Donald Trump

Trump, Like His Predecessors, Refuses to Call Armenian Genocide a 'Genocide'

At least he's not flagrantly breaking a solemn campaign promise, like Obama and many others did

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Soldiers holding skulls. ||| Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day—or, as it has been known by the U.S. government since 1975, National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man. That linguistic downgrade is symbolic, as the political drama around April 24 ever since has been whether the U.S. president will finally, in his Remembrance Day message, risk incurring the wrath of key NATO ally Turkey by calling the century-old Turkish-perpetrated genocide a "genocide."

In a statement just before noon, President Donald Trump carried on the tradition of his predecessors by declining to use the G-word:

Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many.

As we reflect on this dark chapter of human history, we also recognize the resilience of the Armenian people. Many built new lives in the United States and made indelible contributions to our country, while cherishing memories of the historic homeland in which their ancestors established one of the great civilizations of antiquity.

We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.

Trump's statement is almost indistinguishable from what Barack Obama said in 2016. But at least Trump, unlike Obama (and Hillary Clinton, and Samantha Power…and John Kerry, and George W. Bush and Bush's dad) didn't make pious promises on the campaign trail to at long last call genocide by its proper name, only to sell the Armenian diaspora down the Bosphorus within months of gaining power.

There is no doubt that replacing the phrase "mass atrocities" with the word "genocide" would cause a tremendous amount of upset in bilateral U.S.-Turkish relations, given how much of Ankara's diplomacy is bent on this one issue. (Turkey categorizes the Armenian dead as casualties of war rather than victims of targeted ethnic slaughter, and does not take kindly to anything that sullies the reputation of Kemal Ataturk, the post-Ottoman founder of the country.) There is also no significant doubt among historians that what happened from 1915-24 was indeed a genocide.

I have long argued that the promise-breaking on this issue by humanitarian interventionists such as Power (whose nickname used to be "genocide chick") illustrates a fundamental paradox at the heart of both neoconservatism and the Responsibility to Protect: In order to uphold the high-minded principles you are invoking while attacking another country, it becomes logistically necessary to flagrantly violate them.

Trump, who campaigned on a set of foreign policy ideas that fall much closer to the tradition of realism, demonstrates in his continuation of his predecessors' policies a truth about realpolitik: It is situational and transactional on its face. You can't be a hypocrite if you dispatch with the idealism up front.

Is there another option? In the real world, probably not. Nonetheless, I prefer the Vaclav Havel-influenced approach of former U.S. ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, a career diplomat who was shepherded into retirement after daring to utter the G-word: Just call things by their proper names. Pathologies tend to compound over time when indulged instead of confronted. And yes, those include pathologies nurtured in Washington as well.

UPDATE: The Genocide Chick speaks!

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  1. I assume some money will change hands if someone calls it a Genocide?

    1. Why is that its “proper name”? AFAICT, “genocide” is a recent coinage, seems like it was supposed to have been a euphemism, as these Latin-derived neologisms usually are. From the above, it seems this incident actually does have a proper name in the “proper noun” sense, “Meds Yeghern”. What, does “genocide” in Turkish mean “fuck you and the horse you rode in on”?

      1. It’s the murder, or attempted murder, of a genotype; hence ‘Geno’ and ‘Cide’.

        It is kind of a misnomer though in that it seems conflated with culture rather than a specific genotype in particular.

        1. I think it refers more to the original Greek meaning of “genos” which is people (in the singular sense) or race than to the modern biological concept of genotype. Armenians (or Jews or Tutsi or whoever) certainly constitute a “genos” in that sense.

          1. I suppose so now that you mention it. That will teach me to look up the original Latin meanings ^_^

          2. So, like French “gens”.

      2. the term genocide was coined specifically by a guy referring to the murder of the Armenians. The Armenian genocide was not just “a genocide” it was THE genocide

  2. Look, until we finally make it official that what happened to the Armenians was a genocide, they’re gonna keep inflicting Kardashians on us.

    1. [raises finger to say something, pauses in thought, lowers finger]

    2. Ignore the tweets and tv show and just ogle the goods in the tabloids. It’s a fair trade imo.

      1. So you’re into the whole “oddly-shaped lump of plastic” look?

          1. This surprises no one.

          1. ^chickenfucker doesn’t actually know what makes a human female attractive^

            1. “A pointy bra and high-waisted panties?” he theorizes, then scans some more underwear ads from 1962.

                1. I think it was ’65 when National Geographic overtook the Sears catalog in the world of porn because nipples.

        1. All I know is her sex tape was pretty hot — of course that’s years ago now — but yes I would fuck her. She is a pretty gal and I like curves. All you scalawags who say you wouldn’t bone are just playin’.

          1. HV2’s into watersports. How about that.

  3. Who cares? They deserved it anyway.

    1. Look, you even stole my name to make bogus comments. I’m flattered.

      1. Well now i don’t know WHAT to believe.

        1. I’ve got a stalker that has finally taken the big step of posting as me. So I’m kind of a big deal now. You’re still stuck with posting from two different names, Crusty.

          1. This is happening again?

            This isn’t Vietnam people! I need to know who I’m shooting at.

            1. Is this one of those capital I-lower case L deceptions? If Reason believed in the free market and satisfying their non-paying customers, they would implement a little patch that locked out usernames that so this to existing usernames. I bet it could be done with the same efficacy as all the other times they addressed problems with the commenting system.

              1. Yes, the faker is using a capital i instead of a lower case l.

                1. Welcome to the party, pal

              2. or used a font with serifs, as God intended.

                1. Word.

                2. Serif, don’t like it.

                3. or used a font with serifs, as God intended.

                  *golf clap*

          2. My thoughts and prayers are with us all.

      2. So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t choose a handle that has a “l” in it, because it can be easily turned into an “I”

        1. Damn, I was about to change my username to “Illicit Thrill Lilly.”

          1. So weird, that was my nickname before the gender change.

  4. Not touching this one with a ten foot pogrom.

    1. Use Tony’s anti-semite pogrom. But he’s disgused it as pro-Palestine, and it’s kinda slimy.

  5. In other news, apparently three months outside of the public limelight was more than Block Insane Yomomma and his ego could handle.

    Please disappear for a longer period of time, you fucking asshole. You had your eight years already. If you hadn’t completely sucked donkey dick so much, even an unpleasant screeching old witch like Hildog could have ridden on your coattails. Think about it.

    1. You seem mad, Simple Mikey. Are you mad?

      Also, you’re waaay overrating the appeal of Hillary Clinton. By your own “logic” this means you want to suck her dick.

      1. Never mind, i figured out what set you off. You read the tweet from Samantha Power, and since your tiny little brain only has room to know about one person, you assumed that she was secretly also Barack Obama, and thus the seemingly random outburst above. I’m onto you, Simple Mikey.

  6. This is some BFD? “Massacre” sounds worse than “genocide” to my ears, but “genocide” is supposed to be more insulting? Like a “banana” is less than a recession, depression, or whatever?

    1. “Genocide” invokes the holocaust, but “massacre” only invokes gangsters, or cavalry vs redskins.

      1. And “holocaust” evokes fire, so what?

          1. You know what else?

    2. Keep in mind Trump (and others) made a big deal of Obama refusing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” in condemning terror attacks. It’s a goose/gander sort of thing.

    3. “Genocide” is the “racist!1!” of large-scale killings.

    4. Seriously, I think certain legal obligations are required if something is a “genocide”.

      Which is why Clinton and, I believe, Albright worked so hard to avoid calling the Rwandan genocide a genocide.

      1. Holocaust Denier!

  7. Erdogan is very nearly done demolishing everything Ataturk set up. Maybe once he’s done, he can pull a Nixon-to-China and call it genocide.

    What exactly would happen if Erdogan went nuts over calling it genocide? Would he flip to a public ISIS partner? Would he join Dear Reader in threatening us?

    Turkey needs the West more than we need him. Call his bluff by calling it genocide. Does Trump not realize how much fun he could have with Obama, Hillary, and the entire left? Samantha Bee would be buzzing in frustration.

    1. Bee/Powers what’s the difference at this point in time? We still don’t have an EDIT button.

    2. Erdogan just wants a nice “atta Turk” compliment from Trump.

      1. Turkey will be perfect once the Kurds are out of the way.

        1. Ignore the stalker, he stole the handle.

          1. Hey now, that’s a pun that the stalker is way too stupid to make.

    3. The last thing Trump wants is to be compared to Hitler.

      1. A little late for that.

  8. I’d have thought that “mass atrocities” would piss the Turks off nearly as much as “genocide”. But I guess they just really hate that word.

    They should have taken a lesson from Germany and own up to it and get on with things.

    Pretty much everyone who was alive then is dead now. People need to get over the idea that the sins of their ancestors reflect in any way on people alive today.

  9. Erdogan is very nearly done demolishing everything Ataturk set up. Maybe once he’s done, he can pull a Nixon-to-China and call it genocide.

    That’s the point I was going to make. Edogan is an Islamist. He would be fine with his country’s history of eliminating a Christian minority.

  10. “Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day?or, as it has been known by the U.S. government since 1975, National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man. That linguistic downgrade is symbolic”

    Is it a downgrade? The entire history of man’s inhumanity to man vs one genocide?

    1. “Man’s inhumanity to man” is just too broad to even register. A specific instance of inhumanity is a much more powerful reminder sometimes.

      1. Yeah, like my housemate yelling, “Asshole!” at me this morning for talking too loud on the phone at 8:30 AM. That still bugs me, more than any genocide does.

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

    I’m going to be bummed as hell once “man” and “mankind” gets the official nod as othering and hate speech. It just has way more poetic prose than any of it’s subsitues: human/ humanity (also doomed), person/people, I must be forgetting an obvious one.

    That’s one small step for a person; one giant leap for people.

    That’s one small step for a human; one giant leap for humanity.

    So much meh.

    1. Just start referring to all people as “motherfuckers”.

      One small step for this motherfucker, on giant leap for all you motherfuckers.

      1. Way ahead of you on that, motherfucker.

        (I’ve been fired so many times.)

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

    Man, talk about a Debbie Downer. Do we really need a special day set aside every year for us to cogitate upon man’s inhumanity to man? I mean, the Islamonazis are doing a pretty good job as it is reminding us of it with the unspeakable, barbaric atrocities they’re committing every other day.

  13. All I know is that Istanbul was once Constantinople and it doesn’t matter to anyone besides Turkey as to why it changed.

    1. Well, yeah, it’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

    2. You mean Byzantium?

  14. RE; Trump, Like His Predecessors, Refuses to Call Armenian Genocide a ‘Genocide’
    At least he’s not flagrantly breaking a solemn campaign promise, like Obama and many others did

    Trump, like his predecessors, is right in refusing to call Armenian genocide a “genocide.”
    If that happened, then all those dead Turks would be offended and have to go to their safe place to have puppy therapy.
    No one wants that on their conscience.

  15. Trump, Like His Predecessors, Refuses to Call Armenian Genocide a ‘Genocide’

    What a cuck!

  16. I am very sorry that, during our time in office, we in the Obama administration did not recognize the #Armenian Genocide

    Never mind that her path to power was built on a reputation for being “the honest one”.

    I mean, her book, “The Problem from Hell” was about exactly this issue = governments looking the other way while crimes against humanity took place.

    Power observes that American policymakers have been consistently reluctant to condemn mass atrocities as genocide or take responsibility for leading an international military intervention. She argues that without significant pressure from the American public, policymakers avoid the term “genocide” altogether. Instead, they appeal to the priority of national interests or argue (without merit, she contends) that a U.S. response would be futile and accelerate violence as a justification for inaction.[1]

    if there’s ever been a bigger hypocrite in the history of the “human rights” industry, i can’t think of them.

    Not that i endorse her idiotic notion of humanitarian interventionism. I just loathe the fact that she rose to power on the claim of moral authority, then proceeded to act as an apologist for things like Obama’s interventions in Libya, Syria and Yemen, where we basically helped cause/inflame/amplify vast death + destruction and the dislocation of millions of people.

    1. She tweets with woke hashtags so she gets a pass.

  17. Nice. 4 months out of power and Power has regrets. Seems a bit silly, at this point, to express the regrets you ignored for 8 fucking years.

    1. How many years did it take McNamara?

  18. I’m very sorry that, during my time in office, I argued in favor of the Libyan war.

  19. “Trump, who campaigned on a set of foreign policy ideas that fall much closer to the tradition of realism, demonstrates in his continuation of his predecessors’ policies a truth about realpolitik: It is situational and transactional on its face. You can’t be a hypocrite if you dispatch with the idealism up front.”

    There’s a word for applying idealism to relationships in business. When you won’t do business with someone because you don’t like what they did, it’s called a “boycott”.

    How silly would it be if a national restaurant chain wouldn’t sell hamburgers to people who beat their children or people who’ve been convicted of violent felonies? Certainly, management would need to explain those policies to their shareholders. As a shareholder, why do I care whether a customer held up a liquor store–so long as he wants to buy a cheeseburger?

    Yeah, it would be better if international relations were more like business that way.

  20. The world is a more secure place and there is less of a threat to American security because of our trade with China–regardless of how they treat their political prisoners. Remember the stupid arguments about China and MFN status? It was usually just an attempt at rent seeking by unions–trying to find a justification not to trade with China.

    What a stupid way to run foreign policy–if we can’t do what’s in our own best interests because . . . political prisoners who are going to be treated the same way regardless of our trade policy? Meanwhile, if we have any leverage with someone like China over something like the treatment of political prisoners, it’s because of our existing trade relationship. Idealism often gets in the way of real progress that way.

    If American security were furthered through a trade relationship with Iran, I’d support that–maybe because of the way they treat their political prisoners rather than in spite of it. If we had a strategic trade relationship with Iran, they’d care a whole lot more about what we think of their nuclear and ICBM programs, not to mention what we think of the way they treat their political prisoners.

    Why did Pinochet hold elections and respect the results? Was it out of the goodness of his heart?

    Or was it because he was afraid of jeopardizing Chile’s relationship with the United States?

    1. That’s a good point. Sometimes taking moral stands on things isn’t actually to the benefit of those one whose behalf you are making the stand.

  21. “We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.”

    It’s been a hundred years, and Turkey is battling Kurdish separatists within its territory.

    This self-disembowelment over past atrocities is a Western thing that’s come out of abolition, post-colonialism, the aftermath of the holocaust, and pop psychology ideas about confession, the stages of mourning, and closure. It’s not surprising that other cultures don’t buy into that the same way.

    What happened a hundred years ago to the Armenians was an example of genocide regardless of whether Trump and the government of Turkey say so. Meanwhile, Erdogan is reestablishing the Ottoman Empire minus the secularism and holding political prisoners by the tens of thousands.

    What happened at Wounded Knee was sad. Did Obama apologize? I honestly have no idea.

    I know Obama killed hundreds of innocent children in drone strikes.

    If some president apologizes for Obama’s actions in the future, I hope people don’t lose sight of what he or she is doing then.

    1. This self-disembowelment over past atrocities is a Western thing that’s come out of abolition, post-colonialism, the aftermath of the holocaust, and pop psychology ideas about confession, the stages of mourning, and closure. It’s not surprising that other cultures don’t buy into that the same way.

      I think this angle is often understated. I can’t say how much of it comes down to cultural differences, but I do believe there’s something about the modern West that wants to break down crying on the therapy couch and come to grips with all the shortcomings.

  22. As a Greek-American, I have long taken issue with the failure to call out Turkey on its past genocides. I see the reasons as twofold.

    1. Not wanting to piss off Turkey-makes sense strategically given their proximity to Russia and Middle East.
    2. The established media does not really care what happened or still happens to small, mostly Christian, ethnic groups. In fact, most probably don’t even know (or care) that the Kardashians are of Armenian descent, or have even heard of Armenia.

    1. I’ve heard of the Kardashians, but all I know about them is that people invoke their name.

  23. Were I Armenian, though, I would probably be very happy if nobody ever associated that with the Kardashians.

  24. The entire “let’s feel bad about history” nonsense is a sad Western indulgence. Whether it’s the Trail of Tears, the Armenian genocide, or the Holocaust, it is in the past. What you call it is political nonsense….war, genocide, atrocity, massacre…..it’s all the same. It doesn’t change the facts or how we learn about it. Assess it, recognize the problems, and try to avoid those situations in the future. But friggin move on.
    No one should feel shame for their ancestors actions and no one has the justification to continue to wave it in their faces. It’s stupid and tiresome political nonsense.

  25. I’m mystified as to why Turks (and others) put so much weight on whether we call the Armenian doubleplusungoodness a “genocide” or something else. I think pretty much everyone agrees that it was a bad thing, highly regrettable and all that. It also happened a hundred years ago, everyone responsible for it is dead by now.

    If the European Union declared that nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of genocide, there would be some minor posturing that would be forgotten in a week, then everything would continue exactly as before. So why is the G-thing such a big deal to Turkey?

  26. Yeah, only calling it “massacre” and “atrocities” is so weak.

    It’d be nice to turn the knife in Erdogan’s back, though.

  27. Uncanny how Drumpf not calling it a genocide makes him morally superior to Obama.

    reason.com Republicans posing as libertarians are really struggling here.

    1. Redcard|4.24.17 @ 5:53PM|#
      “…Drumpf…}

      Real laugh riot, you are. To first-graders.

  28. Personally very disappointed in this. When we are so clearly untruthful for the sake of realpolitik, for so long, i think we do ourselves more harm than good. The short-term pain would be more than offset by the gain of our allies and opponents seeing that we are nit afraid of the truth, that relations need to be based on the truth.

  29. Our politicians sure know how to kiss Saudi, Turk, and Pakistani asses.

  30. From the headline: “At least he’s not flagrantly breaking a solemn campaign promise, like Obama and many others did”
    In this instance he’s morally superior because he did not break a promise to do otherwise like Obama and many others. He has broken many other campaign promises as Reason.com points out on a daily basis. English, motherfucker, do you speak it?

  31. Starving Armenian orphans resorted to cannibalism as WWI was fought to a standstill–according to National Geographic. I wonder what the Republican euphemism for that will be… Holy Communion?

    1. What do the D’s callit?

  32. “We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again.

    Nope, sorry, I’m under no obligation to “remember atrocities” that people I don’t know commited against people I don’t know. Nor am I under any obligation to prevent them. In fact, history suggests that trying to “help” other people by sending our military there usually is ineffective and often just causes us to commit our own injustices against the innocent.

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