Each year on this day, reads an April 24 statement from the Biden White House, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Readers might wonder who the White House means by we.
Each year Joe Biden was vice president and senator, his statements on the Armenian genocide were hard to find. For their part, presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton were afraid of offending NATO ally Turkey, which denies the Armenian genocide. By contrast, on April 22, 1981, President Ronald Reagan cited, the genocide of the Armenians.
As the Biden White House recalls, beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. None of the Ottoman authorities is named, and the statement does not explain why these authorities would conduct a campaign of extermination against the Armenians.
For a thorough account see The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and Americas Response, by Peter Balakian. As the author notes, the Muslim Turks disarmed the Christian Armenians, which made them easy prey. The extermination campaign was thoroughly mechanized, an inspiration to Adolph Hitler. On Aug. 22, 1939, one day before the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Hitler said, Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
We honor their story, the Biden White House proclaims. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated. Actually, it was repeated, and expanded.
Hitler conducted a campaign of extermination against Jews and other enemies of the state. During a campaign debate last year, Biden claimed Hitler invaded Europe, so his knowledge of the Holocaust is open to question. Biden is not an intellectual, author Mark Bowden explained in a 2010 Atlantic profile. He makes few references to books and learned influences in his speeches and autobiography.
Joseph Stalin deployed a terror famine in Ukraine, claiming millions of victims. According to The Black Book of Communism, Mao Zedongs Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution claimed more than 60 million victims. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge murdered more than two million people, about 25 percent of the population. See Murder of a Gentle Land: The Untold Story of Communist Genocide in Cambodia.
Ronald Reagans 1981 statement also cited the genocide of the Cambodians, and vowed that the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. On the other hand, statements from Sen. Joe Biden decrying genocide in Cambodia are hard to trace. The more than 60 million people murdered by Chinas Communist regime did not prevent Sen. Biden from welcoming China into the World Trade Organization, with no accounting for their crimes and no democratic reforms. On that score, Biden was hardly alone.
Biden voted against strong sanctions on communist China as a response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. In 1998, the United States again proposed sanctions on China, including visa restrictions, and Biden was part of a group of 10 senators who opposed the measures.
In May 2011, Biden said he believed that protecting fundamental rights and freedoms such as those enshrined in Chinas international commitments as well as in Chinas own constitution is the best way to promote long term stability and prosperityof any society. The U.S. vice president didnt specify the fundamental rights and freedoms in Chinas constitution, and his statement offered no criticism of the Communist regime.
In 2020, on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Biden called for recommitting to the universal struggle for human dignity, not for democratic reforms in China. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden described the Chinese regime as not bad folks, and not competition for the United States. In a Feb. 17 interview with CNNs Anderson Cooper, Biden cited Chinas different norms, and has made no attempt to tell the story of the Communist regimes victims.
Who, after all, speaks today of the millions murdered in Communist China? Joe Biden says in effect. This man has not learned the lesson of the Armenian genocide.