In October of 2008, as the Presidential race was reaching a fevered pitch, then-Senator Barack Obama came out with a statement that was subsequently published by the news site, The Armenian Reporter. It read, in part:
Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the 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. 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.
Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan many of the same brutal tactics - displacement, starvation, and mass slaughter - that were used by the Ottoman authorities against defenseless Armenians back in 1915. I have visited Darfurian refugee camps, pushed for the deployment of a robust multinational force for Darfur, and urged divestment from companies doing business in Sudan. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.
Fast forward to today, which is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, and the President continues to sing a different tune:
President Barack Obama on Wednesday called the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915 "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century," but again broke a 2008 campaign promise to label the tragedy a "genocide." Doing so would have angered NATO ally Turkey.
"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 released by the White House. "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."
Obama, who called the massacre "genocide" during his 2008 run for the White House and vowed to use the term as president, stopped short of doing so in his statement, as he has in the past. Turkey, a NATO member, fiercely disputes the genocide charge and has warned that formal U.S. steps to use the term will hamper relations. Turkey's ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, sharply criticized a similar statement from Obama in 2011, taking to Twitter to denounce it as inaccurate, flawed and one-sided.
Obama Only the Latest in a Long Tradition of Appeasement
Presidential candidates who promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide only to suffer from amnesia after the fact are not new, nor are they limited to Democrats. As a candidate, then-Gov. George W. Bush too called the massacre what it was--an outright genocide conducted by Turkey. In a letter, he said:
The twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first people of the last century to have endured these cruelties. The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity. If elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people.
Once elected President, Mr. Bush not only reneged
on his commitment, he even twisted arms in Congress
to prevent such recognition on a legislative level.
Even President Clinton managed to persuade then-House Speaker Denny Hastert not to bring a sure-to-pass resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide to the House floor.
Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?
On August 22, 1939, a week before the Nazis invaded Poland, Adolf Hitler gave a speech to his commanders at his home in the Bavarian Alps. In it, he said:
I have issued the command—and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad—that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness—for the present only in the East—with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
We know what happened in the following months and years, as six million Jews and six million others all were exterminated by the Nazi regime. Their deaths were brutal, efficient, and absolutely devastating. The Nazis followed a specific blueprint, and it worked to a T.
Seventeen days ago, we observed Yom HaShoah, in remembrance of those who we lose to the Holocaust. My family and many others lit yahrzeit candles in honor of the millions lost. But who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? Certainly not our President. And that is a shame.