Samantha Power’s Comments Renew Obama’s Genocide Recognition Issue

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (Photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

NEW YORK—Comments made by the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, who lamented that denial of the Armenian Genocide contributed to continued injustices around the world, has renewed the debate over the Obama Administration’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide—a campaign promise that he did not keep as president.

Speaking at an event honoring Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Power hailed the human rights activist and said that “Genocide against the Armenians” was one the reasons that injustices continue to this day.

In covering Power’s remarks, the Associated Press asked: “Has the Obama administration quietly recognized the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide?”

The Associated Press also cited Obama’s campaign pledge to recognize the Genocide, and his subsequent failure to do so, which the news agency said “has angered advocates and lawmakers who have accused the president of outsourcing America’s moral voice to Turkey.”

The AP also said that Power’s statement was surprising given her position as the United States’ second highest ranked diplomat adding that the statement “sounded like her implicit criticism of Obama.”

Kurtis Cooper, Power’s spokesman, said the genocide reference came in the context of honoring Wiesel’s life and were meant to “convince others to stand up, rather than stand by, in the face of systemic injustice, mass atrocities and genocide like the one he was forced to endure,” reported the Associated Press adding the Cooper said they don’t reflect a change in administration policy.

A similar sentiment was expressed by State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who asserted that there has been no change in U.S. policy.

“The president and other senior administration officials have repeatedly mourned and acknowledged as historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests,” Toner said, according to the AP.

Before becoming an adviser and later the Unites States’ Ambassador to the UN, Power was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote extensively about America’s responses to genocide, criticizing the U.S.’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.

According to officials, Power has lobbied had behind the scenes for Obama to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Power released a video urging Armenian-Americans to vote for Obama, who, she insisted would follow through on his campaign promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide.


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  1. John Poole said:

    I guess Power didn’t know Obama as well as she thought she knew him. Obama serves the plutocracy and the ruling elite has made it clear that the Armenian Genocide recognition garners no political capital.

  2. Red-neck Robert said:

    Let us applaud truth speaking, whatever the political stripe from whence it comes.

  3. garbis korajian said:

    I know Samantha Powers quite well from my days at Harvard University. She was the Director of Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. When she was writing her famous book, A Problem from Hell, I attended many of her workshops. She was the epitome of courage and possessed the highest level of knowledge in many of the world’s Genocides. Characteristic to her, she was always critical of President Clinton and his unwillingness to raise a single figure before and during the Rwanda Genocide. In her book, she has given us an excellent coverage of the Armenian Genocide, without any fear and retribution from the Turkish Government. Nonetheless, when she became UN Ambassador, representing the United States, she never mentioned a word about the Armenian Genocide. How strange for someone who always defended justice and deplored Genocides. The few words she pronounced on the Armenian Genocide at the Elie Wiesel event came too little too late. The culprit for her behavior is ‘REALPOLITIC” Meaning, American interests are paramount; the rest does not matter. Within that context, Samantha Powers did her job well and understood like her boos, President Obama, that Turkey is and will always be far more important for the Americans than us Armenians will ever be. End of the story.

    • Raffi said:

      Life is about struggle, nothing stays the same, for sure US will recognize the Genocide, Armenians endured thousands of years, US did not a thousand yet, the will and the patience of the people will make US recognize the Genocide, what meaning has life without struggle.

  4. Sarkis Nazarian said:

    Dr. Power is an honest, courageous person, but was muzzled by the State Department. Rather than rue her and Obama for remaining silent on the Armenian Genocide, let us acknowledge that at least they understood the problem, but were too timid to stand up to the State Department and the US Military-Industrial Complex (Eisenhower’s words, not mine). Armenia and Artsakh will have a rough run for the next eight years with Trump, his Azerbaijani and Turkish buddies, and Netanyahu. God help them.