While campaigning for president, Joe Biden suggested that, if he won, he would reverse long-standing US policy and finally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Turkey that took place prior to World War I. Specifically, candidate Biden said that we “must never forget or remain silent” about this “great tragedy.” Of course, both Obama and Trump pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide as well, and neither did, so recent whispers coming out of the White House that recognition is an imminent possibility must be taken with a grain of salt.
As Ana and John discuss in this clip from The Damage Report, for more than a century the US government HAS “remained silent” about the Armenian Genocide, and the reason is that Turkey adamantly refuses to acknowledge responsibility, so the US has gone along in order to retain Turkey as a strategic partner in our seemingly endless warmaking in the Middle East. The situation is comparable to if the US refused to acknowledge the Holocaust, Ana says, but remains pertinent today as disputed territory traditionally occupied by Armenians continues to be seized, most recently by Azerbaijan. Formal recognition by the US and other powerful countries would give Armenians greater leverage in substantiating claims to lands encompassed by their borders.
John, for his part, notes that it’s not just the Armenian Genocide the US refuses to recognize. Even internally there is substantial pushback to acknowledging the horrors committed by the United States against its own people, whether the slaughter of indigenous populations, or the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even banned the teaching of the 1619 Project in Florida schools because the right wing in America insists on glossing over the role played by white supremacy in our nation’s history, John says.
“Whether it's a Democrat or Republican in office,” Ana says, “the foreign policy objectives don't change. We're fueled by the military-industrial complex. Turkey's relationship with the United States is seen as advantageous and strategic from a foreign policy standpoint and as a result the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in the Armenian genocide continues to be denied by the United States government.”