This weekend President Joe Biden formally recognized the Armenian Genocide that took place more than a century ago in what is now Turkey. This was the correct move, and long overdue. About a million innocent Armenians were slaughtered, yet history largely forgot about it. Activists have long rightly been asking the U.S. government to recognize that it happened, and so Biden did.
On the surface, this doesn’t sound controversial, right? The thing is, the government of Turkey has long officially denied that the Armenian Genocide ever happened. So Biden’s decision to have the U.S. recognize the genocide is a slap in the face of Turkish leader Erdogan, who as recently at this past week insisted that any such recognition would harm U.S.-Turkey relations.
Erdogan is by all accounts a bad guy, and a dangerous one. Turkey would be better off without him. The kicker is that Turkey is officially a NATO ally of the United States, making the United States’ relationship with Erdogan even more complicated. Given how fraught the entire world stage is right now, and how the U.S. is currently trying to reestablish its influence on the world stage after four damaging years under the former guy, it would have been easier for Biden to simply hold off recognizing the Armenian Genocide for a year or two. But waiting would have been wrong – and a sign of weakness.
And so President Biden did the right thing, refusing to pull his punches, unafraid of the tantrum that Erdogan might throw in response, confident in his abilities to bring Erdogan in line as needed. That’s real strength on the part of Biden. He has little interest in “playing it safe” – which is why he’s succeeding on so many fronts.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report