April 24, 2010

"Obama's use of Meds Yeghern 'is an elegant dodge to avoid using the 'g-word'..."

"... but the substance of what he states about what happened gives no comfort to those who cling to the Turkish official version... '1.5 million Armenians were rounded up and massacred or marched to their death.' Despite the passive construction, that assumes intentionality."


Alex said...

Isn't Obama so elegant? Remember Ann, you voted for this creep.

danielle said...

wah wah wah, poor Alex ....

duly noted preference of regional political problems over human rights by Obama admin (again) ... but, dont you think we've got enough on our hands at this point ? you really want to wade in to Turkey's domestic politics, further destabilizing an already testy situation in a region that already less than stable. i mean c'mon, we'd like to get more out of Turkey on Iran.

themightypuck said...

He's a creep because he didn't say genocide?

mesquito said...

"Despite the passive construction, that assumes intentionality."


AC245 said...

President Obama elegantly demonstrates once again that all of his promises come with an expiration date:

"I also share with Armenian Americans – so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors - a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. 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. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

- Barack Obama, January 19, 2008

mesquito said...

Bush's use of "Meds Yeghern" is an inelegant dodge to avoide using the g-word. While it is historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were rounded up and massacred or marched to their death, the use of the passive construction absolves the Turks of intentionality.

Expat(ish) said...

Hmm, I am gonna bet that I am one of the few people wandering around here who has lived in Turkey. We've also had several Turkish students live with our family. So I've had a lot of time to have conversations with Turks about a lot of subjects.

So here is some good advice: Turks are essentially unreasonable about this subject, and the mildest mannered liberal Turk is likely to react very badly to having it brought up.

How reactive? I can imagine that if Obama brought this up that Turkey might recall their ambassador, we'd have to restrict US Military personnel to base (assuming we could keep them), and US tourists would have to flee.

We don't really have a good parallel here in the US, so it's strange to us. But this is really a verboten subject in most places in Turkey.

Heck, you can talk with most Turks about Cypress, WWI, WWII, and US foreign policy. Good talk, some shouting, let's have a beer and some doner kebab. Not the Armenian "thing."

I am not expressing an opinion about genocide or Armenians or what Obama should or should't do. I just want to point out that bringing this up is danged tricky. And likely to be long lasting.


lemondog said...

You may not agree but Bernard Lewis, noted Middle East historian, does not label the massacre as a genocide for the reason given here.

BTW, rarely mentioned is the estimated 250,000-750,000 Assyrians that were massacred by the dying Ottoman Empire from the turn of the century through WW1.

lemondog said...

YouTube Sen. Barack Obama Discusses Armenian Genocide

rhhardin said...

The Turks acted stupidly.

Flexo said...

If they didn't want a genocide, then those Christian Armenians shouldn't have participated in Draw Mohammed Day since it only served to offend those otherwise peace-loving Muslim Ottomans.

edutcher said...

As I understand it, what the Turks did was more Trail of Tears or Bataan than Babi Yar. That said, even the Japanese aren't in the kind of denial Turkey is over its culpability in this.

The documentary series, "The First World War", has some background on this in its episode, "Jihad", for those who need it (as I did).

AC245 is right in invoking Rush here over The Zero's lack of follow-through on this. He promised, he waffled; same as always.

David said...

Walking through Times Square this morning, I passed a demonstration by self-identified "Young Turks" against Armenian terrorism.

I have to say, a fairly heavy police presence was evident.

Chip Ahoy said...

Genome. Genitalia. Geneva convention. Generous. Genesis. General theory of relativity. Gendarme. Genuflect. Gentry. Genius. Gentleman. Genie. Genuine. Genet. Generatrix. Genealogy. General delivery. Generalissimo. Generalization. Generation. Generator. Genial. Ok, I give up.

rhhardin said...

"That assumes intentionality."

He's sloppy about intentionality, and hence about everything else.

Another aspect to add is why anybody cares about it now. I don't.

Another pap speech from Obama, would be my take-away.

And if he wants to say that Americans care about it, he's off base as usual.

SteveR said...

I can't hold President Obama responsible for what candidate Obama said. I didn't believe them at the time and if people did and thus voted for him, well that's not his fault.

I don't care what you call it, the Ottoman Turks killed a whole bunch of Armenians.

Howard said...

danielle: There you go again, shamelessly engaging in realpolitik.

Thanks Lemondog. Your links provide interesting perspective on the issue.

AC: All?
Bail out the banks: check
Pay back big unions: check
Health care reform: check
Hit AQ in Pakistan: check
More US Offshore drilling: check
Double down in Afghanistan: check
Lower middle class taxes: check
Make repugs cry like babies: check

Like it or not, he is implementing his agenda pretty much as promised... or are you upset that he has not closed Gitmo and ended DADT?

Revenant said...

I don't get the big deal about recognizing the Armenian genocide. We pretty much ignore the much larger acts of genocide by the Russians and the Chinese, after all.

cokaygne said...


It's OK to massacre your own people. Be sure to confiscate their property for the state so that you can buy some support. Kill enough of your own people and you become a statesman. Go to the UN and help pass resolutions condemning Western Imperialism. Then hop over to Copenhagen in your private jet and hang around a global warming conference so that you can get some compensatory aid from the greedy capitalist countries. Works like a charm.

John said...

The genocide that everyone talks about was actually part 3 of an Armenian genocide that began in 1895. Large number of Armenians were murdered that year. Again, in 1909, there was another one.

These culminated in the massive one of 1915.

Whether these were 3 genocides or 1 in 3 phases, I will leave others to determine.

I'm going from memory so might be off by a year or two on my dates.

Blaming it on the war is a bogus excuse since the genocide(s) had started 20 years before the war.

Armenians had a reputation similar to the Jews and were despised similarly to the Jews. Not just in the mid-east but around the world. George Orwell tells us in "Down and out in Paris and London" "There is an old saying: 'Trust a snake before a Jew, a Jew before a Greek but never trust an Armenian'" And then goes on to say that it must be true because he had been cheated by an Armenian in Paris.

Armenians were viewed as untermenschen in Turkey and elsewhere. They had it coming to them, seems to have been the prevailing view.

We have a Holocaust Museum in DC, it should be a memorial to all holocausts. Of the Jews, of the 6mm non-Jews murdered in the National Socialist death camps, the Cambodians, VN boat people, Chinese under Mao, Russians under Stalin and even Indians under the US.

So we piss off Turkey. Screw 'em if they won't or can't deal with it.

John Henry

oguz said...

A comment from an open minded Turk.

Turks came from Mongolia. If it wasn't for the Great Wall and the migrations it resulted, we would still look very Chinese. Every race has its qualities. British (therefore American's) are great managers. They manage countries, economies companies very successfully. Asians are great workers. And Turks! Well, definitely not bragging but at least back then, they were great warriors. War-win ratio of Turks may very well be at the top of all nations that had double digit wars or more. Ottoman Empire was once "The Superpower". it ended roughly before the WW1 due to its lack of ability to manage. The wars it had to acquire are no more bloodier than the wars British and Spanish Empires had to acquire colonies. In its War of Independence, Turks fought on many fronts against the French, English,Italian, Greeks and on the inside, unfortunately Armenians. Why would a country in war in many fronts spare manpower to move million plus people from A to B?It was necessary and may be overdone. It is hard to say that Turks ruled its colonies fairly and was superbly fair to its minorities. Not much worse was done than the European countries have done in Africa and Southeast Asia or America against Indians and Blacks.In the current situation, Turkey is weak. It is weak for the last 100 years or so and everything needs to be done to keep it weak is done. About 20-30 years ago, an Armenian terorist organization created a bloodshed in Turkey for years with outside! help. When that didn;t work anymore, help was directed to Kurds which is a major minority that has been mistreated by Turks for a very long time. All this is done is done to keep Turkey from getting stronger and to put pressure on them to make them keep a strong army/ hence Turkey has one of the largest armies in the world. Am I supporting Turkey with a blind eye, hell no! An apology must be made for prior mistakes, similar to the apology U.S announced in 08 and 09 to Blacks for slavery and Indians for the genocide.(They didn;t use the word genocide there either). But when analyzing why Turkey is pushed so persistently on these matters, one must look at the big picture. Approximately 1.4 million Iraqis have been killed so far. In Fellucia, doctors have told women to stop getting pregnant as due to the use of chemical weapons, they are unable to give birth to normal kids. Why? Freedom? Oil? Weapons Industry?

I had many Armenian friends in Istanbul when I was growing up. Never once we had a racial conflict in our neighborhood. I wish that a day will come and an International Court will examine all parties evidences to make a judgment to name this issue. I personally am very sorry that we have so many stains in our history, especially towards Armenians and Kurds. I wish a Turkish government one day will be able to sit in this courtroom and face these accusations.