Thursday, April 23, 2009

Predictions on Obama's Armenian Genocide Speech

Attempting to predict what an American President may say regarding the Armenian Genocide is often a lesson in exasperation and futility. Every year, millions of Armenians across the globe hope that the leader of the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world will finally acknowledge the tragedy that befell their ancestors, and help usher in justice for the generations that followed. Their hopes are based on universal concepts of genocide recognition and the prevention of future tragedies by recognizing those that have come to pass. In addition to the Armenians, millions of Turks await the Presidential words, hoping that as usual, the taboo term Genocide will remain unmentioned. Recognizing a tragedy is one thing, but to Turks, labeling it a Genocide is like spitting in their faces. The attempt for Armenians to recognize past events, and the active obfuscation by Turks to prevent the past to surface always comes to climax on April 24th.

Currently, knowing the problematic security situation in the Middle East, and the attempts by the West to continually check Russia's influences, Turkey shall remain a high priority for regional stability. As much as Armenians hope for justice, there is very little practical reason for America to offend Turkish interests. It's one thing to continuously offend a few million Armenians, which is almost a regular event, but another thing to be the first to offend such powerful economic, political, and military interests as Turkey. In addition to this, Turkey is also somewhat of a safeguard for Israel, which finds itself surrounded by hostile neighbors, and the powerful Israeli lobby, regardless of what they vocalize in support of Armenian genocide recognition, will never fully support offending their regional allies. They may speak of justice when the Holocaust is mentioned, but if there's even a suggestion of a possible threat to Israel's stability justice will conveniently become abandoned.

As a result of this cursory analysis, an attempt at predicting Obama's Armenian Genocide speech should be an interesting exercise. "We are gathered here to commemorate a tragic event in the history of the Armenian people. The fact that the survivors have become so well integrated into American life, and have given so much to the American nation is a hopeful message to the global community. Their children, and their children's children carry the burden of these awful times with hard work, and perseverance. As we have seen in Sudan, the world must be proactive in preventing these occurrences. We have seen how relations lately, between the Armenian and Turkish governments have thawed, and will assist in any way possible to mediate further cooperation. We must not jeopardize the developing relationship, and must be supportive at constructive efforts for regional cooperation and stability. I am extremely thankful for the well meaning support I've received from my Armenian supporters, and wish to express my deepest sympathies to their tragic history. I hope that we can forge a future together of mutual understanding, trust, and peace."

Most of the attempt at guessing the speech is highly speculative, but one thing I believe will be key this year in avoiding the mention of a Genocide is that Obama will indicate that it may hurt the thawing relationship between Turkey and Armenia. It appears that the official position is slowly coalescing into the supposed prevention of meddling in a situation that must be handled by Turkey and Armenia. Never mind the fact that most Armenians effected by the Genocide are now scattered all over the world. Ultimately, we as Armenians must be strong enough to avoid the mentality of victims, and regardless of how the Genocide is actually labeled, should strive to improve the situation of our homeland. Although there is much to be said about carrying on the good fight for Genocide recognition and universal justice, we can equally become energetic towards improving Armenia's condition and situation. What good is Genocide recognition if we don't have a homeland that we can call our own?

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