A Year Later, the ‘Hope’ is Fading

Obama-Election-Night-2008

It was late in the afternoon on Friday, October 31, 2008. We were forced to stop the presses on our November 3 issue and publish a statement we had just received entitled “Barack Obama: Supporting U.S.-Armenia Relations,” issued four days before the now-historic elections of last year.

“The Armenian Genocide, carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulted in the deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians, and approximately 1.5 million of those deported were killed. Barack Obama believes we must recognize this tragic reality and strongly supports a U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy.” The statement went on to note “Barack Obama strongly supports passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106) and will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

The “Hope for Change” which guided me and millions of Americans to the polls on November 4, 2008 began to fade in April, when President Obama failed to recognize the Genocide and instead perpetuated a series of events that currently endanger Armenia’s national security but also cast a shadow on the Armenian Genocide.

Fast forward to October 2009 and President Obama, in outlining his administration’s policy on Sudan said: “Our conscience and our interests in peace and security call upon the United States and the international community to act with a sense of urgency and purpose. First, we must seek a definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses and genocide in Darfur. Second, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South in Sudan must be implemented to create the possibility of long-term peace. These two goals must both be pursued simultaneously with urgency. Achieving them requires the commitment of the United States, as well as the active participation of international partners. Concurrently, we will work aggressively to ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe-haven for international terrorists.”

In discussing the same initiative, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of the “Genocide that’s taking place in Darfur” and the US commitment to addressing this gross violation of human rights.

If by “international partners,” Obama was referring to Turkey, then how would he explain the announcement Wednesday—a year after his historic election—that Turkey has no intention of arresting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir despite an international arrest warrant for him by the International Criminal Court, when he visits Turkey next week.

The glaring double-standard in the Obama administration’s treatment of Genocide and its policies toward Genocide deniers signals that the aforementioned policy either might not go anywhere, or, if it does, it would contradict the president’s earlier refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Enough ink has been given to Obama distancing himself from his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Had he stopped at that, we, as a community, would have been upset and critical of a president who did not honor his campaign pledge. But this administration had other plans that are even worse than reneging on a campaign promise, and can be considered collusion in and complicity to deny the Genocide by casting doubt on its veracity.

The White House and the State Department can claim, until they are blue in the face, that the US role in the dangerous Armenia-Turkey protocols was that of a mere supporter. It was not. This was apparent in statements made from the beginning of this process, all the way to the now-infamous delay of the Zurich signing of the protocols.

In fact, this process began long before the Obama administration took office and its blueprint was created by the Bush Administration. However, as adeptly as Obama has been able to reverse some of his predecessor’s policies, he not only chose to not touch this one, but he increased his and his administration’s hand in the machinations of the deal. This has resulted in him not just contradicting himself about his campaign promise to recognize the Genocide but has made him a central figure in Turkey’s campaign to deny it. Whatever happened to Obama’s daring message to the Turkish people last March, when he urged them to come to terms with their own history?

Another contradiction of this administration is how quickly Turkey became a cause- celebre for Obama’s foreign policy priorities, while the same president and his administration continue to condemn nations that deny the Holocaust, carry out Genocide and, on the domestic front, forces who he accuses of human rights violations.

If Iran’s Mahmoud Ahamadinejad is painted as a pariah—rightfully—for calling the Holocaust a lie, then what sets him apart from Turkey’s Abdullah Gul for denying the Armenian Genocide? This denial is more unacceptable for Gul, because he is perpetuating a crime organized and committed by his ancestors.

By backing—if not authoring—the protocols, the Obama administration casts doubt on any other effort it undertakes to rid the world of injustice and Genocide as he so eloquently set out to do during his campaign and when he became president.

Obama’s campaign promises of hope and change, which propelled many of us to go to the polls last year, are fading. Next month, when he meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, President Obama can address these issues, including setting his record straight on the Armenian Genocide and asking his “international partner” about Turkey’s refusal to adhere to international norms.

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17 Comments

  1. Azad S said:

    I feel betrayed by Democrats and especially the Obama Administration.

    The charade that was hope has dissipated to absolute despair and has made a mockery of America’s supposed values.

    The next time a politician comes whining to my community events about voter apathy and hope, I will sternly remind them of October 10th, 2009 and the string of broken promises made by their predecessors before having them escorted out of my face.

  2. Adrienne Mahtesian-Chavez said:

    Did you really think Obama would do the right thing??? I didn’t and I didn’t vote for him. Pay attention. Most of what he says and does is motivated by his childish need to be liked. I will never forgive him for going around the world shortly after his election and APOLOGIZING for my country’s deeds! How DARE he! He is not a man of honor nor is he “presidential”.

  3. Alex Postallian said:

    I hope The Armenians have learned a big lesson!!!!! Obamaand Bush both lied about supporting and reconizing the Armenian Genocide. When do you know when a politician is LYING. When they open their mouth..

  4. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    On the 3rd of November, U.S. Democrats were badly beaten at the New York and New Jersey elections. And it is because of breaking Presidential Promise! The right powers in the Heavens are working, aren’t they? When President Obama meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in December, he will have to confess that the Turkish Freundschaft is too expensive for the Democratic Party of the United States of America.
    jeshmarid@yahoo.com

  5. sarkis bardezian said:

    I think we sent some message to Obama administration, in N.j. and Virginia. Armenian americans in N.j., voted about at least 70,0000 votes against Obama supported governer, in North Jersey and South N.J., (near Cambden and Philly suberbs). Virginianian in No Virginia and Richmind, voted protest votes also, estimated by our counts at about 450000 votes. Both candidates supported by Obama lost. Armanian voters did contibute, including 17 members of my extended family in N.J.. THIS WAS A PROTEST VOTE. In 2010, all other states hopefully will follow the same lead. Armanians were lied to very badly and insulted by false promisses. We do not forget.Our strenghth is the voting rights. Mr. Obama, please keep your pledge of genoside recognition on April 24, 2010

  6. Vahé Agababian said:

    Why do Armenians expect President Obama to put the interest of the Armenian Nation ahead of the interests of the United States of America? …. because ???

  7. Lusik said:

    I am not a lawyer. If I were an Armenian lawyer, if I were an Armenian Lawyer for Human Rights, I would take him to the court.

    I would charge him with
    a) Lying openly without remorse or shame into a face of the Armenian nation;
    b) Designing immoral foreign policy envisioning final destruction of the Armenian nation, meaning
    i) essential document signing ceremonies with corrupted leaders;
    ii) media silencing concerning the true terms;
    iii) hysteria-driven enforcement of opening of borders to an invader;
    c) Trivializing the genocide – forcing victim to obey the perpetrator;
    d) Brokering the spirit of the nation by transforming the recognition of the Artsakh into a mockery.

  8. John said:

    Why blame Obama. After all, he was the THIRD US PRESIDENT to promise the Armenians justice only to do a 180′ when in office. Blame the fraudulent elected Armenian President who “secretly” negotiated the protocols; the doom for all Armenians!

  9. John K. said:

    Whinning does not help. Enough is enough! Lets take some action! Let us show the bastards in Washington that we mean business! Let us kick them where it hurts! Let us kick the incumbents out of office! Regardless of our political afiliation, vote for the other guy! Only then the bastards in Washington would listen to us! If we show them that we can change the balance of power in Washington then they will come begging for our support. We have been deceived one too many times. We don’t want empty promises anymore! We will judge them by their actions! LETS VOTE THE INCUMBENTS OUT!

  10. Varant said:

    Wake up Ara! Hope is not fading. It’s faded! It’s gone…votes and campaign contributions all down the drain.

    I WANT TO SEE A SIGNED LEGAL DOCUMENT BY THE NEXT PATHETIC BUFFOON SEEKING OFFICE WHO PROMISES TO DO ANYTHING FOR ARMENIA OR ARMENIAN AMERICANS BEFORE HE EVEN CONSIDERS BEGGING ME FOR MY VOTE.

    UNTIL THEN THEY GET NOTHING. NO MONEY. NO VOTE. NADA.

  11. Pat said:

    Vahe Agababian hit the nail on the head, unless Armenians establish the level of influence and economic might that Jews in America possess, US national interests (despite how hypocritical and slimy they seem) will not supersede that of the small nation known as our homeland, Armenia. At the same time, Armenians should not see this as an excuse to remain Diasporans longer and longer to “gain more momentum” because the longer Armenians remain in the Diaspora, the more of our identity is lost through inter-marriage and assimilation.

    Israel began as a colony of 40,000 Jews, today it is a nation of 5 million Jews with Diasporan Jews IMMIGRATING to Israel each year from the US, Europe, and former Soviet states. Armenia became independent with a population of at least 4 million individuals, today it harbors 2.5-3.0 million Armenians, a 25% decline largely due to the promotion of emigration that the Diaspora has supported with its continued stubborn delusional policy of believing that Armenian identity can be maintained indefinitely outside of Armenia.

    The spoiled attitude of Diasporans refusing to settle in their own homeland has actually promoted and motivated ethnic Armenians to leave Armenia for “greener pastures abroad” while day by day Azeri populations grow from 5 million in the 1990s to today’s Azeri population of more than 8 million strong. Instead of settling in the now long sought INDEPENDENT Armenia, Diasporans are doing what they stupidly do best, build more Armenian churches, schools, and “miyutyoons”, enough is enough already.

    Diasporan Armenians need to wake up from their slumber and realize that the future of Armenian identity and survival is in Armenia and population growth IN Armenia, not building churches abroad on foreign soil; rather than dictating how Armenia should be while drinking lattes at Starbucks, Diasporan Armenians should instead realize that they will lose what they do not claim as their own by living on their own soil.

  12. John K. said:

    Comment to Sarkis Bardezian above, it is great that the Armenians in New Jersey have defeated the candidates supported by Obama. But thats not enough. We should tell the stupid politicians that “WE THE ARMENIANS DID IT!” and we should take credit for it. Tell them that we were fed-up with their lies and broken promises and that we will avenge anybody that double cross the Armenians, we will beat them in the polls in the future as we did it in New Jersey. WELL DONE!

  13. Harout said:

    Armenia & Armenian Nation is “SOLDOUT” by Armenia’s government. “they were serving themselves Not the Armenian People”
    Who to blame? Blame to all those who voted for all of them and not to truly devoted candidates.

  14. John K. said:

    I disagree with Pat. In 1946 hundreds of thousands of Armenians went back to Armenia. They sold everything at dirt cheap prices and went to Armenia only to be disappointed. Not only they almost starved, they were ridiculed by the local Armenians and were called all kinds of names e.g . AGHPER (meaning garbage). After the independence in 1991, again many Armenians from the Diaspora went to Armenia to invest and they were robbed by the local MAFIA. As long as the country is run by the MAFIA, no Armenian from the Diaspora will be stupid enough to go there. I have read stories about the Iraqi Armenians who immigrated to Armenia, they were ridiculed because they did not speak good Armenian. They interviewed some of them and they said and I quote “we prefer to go back to Iraq and live under constant bombing then live here”. So get off your high horse and face reality Pat!

  15. sammy said:

    Pat and John K; I agree with both of you actually. I think that we should have as a mission to repatriate to Armenia, but this is not possible to do within one generation. First there has to be real change in the Armenian government to get rid of the corruption. Second Armenians must be granted automatic citizenship starting with dual citizenship all over the world without any hassles.

    Third, it is not realistic to say if we are true Armenians then we must go there instead of sipping on latte and complaining. For many of us that is the life we have come to establish for ourselves outside of Armenia and we have jobs, businesses, families, friends that we are connected to. It is not realistic to expect all these people to drop everything and venture into the unknown. Finally the “rule of law” (by western standards) must be established in Armenia in order for the diaspora to relocate at some future date. Without this no one will go there and Armenia is a doomed nation.

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