Foreign Policy

Obama Again Breaks Promise to Call Armenian Genocide a 'Genocide'; Hillary Right Behind Him

With their favorite candidates terrible on the issue, genocide-recognition activists are no longer using it as litmus test

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Video of Samantha Power promising the Armenian-American community in 2008 that THIS candidate, dammit, will keep his promise. ||| YouTube
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For the eighth and final time during his tenure, President Barack Obama is about to flagrantly break his moralistic campaign-trail promise to call the Armenian genocide a "genocide."

April 24 is the National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man, during which the president of the United States is invited to issue a proclamation honoring the victims of the century-old Turkish massacre of Armenians. As a senator and presidential candidate, Obama was unequivocal about how April 24s should be run:

[T]he Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy…. [A]s President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Predictably, that promise did not survive past Inauguration Day, because it turns out that using such language would really piss off NATO ally Turkey, thus making U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the Muslim world much more difficult.

Another presidential candidate who made and broke that same promise was Hillary Clinton. As I write in today's L.A. Times, the dissonance of having the politicians they otherwise prefer being brazen hypocrites on an issue they care about deeply has prompted many activists to either give up genocide-recognition as a single-issue litmus test, or—as in the case of George Clooney—go on raising "obscene" amounts of money for Clinton anyway.

Thank you, thank you, silence! ||| Pinterest
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Excerpt from my piece:

Few politicians can top [Hillary Clinton's] about-face on the issue. In January 2008, locked in a primary-season dogfight with Barack Obama, Clinton issued a statement bragging that "alone among the presidential candidates, I have been a long-standing supporter of the Armenian Genocide Resolution." […]

"As president, I will recognize the Armenian genocide," 2008 Clinton continued. "Our common morality and our nation's credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the president …."

Yet when handed a golden opportunity to live out her morality as secretary of state, Clinton punted.

In July 2010, Washington's top diplomat visited the genocide memorial in Yerevan, but refused to use the magic word, and had the State Department refer to the occasion, absurdly, as "a private visit." She lobbied Congress to ensure that the genocide resolution never reached the House floor. Asked by a State Department staffer at a January 2012 town hall whether such verbal sidestepping had "to do with our relationship with Turkey," Clinton answered the question like a Turkish politician: "This has always been viewed, and I think properly so, as a matter of historical debate and conclusions rather than political."

Such was Clinton's turnabout that the great Armenian American commentator Harut Sassounian last June, even while urging his compatriots to drop genocide-recognition as a political litmus test, included the caveat: "It is important to note that those candidates who have already deceived the Armenian community during previously held elective or appointive positions should be eliminated from all consideration. One such candidate is Hillary Clinton."

Read the whole thing here. Reason on genocide-recognition here.

NEXT: Journalist Matthew Keys Faces Prison Time Over a Law You've Probably Broken

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  1. “It is important to note that those candidates who have already deceived the Armenian community during previously held elective or appointive positions should be eliminated from all consideration. One such candidate is Hillary Clinton.”

    So she’s lost the Kardashian endorsement?

  2. it turns out that using such language would really piss off NATO ally Turkey, thus making U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the Muslim world much more difficult.

    Yeah, because they might do something like not give us flyover rights when we’re at war with a country neighboring them. Or look the other way while people are passing through their country to join ISIS. Or even do something like really crazy like shooting down the airplane of a nuclear power.

    1. Or look the other way while actively facilitate people are passing through their country to join ISIS.

      1. Which goes to show that turkey is no Ally of NATO or the u.s.

    2. This. Every bit of this. Ally my ass!! I suppose you could throw on there “assault US sailors walking the streets in civilian clothes.”

      1. Just to nitpick, how do the assailants know it’s a sailor then? They watch him leave base? Or are they just attacking non-turks?

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    1. Is she cute or just some turkey?

  4. Unlike the Germans,the Turks would do it again.Maybe to the Kurds? The history of Ottomans with the Greeks,Jews and such is murderous.Then again,every empire was built on the blood of others.

    1. Oh man, does the Greek side of my family hate the Turks.

  5. “…[A]s President I will …..”

    No, you won’t.

    1. Just like he *was* not a supporter of gay marriage and a Christian, etc. http://cnsnews.com/news/articl…..-marriage. Where’s the liberal outrage about lying? Oh wait, it’s their narrative.

  6. The only question the candidates ask is “What voting bloc, the Turks or Armenians, is bigger?”

    Is there a Turk alive today who is responsible for the genocide? No? So just recognize and apologize already.
    If the City of Phila. can apologize because 20,000 baseball fans booed Jackie Robinson in 1947, then the present day Turks can say their great grandparents were wrong to massacre Armenians.

    1. People apologizing for something they had nothing to do with is stupid. It’s also stupid to deny reality by refusing to call the Armenian genocide what it was.

    2. It’s more complicated than that.

      Basically, the origin myth of the Turkish Republic is that it is a land for Turkish ethnicity, justified by the Wilsonian principle that each ethnic group gets self determination.

      Now, the way the Turkish Republic’s borders were determined were via war; Attaturk basically selected what old ottoman territories could be defended and what couldn’t. And the borders were drawn to take advantage of geographical obstacles to invaders’ movements.

      These borders enclosed Kurds, some Arabs, some Persians and half of Armenia. And the new Turkish republic declared all these people to be Turks; banned their alphabets; outlawed parents naming their kids with non-Turkish names; banned their songs being played over the radio etc.

      The genocide happened prior to the formation of the republic. It was an ethnic cleansing campaign, instigated because the Turks believed the Armenians were assisting the Russians in World War I. And it was intended to depopulate the region either through killing, or through forced expulsion. I believe a significant number of the deaths were through exposure; people were driven out of their homes at bayonet point and died in the countryside. The pgroms were limited to the provinces where Armenians lived. Thus, an Armenian living in western Asia Minor wouldn’t be killed or even molested (although towards the end of the war things did start to get dicey).

      1. So the Turkish republic has three objections:
        1) They don’t feel they are responsible for actions taken by the Ottoman empire that preceeded them.
        2) They don’t want to acknowledge any nonTurkish ethnic groups having a non Turkish identity within their borders.
        3) They don’t want to pay reparations for the land that was expropriated because it will be a substantial expense.

        The passage of time had made things worse; my grandfather and great grandfather were the ones who had first-hand knowledge of those events (I suspect my great grandfather participated because he was posted in the area – my dad refuses to discuss the matter; my grandfather ironically took in and raised an orphaned armenian boy and raised him to be an Armenian christian something that is only spoken of in hushed whispers). My generation is the last that will hear first hand accounts from family members that wasn’t filtered through the Turkish state education apparatus. Most of my generation only knows what they are taught in school, and the Turkish school system absolutely denies anything happened. And, most members of my generation sincerely believe what they were taught.

        Thus many officers in the Turkish government are sincere when they claim nothing happened; they were marinated in the propaganda produced their parents’ generation and know no better.

  7. Moralizing is easy. Reality is hard.

    Theory is clean. Practice is messy.

    I’m the last to defend these two abysmal people, but I’ll go with the demands of reality/practice every time.

    1. What demands, that matter?

      Demands matter when refusing them has consequences. What are the Turks going to do? They are terrible NATO allies. They are drifting further into Islamist authoritarianism. How would hurting their feelings make things worse?

      Fuck that. If you can’t speak the truth, you can’t deal with reality.

      1. We cannot afford to alienate our Muslim friends and allies. They might become radicalized and commit acts of terror. Not of course that Muslims are inclined to terrorism or that terrorism has anything to do with Islam. Just that we shouldn’t risk it. Which is why we don’t want to alienate them, because they might take it awry.

        *begins sweating*

      2. The Turks ought to be booted from NATO. Erdogan uses Turkey’s membership to constantly dick slap Russia and Turkey’s more immediate neighbors. I’d sooner rot in prison than go to war to defend Erdogan. Throw him to the wolves he’s been provoking.

      3. I am not well versed in the nuances of American-Turkish relations. I was giving the Administration the benefit of the doubt. It might be the case that Turkey would “get over it.” But it’s worth remembering what a steadfast ally Turkey has been for most of its time in NATO, and I assume that the value of keeping them in the “friends” camp is high.

      4. So little to lose, but what’s to gain? What difference does it make whether you call it a recession or a banana?

      5. Right. Why are we or any of the modern world trying to appease them?

    2. What about the reality that Turkey will get over the US president saying ‘genocide’ when they realize what a childish butthurt tantrum will cost them economically?

      1. Moralizing is easy. Reality is hard.

        Theory is clean. Practice is messy.

        1. These pretzels are making me thirsty!

  8. His legs are just tired from bowing and scraping to Saudi Arabia this week.

    1. Seriously, if he’d gotten back on the plane when the King wasn’t there to greet him, I would have actually given the guy some credit. When he got back, he should have ordered the military advisors to come home from Yemen. If the King is too busy to get off his ass and greet me at the airport, he can fight his own war.

      1. They only pull that shit on Obama because they know they get away with it.

        1. It’s a well-known secret that Obama is a groveling, sniveling, weakling on the foreign policy stage.

  9. …the politicians they otherwise prefer being brazen hypocrites on an issue they care about deeply has prompted many activists to either give up genocide-recognition as a single-issue litmus test, or?as in the case of George Clooney?go on raising “obscene” amounts of money for Clinton anyway.

    Would you rather they let a Republican be the next Oval Office occupant to not call out the long-dead Turks on this?

    1. Look, getting a lying, corrupt, incompetent, criminal like Hillary into the White House is a moral imperative!

  10. If he calls it a genocide, I’m sure Erdogan would threaten to unleash his Syrian foederati upon Europe.

    1. Once you pay the Danegild you never get rid of the Dane.

  11. Oh, come on. Stop wasting your time. Just convince a few crackpot historians to say the genocide was committed by ideological right-wingers who were the sworn enemies of all that is good in this world (which is socialism, of course) and you will see people being rounded up for being Armenian Genocide deniers.

  12. Holy fuck! The amount of stupid things people are told they need to care about is mind-numbing.

  13. Ironically, Donald Trump is the most likely candidate to ignore the political considerations of Turkish pride and just call it like he sees it.

  14. Yet when handed a golden opportunity to live out her morality as secretary of state, Clinton punted. ????? Such was Clinton’s turnabout that the great Armenian American commentator Harut Sassounian last June, even while urging his compatriots to drop genocide-recognition as a political litmus test

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