds?
Now we know why some have dubbed Turkey and Sudan the "axis of genocide."
But Davutoglu and Turkey's failures involve much more than tantrums, threats, genocide, and hypocrisy.
DAVUTOGLU'S OTHER FAILURES
Despite Turkey's so-called "zero problems with neighbors" policy, Davutoglu has largely continued, not "catalyzed," his country's failed policies.
For example, there is no end in sight to Turkey's 36-year long military occupation of northern Cyprus. "Zero problems with neighbors"?
Turkey's alleged rapprochement last year with Armenia, which Turkey has blockaded since 1993, also disproves the WWC's assertions about Davutoglu. When he negotiated and signed a set of controversial protocols with Armenia last year, Turkey said that these would open a new chapter with its eastern neighbor.
Both countries' parliaments were then supposed to quickly ratify the protocols.
Though many Armenians believe that parts of the protocols are contrary to Armenia's interests, the Armenian Parliament has been ready to ratify them.
Davutoglu, however, quickly reverted to his government's old precondition: Turkey would neither ratify the protocols nor open its border with Armenia unless Armenians concluded an agreement with Azerbaijan regarding Karabagh, the Armenian region that Stalin handed to Soviet Azerbaijan and which declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.
Turkey's backpedaling was condemned by the parties that mediated the protocols — the US, Russia, and Switzerland — as well as the European Union. Due to Davutoglu's duplicity, the protocols have stalled and may die. "Zero problems with neighbors"?
And regardless of one's views on American policy towards Iran and Israel, it is known that Turkey's overheated, undiplomatic rhetoric is designed primarily to please a Muslim audience at home and in the Middle East. Turkey's intemperate language has simply poured oil on fires and complicated American efforts in the region.
Turkey's Kurdish problems, both within the country and across the border in Iraq, remain unsolved. Raids into northern Iraq by Turkish troops are not a solution.
Even Turkey's offers to "mediate" regional disputes look rather contrived given that Turkey has not faced many of its own problems with neighbors.
"Zero problems with neighbors" is a hollow catchphrase. A more accurate name would be Turkey's longstanding "zero Armenians as neighbors" policy.
Aside, perhaps, from improved Turkish relations with Syria, and a lot of braggadocio and spin, Davutoglu has "catalyzed" essentially nothing for the better. He is surely grateful, though, to Lee Hamilton and the WWC for implying otherwise.
Let us now examine President Woodrow Wilson's record to see how the WWC has besmirched his name and violated its Congressional mandate.