The Official Blog for Safe Harbor By Leonard Howard and David Deranian
Just one more day to April 24 and the big question on many minds – will President Obama dare say Genocide, also known as the G-word, during the president’s annual April 24th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Oh… wait a minute, I just said it… Genocide! Why is it so easy for me to say the word Genocide to label what happened to approximately 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 and yet is so difficult, if not impossible, for Obama and just about all US presidents (President Reagan being the exception) to say? For that matter why is it so easy for the vast amount of world scholars on genocide, 43 US states, 21 countries, and millions of people throughout the world to say Genocide, when the US President can not?
To be fair, last year on April 24, President Obama came close to saying the G-word. He used the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern” which translates as ‘great tragedy’ for what happened in 1915. To be sure, President Obama, along with other US presidents tend to give a dictionary definition of genocide to describe the killings of Armenians. Using terms like, mass deportation, murder, rape, etc. – to anyone with a shred of common sense, it’s a no-brainer to say that what happened to 1.5 million murdered, raped, and deported Armenians, was indeed genocide. In the specific case of Obama, he even clearly called what happened to Armenians in 1915, Genocide when he was running for president. Funny how now, he seems to have forgotten what he said. Again to be fair, President Obama is not much different on the use of the G-word, as other US Presidents, be they Democrat or Republican, when it comes to forgetting their stance on the Armenian Genocide.
There’s various ideas on why President Obama and other US Presidents have trouble saying the G-word, most connected in some way to not offending the government of Turkey. Such ideas range from purely pragmatic considerations of continued use of US bases in Turkey and the import/export of products (including the nefarious purchase by Turkey of US made weapons to use on Turkey’s on-going slow burn persecution of their Kurdish minority) between the US and Turkey, to more clandestine reasons such as keeping the status quo balance of power in the Middle East and the delicate relationship between Israel and Turkey, now very strained because of Turkey’s increased belligerence towards Israeli interests. Some have even said there is some deep dark secret that no US President will speak of publicly, but which hinges on not offending Turkey. Whatever the reasons, it must be important enough for the leader of the free world to effectively bow down to Turkish interests. Given that this is an election year in what looks to be a close presidential race for Obama, will these reasons be important enough for him to bow down one more time? Lets see.