Who Should Be More Pitied: Pres. Obama or Naive Armenians?

Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian


For eight years now, Pres. Obama has failed to keep his campaign promise to call the Armenian Genocide a genocide. Yet, for some incomprehensible reason, which can only be described as naiveté, many Armenians in the United States and around the world have kept up the vain hope ever since 2009 — Pres. Obama’s first year in office — that he will use the term Armenian Genocide in 2010 or 2011 or 2012.

When he did not utter those words at the end of his first term in office, these naive Armenians were convinced that Pres. Obama would pronounce them during his second and final term, starting in 2013. They wrongly reasoned that Pres. Obama would be more likely to say genocide then, as he would not run for reelection, and therefore not worry about criticism from either Turkey or his domestic political opponents.

When Pres. Obama continued his refusal to say Armenian Genocide, these same naive Armenians came up with a new reason to keep up their wishful thinking. They thought that since Pres. Obama had dared to reverse the long-standing restrictive U.S. policy on Cuba, he would act with similar boldness on the Armenian Genocide issue! This, of course, proved to be a baseless speculation.

Finally, when all else failed, the naive Armenians expected Pres. Obama to pronounce those two forbidden words on April 24, 2016; his last opportunity to do so. That prediction also did not materialize. In his latest statement, Pres. Obama used every euphemism in the dictionary to describe what happened to the Armenians in 1915, except for the word genocide! Here are the results of the latest verbal gymnastics practiced by Pres. Obama: “mass atrocity; deported; massacred; marched to their deaths; suffered; dark days; tragedy; violence; and horror.” Why is the leader of the most powerful country on earth torturing himself and his aides to come up with so many words, when a single word — genocide — would suffice?

Incredibly, some Armenians crossed all bounds of naiveté, by claiming that since Pres. Obama used ‘Meds Yeghern’ in his annual commemorative statements, that term should be viewed as a fulfillment of his campaign promise and an acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. The problem is that Obama, as a presidential candidate, did not promise that if elected he would say ‘Meds Yeghern.’ On the contrary, he promised to say Armenian Genocide and even insisted that “America deserves a President who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide; I will be that President.” Furthermore, ‘Meds Yeghern’ is not a legal term and has no meaning for non-Armenians. If ‘Meds Yeghern’ is the equivalent of Armenian Genocide, why would Pres. Obama for eight years always use the former and never the latter? While Armenians may be naive, the same cannot be said about Pres. Obama and his aides who know what they are saying and why!

There are two culprits in this nonsensical situation: The first is Pres. Obama who gave a promise that he did not keep, thus misleading all those who trusted him and voted for him; some twice! If Pres. Obama does not mind leaving a legacy of not telling the truth to the American public, that is his problem and not that of the Armenian-American community!

The second culprit consists of all those who desperately, year after year, hoped that Pres. Obama would use the words Armenian Genocide, even though there was no need for such a statement. The Armenian Genocide has been repeatedly recognized by the United States: in a legal document submitted by the U.S. government to the World Court in 1951; two resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives in 1975 and 1984; and Pres. Reagan’s Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981. Why do Armenians seek the words Armenian Genocide, when it has already been stated by a previous president? Does every American President have to use that term before Armenians are satisfied that the Armenian Genocide is indeed recognized by the United States?

Unfortunately, most Armenians confuse the issue of genocide recognition with U.S. governmental policy on Turkey. None of the other countries that are considered to have recognized the Armenian Genocide have an antagonistic policy vis-à-vis Turkey. Nor does the U.S.! All of these countries balance genocide recognition with maintaining normal and even cordial relations with Turkey. The United States should not be construed as not having recognized the Armenian Genocide just because its leaders avoid using that term for misperceived political or economic reasons! One can condemn U.S. policy towards Turkey without questioning its recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In fact, accusing the U.S. government of not having recognized the Armenian Genocide, as many Armenians often do, casts doubt on the veracity of the Genocide and does a great disservice to the Armenian Cause!

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  1. Hsarutuyn said:

    You are exactly right it is time for us to talk and march for our lands reparations it has been recognized all ready we do not need to ask every swinging person to recognize The Armenian Genocide every-time they take office and then try to persuade us that when they r in office they will recognize , zartnek Hayer jan American arten janachela Hayos genocide. jamanakna arten pahanjel

  2. Raffi said:

    verbal gymnastics practiced by Pres. Obama: “mass atrocity; deported; massacred; marched to their deaths; suffered; dark days; tragedy; violence; and horror.” Why is the leader of the most powerful country on earth torturing himself and his aides to come up with so many words, when a single word — genocide — would suffice? ….. FEAR he’s a failed President, during his 8 years Muslim fanatism spread all over the world, sometimes I question myself if Obama is not more faithful to Islam than to Amercia

  3. Bernard said:

    AGREED! There needs to be a shift in concentration. Let’s focus on making movies, museums and education. Our goal is to keep the memory of the Armenian Genocide alive by always publicizing it. A bill will make news for a few days at most. Also, if we stop asking for renewed “recognition” then the government will not have anything left to hold hostage against the Armenian people.

  4. David Karamian said:

    Short term, we need to settle the Artsakh issue and come up with a peaceful resolution while keeping what is ours and returning what is theirs. Secondly, there is a sense of urgency to take care of the current Armenia and stop mass emigration, improve the quality of life in Armenia and make sure we don’t end up with an Armenia empty of its native population. Thirdly, it is unrealistic for us to expect the return of any lands, this is the 21st century and we need to be realistic. Lastly, genocide recognition by US is not as critical as negotiation with the Turkish nation on reparation and some sort of go forward path. I think changing the focus to educating the American and international community through arts, museums, movies and other mediums is critical to the ultimate recognition of the Genocide by the Turkish government. I don’t see why we have to rely on Jews to expose Armenian genocide, while we can do it ourselves. Why not a Genocide museum in Washington DC, spearheaded by the Armenian philantrists? Like Aurora Prize! I don’t see why we can’t make a poweful movie like the Schindler’s list, while we have the best actors, directors, and screen writers to do it ourselves. Fact is that we have the most talented and creative people on this planet, but we are letting our emotions get in the way of logic and what’s possible and realistic! Let’s agree that Turkey regardless of it’s barbaric nature, it is an extremely strategic ally of the West and Armenia cannot change that, unless Turkey implodes and their own people change the perception of the world about themselves. It kills me when I drive through Armenia and see vast vacant lands with not a soul around and bunch of old dilapidated factories. Let’s focus on building businesses and keep our people working in an economically healthy home land.

    • Hagop said:

      Very well said. Building the economy in Armenia is the way forward. However, one thing i disagree with you is your statement with regards to Artsakh. You said “keeping what is ours and returning theirs”. Nothing should be returned, not one inch of land. The surrounding districts of Nagorno-Karabagh liberated by the NKR army serve as a buffer zone for the Armenians living in Stepanakert. It is not viable to give back any land.
      What should be done is shifting the economy in Armenia and creating an environment that is business-friendly and appealing for foreign investors. Pressure the current government by creating a strong, educated civil society. At the same time, investment should also be targeting the army, by modernizing the equipment and improving the technological weaponry. When these two tracks go in parallel, we will witness a prosperous and strong Armenia.

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