Alex Massie Alex Massie

Forgetting the Armenians, 2009 Edition

At the New Republic Mike Crowley picks up where this post left off and lays-out the familiar arguments on US recognition of the Armenian genocide. It’s tough for the Armenians: all they have on their side is principle (and Obama’s campaign promises) while, as Crowley points out, the Turks have realpolitik and a well-oiled lobbying machine (that currently employs the combined efforts of Dick Gephardt and Denny Hastert) that takes opposing any formal, President-endorsed recognition of the genocide very seriously indeed. As Mike reports:

Obama can be forgiven for dodging the explosive subject of genocide while he is a guest in Ankara next week. But, when the Armenians’ annual day of genocide remembrance comes on April 24, the White House will be expected to release a statement. In the past, these proclamations have been exercises in strained euphemism. Last year, for instance, George W. Bush lamented “mass killings and forced exile” and “epic human tragedy”–but did not use the term “genocide.” The Armenian-Americans who supported Obama in November (John McCain never endorsed genocide recognition) expect him to use the occasion to say the magic word. But sources on Capitol Hill and those familiar with Ankara’s thinking both predict Obama will punt on the issue. “I fully expect him to fold,” laments one human rights activist who wishes otherwise. “I would be shocked if he didn’t.” But the real shock should be in seeing Obama break such a clear promise. Reasonable people can differ on whether recognizing the genocide is worth the possible consequences. It is not debatable, however, that Obama made a promise, or that he ran as a man of integrity and principle. To be sure, Obama’s high-minded rhetoric has always concealed a deeply rooted pragmatism (think of the convenient difference between troops and “combat troops” in Iraq). But there is a line between pragmatism and hypocrisy, and Obama may be about to cross it.

All true.

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