Now that both political parties have selected their presidential and vice presidential nominees, we can better judge which side is more supportive of Armenian issues.
As the Democratic National Convention came to a close last Thursday night, Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden, briefly met at a private reception with a large and enthusiastic group of supporters.
As they were hastily making the rounds and shaking the hands of supporters, my young son, Aram, told Sen. Biden: "Thank you for your commitment to the Armenian community." Sen. Biden, looking squarely in his eyes, emphatically replied: "I don’t know anybody more committed than me."
Those who have followed Sen. Biden’s distinguished career in the U.S. Senate have no doubt about the accuracy and sincerity of his statement. Not surprisingly, ever since his vice presidential nomination over a week ago, the Turkish press has published dozens of hysterical articles about Sen. Biden’s long-standing "anti-Turkish" and "pro-Armenian" positions.
Topping Sen. Biden’s solid pro-Armenian record, Sen. Obama himself has repeatedly made supportive statemen’s on Armenian issues, which explain why Turks and Azerbaijanis prefer Sen. McCain who refuses to acknowledge the Genocide. The best example of Sen. Obama’s strong commitment to the truth manifested itself during his visit to Baku in 2005, when he was harassed by Azeri journalists for having sent a letter to Pres. Bush asking him to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Instead of ducking the issue, Sen. Obama boldly told the irritated Azeris that the Armenian Genocide was a historic fact and that "killing civilians anywhere in the world should not be allowed."
Although we need to be weary of promises made by politicians, Armenian-Americans no longer need to beg presidential candidates to acknowledge the Genocide. That was already accomplished by Pres. Reagan back in 1981. Just as the Jewish community does not ask presidential candidates to say Holocaust, Armenia’s do not need to ask them to say Genocide either.
However, should a candidate refuse to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, as is the case with Sen. McCain who voted against a Senate Resolution on this issue sponsored by Sen. Bob Dole in 1990, Armenian-Americans should condemn him rather than support him. In a statement Sen. McCain issued earlier this year, he referred to the Armenian Genocide as "painful experiences,"tragedy" and "brutal murder." How many American Jews do you think would vote for a presidential candidate who would dare to call the Holocaust mere "killings" or a "massacre?" Since Sen. McCain is adamantly refusing to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide in a close race when he needs every vote to win, the chances slim to none that he would use the term "genocide," after he becomes President!
Therefore, voting for Sen. McCain should be out of question for any self-respecting Armenian who cares about the Armenian Cause. As to Sen. Obama, we should expect him to do much more than merely acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. He should be asked to increase foreign aid to Armenia and Artsakh, pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their blockades of Armenia, denounce the violations of civil, cultural and religious rights of the Armenian minority in Turkey, urge Turkey and Azerbaijan to preserve Armenian historic and religious monumen’s, and appoint qualified Armenian-Americans to senior positions in his administration.
In my opinion, there is a clear contrast between the two presidential candidates. Sen. Obama stands for change, while Sen. McCain is for the continuation of Pres. Bush’s failed policies.
Those who vote for Sen. McCain, they would be voting for four more years of Armenian Genocide denial by the White House and the State Department, continued blockade of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and an increased threat to Artsakh’s survival by an emboldened Azerbaijan.
Beyond Armenian affairs, Sen. McCain’s election would negatively impact important issues affecting America and the world, such as: U.S. troops remaining in Iraq indefinitely; possible American military involvement in new wars in Iran and Georgia; more U.S. soldiers losing their lives around the globe for no good reason; trillions of dollars added to the national debt; millions of Americans joining the poverty rolls; more Americans without health insurance; and more terrorism around the world.
Sen. Obama may not be able to deliver on all of his promised changes, but at least he won’t make the situation any worse than it is now!