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Politics vs. Principle: Genocide in Armenia

April 25, 2016
Plain English Version

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Turkey is the center of the world’s attention these days. Turkey is playing the lead role in decisions about the return of refugees in the Middle East. It is on the front line in the war against Islamic terrorism.

In 1915, mass murder took place in Armenia. Ottoman Turks killed about 1.5 million Armenians. Most of the world said it was genocide. Genocide is a word coined to describe the Holocaust. That was the mass killing of Jews during World War II. Turkey says the 1915 massacre was not near the level of dead cited by enemies of Turkey.

Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008. He promised to call the events in 1915 genocide.

April 24, 2016, was Armenian Remembrance Day. President Obama said Armenia was the first mass atrocity of the 20th century. He said it must not happen again. He did not, as he promised years ago, call it genocide.

Armenian leaders and others are angry. They blame the president’s silence on Turkey. A leader charged that Turkey now is in charge of U.S. policy on Armenia. He said Turkish President Erdogan is imposing a gag rule. The U.S. president is enforcing it.

Current events have overtaken past promises. This is Mr. Obama’s last chance as president to talk about the genocide that took place in 1915.

President Obama believes that the Middle East is too unstable. He cannot risk a break with Turkey.

It is true the president did not live up to his promises. But it is not easy to be president. Sometimes politics wins over principle.

Source: The New York Times April 22, 2016

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