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Pelosi Reiterates Call to Recognize Armenian Genocide

Officially, today marks “Armenian Remembrance Day,” set aside to honor the roughly 1.5 million Armenians killed at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915. But in the eyes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it’s misnamed. From the statement just out of her office:

Today, we commemorate the 94th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and pay tribute to the victims and survivors. …

International observers and diplomats to the Ottoman Empire, including U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, watched a nightmare unfurl and provided detailed accounts about ‘a campaign of race extermination.’

It is long past time for the U.S. Government to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. If we ignore history then we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. The genocides in Rwanda and Darfur remind us that we must do more to prevent this from ever happening again.

On this anniversary, we must remember the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide. We must also provide the leadership to ensure that this human tragedy is not repeated.

The topic is a sticky one on Capitol Hill, where a resolution to recognize the killings as genocide was passed by a House committee in 2007, but never brought to the floor for fear of alienating Turkey, a strategic ally in the Iraq war.

Indeed, President Obama today approached the anniversary much more carefully, calling the episode “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century,” but never uttering the word genocide. Is that an inconsistent position? Here’s The Associated Press laying out the scenario:

During his election campaign, Obama said in a speech that he had stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgment of the “Armenian Genocide.”

Despite bowing to diplomatic convention, Obama said in his statement issued on Friday that he had not changed his mind.

“I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts.”

If the I-am-not-backtracking argument sounds familiar, it’s because the president has been offering essentially the same explanation over the White House silence on gun control.

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