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Bridget Johnson


April 24, 2013 - 11:50 am

Another campaign promise not kept today by President Obama — from the 2008 campaign, that is.

Obama had promised early in his first presidential campaign that he would call the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians genocide if elected. “The facts are undeniable,” Obama said in a Jan. 19, 2008, statement. “An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Turkey hotly opposes any such recognition, and there’s even a large Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans, more than 150 lawmakers strong, to oppose the regular legislative efforts to officially use the term genocide.

Every year in his presidency, Obama has avoided using the term, and today was no exception.

“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Ninety-eight years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.  We pause to reflect on the lives extinguished and remember the unspeakable suffering that occurred,” Obama said in a statement. “In so doing, we are joined by millions across the world and in the United States, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families.  We also remind ourselves of our commitment to ensure that such dark chapters of history are not repeated.”

“I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed,” he continued. “A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Nations grow stronger by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, thereby building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future. We appreciate this lesson in the United States, as we strive to reconcile some of the darkest moments in our own history.”

The Armenian National Committee of America seems to have accepted this latest avoidance of the term as business as usual at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., though the group was no less disappointed in the once-again broken campaign promise.

“Sadly, President Obama chose today not to lead, but rather to follow Ankara’s gag-rule on his Administration’s condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. His public retreat, under Turkish pressure, comes despite his own pledges to acknowledge this crime and our government’s record, dating back more than half a century, of having recognized the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said.

“Our president’s complicity in Turkey’s denial of truth and its ongoing obstruction of justice will not derail our progress toward a truthful, fair, and comprehensive international resolution of Turkey’s still unpunished crime against the Armenian nation.”

Turkey has paid D.C. lobbyists handsomely over the years to work against the Armenian Genocide resolutions that surface each Congress. Turkey has recalled its ambassador in a huff whenever the bill has made it out of committee.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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What did they expect from the Caliph-in-Chief?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't get the semantic gibberish over this one. He said "worst atrocities," "massacred," "marched to their deaths," "lives extinguished," "unspeakable suffering." If the Turks want to cross their arms and say "well done" after having been taken to the cleaners simply because the word "genocide" wasn't used, then let them be those fools.

Acting as if Obama was denying it happened by not using one word but every other one in the book is absurd. This was a hundred years ago. Arguing over a word is a disgrace to their memory. We have to live in the here and now, and yes, that includes with Turks. If I can curse at them all day long except for one word, who cares. It's pointless pedantry to insist on enraging the Turks, no matter how correct that word might be. There is nothing to gain and things to lose. We have to deal with the reality that the Turks have a bug over this and think about another word called "diplomacy." It's not like we're eating crow while the Turks laugh at us.

It is what it is and Obama talked about it and accurately.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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