I find this almost unbelievable, but it’s the kind of thing we’re going to have to get used to in the age of Obama. Josh Rogin reports:
The U.S. taxpayer-funded Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, led by former Congressman Lee Hamilton, is giving out its annual award for public service Thursday, and the winner is … Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu!
Davutaoglu “personifies the attributes we seek to honor at the Woodrow Wilson Center,” Hamilton said in announcing the event, adding that his “contributions have been numerous and significant.”
The Turkish foreign minister has been in the news a lot lately, such as when he said the Israeli incident aboard the Gaza flotilla “is like 9/11 for Turkey.”
He was also a key figure in the Brazilian-Turkish drive to head off new U.N. sanctions on Iran by striking an 11th-hour fuel-swap deal, an agreement the Obama administration has dismissed as inadequate and unhelpful.
Rogin rounds up some unamused comments delivered by a knowledgeable congressman:
House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee chairman Gary Ackerman, D-NY, wrote to Hamilton Wednesday to express his “deep concern and dismay” over the award to Davutoglu.
“Turkey’s foreign policy under Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s leadership is rife with illegality, irresponsibility and hypocrisy,” he wrote, citing Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide, its occupation of northern Cyprus, Turkey’s vote against new Iran sanctions, and what Ackerman described as the ongoing “demonizing” of Israel as exhibited during the flotilla crisis.
“A foreign leader who represents and defends this kind of foreign policy, one who has championed Turkey’s most odious efforts to deny to others the human dignity that Turkey rightly expects for its own people, is not a worthy recipient of the WWC Public Service Award,” Ackerman wrote.
The sentiments of Rep. Ackerman and other congressmen quoted by Rogin actually matter. Noting a fact that adds injury to insult, Rogin adds: “The center was created in 1968 by an act of Congress as a private/public partnership, and U.S. taxpayers contribute about a third of the center’s annual revenue.”
UPDATE: Claudia Rosett asks a good question: “What kind of Washington fools would honor Turkey’s foreign minister?”
PAUL adds: If there’s a silver lining here it’s that the bestowing this meaningless honor will likely help discredit Lee Hamilton as some sort of fair-minded and moderate voice of reason. Hamilton, a hack liberal, has successfully assumed this pose for years. Doing so enabled him to serve, for example, as co-chair of the long-since forgotten and seriously misguided, but briefly important, Iraq Study Group.