Oh, You Mean I Had to Say "Genocide" After I Became President?

The sun rises in the east, spring follows winter, and a new American president is backing away from his campaign pledge to refer to the Ottoman-era Turkish genocide of Armenians as a "genocide," because the White House is "fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help." The L.A. Times has the expectations-lowering story.

Obama's campaign promise–his "principled commitment to commemorating" a "widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence"–is here. Obama foreign policy guru Samantha Power makes a direct plea to Armenian-Americans about genocide-recognition and other issues in this video:

I wrote about the fascinating politics of saying "genocide" for the L.A. Times in 2007.

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  • Rimshot||

    Every one of his campaign pledges comes with an expiration date.

  • ||

    Matt, fix the tags!

  • Matt Welch||

    Sorry!

  • Tag O\'closer||

    Seems to be an HTML fail.

  • Ska||

    Word, worst tag fail ever.

  • ||

    So we already have SugarFreeing a link, should we have Welching a tag?

  • Rimshot||

    "Word, worst tag fail ever."

    HyperglycemicFree

  • ||

    Every one of his campaign pledges comes with an expiration date.

    January 20

  • ||

    should we have Welching a tag?

    Kind of sounds like he's not willing to pay off a bet he made with a tag.

  • ||

    Felching a tag?

  • ||

    That sounds like a great way to get Mega-Aids.

  • ||

    That's how I got Mega-AIDS.

  • ||

    The Obamaniacs should be by to explain how he didn't really mean what he said. OR that this is all complicated international diplomacy stuff that couldn't have ben foreseen and he wasn't in any way shape or form cynically pandering for votes.

  • ||

    Are you REALLY that surprised that Il Duce would revert to realpolitik and pragmatism when the time came (that is, just after taking the crown from the Pope's hands)?

  • Warty||

    Turks are weird about their history. Try telling one that Ataturk raped children some time, and see the show.

  • ||

    the tags really don't matter. Matt Welch put together a John Stewart worthy clip here showing Obama's true colors. Obama is goign to Turkey on April 4th...will he once and for all stand up and give those turks some of the straight talk express or will he titty bump with the genociders in a attempt to make way for more better war spending?

    What is Samantha Powers take on this is she the least bit embarassed for being incredibly naive or is she ashamed to have her own little Colin Powell moment...showing us how much her word and best judgement is worth?

  • Xe O\'Nes||

    TITTY BUMP

  • Dello||

    The genocide that dare not speak its name...

  • Right Wing Realist||

    This is an issue that only liberals and armenians care about.

  • Stagman||

    It's times like these I actually miss joe.

  • ||

    Obama has got to be setting a record for breaking campaign promises.

  • ||

    Will the Presidential Suit (that's what I'm calling him, now) will get his own chapter in a revised and reissued edition of Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them?

  • ||

    Samantha Power is awesome. She could sit on Condi's face and make her feel like a woman.

    You can't compare a rationalist with a fundie (unless you're a fundie).

  • LarryA||

    This is an issue that only liberals and Armenians care about.

    That's okay. Wait until conservatives discover that, according to the Washington Times, "Obama secretly ends program that let pilots carry guns."

    "I respect the Second Amendment. I'm not going to take away your guns." Barack Obama

  • creech||

    How big is the Armenian-American vote?
    And what was McCain's and Barr's position on this issue?

  • ||

    How big is the Armenian-American vote?

    Its huge in Glendale, Ca.

    But his margin statewide was 24%. Compromising on a historical patch is small potatoes.

  • ||

    "How big is the Armenian-American vote? "

    How does it matter? Are we asked "to believe " that confirming of historical truth to prevent the future genocide depends on primitive election arithmetic?

  • PopCornTime||

    Has anyone ever set themselves up for as many falls off of his high horse as Obama? Maybe Bill at the start, but he was highly adaptable to changing political circumstances (clumsily enacted policy turnarounds don't count for proof, libuhrals) while Obama ain't, so just sit back, and enjoy the show.

  • mark||

    What did we learn on NPR this morning? Talking about genocide is bad. Doing something about it is even worse.

    It appears that in response to the ICC's issuing of an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the country has expelled all foreign NGO's, including Doctors Without Borders.

    From the program:

    Joel Charny of the advocacy group Refugees International says one way to look at the expulsion of aid workers is to picture the displaced camps in Darfur as large towns. Then think about what would happen if the towns' biggest hospitals were closed and the water system contaminated. That's basically what is happening in the Kalma camp in Darfur, Charny says, where there is now fear of a meningitis outbreak. "The estimate is that 100,000 people need to be vaccinated, and that's in Kalma camp and one other camp," he says.



    I'm sure the Obama administration is right on top of this one.

    Jerry Fowler, who runs the Save Darfur Coalition, is also waiting to see the White House act.

    "Why is there a disconnect between how passionately and articulately candidate Obama addressed the issue of Darfur and said that the genocide there is a stain on our souls - and what President Obama is doing and saying now with millions of lives at stake?" Fowler says. "We need presidential engagement and we need it now."



    The irony is that in order to avert a horrible humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the Obama administration will probably have to stop pressuring al-Bashir. After all, it's not like China will do anything in Sudan other than extract oil.

  • max hats||

    What! Oh man I totally should've voted for McCain.

  • Skeleton||

    I went to law school with Samantha Power. She was pretty cool back then.

  • Markets Are Magical||

    "Has anyone ever set themselves up for as many falls off of his high horse as Obama?"

    Son, when someone doesn't simply sit behind a computer most of the day, and snark as a form of political activism, then tough decisions often come with great risk.

    It's the primary difference between people who actually do things, and people like you.

    However, it's quite enjoyable to watch the fledgling Libertarian culture that was flirted with for a bit during an economic upswing, implode before your very eyes. Your kissing cousins in the Republican party are feeling the chill as well. Both of you should just fuck each other like you've always wanted to, and enjoy the company.

    Just so you know, you guys almost won me over. This blog did a lot to expose me to the reality that Libertarians really don't know what the hell they're talking about a lot of the time.

    Reading the posts on here is like eavesdropping on a group of jilted fat girls.

    Thank you, but no.

  • ||

    It's times like these I actually miss joe.

    Joe would tell us that it is Bush's fault and that the Armenians deserved it.

  • ||

    However, it's quite enjoyable to watch the fledgling Libertarian culture that was flirted with for a bit during an economic upswing, implode before your very eyes.

    Libertarians have been imploding far to long to be called fledgling.

    Just so you know, you guys almost won me over. This blog did a lot to expose me to the reality that Libertarians really don't know what the hell they're talking about a lot of the time.

    I know I base my political beliefs on how much I like anonymous blog posters who are fucking off during work hours.

    "Has anyone ever set themselves up for as many falls off of his high horse as Obama?"

    Son, when someone doesn't simply sit behind a computer most of the day, and snark as a form of political activism, then tough decisions often come with great risk.


    Did the big bad libertarian say mean things about your perfect president?

    boo hoo and whaaaaaa.

  • Lefiti||

    Markets Are Magical's post just got the back of my shorts moist. How would you feel about a man on man space docking?

  • Jennifer||

    Actual conversation between a historian and his adorable towheaded little son, circa 2115:

    SON: Daddy, when did the United States stop being a superpower and start being the worldwide laughingstock it is today?

    HISTORIAN: Now, son, your mother and I have told you that no decline and fall can be pinpointed to a single instant. But if you insist, I'd say it was the moment the United States realized it desperately needed to kiss Turkey's ass.

    (I found this a lot more amusing when G.W. Bush was the one sucking up to the Turks, because his followers were more likely to subscribe to the "Mighty America" meme.)

  • ||

    "the country has expelled all foreign NGO's, including Doctors Without Borders."

    when I instigate my Geo-Libertarian African revolution*

    those French fuckers will be the first people kicked out
    neo-marxist wankers



    *On the to do list a few places after learnin to play
    Coltraine´s "a love supreme" on the Banjo

  • ||

    On the Armenia thing

    let's look at it rationally

    It only became an issue as

    1) The Bush administration wanted to help Turkey get in in the EU in return for strategic help in the region notably with its neighbor Iraq


    2) Loads of EU nations are racist fucks who hate Muslims

    3) The aforementioned racist fuckwit nations, passed a law acknowledging the Turkish massacre to try to ruin Turkey's chances of gettin in the EU.

    (even though these countries have taken part in some of the biggest masacres in human history
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War_of_Independence#Battle_of_Algiers)

    4) Uber-whore Nancy Pelosi thought it would be a good idea also to officially acknowledge the massacre, as it would destablize American relations with Turkey at a time when the PKK were becoming active.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PKK#1999-current

    Further destabilzing Iraq

    which would help swell up further discontent in the USA

    and secure a Democrat victory

    Man I fucking hate democrats

    far more than Republicans nowadays

  • ||

    Free Constantinople!

  • Peter Stuyvesant||

    Befri Niew Amsterdam!

  • ||

    It only became an issue as

    1) The Bush administration wanted to help Turkey get in in the EU in return for strategic help in the region notably with its neighbor Iraq



    It was an issue DECADES before that. You might think genocide is something only liberals care about, but it's a very serious issue. Just because the Ataturk was slightly less efficient than Hitler doesn't absolve him of his crimes.

    No, there's nothing we can do about it now. But refusing to call a genocide a genocide just makes the next atrocity that much easier to commit.

  • ||

    Until the 1rst Genocide of 1.5 million Christians at the hands of Ottoman Turks is not recognized, this issue will continue to come up.

    Also to answer how big is the Armenian-American vote in the US, creech they are active voters, although not large in numbers, ~1 million Americans who say they are of Armenian descent, they do vote in large numbers.

  • PopCornTime||

    However, it's quite enjoyable to watch the fledgling Libertarian culture that was flirted with for a bit during an economic upswing, implode before your very eyes. Your kissing cousins in the Republican party are feeling the chill as well. Both of you should just fuck each other like you've always wanted to, and enjoy the company.

    Just so you know, you guys almost won me over. This blog did a lot to expose me to the reality that Libertarians really don't know what the hell they're talking about a lot of the time.


    Munch Munch Munch
    Slurp
    Munch
    Belch
    Keep the movie rolling!
    Don't let that feeling of nervousness and desperation overwhelm you, libuhrals. That inner knowledge that this is the absolute last chance you will ever have to do things your way, and knowing doing things your way is your path to self destruction, keep the movie rolling.
    Don't disappoint me now, I paid top dollar for these tickets.

  • Paul||

    He feels it in his heart. That's all that matters.

  • PopCornTime||

    Your kissing cousins in the Republican party are feeling the chill as well.

    I admit to raving at the Republicans over every stupid thing they did during W's reign, every time they played nice with the Religious right, got footsy with the Democrat (did you just twitch? You hate that don't ya? You betcha!) elite that runs Wall Street, plopped us into nonsensical conflicts in the world's biggest basket case, the Middle East, but criticizing the Republicans always felt like a chore, like having to tell your gramps in the old folk's home to eat his vegetables.

    However, criticizing libuhrals. Damn. Now that is nothing but a complete joy. Do you know why? Because you are all full of shit, and completely full of your selves.

    Hey, if you are still around Markets Are Magical I dare you to reread what you wrote and not be embarrassed by the sophomoric rhetorical technique and the asinine commentary you decided would be a great way to unload on me when all you could do was elicit the exact response that I wanted. And why was that? T

    he reality of your situation is you may count yourself copacetic and aligned with the powers that be, but you are just another fool teetering on the side of the bandwagon.

    Anyway, don't let me stop you, I know there is no chance of that, you are literally programmed to respond the way you do. On with the show! This is it!

  • TallDave||

    People say Obama is unprincipled, but it's not true. Barack Obama is totally committed to the principle of doing whatever is politically expedient for Barack Obama.

  • JB||

    Obama lies again...part 1 million.

  • jtuf||

    I've heard the argument that historical facts should be debated and documented by historians, not congress. I can respect that viewpoint. Obama's real politics on this topic are another matter entirely. He set a dangerous precedent by making a campaign issue over the Armenian genocide and then backing off. He's basically showing that if a country has something we want, America will turn a blind eye to genocide to keep relations strong.

  • jtuf||

    Regarding Darfur, it will be depressing to watch global leaders wag their fingers and then sit quietly and do nothing. At the very least, the US should grant assylum and citizenship to all the Darfur refugees.

  • MJ||

    ""Son, when someone doesn't simply sit behind a computer most of the day, and snark as a form of political activism, then tough decisions often come with great risk."

    I guess then that we should not have elected a man who's political career consisted of snarking from the sidelines and not having made any tough decisions before landing the top job.

    Your analysis may be correct, but that means Obama was irresponsible to say he was going to change the official US position on this during the campaign.

  • ||

    As a Turk i feel horrible about what happened in 1915.

    But you need to empathize with how I feel. You dont have to accept it but you have to empathize. I feel that Turks in 1915 were scared of being annihilated, and I feel that many Armenian's would love to see me murdered. If you feel that I am being melodramatic tough! It is a sincere feeling and you need to try and learn some things so as to understand how I feel.

    With that said, understand I will do anything I can to help myself and my native country and peoples. That is how all Turks feel. Turkey is in a very strategic place and is VERY important. In fact I dont think you understand how important. Do you think Obama is changing his prior promises over petty things? NO. So get used to it. I think I can speak for most Turks in saying we will create big mess for America if they assist Armenian's with the revenge plots. Don't be so arrogant to think that America can do whatever it wants and throw mud in anyone's face it chooses. If you do that the cold water thrown in its face will be a wake up to a sobering reality.

  • ||

    I just love how some people say that Turkey is a loyal ally. Notice that Turkey is the only member of NATO that regularly *threatens* the US with all sorts of retaliation, and not just on the Armenian issue. With allies like that, who needs friends?
    As to needing Turkey for US troops and equipment to exit Iraq, think about it: They can leave the same way they got it: land, sea, and air. There is no problem there. The US does not need to kiss Turkey's you-know-what.

  • ||

    There is a difference from being an ally and being a tool. International relations is based on quid pro quos. Implying that Turkish policies are in any way against America is absurd. Why would Clinton and Obama visit a antagonistic country. Turkey IS America's Ally which is why she feels obliged some courtesy and respect.

    The events on 1915 were horrible but as a Turk I can not trust the motives of the Armenian lobby. I have seen to much vitriolic anger from some of their associates to not feel threatened. I think some of them mean harm and some even homicidal. I don't think that any Turks should loose their life, liberty, or property. All of which some Armenians wish to take. You may feel otherwise but Turks have the right to defend themselves.

  • ||

    I want to say how much I love Obama. Yes I think he feels in his heart that the events of 1915 were genocide. But I also feel that he knows what America did the the Native Americans is also genocide. What Spain did as well to the Native Americans. He also knows about Africa and all of the atrocities their. And all of the countless other crimes.

    Maybe he feels the hypocrisy in America judging the crimes of another regime.

    A defunct regime at that. Let's not forget the same government that committed genocide against the Native Americans is still the same government that is in power. That is not the case with Turkey.

  • Jay||

    THIS IS TO "K"
    "But you need to empathize with how I feel. You dont have to accept it but you have to empathize. I feel that Turks in 1915 were scared of being annihilated, and I feel that many Armenian's would love to see me murdered. If you feel that I am being melodramatic tough! It is a sincere feeling and you need to try and learn some things so as to understand how I feel. "

    ^
    |--That must have been some of the worst appologetic piece of crap I have ever heard. You simply sound like a Neo-Nazi, or in this case a Neo-YoungTurk. You have ZERO PROOF that Armenians were a threat to Turks. This is akin to Neo-Nazis stating that Jews were trying to revolt and therefore those killings are justified. I pity you.

  • ||

    So now Obama is getting criticized for not being an overly sensitive Chomskyite lefty? That's what Reason has come to? You can't single out the Turks for "genocide" while the Belgians get a free pass for their much worse behavior in the Congo, the Chinese get a pass for Tibet and Xinjiang, the Israelis get a pass for occupying a part of Ottoman Palestine and calling it their home, the Russians get a pass for killing off half of Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the Americans get a pass for wiping out the indigenous population of North America, and on and on. Good for Obama for not kowtowing to the Armenian-American lobby. It's not America's business to worry about historical crimes committed against people who were not American citizens - it's simply not.

  • ||

    I also wonder how many people like Jay are aware that Turkey was at war with Russia in 1915, and the Armenian population in Eastern Asia Minor largely sympathized with Russia. This threat was not a crazy figment of Turkish imagination, even if Turks did respond to the threat of Armenian separatists in an barbaric cruel way. What makes the Turkish crimes against the Armenians noteworthy is the crude stupidity of the modern Turkish government in continuing to stonewall about the events of 1915. The Turks are only hurting themselves. Still, it's galling for ignorant Americans who know nothing about Russia and Turkey to try to lecture Turks about "genocide."

  • ||

    K,

    Congratulations for turning water into wine! Turks are threatened by Armenians! HA! Let's see, there's 75,000,000 of you, and uh, at most 3,000,000 Armenians next door to you. You have almost as many soldiers as Armenia has people. And you feel threatened? By a people your ancestors almost completely erased from this earth? Who are you kidding? This blog, although clearly not Mensa territory, is not full of romp-a-room students either. Your ancestors erased all trace of Armenians from their historical homeland on which they had lived for almost 3 millenia until your ancestors got an itch up their ass to kill off the brains of their country. And now you're whining about feeling threatened by Armenians.

    My great-grandgrandfather and six of his sons fought and died for the Ottoman Empire just like thousands of other Armenians who fought and died for their country, the Ottoman Empire. The fact that there were also Armenians living in Russia and fighting for their country, Russia, is no excuse for committing Genocide. Learn your history and stop acting like a whiney fat chick who just sat on her cat!

  • ||

    Vanya,

    So, let's see, you don't want Obama kowtowing to Armenian-AMERICANS who are as the hyphenation suggests, AMERICANS. You'd rather have the President of the United States of F'ing America kowtowing to a foreign country knowing full well what the truth is. In other words, you think that the President of the United States of F'ing America should lie about Genocide because Turkey, which BTW lives off the good graces of American taxpayers, tells him to. Have you no f'ing pride?

  • ||

    Hmmm if the two choices are between..my ancestors being marginalized or annihilated, and hence me not existing, and people calling me a "a whiney fat chick" i pick the latter. If Turks did nothing Turkey would be like Iraq, Iran, maybe even Afghanistan. If being called names is the price for that not happening, so be it. Honestly I don't feel proud about what happened. It's something that bothers me all the time!

    Seriously, someone was going to eat a shit sandwich in 1915. If Turks hand done nothing it would have been them.

  • ||

    If you dont think Turks were threatened in 1915look at this map:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a0/TreatyOfSevres_(corrected).PNG/300px-TreatyOfSevres_(corrected).PNG

    It speaks a 1000 words. The Treaty of Lausanne was an explicit threat to Turkey.

    And if you do not think Turks are threatened today by some Armenians... all i have to say is ASALA:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Secret_Army_for_the_Liberation_of_Armenia)

  • ||

    Im sorry it was the Treaty of Serves that aimed to balkanize Turkey. Not Treaty of Lausanne.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_S%C3%A8vres

  • ||

    Since when is Samantha Power, the thirty-something, redhead bimbo considered to be a "foreign policy guru?" NUTS!

    Samantha Power is on the payroll of the hate-mongering, slick and odious Armenian lobby. She is a mouthpiece hired to perpetuate the obscene Armenian canard.

  • ||

    K,

    ASALA hasn't touched a Turkish hair in over 25 years and does not even exist as an organized group today. And guess why? Because the vast majority of Armenians were against what they were doing.

    Now for 1915. Earth to K, none of what you state is an excuse to commit Genocide. Not to mention, do you really believe the Turkish world would have come to an end if your ancestors hadn't raped and murdered all of the innocent women, children and elderly who were left after the Armenian men were conscripted into the Army and shot? Even if a nation is at risk of being splintered, one does not resort to GENOCIDE to preserve that nation. No gain is worth the price of Genocide. Why is this so hard for the majority of Turks to understand?

  • Bill||

    This is ridiculous. How uninformed can some people be?

    PELOSI's bill? I don't care if Pelosi wrote it all herself, that's just not true.

    The vast majority of armenians I know (and I know many...Church/family/politicians) believe in the American dream and free market principles. How about the many donations to both parties? How about the former governor of Cali? Or Bob Dole, a very real supporter of armenia. Look it up.

    Not the foggiest on Barr's position, but I recall a strong statement from McCain in support of Armenia.

    They really do love this country.

    Some of these posters are just brainwashed.

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