April 24: D.C. Scene-Setter


Approaching April 24, there are a number of old and also a few new factors likely to influence how the White House will address the Armenian Genocide in the annual statement that we anticipate President Trump will release this coming Monday.

A scene from a 2014 Armenian Genocide protest in Washington (Photo: Justin Kaladjian)

The factors aligned against honest American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide are well known— from global geopolitics all the way down to backroom deals. So, without venturing any predictions, here are some of the newer variables to this equation:

  • The Promise, a major motion picture about the Armenian Genocide that opened in over 2,100 theaters on the eve of April 24. This film has dramatically raised public awareness of this human rights issue, ensuring that President Trump’s position on the Armenian Genocide will draw unprecedented national and international media attention.
  • Growing impatience and even open frustration within the U.S. foreign policy community regarding Turkish President Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian and anti-American behavior.
  • Confusion and internal conflict within the Turkish American lobby, perhaps best illustrated by the infighting between backers of Erdogan, Kemalists, Gulenists, and traditional pro-Ankara corporate interests.
  • Congressional pressure, including a letter by 84 U.S. Representatives, among them the bipartisan leadership of the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees, calling on President Trump to properly commemorate the Armenian Genocide on April 24th.
  • Well-connected American Americans Republicans, from California and across America, who have thoughtfully and assertively leveraged their connections at the most senior levels of the White House.
  • An increased focus on the modern day genocidal attacks on Christians and other at-risk religious minorities across the Middle East.
  • An unorthodox President who has demonstrated a willingness to break with policies advanced by previous Republican and Democratic administrations, and—more specifically—advanced an “America first” approach to international affairs that openly challenges foreign interests seeking to shape U.S. policies.
  • A new presidential term, representing a potential pivot point on the Armenian Genocide, one that provides U.S. policymakers the opportunity to revisit and revise the vestigial and now clearly irrational and outdated Cold War privileges afforded to Ankara, and – more broadly – the chance to divest themselves of the considerable moral and material burden that complicity in Turkey’s denials has forced U.S. diplomacy to shoulder for the past century.

For his part, President Trump prioritizes speaking in an authentically American voice. He campaigned aggressively against foreign lobbyists—exactly the type of well-paid agents who are, today, working every angle to block proper American commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. He certainly did not campaign as a candidate who would outsource U.S. positions to foreign nations. By his own standards, the President should—out of hand—reject any attempt by another country to impose a gag-rule on the United States.

According to his own terms, President Trump’s choices this April 24th are stark: Stand up for the truth or cave in to Turkey.


Aram Hamparian

Aram Hamparian

Aram Hamparian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

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