January 16, 2017
In his initial 2008 run for office presidential candidate Barack Obama said this to the Armenian community: “Two years ago, I criticized the secretary of state for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term ‘genocide’ to describe Turkey’s slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. … As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan many of the same brutal tactics – displacement, starvation, and mass slaughter – that were used by the Ottoman authorities against defenseless Armenians back in 1915 … America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.
This was Obama’s great paean to morality and human rights back in 2008 – Prior to him officially taking office.
Before I break down why this is one of the biggest letdowns of the Obama legacy (yes, bigger than Obamacare), here’s a quick history lesson.
As of 301 A.D., Armenia became the first Christian nation in history. For centuries, the country flourished and grew. Things took a turn for the worse roughly around the 15th century, when Armenia was absorbed by the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
As the Ottoman empire crumbled through the 1800’s, Armenians grew weary living as second-class citizens under the Islamic regime. As they pushed for independence, the Ottoman Turks objected violently. In the mid-1890’s, the Sultan unleashed an armada, massacring some 300,000 Armenians in what would be called Hamidian massacres.
Years later, during the early 20th century, Ottoman reformers known as the Young Turks ousted the Sultan. Eventually, a trio of Islamists from the Young Turks, known as the Pashas, seized power. Perceiving the resilient Christian Armenian population as a threat, they set out to exterminate them. On April 24, 1915, 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were rounded up and shipped off to be executed. Through the First World War, the Ottoman Turks carried out what became the first genocide of the 20th century, wiping out 75 percent of the Armenian population – a million and a half human beings.
Being masked by the scope and scale of the First World War, the unspeakable Ottoman atrocity was not instantly known to the rest of the world.
The phrase “Armenian genocide” did not even appear in the New York Times until 2004. (The New York Times taking 89 years to accurately report something is actually better than their usual record.)
With the history lesson out of the way, let us get back to our nominal leader of the free world.
Obama’s first major opportunity to actually fulfill his promise to the Armenians came on March 5, 2010. The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 23-22 on a resolution that officially recognized the genocidal mass extermination of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
Generally, this sort of action would suggest the wheels are in motion. Alas, news reports indicated that the Obama administration buried the resolution.
Reported by the Los Angeles Times: “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressing concern it could ‘impede progress on normalization of relations’ between Turkey and Armenia, according to an administration spokesman.”
April 2015, was the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Barrack Obama not only decidedly doubled down on his continued denial of the Ottoman atrocities, but somehow mustered the temerity to spend the week opening a Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center with Turkey’s fundamentalist Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan.
Last December in fact, Asia Times reported that under Erdogan, Turkey surpassed China to become the world’s top jailer of journalists. As I’ll detail below, Obama’s pathetic appeasement of Turkey’s pitiless Prime Minister, notorious for jailing journalists, satirists and really anyone he dislikes on a lark, is no one-off. Kowtowing to despots is practically his policy platform.
Let us briefly recap the Obama foreign policy.
Barack Obama laughed, sneering at Republicans for even suggesting that Russia was a geopolitical foe in 2012. He then effectively did nothing when Vladimir Putin had Russian forces invade Ukraine, annexing Crimea in 2014. Finally, Obama cried and blamed the Russians when his legacy and policies were rejected wholesale by the American people in the 2016 election.
Obama drew a red line in Syria and promised there would be consequences should Bashar Al Assad militarily engage dissidents with weapons of mass destruction. Al Assad responded, “I’ll call your red line, and raise you a blood-red ocean!” As he butchered civilians, unleashing chemical weapons on the masses, killing hundreds of thousands. Obama did nothing.
In December of 2014, Obama promised to “only visit Cuba if liberty and freedom had increased on the island.” He proceeded to completely ignore that and pay Communist dictator Raul Castro a visit as he literally rounded up political dissidents and jailed them, humiliating America on the world stage.
On the theocratic Iranian regime – the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism – Obama signed over a hundred-fifty-billion-dollars a year in sanctions relief, lifted arms and missile embargoes, all while admitting that the deal would only delay’s Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, not block it. Topping off this diplomatic debauchery, the Obama administration recently approved shipment of nearly 130 tons of natural uranium to Tehran.
This is Barack Obama’s legacy: empowering brutal autocrats and their oppressive regimes around the world while abandoning allies and moral principles. Despite his preening of hope, change and whatever else the focus groups came up with, Obama brazenly broke his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide – which, unlike Obama’s legacy, isn’t going to be forgotten.