U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Should Call Armenian Genocide, a Genocide

Columnist Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian


Everyone knows that Ambassadors have to follow the foreign policy guidelines of their governments and cannot make their own decisions. Yet it is strange that successive U.S. Ambassadors are not allowed to call the Armenian Genocide, a genocide. Just imagine the uproar if a US Ambassador stationed in Israel would refuse to use the term Jewish Holocaust!

Contrary to public misconception even among Armenians, the United States has repeatedly recognized the Armenian Genocide at the highest levels of the government.

Any U.S. government official who refrains from using the term Armenian Genocide is distorting the long-standing record of the United States. As I have repeatedly written, the U.S. government first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 when it submitted an official report to the International Court of Justice, known as the World Court. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted two resolutions in 1975 and 1984 recognizing the Armenian Genocide, and Pres. Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 1981, making a reference to the Armenian Genocide.

Contrast the above U.S. historical record with the evasive statements made by recent U.S. Presidents and Ambassadors to Armenia, with the exception of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans who fearlessly spoke truth to power about the Armenian Genocide, risking his diplomatic career which was cut short in 2006 by the Administration of President George W. Bush.

On December 4, 2018, the proper acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide was discussed once again during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s confirmation hearing, on the nomination of Lynne Tracy as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.

In her opening statement at the hearing, Tracy avoided using the term Armenian Genocide: “Mr. Chairman, the horrific events of 1915, the Meds Yeghern or Great Calamity, when 1.5 million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, must never be forgotten. As President Trump stated on Armenian Remembrance Day this year: ‘As we honor the memory of those who suffered, we [must] ensure that such atrocities are not repeated.’ If confirmed, I pledge to do everything in my power to remember the Meds Yeghern victims and uphold that solemn commitment. We must also look to the future and the opportunities for Armenia’s next generation. Progress toward reconciliation with Turkey can help reduce Armenia’s isolation and bolster its economy. Towards that end, we encourage Turkey and Armenia to acknowledge and reckon with painful elements of the past. If confirmed, I will do my best to support Armenian and Turkish efforts to forge a more peaceful and productive relationship.”

Instead of upholding the U.S. historical record on the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, Tracy cleverly resorted to the old Armenian term “Meds Yeghern” to avoid using the correct term Armenian Genocide. She described “Meds Yeghern” inaccurately as “Great Calamity” which actually means ‘Great Crime.’

After Tracy’s opening statement, Sen. Ed Markey (Dem.-MA) asked her: “It seems unlikely that the Trump Administration will change its long-standing U.S. policy on how we refer to the Armenian Genocide. How do you address calls by the Armenian-American community to call what the 1915 slaughter was, a genocide?”

Tracy answered: “The Trump Administration and I personally acknowledge the historical facts of what took place at the end of the Ottoman Empire — of the mass killings, the forced deportations and marches that ended 1.5 million lives and a lot of suffering. And I will, if confirmed, do everything in my power to acknowledge and respect the losses and the suffering and commit myself to participating in any remembrance activities.”

Sen. Markey concluded: “It’s time for us just to stand up and call it what it was. It helps us in the future to have credibility.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (Dem.-NJ) then followed up with a series of questions to ambassadorial nominee Tracy on the Armenian Genocide: “Do you acknowledge that from 1915 to 1923, nearly 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were killed by the Ottoman Empire?”

Tracy responded: “Yes, Senator. As I stated, the Administration and I acknowledge the historical facts that you have mentioned.”

Menendez: “Do you acknowledge that on May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers — England, France, and Russia — jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing ‘Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization?’”

Tracy: “Senator, I am not aware of that particular event.”

Menendez: “I commanded it to your attention and you give me your written response after you read it. Do you acknowledge that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, an independent Federal Agency, unanimously resolved on April 30th 1981, that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would document the Armenian Genocide in the Museum and has done through the examination of the public record?”

Tracy: “Senator, I will provide a written acknowledgment to you on that.”

Menendez: “Do you acknowledge that Henry Morgenthau, the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, said that the Turkish government’s deportation order for the Armenians was ‘a death warrant to a whole race,’ and ‘made no particular effort to conceal in their discussions with him.’”

Tracy: “Yes, Senator. I acknowledge the facts of that reporting of Ambassador Morgenthau.”

Menendez: “Would you discipline or otherwise punish an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Armenia for an honest remembrance of the Armenian Genocide?”

Tracy: “Senator, I would expect that, as with myself, we follow the policy of the Administration. And, the policy is that we acknowledge the historical facts of the events of 1915 as a mass atrocity and that we participate in any remembrance activities. And, I’ll just say, as a senior leader in the Foreign Service, I am always open to debate on my team. I don’t punish people for expressing their viewpoints. But, as members of the Executive Branch, at the end of the day, we support the President’s policy.”

Menendez concluded: “This is the problem with nominees who come before us, and it’s not you particularly. In fact, we have a historical reality: 1.5 million people were massacred. That’s a genocide. And yet, we send an Ambassador to a country and have them go to a memorial of a holocaust of the Armenian people and yet they won’t be able to call it a genocide. It’s pretty ironic. If we are not able to acknowledge the past, we are destined to relive it. So I hope that the Department [of State], this is not unique to this Department. It’s been going on for a while. We need to change that reality. I gave you a series of questions because I try to give you all the other elements. But the reality is that it seems we cannot have the words come out of our lips — Armenian Genocide. That’s what took place. That’s what history shows. That’s what the world recognizes. That’s what our own Federal Agencies recognize like the Holocaust Museum. So I hope you can look at all the other questions and give me answers in order to get to a better place.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider Tracy’s nomination at a future hearing after she submits her promised written answers to the questions asked by Senator Menendez.

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  1. State of Emergency said:

    It’s not this or any other administration’s policy. It’s the permanent deep state’s policy.

  2. Bob said:

    More than nominations need to be withheld here: State Dept. appropriations as well.
    Does the Holocaust Museum actually mention the “Armenian Genocide”? It should; for had the world adequately addressed this atrocity in the first place and called out all who were complicit therein in a timely manner, is it inconceivable that the nations of the world would have seen to it that the Holocaust of WWII might not have taken place?
    P. S.: I would have nominated John Evans for Secretary of State instead of firing him.

  3. JOE said:

    Thank you Mr. Sasounian…yes, but the difference is that if someone wanted to sue the Turkish government for just reparations and restitution in compensation for the AG, the USA court systems would argue that the US doesn’t have a “formal national conclusion on the AG” and therefore cant enforce the law suit. That’s the only reason the USA, Israel and Great Britain do not “officially” recognize the AG because they would open restitution law suits that must be enforced by the US court systems. Its about money and cover ups by many actors. Lets not fool ourselves.

    • Ararat said:

      The real reason the USA, Great Britain and others don’t officially recognize the Armenian Genocide is because they along with terrorist Turkey, the perpetrator of the premeditated mass murder of 1,500,000 indigenous Armenians, are members of the same club called the NATO alliance. Isn’t it odd that terrorist Turkey is the only Muslim state in the world that is a member of this alliance while most Muslim states, if not all, consider this alliance as their number one adversary? Isn’t it odd that Islamo-fascist Turkish leaders claim they are and act as the “protectors” and the “saviors” of the so-called Muslim World while the Muslim World itself considers the club terrorist Turkey belongs to the main cause for their demise? Ask yourself why is it that opportunist terrorist Turkey would make such claims but never leave this club that the very people it claims it is protecting and saving is suffering from it? Because for so long as terrorist Turkey remains in this club it can bribe and blackmail it and force them to turn a blind eye on their both past and present criminal activities.

      The tricky Turks are fully aware that territories occupied by them, in particular the Western Armenian homeland falsely referred to as eastern Turkey or fabricated eastern Anatolia, are used as buffer zones and lines of defense against the club’s ancient Russian foe and so long as they are in it they can not only feel protected by it but that they can avoid the formal recognition of their past crimes and be able to get away with all sorts of crimes and illegal activities with impunity. In my personal opinion, the Armenian Genocide recognition will being in earnest once terrorist Turkey is no longer a member of this club. As for the state of Israel, well even though they are not member of this club they are indirectly associated with it via their ardent US ally which leads this club. But I would argue more than that they need the spotlight on genocide, for various political reasons, so they will try to monopolize on this issue to overshadow all the others. You would think they would be the first to step forward and formally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, which most likely was a precursor to what happened to their own, yet they have not only refused to do that but even have helped terrorist Turkey to get away with it for their self interests and political agenda in the region!

      • Raffi said:

        Unfortunately Western corrupt politicians sold their values and their forefathers land for crumbs, their civilization is on the brink of disappearing, with over 50+ million Muslims in EU and growing by the day, they have no place to go but to be absorbed by them, Europeans are going to end up like the Indians in US.

      • JOE said:

        Ararat, its actually deeper then that: The reason that Great Britain and Israel do not recognize the Ag is that it would implicate the other real actors who concocted the destruction of the Armenian race and theft of wealth and land. the Turks were used as a tool and NO im not letting them off the hook and minimizing their role and responsibility… Read or google Sir Gerard Lowther, British Ambassador, who witnessed the Young Turk Regime take over and wrote about who they were exactly. Speaks volumes and clarifies the purposeful obtuse nature of specifically England And Israel in their denial efforts.. Follow the money..The USA is easy to understand as its foreign policy is a mirror of Israeli wishes..

  4. jack said:

    THE last time a US Ambassador called Armenian Genocide a GENOCIDE was John Evans who lost his job the very next day

    • Raffi said:

      Shame on US, the world bastion of Freedom, Values, and Justice, to treat US Ambassador John Evans the way they treated for calling Armenian Genocide a GENOCIDE.

  5. Raffi said:

    ……Just imagine the uproar if a US Ambassador stationed in Israel would refuse to use the term Jewish Holocaust!…… American’s don’t dare do such an act, Americans don’t count, US is owned by Israel.

  6. Daniel Bedouny Mekhjian said:

    Nuestro gobierno no habla de Genocidio. Dice estar pronto para normalizar relaciones con Turquía sin condiciones. ¿ Qué podemos esperar de los demás?

    • Raffi said:

      Me imagino que tienen algún plan, aunque yo preferiría que NO tuvieran relación alguna hasta que NO se aclarar el asunto del Genocidio.

  7. Harut Sassounian said:

    Joe, you have now come up with a new excuse to justify the ignorance of those of who say that the US government does not recognize the AmenIan Genocide. What does it mean: “formal national conclusion on the Armenian Genocide?” There is no such thing! Have you checked to see what other countries have done to merit listing them as recognizing the Armenian Genocide? They have simply passed a resolution in their parliaments. The United States has done much more than that, as I explained in my article. What we need is not any more recognition. We have all the recognition we need. We need a change in the foreign policy orientation of the US government. Let’s not confuse foreign policy with tecognition.

    • Raffi said:

      I have always wondered, the purpose of the recognition of the Genocide as Genocide, is it for legal aspects of recovering the Armenian land, claim reparation and restitution, oblige the execution of the Wilsonian treaty, or it’s just a simple moral issue. If it’s for moral issue only, Turks are savages and it should be their problem not ours.

    • JOE said:

      Mr. Sassounian, no I understand what your saying and am not creating excuses. My only point is that ultimately any US recognition is for eventual justice of some sort. All past law suits however, were thrown out or disregarded by all US judges as saying that “the US has no formal conclusion on the Armenian Genocide as an official policy”, or something to that effect, and therefore are unable to be enforced. It seems that all past US conclusions for the recognition of the AG that you mention, doesn’t hold up in a legal format? Otherwise if it did, lets all start the legal proceeding for compensation and just restitution, which non of us are doing.

  8. harry manawelian said:


  9. Krikor Aghajanian said:

    In my opinion, the US’ refusal to accept thecArmenian genocide is directly related to pressure from Israel. It is, to me, that simple. Israel does not wish to have the focus taken away from their genocide by having one that offered earlier.