Here’s Barack Obama talking about the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge it back in the day:
Today in Turkey he seemed to take a different view. As Spencer Ackerman put it “Samantha Power is a close Obama adviser and yet the Ankara speech didn’t call the Armenian Genocide a genocide.”
I don’t frankly find this all that surprising. It is, however, one reason why I sort of have mixed feelings about the idea of Power going into the administration. Realistically, long-run international humanitarian considerations just aren’t going to be the controlling priority of the United States government. “Pragmatic” stuff like what Obama did in his speech is bound to happen and it doesn’t really matter who you make senior director of what on the National Security Council. It’s important, however, to have strong voices in civil society capable of making the point that this kind of pragmatism, and the also-inevitable pragmatism that will surround discussion of China human rights issues, is really pretty awful. I’m not even sure it’s the wrong choice for the president to make — Turkey is an important ally and the United States has nothing to gain from poking a stick in their eye. But I’m very glad that as a private citizen, rather than a government official, I don’t need to make that choice. And I’d sort of rather that our Pulitzer Prize winning authors were in my position rather than in the position of being on the inevitably-losing side of internal arguments about this sort of thing.