CEOs warn against Armenia "genocide" bill

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 2, 2010 6:19pm EST

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The aerospace and defense industry is urging House of Representatives lawmakers to reject a measure that would call a World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces genocide, warning it could jeopardize U.S. exports to Turkey.

The chief executives of Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Raytheon Co, United Technologies Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp issued a rare joint letter, warning that passage of the measure by the House Foreign Affairs Committee could lead to "a rupture in U.S.-Turkey relations" and put American jobs at risk.

"Alienating a significant NATO ally and trading partner would have negative repercussions for U.S. geopolitical interests and efforts to boost both exports and employments," the CEOs warned in a February 26 letter to the committee's Democratic chairman, Representative Howard Berman.

They said U.S. defense and aerospace exports to Turkey exceeded $7 billion in 2009 and were seen reaching a similar level in 2010, supporting tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.

Industry executives are worried about Turkey's continued participation in several big U.S. weapons programs, including the Lockheed F-35 fighter, a $1.2 billion deal with Boeing for 14 CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and Patriot missile sales.

Turkey is one of eight international partners working with the United States on development of the $300 billion F-35 fighter, a program that has already seen some erosion of overseas amid cost overruns and delays in critical testing.

"Turkey is clearly one of the critical partners on the F-35 program and one that is buying a lot of airplanes early in the program, so it would have a corrosive effect if they pulled out," said Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense consultant. "It would set the stage for other allies to reevaluate their schedule or even the overall quantity of F-35 purchases."

The nonbinding resolution, to be voted on Thursday by the House panel, would require President Barack Obama to ensure that U.S. policy formally refers to the massacre as "genocide" and to use that term when he delivers his annual message on the issue in April -- something Obama avoided doing last year.

The Aerospace Industries Association, which represents more than 270 member companies, expressed concern in a separate letter, noting that U.S. exports to Turkey had more that tripled to over $10 billion in 2008, and U.S. companies were pursuing further arms sales at the moment.

"In this current economy, we cannot afford to turn our back on increasing U.S. exports and sustaining U.S. jobs by alienating one of our most important trading partners," said Marion Blakey, president of AIA, the largest U.S. trade group.

Turkey on Monday warned its ties with the United States would be damaged if the House panel approved the measure.

One industry executive, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said U.S. companies fear Turkey could back out of deals with them and buy weapons form European firms instead.

(Editing by Anthony Boadle)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (27)
me4truth wrote:
Once again a coalition of brainwashed ultra-Nationalists and Turkish palace historians, supported by a multi-million dollar public relations campaign on behalf of Turkish holocaust-deniers have launched their annual aggressive campaign against the truth and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Denial of genocide is nothing but a second killing. The current orchestrated campaign of the Turkish government is just as systematic, coordinated and criminal as the genocide carried out in 1915!

Mar 02, 2010 6:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Mega wrote:
Brazen beyond belief. Disgraceful beyond measure.

Note that they don’t deny the genocide. Their “arguments” are entirely financial and strategic.

Of course, there’s no hesitation in “alienating” Germans born decades after WWII ended. In that case, it’s done lustily, with the aim of extracting maximum guilt and lucre.

Mar 02, 2010 6:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Phantomdis wrote:
You know we are in big trouble as a nation when our moral compass is set by CEOs of the war machine. I just hope that we are too great a nation to fear the Turks. The French passed a resolution, and since then their exports to Turkey have tripled. I hope we are at least as brave as the French.

Mar 02, 2010 7:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.