Politicians Should be Held Accountable for Their Pledges

DETROIT–For American Armenia’s, campaign pledges by ranking US officials to recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915 as a crime against humanity ran’s as a commitment of truth and integrity. When George W. Bush sought the Republican nomination for president in 2000, he sent a signed letter, dated Feb. 19, 2000 to two influential Armenian businessmen who took activist leadership roles in the arena of American politics. In that letter to Edgar Hagopian of Detroit and Vasken Setrakian of New York Bush wrote that "if elected president, I would ensure that our nation properly recognize the tragic suffering of the Armenian people." While focusing on the issue, Bush went on to stress that "the twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide" The then governor of Texas anchored his pledge by stressing "the Armenia’s were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension." But since his election over Al Gore and reelection victory over John Kerry, the Republican president has refused to refer to "genocide" in his annual statemen’s observing the 1915 Turkish genocide of the Armenian people, in which more than 1.5 million were massacred in the then eastern provinces of Ottoman Turkish-occupied Armenia. While some devout Armenian Republicans defend Bush’s false genocide pledge as the work of the US State Department, the fact remains that the secretary of state is appointed by the president. In essence the president calls the shots and should not be allowed to pass the buck. I’ve heard some Armenia’s say "Bush will include genocide in his annual statement before leaving the White House." Sure. Just more false promises to win Armenian votes and money for the GOP presidential nominee in the 2008 election. Well, my fellow Armenian Americans, don’t count on it. To this day Bush has refused to accept any blame for the invasion of Iraq, citing faulty intelligence that led to the costly war and he feels he owes us no truthful answer at failing to keep his 2000 genocide campaign pledge. But politics works many wonders as witnessed in the 2006 mid-term elections. With the US House of Representatives now under Democratic control, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California will assume the office of "Speaker of the House,"with assurances she will "properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide," a positive pledge to American Armenia’s. During Congressman Dennis Hastert’s rule as House Speaker, congressional attempts to get the genocide resolution up for a vote was always blocked by the Illinois Republican. Now it will be Democrat Pelosi who will call the question. But before Armenia’s on the Democratic side jump with joy, let me remind them that when the genocide resolution had gained strong support in the US House when the Democrats controlled the White House, it was President Bill Clinton who placed the infamous call to Hastert to table the calling of a genocide resolution vote, as Clinton bowed to the whims of the Turkish lobby and its ally in Jerusalem. Clinton’s feeble excuse was he did not want to offen Turkey, America’s so-called ally in the Middle East. Why should we place importance on passage of a genocide resolution? Passage would mean the US Congress and the White House fully accept the Ottoman Turkish crimes of 1915 as genocide, a government inspired crime against humanity. And it should not end there. We need to implement a well executed plan that deman’s Turkey return to present-day Armenia the territories of the May 28, 1918 Armenian Republic. Turkey needs to be reminded that it illegally seized Armenian territory of the 1918 republic, and to a greater scope, the province of "Wilson Armenia" that were drawn by World War I President Woodrow Wilson at the request of the then League of Nations. That’s why Turkish leaders, past and present, deny a genocide had taken place. Admission would open the doors to world debate that the Turkish occupied provinces of Erzeroum, Moush, Van, Bitlis, Kars and Ardahan belong to Armenia. So my fellow Armenia’s, the genocide issue goes beyond mere recognition. For Turkey to continue denial of a genocide remains a crime, and when US officials pledge to call 1915 a genocide and then break that vow after their election, – they’re equally guilty of crimes against humanity. During the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, the three "commanders-in-chief" used the genocide term. Reagan said it while dedicating the groundbreaking for the Holocaust Memorial in Washington, while Carter and Ford repeated their geocide remarks to inquiries raised by this writer while editor of the Macomb Daily. The current president will not, nor did he ever respond to the genocide question we raised in letters sent to his attention. With a national election on the docket for 2008, the Democratic-controlled US House under Pelosi can exercise its power and commitment to the Armenian people in 2007 by adopting a genocide resolution for Bush’s approval or rejection. For Bush, it will place the issue right on his Oval Office desk, and not allow him to dodge the question by blaming faulty intelligence as has been his lame excuse on the loss of 3,000 American lives in his misdirection in Iraq. For Democrats, it wil be time to deliver or just shut up and not pass the buck on to the State Department as they did during Clinton’s years in the White House. Pelosi is in charge of the US House. Now it’s up to the majority Dems to force Bush’s hand. Please, no more phony campaign promises.

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