BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
How many times can Secretary of State Hillary Clinton break her pledge and make insulting remarks on the Armenian Genocide before she is called a liar and forced to resign?
Armenian-Americans are fed up with Mrs. Clinton and her boss Barack Obama who also has not kept his promises on the Armenian Genocide. And the problem transcends their views on the Armenian Genocide. The Obama Administration has failed the Armenian-American community on many issues, including cutting foreign aid to Armenia, not backing Artsakh’s right to self determination, and pressuring Armenia to sign a treaty with Turkey that runs counter to its national interests.
In this column, we shall focus on Secretary Clinton, and address our displeasure with Pres. Obama policies later, in the context of the upcoming presidential elections.
As U.S. Senator, Mrs. Clinton co-sponsored a resolution calling for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In 2006 and 2008, joining then Sen. Obama, she sent letters to Pres. George W. Bush, describing the Armenian Genocide as a “systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915…. The victims of the Genocide deserve our remembrance and their rightful place in history.”
On January 24, 2008, as a Presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton declared in a written statement that the “horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constituted a clear case of 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.”
After becoming Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton must have suffered a bout of total amnesia. During a January 26, 2012 Town Hall meeting at the State Department, she reversed her earlier characterization of “clear case of genocide,” to “a matter of historical debate.” While the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide remain unchanged, what must have changed is Secretary Clinton’s moral fortitude to tell the truth!
Clinton’s distorted moral compass outraged the Armenian-American community. The Armenian Assembly of America sent a letter to Pres. Obama complaining about Mrs. Clinton’s “untenable” statement, and the Armenian National Committee of America asked the Secretary to retract her deeply offensive position, parroting Turkey’s revisionist view of the Armenian Genocide.
On February 28, over 60 House members from both parties sent a joint letter to Mrs. Clinton, expressing their “deeply held concerns” regarding her January 26 statement “mischaracterizing the Armenian Genocide.” They urged the Secretary to disavow her “ill-considered statement” and reaffirm her previous commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
On February 29, Cong. Adam Schiff confronted the Secretary of State during her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee. Recalling her earlier truthful statements on the Armenian Genocide, the Congressman bluntly asked: “Is there any question that you have that the facts of that tragic period between 1915 and 1923 constitute genocide? Do you have any different view on the subject now than you did as a U.S. Senator?” When Secretary Clinton responded with evasive and euphemistic answers, Cong. Schiff chided her: “This is, tragically, very much the line of the Turkish government!”
In her March 1 response to the letters from the Armenian Assembly and ANCA, the Secretary once again used euphemisms to avoid the term Armenian Genocide, and urged “Armenia and Turkey to work together to address their shared history.” This is as morally repugnant as avoiding the term Holocaust and urging Jews to work out their differences with neo-Nazis!
Mrs. Clinton’s March 1 letter also describes her 2010 visit to “the memorial at Tsitsernakaberd” in Armenia “as a sign of respect for those who lost their lives during this tragedy.” There are two misrepresentations in this single sentence: she refers to the Genocide as “tragedy,” and avoids calling the “Armenian Genocide Monument” by its proper name. Furthermore, the Secretary did not invite the international media to cover her “low profile” visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument, not to upset the “delicate feelings” of Turkish denialists; and to completely downplay the significance of the visit, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan issued an imprudent press release, describing her brief stop at the “memorial” as “a private,” not official visit.
If Secretary Clinton had made similarly offensive comments on the Holocaust, she would have been dismissed from her job on the same day. Armenian-Americans should demand no less. Fortunately, Mrs. Clinton has announced that she will be retiring at the end of this year. We say goodbye and good riddance!