The ‘G’ word and 1915 events: A handbook for Joe Biden

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U.S. President Joe Biden has been stressing the importance of a “rules-based international order” since he assumed the presidency. Yet, in many instances, he saw no harm in disregarding the “rules” himself. This is particularly the case in matters related to Turkey, including his ungrounded statement labeling the 1915 events as “genocide.”

Biden apparently prefers not to take counsel from competent people with the necessary legal expertise before delving into historical and legal matters. Since 1948, norms of international law, specifically the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, necessitate a decision by a competent court when referring to a case as genocide. An electoral campaign promise made to paid lobbyists does not justify such a statement in any way. What’s more, according to general principles of criminal law, non-retroactivity is a rule. Last year, the U.S. president did not mind openly contradicting these universally recognized norms and rules.

We will see whether Biden will insist on repeating the same mistake of using unfounded allegations for the 1915 events against Turkey this year. One would hope that this time he’d be informed about not only the necessary legal requirements to use the term, but also of the report written in 1919 by his fellow American Lieutenant General James Harbord, which exposed the fabrications later to be used by radicals to construct an “Armenian genocide” narrative. He may also want to look at the Tsarist Russian and Armenian sources to better understand the facts. For instance, the report of Hovhannes Kajaznuni, the first prime minister of the independent First Republic of Armenia, should serve as an eye-opener. He may also want to ask what is hidden in the Armenian archives that are still kept sealed, while the Turkish archives are open and accessible to historians.

The Ankara-Yerevan normalization

Moreover, as far as the ongoing normalization efforts between Ankara and Yerevan are concerned, Biden should know that politicizing history once again in a prejudicial fashion will embolden none other than fanatical Armenian circles and their advocates, who oppose the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. This is even more concerning now, since these radicals, encouraged by the unobjective approach of a U.S. president, are now trying to have a biased act passed by the U.S. Congress. Obviously, they are aiming to draw enmity from history, nothing else.


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