Armenians are the loudest advocates for recognition of the genocide of WWI. The United States, which has a significant Armenian population, has through the foreign relations committee in congress adopted recognition of the historical fact but the bill has never been given permission to come up for a vote. President Obama has promised to recognize the genocide but again this year he used less controversial words such as “atrocity” and “mass murder”. These are the same words that can are used to describe school shootings. The reason the Armenian Genocide is not recognized in congress is due to pressure and threats from various interest groups.
As the bill came to a vote in a committee last month, weapons dealers began to speak out loud about what a harmful measure this would be. The manufacturers of bombs and tanks warned the American congress that this would be against the interests of the US. In a signed statement, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman, cautioned of “alienating a significant NATO ally and trading partner” and “negative repercussions for U.S. geopolitical interests.” The multi-billion dollar companies did not make clear what evidence they were citing to make such an allegation, however it is speculated they were responding to Turkey’s constant threats of worsening ties between the two governments if the legislation were to pass. History has proven their threats to be unfounded with reality due to the fact they made the same threats to France when they recognized the genocide nearly ten years ago and trade between the two nations has actually increased. The companies’ threat made significant headlines and scared many in congress of the repercussions of recognition.
President Clinton called congress and pulled the bill from coming to a vote in 2000. George W. Bush and Barack Obama also promised to recognize the genocide as candidates but it went unfulfilled. A Congressman who sponsored the recent bill described “a full court press…something I had never seen before,” in describing the pressure from the previous White House its attempt to prevent the bill from coming to a vote. In essence the administration overstepped the American tradition of balance of powers between the presidency and the congress.
What surprises Armenians most is the fact that groups who advocated for the recognition and teaching of the Jewish Holocaust urge restraint against genocide recognition. The Anti-Defamation league claims it is not the place for congress to decide on history, despite the fact congress has passed legislation recognizing the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. Abraham Foxman, the head of the influential group ADL, has been adamant about how wrong it would be if the Armenian Genocide was recognized and in the same breath he condemns others who deny the Holocaust. He has gone far as to say it would be against the interests of the nations of Turkey-Armenia which is absolutely absurd since the agreement between the two was dead before it was signed. Foxman, along with the ADL and its subsidiaries such as No Place for Hate, continue to advocate for hate by their denial of the Armenian genocide.
Armenians have advocated for the recognition of the genocide for decades and have been disappointed many times. It is not only in the interest of Armenians that genocides get recognized but for everyone in the world. Genocide recognition is a global warning to rogue leaders who kill populations. As long as leaders are committing genocides and getting away with it, both in the act and within the courts of public opinion after the fact, leaders will continue to be tempted to do evil because no power can stop them. After all, who speaks of Armenians today? Hitler told his advisors before his invasions. The Nobel Prize peace prize winning President Obama spoke the most extensively on the topic of the genocide and that he “intend[ed] to be that president” who recognized the Armenian genocide, as a candidate. If his intentions are true and we take him for his word, he has a unbending rivalry in position in the United States who will do everything they can to make that impossible. It will truly be a work of brilliance to maneuver against the groups that hold such a powerful clout in Washington.