Past U.S. Administrations, at the expense of our national interests and commonly-held values, have for close to a century dealt with the Armenian Genocide down at the level of Turkey’s threats, accepting what can only be described as a foreign government’s “gag-rule” on our nation’s defense of human rights.
America’s willingness to stand up against genocide has all too often been treated, to our nation’s shame, not as a moral imperative, but rather as a geo-political commodity that has been either callously bartered away or retreated from under threats of retribution.
We must, as a nation, finally and fundamentally change how we address this issue, raising this human rights priority to where it belongs, at the level of American values.
President Obama’s strong record of the Armenian Genocide recognition reflects his understanding of the need for this change. He has made the case for recognition forcefully, publicly, and repeatedly over the course of the past five years, stressing that a policy that requires U.S. officials to resort to strained reasoning or outright falsehood is morally wrong and, as a practical matter, needs to be changed. His pledge on this score are remarkably clear and direct:
“America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.”
The President, in honoring his pledge, will keep faith not only with his own values and the trust of the American people, but also with key leadership across the U.S. government and the world, including Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, cabinet secretaries LaHood, Solis, and Salazar, CIA Director Panetta, House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and leaders in both houses of Congress, all of whom have supported Armenian Genocide recognition. Forty-one U.S. states have, to date, recognized the Armenian Genocide, as have over 20 countries, including 12 NATO allies.
Michael Crowley’s article in The New Republic, appropriately titled “Ethics Cleansing”, make the point most clearly. “To be sure, Obama’s high-minded rhetoric has always concealed a deeply rooted pragmatism (think of the convenient difference between troops and “combat troops” in Iraq). But there is a line between pragmatism and hypocrisy, and Obama may be about to cross it.”
The moral case is powerfully compelling; the historical record thoroughly documented; the President’s record consistently principled, and his pledges crystal clear.
As citizens, we need not today repeat, once again, the case for Armenian Genocide recognition, because President Obama, in his own words on more than a dozen occasions, has publicly articulated in a clear, thoughtful, and forceful manner the urgent need to end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. To his great credit, he has, before the world, committed, as a matter of principle, to full and unequivocal U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The path forward for the President is clear. This April, the time has come for truth, for progress, for change.
Editor’s Note: Aram Hamparian is the executive director of the Armenian Natinoal Committee of America.