High-Ranking Obama Official Refuses to Acknowledge the Genocide

President Barack Obama continues to disappoint the Armenian American community. After breaking two promises in a row on key Armenian issues—not acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and proposing reduced U.S. aid levels to Armenia—he appoints Philip Gordon as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

Gordon, a former director of the Brookings Institution—a think-tank partially funded by Turkish sources—has written several pro-Turkish books and articles. He has been an opponent of Congressional acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide and a critic of Greek Cypriot leaders rather than the occupying Turkish forces. Gordon served in the Clinton Administration as director for European affairs at the National Security Council. During the last presidential campaign, he served as head of the Europe team in Obama’s group of foreign policy advisers.

During his confirmation hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the end of March, Gordon was grilled by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on his views on Armenian and Cypriot issues. Several Senators pointed out that Gordon’s answers contradicted Obama’s campaign promises. Little did the Senators know that a few weeks later the president himself would fail to keep his word on these issues. Menendez submitted over two dozen questions that were to be answered by the nominee in writing after the hearing.

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) wrote a scathing letter to Gordon on April 7, expressing his dismay that the nominee, during his confirmation hearing, had used the word “tragedy” to refer to the Armenian Genocide. Ensign demanded to know if Gordon’s position on the Armenian Genocide was consistent with those of Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton, all of whom, as Senators and presidential candidates, had strongly acknowledged the genocide. Furthermore, referring to the early termination of the career of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for saying the phrase “Armenian Genocide,” Ensign asked if Gordon would “discourage ambassadors or other foreign service personnel from using the term ‘Armenian Genocide.’”

Ensign, not satisfied with Gordon’s answers, surprised everyone by placing a hold on his nomination, temporarily blocking his approval by the full Senate. However, just as surprisingly, Ensign lifted his hold, paving the way for Gordon’s Senate confirmation.

In the meantime, Gordon answered in writing all 28 questions sent to him by Menendez, even though his responses were evasive and non-responsive. Regardless of the nature of the questions, he mindlessly repeated the same answer over and over again, using just about every word in the dictionary except genocide to describe the mass killings of Armenians.

Only one of Gordon’s answers was particularly revealing, as he put the blame for the Armenian Genocide on the “officials and soldiers of the Ottoman Empire,” thus inadvertently acknowledging that it was a state-sponsored genocide. Here is the verbatim text of that particular exchange:

Sen. Menendez: Who was responsible for the death of over 1.5 million Armenians during WWI?

Gordon: This administration, like those before it, does not deny the facts—1.5 million Armenians were murdered, starved, or deported by civilian officials and soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, some of whom were sentenced to death for committing these crimes. The United States mourns this terrible chapter of history and recognizes that it remains a source of pain for the people of Armenia and of Armenian descent, and all those who believe in the dignity and value of every human life.


Gordon also disclosed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Brookings Institute had received a total of $700,000 from the following Turkish sources from 2006-08:

$200,000 from the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association;
$190,000 from Sabanci University;
$150,000 from the Eksiogullari Group (a construction company);
$100,000 from the Dogan Yayin Holding Company (a media-entertainment conglomerate);
$30,000 from Nurol Construction and Trading Company;
$30,000 from Hedef-Alliance Holding (Pharmaceutical Company).

A large number of pro-Turkish officials such as Gordon can be found throughout the American government. Some of these Turkophiles are leftovers from the Cold War era. Others, motivated by personal gain, serve in the government for a while, and then go to work at Washington think-tanks, some partially funded from Turkish sources, or end up as lobbyists for Turkey.

Armenian Americans will continue to face great resistance in their lobbying efforts from pro-Turkish elements in Washington—regardless of which party is in power and who is president—unless they can expand their political influence beyond Congress into the executive branch, think-tanks, and the media.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. First, understand what Genocide means. Second, get over yourselves! There was no genocide (which is why US will NEVER acknowledge it). Stop the lies and move on with your pathetic lives.

  2. I can think of another high-level Obama adminstration appointee who refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide: Samantha Power of the National Security Council, which is under the direct control of the White House, not the State Department.  

    Oh, sure, Power used to acknowledge the Genocide at one time.  And she told Armenians in her video last year to trust her and Obama to do so.   But since that time, she has had nothing at all to say.  She broke her word to us and to the American people.   Has she apologized to Armenians?  Nope.  She is now the sort of person she once blasted in her book, “A Problem from Hell” – that is, a government official who did not have the courage to use the G word.

    Oh, she’s not to blame?  Then who is?  If she won’t take some responsibilty for  Obama’s breaking his and her promises, who will?  The message that Armenian Americans are sending out due to their flaccid response to the April 24 fiasco is that it is OK to lie to us.   Can you imagine what the response of Jewish Americans would be if they were in  similar situation? They would make sure that they were listened to, and they would demand that heads roll.
    This message is particularly intended for you Samantha Power fans out there.  I wish I could a say more but I won’t, for reasons of tact.

  3. Spoken like a true ignorant turk who is ashamed of what his/her ancestors have done and refuses to acknowledge  it in fear of the world realizing what savages you really are. Telling the Armenians to “stop the lies”…..maybe you should look in the mirror. What’s pathetic is the steps you have taken to continually put the blinders on the American politicians.

    John Lennon was right in asking for world peace. Once that happens the US won’t need your airbases any more and the world will point their collective finger at you….the middle one!!

  4. Spot on Dave. Someone must be made to answer for this serious breach of confidence – Obama’s refusal to acknowledge the Genocide. We can’t seriously ask for the President’s resignation but Power is fair game given her specific promises and pledges, on her and Presidential candidate Obama’s behalf, that as President Obama would acknowledge the Genocide. Well he hasn’t and she must be made to account for this failure. Otherwise every politician will continue to take us for a ride – as a big chunk of them often have. We should do better than that and make enough noise so they won’t dare to walk all over us without worrying about any  negative consequences for themselves. As we know power corrupts and UNACCOUNTABLE/absolute POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY: Samantha Power Must Resign!

  5. I agree with Dave. Samantha Power put her credibility on the line with her now infamous YouTube video telling us to take her word for it.  She used to blast government officials who did nothing, now she has become one of them.   If her goal is to bring light to genocide then she should use the word genocide as a government official then resign. Ambassador Evans did it under Bush so can she.

    Obama has proven that he is no friend of the Armenian Americans and needs to be looked upon as an adversary among the likes of Bush.  Just because he does it with a smile doesn’t mean his policies are any better than the previous administration everyone loved to bash.

  6. Dear Tupoy-yan:
    1. First become a country that has achieved something.  Your greatest mosque was once a church.  what you are really known for is killing civilians, arresting journalists, and having your fragile egos bruised whenever someone critizies your pathetic modern founder.
    2.  pssst…nobody likes you.  Nobody.  Not the middle east, not america, and most of all Europeans.  You declared war on Germany 4 days before they surrendered in WW II…pathetic losers.
    3.  Everyone knows the Armenian Genocide happened.  They don’t say it because you pathetic people will close your bases.

  7. When you portray the pursuit of justice and human rights as a lobbying effort you have already, cheapened the pursuit of justice, defeated your own cause, and made it impossible for a wider majority to join your struggle.
    May I suggest that you stop lobbying and start educating your neighbors.

  8. you need the Jews behind you on this and you wold see how quickly there will be genocide recognition, it’s all money and politics.  who has the more money to spend?  the Armenians have formidable opponents! but, don’t give up…and the next generation needs to be taught this piece of history, learn from the Jews…


  10. Tupoy-yan,
    Or rather Stupid-yan… Good job with the name pun, except you did it in the language of a country that RECOGNIZES the genocide. Yea, Russia recognized it, and Turkey did not retaliate!! 

    Your own Turkish people know it was a genocide and even admit to it. By agreeing with your government you just prove you’re not very bright…

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