In a Sunday editorial, the Los Angeles Times declared “It’s long past time for a genocide declaration;” [See “Obama’s promises, then and now” (online) “Promises, promises” (print) 3/22].
The LA Times, in continuing its theme kicked off last week of calling President Barack Obama on his campaign promises, claimed that although Obama promised on the campaign trail that he would recognize the genocide, political realities might require him to “defer the promised declaration.”
“On the campaign trail, Barack Obama was very clear. The Armenian genocide was not an ‘allegation’ or a ‘personal opinion’ or a ‘point of view.’ It was, he said, a widely documented fact. He promised that if he were elected, he would issue an official presidential declaration that the mass killings of Armenia’s in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks constituted nothing less than genocide,” explained the editorial.
“But President Obama isn’t so sure. As he prepares for a visit to Turkey next month, his aides have let it be known that the president might have to defer the promised declaration, which Armenian Americans had expected in time for the annual day of remembrance on April 24. The Obama administration has been eagerly soliciting the help of the Turkish government on Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and now, according to the man who once promised to ‘speak truthfully about the Armenian genocide,’ is not the moment to rub the Turks the wrong way,” added the LA Times.
The editorial goes on to explain that “political realities” and “facts learned behind closed doors” might impact the president’s decision as he aspires to find a lasting solution to the Iraq war and other regional considerations. While emphasizing Obama’s positive performance on other campaign promises such as the closure of Guantanamo Bay and stem cell research, the LA Times seems to have concluded that Obama is wavering on this particular campaign pledge.
“Other promises, however, have fared less well. On the Armenian genocide, for instance, principle crashed head-on into realpolitik. It’s undeniable that the U.S. needs Turkey’s help and goodwill; Turkey is the only Muslim country in NATO and a reliable strategic partner in a dangerous, combustible region. Of course Obama is being counseled not to antagonize the Turks; that’s what his predecessor was advised as well,” continued the editorial.
“But as we’ve said before when other politicians have caved to Turkish pressure, denying reality is not the solution. It’s long past time for a genocide declaration, and Obama should get to it quickly. If it doesn’t get done before April 24, it should be done soon after,” asserted the editorial.
The Los Angeles Times should be commended for holding Obama and his administration to a campaign promise so crucial to the Armenian-American community and all those committed to ending the cycle of genocide. It was not long ago that a battle with editorial boards, such as the LA Times, to call the events of 1915 “Genocide” was as uphill as climbing Mt. Ararat.
The Turkish machine has begun a massive campaign to derail Obama’s recognition pledge and the community is urging the president to make good on his promise.
The same political considerations are also behooving the community to not jump the gun and declare that the administration is backtracking on its promise, but rather actively calling on the administration to honor his pledge as we look toward April 24.