For the Armenian American community, presidential candidate Barack Obama was full of promise and hope.
His position on the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which 1.5 million Armenian were massacred at the hands of Ottoman Turks, had been well documented. It was genocide, he said. He even called on the federal government to officially recognize it as such.
But in the years since winning the presidency, the pull of geo-political complications has so far muted his pledge to officially recognize the genocide. Congress, fearful of angering Turkey, a key ally in the Middle East, has successfully quashed any resolution.
And so with no Congress willing to pass a genocide resolution and force Obama to take an official position, he has been able to skirt by the Armenian community’s calls to fulfill his pledge.
The Armenian American community has now latched on to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign for some sort of leverage in their ongoing quest, but as a voting bloc, the threat of withholding support won’t be enough.
If Obama hadn’t brought with him so much promise and hope of fulfilling a long-overdue recognition of what happened in 1915, perhaps the slight wouldn’t be as frustrating. Alas, the sting will no doubt be felt for some time longer as the unrest sweeping the Middle East pushes the U.S. to hold its political allies even closer to the chest.
All the Armenian Diaspora can do is not give up and keep the quest alive. For all the repeated disappointments over the decades, the Armenian community has at least proved that it is tenacious and willing to wait out the political theater. Once the curtain falls, it will surely be a legacy to be proud of.