How many times can Secretary of State Hillary Clinton break her pledge and make insulting remarks on the Armenian Genocide before she is called a liar and forced to resign?
Armenian Americans are fed up with Clinton and her boss Barack Obama, who also has not kept his promises on the Armenian Genocide. And the problem transcends their views on the Armenian Genocide. The Obama Administration has failed the community on many issues by cutting foreign aid to Armenia, not backing Artsakh’s right to self-determination, and pressuring Armenia to sign a treaty with Turkey that runs counter to its national interests.
In this column, we shall focus on Clinton, and address our displeasure with Obama’s policies later, in the context of the upcoming presidential elections.
As a U.S. Senator, Clinton co-sponsored a resolution calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In 2006 and 2008, joining then-Senator Obama, she sent letters to President George W. Bush in which she described the Armenian Genocide as a “systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. … The victims of the genocide deserve our remembrance and their rightful place in history.”
On Jan. 24, 2008, as a presidential candidate, Clinton declared in a written statement that the “horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constituted a clear case of genocide. … Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the president of the United States.”
After becoming Secretary of State, Clinton must have suffered a bout of total amnesia. During a Jan. 26, 2012 Town Hall meeting at the State Department, she reversed her earlier characterization of a “clear case of genocide” to “a matter of historical debate.” As the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide remain unchanged, what must have changed is Clinton’s moral fortitude to tell the truth!
Clinton’s distorted moral compass outraged the Armenian American community. The Armenian Assembly of America sent a letter to Obama complaining about Clinton’s “untenable” statement, and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) asked Clinton to retract her deeply offensive position that parrots Turkey’s revisionist view of the Armenian Genocide.
On Feb. 28, over 60 House members from both parties sent a joint letter to Clinton expressing their “deeply held concerns” regarding her Jan. 26 statement “mischaracterizing the Armenian Genocide.” They urged Clinton to disavow her “ill-considered statement” and reaffirm her previous commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
On Feb. 29, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) confronted the secretary of state during her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee. Recalling her earlier truthful statements on the genocide, the Congressman bluntly asked: “Is there any question that you have that the facts of that tragic period between 1915 and 1923 constitute genocide? Do you have any different view on the subject now than you did as a U.S. Senator?”
When Secretary Clinton responded with evasive and euphemistic answers, Schiff chided her: “This is, tragically, very much the line of the Turkish government!”
In her March 1 response to the letters from the Armenian Assembly and ANCA, Clinton once again used euphemisms to avoid the term Armenian Genocide, and urged “Armenia and Turkey to work together to address their shared history.” This was as morally repugnant as avoiding the term Holocaust and urging Jews to work out their differences with neo-Nazis.
Clinton’s March 1 letter also described her 2010 visit to “the memorial at Tsitsernakaberd” in Armenia “as a sign of respect for those who lost their lives during this tragedy.” There are two misrepresentations in this single sentence: She refers to the genocide as “tragedy,” and avoids calling the “Armenian Genocide Monument” by its proper name. Furthermore, she did not invite the international media to cover her “low-profile” visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument, so as not to upset the “delicate feelings” of Turkish denialists. To completely downplay the significance of the visit, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan issued an imprudent press release, describing her brief stop at the “memorial” as “a private,” unofficial visit.
If Secretary Clinton had made similarly offensive comments on the Holocaust, she would have been dismissed from her job on the same day. Armenian Americans should demand no less. Fortunately, Clinton has announced that she will be retiring at the end of this year. We say, goodbye and good riddance!