Obama Breaks Promise to Call the Armenian Genocide a 'Genocide' for 7th Year in a Row

Official language remains hostage to U.S.-Turkey relations


So much in common. |||

On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Turkey's genocide against an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, a handful of naïve and/or indefatigable Armenian-American activists had been hoping that somehow, despite a convincing track record to the contrary, President Barack Obama would use this April 24 National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man (in which U.S. presidents are tasked with leading "a day of remembrance for all the victims of genocide, especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry who were the victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923, and in whose memory this date is commemorated") to finally fulfill his very loud and insistent 2008 campaign promise to call the genocide by its proper name.

Yeah, no:

President Barack Obama will not use the word "genocide" to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians in his annual statement commemorating the historic atrocity later this month.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes informed an official from the Armenian National Congress of America of the decision in a meeting at the White House on Tuesday. […]

"This is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of trust, a disgraceful national surrender to a foreign gag order being imposed by the government of Turkey," said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, who attended the White House meeting.

Turkey devotes a huge chunk of its diplomatic efforts to discourage the world from using the G-word, out of concern that doing so besmirches the memory of the country's founding hero, Kemal Ataturk. Senior Turkish officials have gone ballistic against the Pope and the European Parliament for their recent calls for Istanbul to come clean about the century-old massacre. Meanwhile, too many Europeans in particular have taken this historical criticism to absurd and illiberal ends by making denial of the genocide a crime (one which free-speech hero George Clooney's international-lawyer wife Amal Clooney is only too happy to help enforce).

We should not be surprised that a country that can't even produce a clean yes-or-no "state sponsor of terror" list without subjecting it to politics and diplomatic wheedling should find itself, year after year, letting its basic language be held hostage by its own anxious reliance on a strategic NATO ally to project power in the broader Middle East. But it should serve as a cautionary tale most of all to humanitarian interventionists such Ambassador to the United Nations Samanth Power—the diplomat formerly know as "genocide chick," whose plaintive 2008 promise to the Armenian-American community remains one of the great emetics in U.S. politics.

I've written a lot about this issue over the years; if you're interested, start from last year's post and work your way backward through the links.

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  1. According to a fawning 2008 NPR interview about Obama and his new presidency, breaking his promises made him “presidential”.

  2. Turkey between 1915 and 1923, and in whose memory this date is commemorated”) to finally fulfill his very loud and insistent 2008 campaign promise to call the genocide by its proper name

    Can we get a progressive wordsmith in here to blame this on Bush? I’d like to see the verbal acrobatics.

    1. If Bush had done it himself upon recognizing that a future Nobel Peace Prize winner was taking over the presidency, then Obama would not be put in this position.

      Only Bush could go to Yerevan.

    2. You’d have to ram a plug up someone’s butt to get that kind of knee-jerk reaction.

      1. I believe we have a buttplug around here who specializes in precisely that.

  3. How about, “mass murder”?

  4. You call it genocide, I call it Ottoman kinetic action.

  5. …calls for Istanbul to come clean about the century-old massacre…

    Not Constantinople?

    Or Ankara?


    2. Yeah, why would Istanbul come clean?

    3. Hey, even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can’t say, people just liked it better that way.

      1. Epi,

        An English Corporation (not England) stole New Amsterdam from the Dutch. The Dutch Gov “took it”-they didn’t steal it, noooo-from a Dutch Corporation that had created and ran it until their wonderful Gov took it from them.) The English Corp that stole it had several major and minor investors; one of the major ones was the then current Duke of York. Thus “New York.” Far from the genocidal taking of cities that Christendom and Islam and predecessor states were familiar with, the English Corp in question played it cool, left much in the possession of the current owners, and kept it running smooth. That’s why so many uber-rich New Yoikah’s have Van something or other, or Winkelfoss as a name. Their Dutch Great-G-G-G faddah was a Dutchman who got to keep his estate.

    4. The more I think about this, the more I feel a snarky Tweet coming on….

    5. Weird. If countries can be referred to by their capital, it can only be Ankara. I’ve never heard Turkey called Istanbul.

  6. Who gives a shit about politicians recognizing the fact that another government committed genocide against others? They need to remember themselves how violent gov’t can be and set folks need to be set free.

    If it were me, I’d say gee, why can’t we be free? Why not come with me, train to fight, and break every knee of those who deny you and me the right to our liberty.

    Let’s put up a fight as we dance over their souls in the sex light, cause then our future will be bright, instead of all this gov’t mandated blight. I’m sexy, undead and freakin ready to fight for freedom which is everyone’s right.

    1. They need to remember themselves how violent gov’t can be and set folks need to be set free.

      The genocide is proof that government needs to be bigger and more powerful, to prevent the next one. You know, like Net Neutrality.

      1. I think Paul might be going native, he seems to understand their mentality far too well. Should we stage an intervention? And by intervention I mean “vicious beating”.

        1. I say, give ’em to STEVE SMITH for an hour or two.

          1. Been meaning to ask, who or what is Steve Smith? Wikipedia is of little help. Could be Steve Smith the poet, the professional clown (pretty prolific clown to have his own wikipedia page), Steve Smith the Holocaust specialist?

            1. The threads are funny, but to sum it up, Steve Smith is a real guy who is/was friends with Matt Welch. He was basically a drive-by left-wing troll who posted stupid shit, mostly on Welch threads. He once posted a link to his personal blog that had pictures. He looks like a shaved ape. He was called various things, but eventually the sasquatch thing dominated.

              And as everyone knows, SASQUATCH LOVE RAPE.

              For best comedic effect, read the, “STEVE SMITH (insert something) RAPE” posts should be read in the voice of a Fallout 3 Super Mutant.

  7. There are, almost literally, only a handful of people EVEN BORN when that happened. Why can’t we just use the word genocide? We are not talking about anyone alive. I must be too aspy to understand.

    1. The Turkish state’s devotion to the memory of Ataturk borders is practically religious. Admitting that he’s somehow imperfect would cast a shadow on the Turkish state itself. Though wasting its diplomatic energy convincing the world that what happened wasn’t actually genocide seems to casting a bigger shadow; but who am I to make policy for a foreign country?

      1. Ataturk had little to nothing to do with Armenian genocide of 1915. He was at the time a Colonel in the army, kicking the ass of Aussies and Kiwis at Gallipoli. He did, however, boot and kill a lot of Greeks after Greeks in Anatolia booted and killed a lot of Turks in 1920, and some Armenians and Jews got killed/expelled as a side effect.

        Refusing to admit mass murder of The Hated Enemy is par and parcel for most nations. Russians refused to admit Katyn massacre for decades, Serbs to this day won’t accept that Muslims got massacred in Srebrenica, Croats deny genocide over Serbs during WW2, Japanese over Nanking…

        1. My favorite description* of the official Japanese attitude towards Nanking is

          Firstly, it never happened – and secondly, they deserved it

          *(as far as i know, this is my own)

          1. Well said, and oddly enough, applies to all other cases, too…

        2. This is one thing one has to give the Germans credit for, they really owned it, and gave some money to boot. Didn’t have too much of a choice, but even so.

  8. The Ottoman empire was obviously fighting the islamaphobes that are prevalent in modern thinking people. fytw

  9. What difference at this point does it make?

    Sure, genocide is bad, mkay. You shouldn’t do genocide. If you do genocide, you’re bad. Genocide is bad, mkay. You really shouldn’t do genocide.

    But why agonize over a century-old atrocity?

    1. You’re bad. But in a good way cause you don’t do genocide. I forgive you for your attempt at gekocide though, cause the geico one is annoying sometimes.

    2. Yeah, this is a huge hole in my education (which in all theological matters is quite holey). Why is the Armenian question a political football? I mean, I assume it’s signaling all the way down.

    3. Call me cynical, but I would guess that “acknowledgment” is to be followed by “discussions regarding reparations.”

      1. (touches nose)

        the turks would probably also be pressured to hand over all sorts of concessions to other aggrieved minorities as well. They’re pretty adamant about wanting to join NATO, be aligned with the West and all… but they aren’t all that hot about having to try and meet Western standards of pluralism, necessarily. Particularly when the Islamist parties have just regained their own political legitimacy.

        1. They’re already in NATO.

          1. Indeed. After the 12 founding members, Greece and Turkey were the first to join in 1952. Turkey participated in the Korean War.

          2. That was a tense-fuckup on my part. I know they’re a NATO member. I meant that over the years the policy #1 on their part has been increased integration with the west, hoping to economically integrate w/ the EU eventually, etc… but there’s a lot of cultural-barriers (not to mention their proximity to Iraq/Iran) that make the whole process difficult – particularly their own internal conflict between ostensible secularism, pluralism, and the more recent “islamist” style identity they’ve embraced.

        2. And they no longer want to be aligned to the West, starting with refusing to allow US to use their airspace to invade Iraq. Note that, despite ISIS being on their border, Turks are not part of the coalition fighting them. Until Syrian civil war blew up, Turkey’s government was seriously sucking up to Iran, but then it failed, since Erdogan supported Muslim Brotherhood and Iranians back Assad.

          1. “And they no longer want to be aligned to the West, starting with refusing to allow US to use their airspace to invade Iraq. “


            That was huge, but i don’t think it was symbolic of any long term trend… it was just that they couldn’t openly act in ways that seemed to be directly aiding the ‘coalition’ (ha) effort, lest they invite reprisals.

            they also were terrified of a kurdish rebellion blowing up at the time.

            they have a lot of dicey relations with their neighbors (and russia) that make their position extremely complex. having their fingers in 10 different pies has always been part of their M.O.

            1. Erdogan’s election in 2003 has been a watershed in Turkish foreign policy. He’s basically anti-Ataturk, and his policy has been repudiation of him both for good (economic liberalization, trying to reconcile with Kurds) and bad (everything else, pretty much).

              One of the key differences is, where Ataturk severed Turkey from Ottoman tradition and charted a pro-Western course, Erdogan turned East and has been running a non-nationalist foreign policy. He severed the alliance with Israel, supported Hamas, tried to reconcile with Iran, was chummy with Assad and Putin and was a huge supporter of Morsi in Egypt. Now he’s stuck with two (three? four?) insane wars on his borders, no allies and an army that is both demoralized and decapitated by his show trial.

              Shit, given his almost Obama-like Midas touch, maybe he’ll be able to realign to the US after all!

              1. My impression of turkey over the years (since iraq invasion, mainly) has been that they seem to be aware that with Iraq gone, and Assad going… that the balance of power in the region is shifting, and that they seem to want to try and play every side of every issue to see if they can possibly come out of it better off than otherwise. That they’ve mostly (entirely?) screwed everything up is understandable; its been a messy 10 years in the neighborhood. and they’ve still come out of it reasonably well.

        3. Greece would try and block their entry.

          1. I’d hope that by the time Turkey is looking to integrate w/ EU…

            (and who knows when that will be, as since 2005, they’ve only got about halfway through negotiations process)

            …”Greece” will be reconstituted as a German Beach Resort.

        4. Especially to the Kurds. They see it as a slippery slope; if they give the Armenians the time of day, soon they’ll have to parcel out land to the Republic of Kurdistan.

          Personally, I say fuck em. Let the Kurds have their country, call the Armenian thing genocide, and let the Turks know that it’s their own damned fault. They were the ones who insisted on staying on the sidelines of certain inconvenient middle east conflicts (or worse, letting ISIS soldiers travel through or train in Turkey), so why should they get say in anything?

    4. why agonize over a century-old atrocity

      It’s as if to say, what difference, at this point, does it make, amirite?

    5. The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic state, and that does make a difference to Obama. I still remember him fumbling for some non answer when an Indian girl asked him to define “Jihad”.

      Obama will strain for all kinds of nuance in the face of radical Islam. That’s why his people blamed an insensitive video for apparently galvanizing random peace loving people who were minding their own business.

      Not long after ISIS beheaded Kenji Goto (a Christian) Obama played equivalency game by invoking past Christian atrocity. He didn’t attend the Paris Unity rally following the Charlie Hebdo incident. Wolf Blitzer pressed Marie Harf about Iran’s “Death to America” stance, and she dismissed it as rhetoric.

      He will never use plain language to decisively denounce radical Islam. EVER. He’s from the same leftist crowd that sees Muslims as oppressed minorities and Jews as the aggressors.

  10. National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man

    You can’t fool *me*, Matt. That’s from The Onion.

  11. More importantly, who are the two in the picture? I understand they have a lot in common.

    1. Pope. Got it. Didn’t recognize him without the dunce cap.

      Still don’t recognize the bosom.

      1. Kim Kardashian, innit? I think she’s Armenian.

        Easier to tell by her rump than her tits.

        1. She’s Armenian. I believe 100% Armenian.

          The easiest way to tell if somebody is Armenian: olive skin and a last name ending with “-ian”.

        2. Well, she’s 50% Armenian (father’s side) and has apparently been outspoken about having the genocide recognized including calling on Obama to do. At least, all that is according to her Wikipedia page.

          1. Have the Armenians asked her to stop?

            1. Bwaahahahaha

          2. Yeah. Just the person you want pushing for it.

            Other than that, Armenian (and Portuguese) women are hot.

  12. So I guess this means a United States Genocide Museum is outta the question…

  13. Even more importantly, who the hell put the bop in the bop shabop shabop!!!!???

    I’d like to meet that man, and break his effing hand, and smash all the instruments in his stupid band.

  14. “Ambassador to the United Nations Samanth Power”

    If there’s a contest for “greatest hypocrite” of the Obama admin, it would have to be Sam Power.

    This is mainly because no one else of note in the admin – Susan Rice, Valerie Jarret, Clinton, Kerry, Obama himself – could ever argue that they had any *integrity* to begin with. Everyone already knew they were all liars and opportunists solely interested in their own power….

    ….but Samantha was the “purist”, the moral salesperson for the potential Goodness of American Power. She built a career around melodramatic fits about how America needs to do the right thing and stop apologizing for Dictators and financing rebels and overthrowing foreign leaders etc… She was the ultimate Liberal UnRealist = that ‘cost’ should not matter, and that moral leadership is its own reward…

    This is the person who has been selling the UN on the legality of Drone Campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia… helping destabilize Syria and Libya, overthrow Morsi in Egypt… now, helping the Saudis bomb Yemenis….and while I generally think we *should* stay out of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, she was completely at odds with her own history of endorsing all sorts of sanctions against Israel, but forced to veto them herself in the UN.

    Basically, she threw everything she ever advocated out the window simply so she could serve the Lightworker.

    1. “Basically, she threw everything she ever advocated out the window simply so she could serve the Lightworker.”

      I’m told the Lightworker is honest, oh, about 8% of the time.

      1. no one* in the press seems the slightest bit concerned that she’s basically become John Bolton with a nicer ass

        (*exception = the liberal media was willing to let her slide on drone-killing, funding/arming rebels, helping evict morsi, waffling about Ukraine/Crimea, giving china whatever it wants in exchange for climate-policy lies, etc…. except *israel*. Oh, that one pisses them off. Because she was one of these perennial advocates of UN sanction up the wazoo, then suddenly she’s the same as everyone else… and apparently thats one policy the liberals can’t abide)

        But as long as you spout the right feelgood bullshit when you’re an academic, when you turn out to be just as interventiony and murderish and bombtastic when you’re actually in power, it apparently doesnt matter much

        She’ll still be lauded as a staunch advocate for World Peace and preventing Gencocides etc. even though her actual tenure in the UN is so far ho-hum and indistinguishable from many of her predecessors. This Armenian bullshit is just another example of how even the smallest promises of the Obama admin were completely empty.

        1. But, but it’s different when we do it.


  15. Better for the historical record that Obama keeps quiet on the subject. If he called it genocide nobody ever again would believe it was.

    If you like your genocide you can keep your genocide.

    1. If you’ve got a genocide, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

      1. I won’t sugar coat this…Turkey has nice rugs.

  16. In other news, I heard on Boston radio Tsarnaev gave the middle finger in court today.

  17. “This is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of trust, a disgraceful national surrender to a foreign gag order”

    Obama’s Playbook: The Summary.

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