National Review Online
April 22 2015

by Patrick Brennan April 21, 2015 7:38 PM President Obama won't
recognize the mass killing of Armenian civilians during World War I as
a genocide when he remarks upon the 100th anniversary of that event,
according to Politico. President Obama's three immediate predecessors
have not referred to those killings as a genocide (President Reagan
did), and Congress as a whole has not, either. The expectation, it
appears, was that Obama might break from contemporary U.S. policy
now because the 100th anniversary of the events had occasioned a
big increase in pressure on the issue from Armenian leaders. It's
self-evidently wrong for Obama to break, as he has, a campaign promise
to recognize the genocide. But on its own, a president's refusal
to use the term "genocide" to describe the horrible suffering the
Armenians underwent is quite defensible. During the Iraq War years,
conservatives argued it was incredibly irresponsible to for the U.S.

to speak out on this question because it would anger Turkey, whose
cooperation we needed. The stakes are definitely lower, though not
negligible, now, but that doesn't make recognition obligatory. What
the Turkish government and local militias did to the country's Armenian
Christians in 1915 and following was horrific -- a great evil.

But it is also a matter of legitimate historical dispute whether it
amounted to state-directed genocide. The Turkish state maintains a
great deal of baseless historical fictions, including some about its
brutal treatment of Armenians during World War I and in decades prior.

But the idea that the Armenian deportations did not amount to
state-directed genocide is not one of them. Indeed, there are a number
of eminent historians who believe that the horrors either did not
amount to genocide or that the evidence is too unreliable to say. (And
this doesn't even get into the worry that putting it on part with the
Nazi Holocaust doesn't make sense and risks cheapening the term.) The
U.S. president's view of history shouldn't be dictated by the Turkish
government. But it seems quite reasonable for a president to refrain
from pronouncing on a complicated, controversial historical question
in a way that would offend an ally, and instead just stick to offering
his sympathies to the Armenian people over the great suffering they
endured. President Obama is sending a relatively high-level official
(Treasury secretary Jack Lew) to the commemorations in Armenia this
week -- maybe there's more he could do, but it shouldn't have to
involve arbitrary historical categorization.

From: Baghdasarian