President Obama is being attacked from all sides for deciding not to use the word “genocide” when he speaks this Friday about the murders of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century. Armenians are especially upset, of course, but right wing media and politicians are seizing on this to accuse Obama of hypocrisy, because in his 2008 presidential campaign he vowed to recognize the Armenian genocide.
But as usual with decisions like this, there’s a political reason that has to do with the current situation in the Middle East.
After the meeting with Armenian American groups, White House officials released a statement that did not use the word “genocide.” The statement from National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. would use the anniversary of the onset of the massacres to “urge a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts that we believe is in the interest of all parties.”
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment on a diplomatically delicate issue, said the White House expects Obama to mark “the historical significance” of the Meds Yeghern, as the massacres are known in Armenian.
“We know and respect that there are some who are hoping to hear different language this year. We understand their perspective,” the official said.
But, the official added, “the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one, both for acknowledging the past, and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the present,” a reference to U.S. hope for cooperation from Turkey, particularly in the civil war in Syria.
Yes, it’s disappointing that real world politics prevents the Obama administration from using the word “genocide,” but on the other hand they’re strongly urging the Turkish government to acknowledge the truth about their involvement in this massive crime against humanity. This is the difference between running for President and being the President; campaign promises are easy to make, but once in office the reality of foreign policy sometimes necessitates difficult and controversial political choices.
Meanwhile, our stalker pal Chuck C. Johnson is latching onto this issue and attacking President Obama with a series of grotesque tweets that starkly illustrate Chuck’s historical ignorance.
Obama obsessed about Darfur “genocide” (300,000 dead) but won't recognize Armenian genocide (1,500,000 dead). Coward.
Notice that he puts the word “genocide” in quotes when referring to Darfur.
Which one of the presidential candidates will have the courage to call the Armenian genocide a genocide? Is it you, @tedcruz?
Chuck’s hero Ted Cruz has already jumped on this opportunity to bash Obama, of course. But here’s where Johnson really goes off the rails:
Even Hitler recognized the Armenian genocide.
All these people comparing Obama to Hitler get it wrong. Hitler recognized the Armenian genocide.
Did Hitler really “recognize the Armenian genocide?” Well, yes, but of course he didn’t use the word “genocide.” And as a matter of historical fact, Hitler wasn’t really “recognizing” the genocide — he was inspired by it. He reportedly cited the killings of Armenians in a statement to his generals in 1939, as a reason to believe the world would do nothing about his planned campaign of terror and murder against Poland:
Referring to the Armenian Genocide, the young German politician Adolf Hitler duly noted the half-hearted reaction of the world’s great powers to the plight of the Armenians. After achieving total power in Germany, Hitler decided to conquer Poland in 1939 and told his generals: ‘Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my ‘Death’s Head Units’ with the orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?’
So when Chuck unfavorably compares Obama to Hitler, he’s missing the entire point of Hitler’s bloodthirsty reference to the Armenians.