BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I must give credit to fellow columnist, Harut Sassounian, for inspiring this piece with his “10 Reasons Why Obama Should Travel to Armenia on April 24” that appeared last week. He took a positive approach. My disgust with the Obama administration’s extensively anti-Armenian, pro-Turkish, and pro-Azerbaijani policies has resulted in the cynicism, sarcasm, and snark that mark this piece. I ask readers’ indulgence and tolerance in this respect. Maybe reverse psychology will work on this president who came into office inspiring such great hope, but beyond passage of “Obamacare” has been an utter disappointment not because of bad policy (in most cases), but because of a lack of backbone.
Here are my ten reasons for Air Force One to stay away from Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport:
1. If Obama goes and pays proper respect to Armenians, Genocide victims, and the Americans who raised millions of dollars to save the lives of Armenian orphans, he would have to accord appropriate and proper respect to the Orphan Rug woven by young Genocide survivors and delivered as a gift of gratitude to President Calvin Coolidge. We wouldn’t want him flip-flopping on policy, would we?
2. By visiting Armenia on this centennial occasion, Obama might actually have to resort to using the rigor of his legal training as a constitutional scholar and use his brain to affirm what numerous other U.S. officials and bodies have done in the past, recognize the Genocide for what it legally is. Given how much faster presidents age while in office, we certainly wouldn’t want to stress him any more, would we?
3. Since Obama has ruined his reputation among Armenians extensively, regaining that trust will be extremely difficult. Instead, he might end up catching a shoe with his face while visiting Armenia, home of the oldest known shoe. We wouldn’t want Armenia’s reputation sullied thus, nor Obama’s by having him become like George “Dubya” Bush, would we?
4. If Obama visited Armenia to mark the Genocide’s centennial and in so doing helped put Armenia-Turkey relations on a rational, justice-based, path to the future, he would damage the huge “reconciliation” industry that the U.S. has. We wouldn’t want him (or Armenians) to become known as an impediment to an improved economy at this time of a still-weak recovery, would we?
5. On such a visit, should Obama urge Turkey to lift its blockade (which under international law is an act of war) of Armenia while viewing the majesty of Mt. Ararat, he would further damage his friendship with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. We know “it’s lonely at the top” so we wouldn’t want Obama to lose what few “friends” he has left, would we?
6. If, in light of Azerbaijan’s ever-more-frequent border attacks, Obama stressed Washington’s strong support for a peaceful resolution to the Gharapagh conflict, he would ruin his reputation as a (subtle) war-monger – think Syria, drones, and kill orders. We wouldn’t want to tarnish his name in this arena, would we?
7. If Obama were to use such a visit as a counter-balance to Armenia’s joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, he would once again be demonstrating good sense, and contradicting current, very disruptive, American encirclement/agitation policies in Russia’s “near-abroad” (i.e. Russia’s perceived sphere of influence) – think Ukraine and Azerbaijan. We wouldn’t want an American president to be perceived as inconsistent, would we?
8. Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Yerevan’s invitation to attend Genocide centennial commemorations, so he and Obama might meet there, since the latter is not planning on going to Moscow for the World War II Victory Day celebrations. Of course this absence is meant to serve as sign of disapproval over Russia’s activities in Ukraine. But, just by meeting with Putin, Obama would be giving in a bit, which could be seen as an admission of error on Ukrainian policy. We wouldn’t want an American president to be perceived as anything but infallible, would we?
9. A visit to Yerevan on such an important occasion would be a goodwill gesture (or sop) to the Armenian community in the U.S. But, again this would be at odds with Obama’s fairly consistent dissing of this very community. We wouldn’t want inconsistency in President Obama’s domestic policies any more than in foreign policy, would we?
10. Obama would be the first U.S. president to visit the Republic of Armenia. He is already the first African-American president. We wouldn’t want him to be greedy and grab too many firsts, would we?
Please consider these profound “problems” that would result from Obama accepting the invitation to properly honor the Genocide’s victims and actually honor his pre-election pledge, and let him know what you think.