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March 19, 2009


Below you can watch Stutts graduate Samantha Power explaining just before California's February 5th primary why Armenian-Americans should vote for Barack Obama. At the time she was an adviser to the campaign; now she's on Obama's National Security Council:

POWER: What is amazing about his willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and conventional Washington. As your community knows better than anybody, business as usual in Washington leads to certain bad habits that are destructive for human rights and human dignity...[There's] his very forthright statement on the Armenian genocide, his support for the Senate resolution acknowledging the genocide all these years later, his willingness as president to commemorate it, and certainly to call a spade a spade and to speak truth about it. I know him very well and he's a person of incredible integrity and he's not going to focus group his way to making very important policy decisions. He's a true friend of the Armenian people, an acknowledger of the history and I think somebody who can respond to the fierce urgency of now, which is Martin Luther King's way of describing this moment in history, and just how desperate we all are to restore American leadership in the world, which he can do uniquely...[he understands] that leadership is rooted in truth-telling and sometimes hard truth-telling...

I hope you in the Armenian community will take my word for it, but if not, I just hope you'll pay attention the coming days to everything that comes out of that person's mouth, Barack Obama's mouth, because he's a person who can actually be trusted, which distinguishes him from some in the Washington culture...

I know Senator Obama would be hugely grateful for your support on February 5th and in the primary states beyond. Thank you so much.

If Obama (as now appears likely) refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, I would certainly be impressed if Power resigns. But I'm going to go out on a limb and guess she'll decide "the fierce urgency of now" demands that she stay in a position of power.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at March 19, 2009 06:42 PM

And it's an issue that even Ahnuld acknowledges. Oh boy.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at March 19, 2009 07:05 PM

Kinda green, I'd say.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 07:08 PM

THE SPLENDID BLOND BEAST, Christopher Simpson.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at March 19, 2009 07:50 PM

Well, we'll see. If there's not a peep of protest from her, if Obama caves, then that'll be the second time this month Ms Power has fallen (further) in my estimation. (The first was reading bits of her introduction to Arendt's The Origins fo Totalitarianism cited here. Establishment intellectuals, eh. I wonder if Goldhagen's pissed off that she stole his gig.)

Posted by: RobWeaver at March 19, 2009 07:55 PM

Or The Origins OF Totalitarianism, if you prefer.

While I'm here, I'll also endorse Simpson's The Splendid Blonde Beast. And, for that matter, his earlier book about Operation Paperclip, Blowback.

Posted by: RobWeaver at March 19, 2009 08:01 PM

Samantha Power--who wrote a book about American responses to genocide while devoting about half a paragraph to the one her pal Richard Holbrooke helped coordinate (East Timor). When she endorses a man's integrity you can bet it's either because he deserves it or because she wouldn't have much of a career as the Conscience of the Establishment if she bashed everyone.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 19, 2009 09:34 PM

Hey Jonathan,

I hate to say I tell you so, but at least with Hillary we would have known what we were buying, rather than being surprised.

Having promised nothing, it seems likely Obama will deliver nothing, as the glee club tries to explain to the rest of us that nothing is at least something.

Two pictures of a chicken in every pot for all Americans!!! Long live FDR.

Posted by: patience at March 19, 2009 09:48 PM

Having promised nothing, it seems likely Obama will deliver nothing

Au Contraire! (At least on the promising part.) From the Armenians for Obama website:

In January, Senator Obama issued a strong statement to the Armenian American community calling for passage of Armenian Genocide legislation and pledging to end U.S. complicity in Turkey's denial of that crime against humanity. "The facts are undeniable," stated Sen. Obama in his January 19 statement. "An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

And now:

"Our focus is on how, moving forward, the U.S. can help Armenia and Turkey work together to come to terms with the past," National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said. "It is important that countries have an open and honest dialogue about the past. At the same time, we want to work closely with both Turkey and Armenia on the key issues that confront the region."

It's interesting to contemplate what would happen if a US president refused to acknowledge that WW II's holocaust occurred, but instead spoke about the need to help Germany and Jews, Gypsies, etc. have "an open and honest dialogue."

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 19, 2009 10:02 PM

Politician pander to every vote, Obama is NO different. Pelosi (1-202-225-0100)sets the table, call her if YOU REALLY want it on there.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 10:41 PM

What is amazing about Barack...


Barrry... If I get genocided, you would never karma whore off of my misfortune would you?

Posted by: tim at March 19, 2009 11:16 PM

Politicians know you'll vote for them no matter what they do because you're too fucking spineless to do anything about their betrayals. Pelosi (1-202-225-0100) laughs at you idiots while taking your votes and money. Call her if YOU REALLY want to waste your time.

Posted by: AlanSmithee at March 20, 2009 04:42 AM

power's a fraud.

Posted by: Peter at March 20, 2009 05:00 AM

"I hate to say I tell you so, but at least with Hillary we would have known what we were buying, rather than being surprised." -- patience

Hillary '08 -- you know she's for genocide.

Posted by: Carl at March 20, 2009 05:34 AM

Jon S.,
For my part I don't see this issue as all that clearcut, and I'm not sure of what the US stance should be--

I remember when I first heard of the senate voting to condemn the Armenian genocide, thinking,

'Why now? Are they trying to make it harder for pro-western politicians to seem credible to Turkish voters?'

And I thought about it, and maybe they are. It's not inevitable that all Turks will see such a resolution as a slam against Turkey today, but obviously many will, and do.

Maybe the US condemning the events of 80-plus years ago isn't about doing the right thing, but an opportunity, egging on the fundamentalists in Turkey, maybe in hopes of some yummy civil unrest, useful to scare any Americans who might otherwise regard Turkey as an example of a successful, prosperous Islamic society that doesn't hate the West.

On the other, other hand, there's the irony that Turkish fundamentalist politicians tend to belong to the close Bagram camp, and certainly if the US closed Bagram's notorious-yet-officially-nonexistent prison, this would be a positive step forward for the civil and human rights of people there.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at March 20, 2009 06:48 AM

I thought Bagram was in Afghanistan?

Posted by: SteveB at March 20, 2009 09:18 AM

Wrong schematic. The President doesn't have control of the foreign policy. Ask Otto Otepka.

I'm not actually sure what political points are made by voting on whether or not what actually happened actually happened.

It would be nice for a President to say, "What happened happened. It's always been what happened. No more pretending." But the world is full of pretending. I could get all Buddha on you, or I could get all Buddah on you. "One-two-three, Red Light!"

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at March 20, 2009 09:41 AM

SteveB, you are correct-- I was thinking of the Incirlik Air Base, and as far as I know we don't have a prison there.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at March 20, 2009 10:14 AM

It's interesting to contemplate what would happen if a US president refused to acknowledge that WW II's holocaust occurred, but instead spoke about the need to help Germany and Jews, Gypsies, etc. have "an open and honest dialogue."

Excellent, Jon.

Irony of ironies: it was the Armenian genocide that largely sparked Rafael Lemkin's work to get the U.N. to recognize and condemn genocide (which word he also coined.)

Posted by: catherine at March 20, 2009 01:52 PM

I'm sorry to say, but including "Gypsies, etc." into the WW II's holocaust makes one a Holocaust denialist. You need to be more careful.

Posted by: abb1 at March 20, 2009 02:19 PM

FYI, abb1, they changed "just as bad" to "just as extensive", apparently in response to observations like yours. I'm still astounded that they went there at all.

Posted by: John Caruso at March 20, 2009 03:09 PM

Politicians know you'll vote for them no matter what they do because you're too fucking spineless to do anything about their betrayals.

Anything? Like what? Does a person who criticizes the rest of us for not being willing to "do anything" have a particular "anything" in mind that he thinks we should do?

Be careful here, Alan. You're getting dangerously close to recommending a program of action, and that would never do.

Posted by: SteveB at March 20, 2009 05:21 PM

Yeah, it is odd. It's also kinda surprising that there isn't any push back.

Reminds me of the movie I watched some years ago, it's called Bent. In that movie the protagonist, homosexual in a Nazi death camp, tries to improve his chances by replacing the pink triangle with yellow star on his prison uniform. It can't get more denialist than that.

Posted by: abb1 at March 20, 2009 05:22 PM

Oh great, Smithee's stalker is back.

Posted by: TheDenialist at March 20, 2009 06:58 PM

You'll all be shocked to learn that TheDenialist is an AlanSmithee sock puppet.

Posted by: John Caruso at March 20, 2009 11:23 PM

Alan: EVEN IF President Obama were to desire and actually act upon said desire for such an acknowledgement, HE would have to call Pelosi to get it tabled. LET'S HELP HIM.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 20, 2009 11:42 PM

Mr. Schwarz, you have singlehandidly destroyed all my innocent political illusions. How dare you!

Posted by: bobbyp at March 21, 2009 01:14 AM

Wait, AlanSmithee is just one guy? I thought that was this blog's version of "Anonymous Coward"...

Posted by: saurabh at March 21, 2009 01:22 AM

Does anyone get the feeling that Hillary was "destined" to run the foreign policy no matter who was elected? Like it wasn't in the candidates' hands as to what the outcome would be?

CIA shills like Larry Johnson and Gloria Steinem were out there propagandizing and dirty-tricking various elements of the Democratic Party for a divide-and-conquer play that would favor the more conservative, most-known candidate, Hillary. You know, the "bomb Iran" candidate. Then there was the whole Hillary surrounded with generals, Hillary and McCain as cold warrior pals.

It didn't quite work. But it didn't matter. Hillary is still running foreign policy. And lookee over there, it's Bob Gates, who's been behind the scenes laboring for the Republican military-industrial complex for decades, still sitting at the top of the DOD, whose minions are still arguing for secrecy. Gates is recyclable because he hasn't been utterly stained in the public by the many Bush scandals from 1981-92 & 2001-08.


In some ways the whole dance around the Armenian genocide is silly (not haha, but silly in a macabre way). Despite a century of ignoring it, there is enough of an historical memory that it will forever be known that it happened. I'm a little curious as to why Turkish leaders won't just admit it and move on, though I suspect it has something to do with its ongoing problems with other independent-minded minorities. But then ignoring murders and murderers is a very human behavior when the murderers are still running things.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at March 21, 2009 11:38 AM

Watch this Obama guy. All this entanglement with the banks is straight outta the Nazi playbook. Jus like his oration. ACHTUNG JUDEN

Posted by: meshuga at March 21, 2009 01:42 PM

John, sorry for misspelling your name.

Is that a form of denial? And no, I'm not making fun of genocide, only people who speak of "acts of genocide" so as not to have to take any action.

Posted by: catherine at March 21, 2009 01:50 PM

a complicated history, which neither that dozey bint Powers nor any of you fucking fags understands in the least. can't you peeple stick to something you know, like cute puppies or something?

Posted by: mln at March 25, 2009 11:48 AM