Biden must recognise Armenian Genocide, scholar says

Lobbies within the U.S. State Department advocating for Turkish interests or the U.S. government’s own interests in Turkey do not offset “the cost of giving Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a free pass,” and U.S. President Joe Biden should keep his campaign promise to recognise the Armenian Genocide, wrote Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, for the National Interest on Monday.

None of Washington’s concerns “justifies perverting or whitewashing history,” Rubin said.

On April 24 last year, the 105th anniversary of the 1915 events which resulted in the death of some 1.5 million Armenians and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire are widely identified as a genocide among scholars, then-candidate Biden tweeted, “If elected, I pledge to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority.”

Past governments have made similar promises, only to forget them “when they entered the executive branch,” Rubin added.

There is a strong Turkey lobby in Washington, the Pentagon needs continued access to the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, and many in the government believe Erdoğan may lash out in the eastern Mediterranean if antagonised, according to Rubin.

“To show Turkey that bluster can trump accountability will ensure further aggression not only against Armenia but also against the Kurds and Cyprus,” the scholar said.

Rubin said Biden should not stop at recognition only, but must “go further” and support erection of monuments to the Armenian genocide in Ankara and Baku as a litmus test of “multi-faith tolerance” that both countries project “to Western visitors”. There already is one in Yerevan.

Support for monuments would show “acknowledgement of genocide extends beyond rhetoric” and “chip away at the historical blindness that decades of Turkish incitement have caused”, Rubin said.