BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday said the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US “opens a door that is a very dangerous one to go through.” This is the same Hillary Clinton who, four years ago, pledged that she would recognize the Genocide as President of the United States.
Responding to a question from a participant of a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, who asked why the US does not recognize the Genocide, Clinton characterized the Armenian Genocide as an historical issue and not a political one.
“I think it’s fair to say that this has always been viewed, and I think properly so, as a matter of historical debate and conclusions rather than political. And I think that is the right posture for the United States Government to be in, because whatever the terrible event might be or the high emotions that it represents, to try to use government power to resolve historical issues, I think, opens a door that is a very dangerous one to go through. So the issue is a very emotional one; I recognize that and I have great sympathy for those who are just so incredibly passionate about it,” Clinton told the audience.
“But I think the free market of ideas, the academic community, the open architecture of communication that is even greater now than it was in the past, are the proper fora for this kind of engagement, and that’s where I hope it is worked out. And eventually, people will have their own conclusions, which needs to be respected, but we need to encourage anyone on any side of any contentious historical debate to get out into the marketplace of ideas. Muster your evidence, put forth your arguments, and be willing to engage, and that’s what I think should happen on that too,” added Clinton who received a round of applause from the audience.
She also took time to respond to a question from the same person on Monday’s passage of the French Senate resolution criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“…One of our great strengths is we do not criminalize speech. People can say nearly anything they choose, and they do, in our country. And so other countries, including close friends and allies like France, have different standards, different histories, but we are, I hope, never going to go down that path to criminalize speech,” explained the Secretary of State, who seems to have forgotten that there are succinct laws against hate speech in the US, under which people can be prosecuted.
Exactly four years ago this week, then Sen. Clinton had this to say: “I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”
This is, by far, one of the more patronizing statements coming out of the Secretary of State, and the Obama Administration. Her statement today calls into question whether the US has ceased to be “a voice for human rights” or has the definition of that principle changed since Barack Obama took office three years ago. Or, how did the Armenian Genocide, about which she wrote to President Bush become “a dangerous door” in a matter of four years?
Her statements indicate that the US government is beholden to a foreign government—Turkey—in its policy making and is really not an advocate for human rights worldwide but a willing participant in a systematic and calculated campaign of lies that continues to stain Turkey as a citizen of the civilized world.
“The Obama-Biden Administration – with Secretary Clinton’s latest remarks – continues to dig itself deeper and deeper into a hole of complicity in Turkey’s genocide denial,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
“It’s a sad spectacle to see Secretary Clinton hiding behind cynical appeals to scholars – the overwhelming majority of whom have already spoken forcefully against Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide – to divert attention from either President Obama’s, Vice President Biden’s or her own personal promises to properly recognize this crime and, more broadly, to divert attention from America’s failure to meet her moral obligation to stand up against a foreign government’s veto of our defense of human rights,” continued Hamparian.
“The Secretary’s unfounded and offensive references to ‘historical debate’ in regards to the Armenian Genocide only embolden the Turkish Government – which, just today, again took steps toward deporting Armenians,” concluded Hamparian.
The Obama Administration’s latest ploy to massage this ridiculous message is laughable at best and devoid of any credibility. Its defense of Turkish interests at any cost, goes counter to the international community’s conventional wisdom and makes US policymakers seem backward in their approach to human rights issues.
This latest statement by Clinton should not elicit anger, but rather it should further call into question this administration’s ability to effectively lead.