Sunday, April 24, 2016

Who cares about human rights! Business as usual in DC.

“You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose” the late Mario Cuomo often said.  And what wonderful poetry we had from Barack Obama when he was the candidate. There is poetry and then there is prose.  The dull and boring prose of the reality of  governance and international realpolitik.

Case in point: the Armenian genocide.
“As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide,” Barack Obama vowed in January 2008. He even had his top campaign foreign policy adviser, self-styled “genocide chick” Samantha Power, issue a plaintive YouTube vow to the Armenian American community that this time they wouldn't be double-crossed.
But, that was the candidate sweet-talking with poetry during the courtship of campaigning.  After the election, the title Senator was replaced with President, which then meant that old campaign promises are meant to be broken:
In his annual statement on the mass death of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, President Barack Obama once again declined to use the term “genocide” — breaking a campaign promise he made eight years ago.
In his commemoration on the mass killings, which may have claimed as many as 1.5 million lives, Mr. Obama paid homage to the victims and vowed to “to learn from this tragedy so it may never be repeated.”
His lengthy statement released Friday, however, did not use the term “genocide” — the source of a major geopolitical dispute between Turkey and Armenian about the historical context of the massing killings.
As I noted in this post from six years ago, the victorious candidates apparently lose their testicular fortitude and elections are nothing but castrations!

Why care about something that happened in 1915?  Well, the actor who has all the good looks and presence that I don't have says the very thing that I would like to say:
Take the case of George Clooney. The irrepressible actorvist feels so strongly about the recognition issue that on April 24 — officially known in the U.S. as the National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man — he will be in Yerevan to award the inaugural $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, presented “on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors.” You can't prevent tomorrow's genocide, Clooney plausibly argues, if you can't even use the G-word to describe something that happened 100 years ago.
If the leader of the mightiest government on the planet does not have the balls to label the incidents from a hundred years ago as "genocide"--the term that he boldly stated during his campaign days--then how confident can we be that the leader of the free world will lead the fight against ongoing crimes against humanity?

Meanwhile, the developing situation in Burundi has people worried.  "Today in Burundi, many people hear echoes of 1994" notes the Economist.  We can expect poetry from the Democratic candidates.  Only from the Democratic candidates because the wannabes from the other side author nothing but toxic prose even while campaigning!

Ah, democracy!


Ramesh said...

Well, during the campaign, on the spur of the moment, candidates tend to spew hyperbole because that's the only way to move an audience. Its a human frailty. If somebody doesn't do that, he or she is termed boring, colourless, policy wonk and the like. Obama is no exception.

The Burundi situation is serious. The pox on dictators who want to stay on forever.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ... unfortunately we don't have any alternative form of collective action either--the alternatives that we humans have tried were/are simply horrific :(

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