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Obama Stands by Views on Armenian Killings, But a Word Is Absent


President Obama addresses Turkey's Parliament in Ankara. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Updated 11:33 a.m.
By Scott Wilson
As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged that as president he would label the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman government more than 90 years ago a "genocide." Today, during his first presidential visit to Turkey, he declined to do so.

Standing next to Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara, the capital, Obama said, "I have not changed my views" on an issue that likely won him many Armenian American votes during the campaign. His opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said he would not blame modern Turkey for killings that took place before its founding.

Obama said today that he supported talks underway between the governments of Turkey and Armenia to establish official diplomatic relations and address historical grievances, including the killing of between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians by the government of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. The president never said the word "genocide."

"I know there's strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915," Obama said later in a speech before the Turkish parliament. "And while there's been a good deal of commentary about my views, it's really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past."

As a senator, Obama signed letters to then-President George W. Bush demanding that he recognize "the mass slaughter of Armenians as genocide." Joining him on those letters were Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both senators at the time.

Speaking after Obama, Gul said "it is not a legal or political issue, it's a historical issue." He said Turkey has suggested that a "joint history commission be established and that we would agree to the results or the conclusions of this commission."

"Our view to that has been that we should let the historians, the experts on the subject, sit down and talk about this issue," Gul said. "We are ready to face the realities, the facts."

Posted at 11:11 AM ET on Apr 6, 2009  | Category:  Obama Abroad
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TheBabeNemo:

Here's the transcript -- hopefully you can access this -- you decide for yourself.

http://www.anca.org/change/docs/Obama_Armenian_Genocide.pdf

Posted by: JakeD | April 7, 2009 1:57 PM

Looks like JakeD is off his meds today. You can almost seem him twitching.

Posted by: nodebris | April 6, 2009 11:39 PM

And Obummer, the biggest turkey, is sending $50,000 to Italy for relief efforts after the devastating earthquake. This after giving terrorist Hamas $900,000,000 and terrorist-harboring Pakistan $7 BILLION.

But only the cost of one of Mee-Shell's dresses or of one of the Obummers' Wednesday night soirees to our NATO ally.

And the leftwing KoolAde drinkers deny that Obummer is a closet muslim. Riiiiiiiiiight.

Posted by: segeny | April 6, 2009 7:55 PM

Thanks for the info. I thought maybe he would try to sneak into Iraq.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 7:25 PM

Jake...for info.
check "http://www.lemonde.fr/organisations-internationales/reactions/2009/04/05/obama-et-sarkzoy-s-opposent-sur-l-entree-de-la-turquie-dans-l-ue_1176905_3220.html"
(and welcome for any comments...winks)
PS : Yes Obama left Turky few hours ago and should be soon back in States

Posted by: libertystate | April 6, 2009 7:18 PM

Does anyone else know if Obama has left Turkey yet?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:43 PM

Apology accepted BTW.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:37 PM

libertystate:

I wouldn't go post my humble opinions on Le Monde comments, that's for sure.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:32 PM

Jake
Sorry Jake..i forgot than the WashingtonPost is just a small local news paper and webside..i'm sooo sorry for having disturbing your litle redneck life as a french giving my humble opinion..whatever..as a friendly dude..i suggest you to visit " idislikefrenchsmellycheese.com" and leave a comment there.
(if one day you get out your town..go to a travle agency and ask for a world map..you might get suprise ! )

Posted by: libertystate | April 6, 2009 6:26 PM

appol078:

Are you an American citizen? Were you upset about Bush's "sixteen words" re: Saddam trying to obtain uranium from Africa?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:24 PM

If Obama Stands by Views on Armenian Killings, did he really has to use the word genocide? unlike most Americans, the Turks can read between the lines.

Posted by: appolo78 | April 6, 2009 6:21 PM

My first questions on this thread still apply: How much did it cost the U.S. taxpayers to transport 500+ people for this? I thought we were in the middle of an economic "crisis"? Can we really afford to spend over $2 BILLION per year to run the White House anymore?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:12 PM

Does anyone know if Air Force One is in the air?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:08 PM

faithfulservant3:

My first thought when the White House announced the Turkey leg (no pun intended) of this trip was surprise about this campaign promise -- Obama could have shown real leadership in calling it "genocide" once and for all -- I thought, for sure, that Indonesia would be the first Muslim country he visited. As you said, though, he missed the opportunity.

I wonder if he's headed to Iraq or Afghanistan next?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 6:06 PM

True change means speaking the truth plainly. Obama had nothing to lose in doing so, but how much the world could have gained. He missed an opportunity.

Posted by: faithfulservant3 | April 6, 2009 5:55 PM

P.S. why wasn't "I'm just trying to use some sort of diplomacy here" good enough of an excuse for Bush?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:54 PM

TheBabeNemo:

You are right that Obama did not specifically promise that he would go to Turkey and call it "genocide" to their faces -- that would take balls, so I was actually surprised that Turkey was picked as his first Muslim trip since I knew he had promised to call it "genocide" so I thought to myself that he might just surprise me and fulfill said promise -- do you remember Ronald Reagan calling on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:53 PM

jake--
he did not promise that he would waltz into turkey and call it to their faces on his first diplomatic trip there, did he?

plus, he stated to the reporter (which I did see)--in the middle of that Turkish room- that he has not changed his views.

That insinuates/tells (to) Turkey that our President knows damn well what it was -- and he is being polite.

for sure...Turkey got the message loud and clear by....and get this
BY NOT HAVING THE MESSAGE SENT!!!

i love it!!


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 5:42 PM

oh i see...
WaPo's opening statement of the article:
"As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged that as president he would label the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman government more than 90 years ago "genocide." Today, during his first presidential visit to Turkey, he declined to do so.

//
okay...yes, WaPo is full of it.
they should have never made this comparison.

analogy: I may not have liked Baby Bush as our 43rd president, but man alive, if I walked into Wash DC and he was right in front of me, I would definitely show respect and call him Mr. President and not "stupid Texan"

get it now??


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 5:35 PM

libertystate:

I would never go to a French blog and state my opinion about Sarkozy -- interesting that you think it's relevant for you to come here and state your opinion about Obama -- by all means, though, please be sure to come back and let us all know when you finally don't support Obama. That should be really interesting.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:32 PM

TheBabeNemo:

Because he PROMISED when he was President that he would call it what it was, "genocide", not an atrocity" or anything else -- keep in mind that Obama also criticized then-President Bush for failing to do so -- why wasn't "I'm just trying to use some sort of diplomacy here" good enough of an excuse for Bush?

strumnfish:

Thanks, but, which one is it?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:29 PM

Greetings to all..
Well..let me tell you my desapointment about Obama on his first visit to Europe..I really thought US external politic would have a more sensual, open and mindly approach, more clever with Obama..but obviously..it doesn't seems to go that way !!!
indeed..The same mistake comes back !!!...YES WE CAN (rule the world????? ) Like Bush..the ideas seems to be the same..Obama HAVE NO RIGHT to tell us waht to do in Europe.if we accept or not Turkish in EU is OUR BUSINESS !!! Just imagine a second if Sarkozy come to the US telling Mexique should be part of the USA..i'm sure this would become a major scandal in your country. well..i'm from France .. i do support Obama..but not for long if he keeps on that way !!!...we all understood the reason of such diplomatic declaration for Turkish people..and How the US wish to keep Turkish people under control for his military business there..but...please...don't keep on breaking Europe as Bush used to do it !! (Poland and more recently in Georgy )...

Posted by: libertystate | April 6, 2009 5:23 PM

well jakey, there is the rub---

He says his views have not changed.
He knows it was genocide.
So, on his first trip to Turkey and trying to use some sort of diplomacy----he uses the word atrocities instead of genocide and you consider that a
"broken campaign promise"?

How?????? and Why?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 5:19 PM

JakeD

Ha...You'd be a great Senator...

Posted by: strumnfish | April 6, 2009 5:15 PM

But by the 1800s the once powerful Ottoman Empire was in serious decline. For centuries, it had spurned technological and economic progress, while the nations of Europe had embraced innovation and became industrial giants. Turkish armies had once been virtually invincible. Now, they lost battle after battle to modern European armies.
As the empire gradually disintegrated, formerly subject peoples including the Greeks, Serbs and Romanians achieved their long-awaited independence. Only the Armenians and the Arabs of the Middle East remained stuck in the backward and nearly bankrupt empire, now under the autocratic rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid.
By the 1890s, young Armenians began to press for political reforms, calling for a constitutional government, the right to vote and an end to discriminatory practices such as special taxes levied solely against them because they were Christians. The despotic Sultan responded to their pleas with brutal persecutions. Between 1894 and 1896 over 100,000 inhabitants of Armenian villages were massacred during widespread pogroms conducted by the Sultan's special regiments.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 5:13 PM

pcb28:

True or false -- during the campaign, Obama pledged that, as President, he would label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide." Today, he declined to do so -- true or false?

TheBabeNemo:

Are you saying that the WaPo is lying? When I watched the YouTube video this morning, I don't recall any info as to which specific event it was at, and I am not going to watch it again just so I can type every word The One utters. Maybe someone else can do that for you?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:08 PM

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were only 117,575 American citizens of full or partial Turkish descent living here. Of course Obama went after the Armenian-Americans (estimated at over 1.5 million) during the campaign. When politics are more important than principles, that call was easy.

Who knows, maybe it could have made a difference in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, etc.? Will the Armenian-Americans even remember about this in 2012?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 5:03 PM

What a trumped up load of gotchya journalism B.S.---that goes for both the questioner and Mr. Wilson's analysis. There is absolutely nothing to report here; the transcript handily explains a very delicate and nuanced situation which has been sliced and diced into a story: "Obama shifted his position! Obama declined to say the G word!" The questioner was trying create some sort of awkward Jerry Springer like confrontation between world leaders. He has not changed his position, he simply used something called tact, which is not a bad tactic, considering the circumstances.

Posted by: pcb28 | April 6, 2009 5:02 PM


jakey: i don't do well with videos on my home system. i still have dial up believe it or not.
my computer work is mainly research and in the print world still. old school i know.

but i want to know his exact statement.
did barack say he would "call it genocide to the face of Turkey"?
that is the issue.
to the face of Turkey, would he say it?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 5:02 PM

Thanks for the history lesson BTW : )

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:53 PM

kenonwenu:

Was it important for Obama to understand that when he pledged that, as President, he would label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide"? Or, was it MORE important to get those million Armenian-American votes?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:51 PM

As for the massacres themselves, there was an attempted genocide, and an awful lot of Armenians were killed, maybe even 800-900 thousand. There had been atrocities against Armenians for decades, largely because the Ottoman empire perceived them as a treacherous minority who were constantly appealing for outside military intervention in Ottoman lands. And in fact appeals from the Christian Armenians had been a regular feature in the Russians' justifications for their relentless predation on the later Ottoman Empire.

When the First World War broke out, Germany bullied the Ottoman Empire into the Central Powers, and the Turks found themselves again menaced by the Russians, with the largest Armenian communities right in the path of Russian armies.

Turkey was then ruled by a triumvirate of men from the Committee for Union and Progress, which was a sort of secret society within the Young Turk movement. These were Enver Pasha, Talat Pasha, and Cemal Pasha. They resolved, basically, to wipe out the Armenians, not just those in the Russians' path, but all of them in the Empire. Where they had no proof of disloyalty, they made it up.

The whole thing was disguised as a deportation, and in fact probably more than half of the victims died on long marches rather than being executed. After the war, the triumvirate fell and its members fled, and the "Caliphate" was briefly restored. The first act of the new Sultan was to charge the CUP with dragging Turkey into the war, and with committing atrocities against minorities. The crimes against the Armenians made up a large part of the charges, and all three Pashas were sentenced to death in absentia.
None ever returned to Turkey. Two were later assassinated by Armenian avengers. The third, Enver Pasha, got himself killed in 1921 on a quixotic Pan-Turkic crusade against the Bolsheviks.

Ataturk himself was fighting the British invasion at Gallipoli at the time of the Armenian Genocide, and had already broken with the CUP triumvirate. While many, many Turks killed Armenians in 1915, the biggest massacres were actually carried out in what's now northern Syria, by local Kurdish forces acting on CUP instructions. So what part of modern Turkey should carry the Armenian guilt? I guess it would be the Army, which carried out many of the deportations and provided two of the three triumvirs. Now you see Erdogan's problem. The Army hates his party and has already seized and hanged one of his elected predecessors.

Posted by: kenonwenu | April 6, 2009 4:51 PM

The important thing to remember about Turkey is that the ruling party, the AK party, aren't the ones who really object to an apology. It's the army - who were after all directly involved in these events.

The army officers have already overthrown a previous elected AK government and hanged the PM, so you can understand why Erdogan walks carefully around them. They already hate him.

One newspaper editor who referred to Armenian genocide has already been killed by nationalist extremists. These people are in cahoots with policemen and organizations of ultranationalist lawyers and functionaries. Many ran with the Grey Wolves terrorist organization in the 1970s.

Together with the army officers and intelligence services they form what Turks call the Shadow State. These are the self-proclaimed guardians of Ataturk's legacy. They're very secular, because secularism was a founding principle of the Kemalist state to which they owe their power and privileges.

In reality, their loyalty to Ataturk is loyalty to their own caste interests. Their disdain for Islamic parties is the disdain of an Istanbul/Ankara elite for the rural majority of Turks. They're bitter that the majority of Turks now rule through a mildly Islamic party, and they resent the AK's popularity.

It's important for Americans to understand that these secular, westernized, nationalist Turks, the very Turks who are closest to the US, are the backbone of resistance to an Armenia apology. For that matter, it was secular, nationalist Turks who ordered the massacres of the Armenians.

Posted by: kenonwenu | April 6, 2009 4:46 PM

strumnfish:

YOU posted the following: "My grandparents' families all DIED in that genocide! They were fortunate enough to have escaped the slaughters."

Those two propositions are mutually exclusive. That's not splitting hairs.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:44 PM

JakeD

We don't all die by being massacred! Quit splitting hairs!

Posted by: strumnfish | April 6, 2009 4:42 PM

TheBabeNemo:

It was crystal clear, in the context of thanking Armenian-Americans for their support during the campaign. Perhaps you should go back to work and look at the YouTube clip later on your own time? Then we can discuss once you are fully informed.

strumnfish:

Your grandparents' families all "died" in the slaughters or "were fortunate enough to have escaped the slaughters"? Which one is it? Because we all die someday sooner or later.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:38 PM

jakey:
i can't bring that video up here ...
i'm at work...

is that video of barack saying he would call it genocide?
in what context?
since i can't see...

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 4:29 PM

My grandparents' families all DIED in that genocide! They were fortunate enough to have escaped the slaughters. I remember crying when they told me those vivid horror stories which they witnessed first hand. Why on earth would they have made up such stories if they were not true? It is true these events happened a long time ago and I did not live them personally, but my family certainly did!

The country of Turkey is appropriately named and should be totally ashamed of itself....and so should Obama! It's hard to say what you really think when you're standing at a podium in Turkey.

It's all politics!

Posted by: strumnfish | April 6, 2009 4:27 PM

allknowingguy:
good points on the region to note.
reminds me of the Kurdish situation in a way.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 4:25 PM

rias2500:

Why? I thought that sending terrorists to GTMO was a "bad" thing?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:25 PM

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:24 PM

JakeD, you come across as one with a long standing grudge against our President. I hope NSA and other govt agencies are keeping an eye on your and your ilk.

Posted by: rias2500 | April 6, 2009 4:21 PM

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 4:20 PM

zippyspeed-you are by all measurements one of this country's biggest morons.

Posted by: rias2500 | April 6, 2009 4:19 PM

""""Obama shouldn't have promised that, as President, he would label said killing of Armenians a "genocide..."

did Barack promise that he would do this as President?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 4:10 PM

So what else is new? He is your standard, everyday two faced political weasel.

Posted by: KBlit | April 6, 2009 4:10 PM

I am married to an Armenian and have been there several times. This issue presents an opportunity to the US that Obama should take advantage of. Basically, Turkey and Azerbaijan (a Turkish-speaking country) have blockaded Armenia, which is a landlocked country. Because of this, Armenia is forced to stay cozy with Russia (whose troops control a demilitarized zone between Turkey and Armenia) and Iran, the only friendly border country they have. However, neither of these countries has been able to resolve the issue with Turkey. If the US could bring the parties to the table and work out a solution, it could reduce the influence of Russia and Iran and earn the gratitude of both the Turks and the Armenians. It would also draw us closer to Azerbaijan, a country that will follow whatever the Turks tell them. Worth considering.

Posted by: allknowingguy | April 6, 2009 4:09 PM


well true jakey...you don't post conspiracy theories that much.

you just are one.!!!!
(((muuuhhhhahhhahhhaaaa)

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 4:07 PM

what gets me here is that NONE of you are acknowledging what a freakin' fine line our President had to walk in Turkey today.
Bush just about made Turkey our enemy by some of his actions.
And for Barack to waltz into Turkey and say "hey Turkish government, you committed genocide and we want this and this and this done now"......
Those ports and any trade we have with Turkey would have closed in a new york second.

additionally,
in the speech, President Obama referenced that the USA was not proud of our history in respect to Native American and slavery atrocities.

in watching and listening to him, you knew, throughout the speech WHAT he was implying--without saying the word genocide.
He used the word atrocities and that was good enough for me.

Now, in saying that, that does not IMPLY that I am, somehow, condoning the actions of 1915---taken by any nation or sect.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 4:05 PM

This is a great new day for American-Turkish relations. I'm pleased that our Teleprompter-in-Chief was there to transmit our best wishes and hope for the future to the Turkish Parliament. I'm not sure what that black guy is doing there in the middle of that picture, but perhaps turning the teleprompter screens around for everyone to read was too difficult given not everyone reads English. If the State Department had the foresight to include a guy who read the Teleprompter's words to everyone, I salute them for their good planning.

Posted by: zippyspeed | April 6, 2009 4:01 PM

burtonpaul:

I agree, but then Obama shouldn't have promised that, as President, he would label said killing of Armenians a "genocide" or criticized former President Bush for failing to do so.

BTW: have you seen "The Reader"?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:59 PM

Bitter_Bill:

Good question (your last name is not "Clinton" is it?).

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:57 PM

As a Jew, I have to submit I have never found my people's vengeful approach to dealing with "war criminals" to be productive in the least. The recent war crimes trial where an eighty-something year old man was sentenced to life in prison for being a guard at a prison camp is something I find disgraceful. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but there comes a point when vengeance simply makes a people look like the stereotype. Living in the past serves no purpose ... remembering the past through education is the only true path.

Similarly, an American president's labeling an historical atrocity via a televised speech would have the opposite intended effect. Insulting someone in public tends to make that person more obstinate.

Posted by: burtonpaul | April 6, 2009 3:56 PM

TheBabeNemo:

Categorizing me the same as scrivener50?! What's next, are you going to turn the "directed energy" beam on my tin-foil hat?

farkdawg:

At least Ronald Reagan had the balls to call on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:55 PM

I saw the teleprompter there. What does it think?

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 6, 2009 3:55 PM

Turkey can not be trusted.
They don't act like an ally. Are they fighting with our soldiers
in the Middle East. No.
Do they want us to give them tens of billions of dollar annually
like America does to Israel and Egypt and Saudia Arabia? Yep.
Are they two-faced? Yes.
Will Turkey attack and exterminate the Kurds in Iraq?Yes
Is Turkey good at playing chess with America? Yes
Does Turkey come through for America like when we wanted
to cross Turkey by land into Iraq? No
Turkey is consistently inconsistent and uncooperative.
They are trying to dictate American Policy like Israel does.
I think that it would be so much easier if we just made
israel the 51st state and took Northern Iraq for ourselves
to make it the 52nd state and take over the entire border and 50 miles on both sides of Pakistan and Afghanistan for America.

Posted by: blakesouthwood | April 6, 2009 3:53 PM

So, it's "okay" for Obama to NOT do things he promise he would do so as a Presidential candidate?
Depends on the promise. I know campaign promises are a hit and a miss to keep. They always have been. I do not change being a Bronco fan because they lose a game or a QB.

Why not just be honest about it and answer the second part of the question that was asked: "did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?"?
Why should I. It was not "His Turkey".
Would you ask President Obama to apologize for President Wilson NOT doing more for Armenia at that time?

BTW: you also never responded to Garak's point re: your argument that "1915 was a long time ago."
1915 was a long time ago.
It was not an "argument". It was a statement that is true.

are you trying to rile people today Jake.
It doesn't work.
You are prejudice and we know it.
We just go along with your entries.
Kinda sorta like scriveners'


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:50 PM

I'm sorry for the people who were slaughtered in this genocide. It's pretty clear to most --- at least "as clear" as global warming is to environmental whackos --- that a genocide was attempted.

But that's not what this story is all about.

It's about changing conditions on banks AFTER forcing some of them to take TARP funds. It's about whether lobbyists are going to work in the administration. It's about whether this President can be relied on to maintain his position on anything.

And it's not just a domestic issue. Everyone he supposedly charmed last week is watching too.

Can this guy be trusted?

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | April 6, 2009 3:49 PM

"Did Obama explicitly call the Armenian genocide genocide today? No.
Did he get the Turkish government to agree to re-evaluate their perspectives? Yes."

I'm not criticizing Obama, who did well, but that's not actually true. They had already offered Georgia a joint commission of academics to draw conclusions on the 1915 massacres.

Posted by: kenonwenu | April 6, 2009 3:49 PM

Why is this something he has to do in the first 3 months?

If he labels it genocide in the next 2 years is that fast enough, for the crimes committed 94 years ago?

What's with all the impatience? Is the media really this desparate to criticize him for something?

All questions, this article and stream provide no answers.

Posted by: farkdawg | April 6, 2009 3:48 PM

i disagree with the statement that President Obama has somehow lost face or is doing "bad" on this trip.
This trip was a success on day one
when we joined the UN Humanities Council, something Bush refused to do.
This trip was a success on day two when the Queen reached out to Michelle.

He's doing a great job.
Do you know how much across the pond was getting fed up with a "Bush America".

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:47 PM

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:42 PM

TheBabeNemo:

So, it's "okay" for Obama to NOT do things he promise he would do so as a Presidential candidate?

Why not just be honest about it and answer the second part of the question that was asked: "did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?"?

BTW: you also never responded to Garak's point re: your argument that "1915 was a long time ago."

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:42 PM


wait a minute here..
so as a senator, he writes the president about 1915 Armenia saying "Bush, you better acknowledge it".......

where are you all getting that Barack "promised to use the word genocide"?

Seems there is a "taking out of context here".


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:41 PM

jake--as much as you blog in the political world...
now you know darn well, that what senators, house reps, governors, etc.
do while they are in THAT office
differs from when they become President.

Some of it is-
1) they are privy to better and more information that makes "what they did as senator" seem dumb
2) they become President and get the "classified" info. too.
3) they get more info. on foreign heads when they are President.

you are making it seem as though
"oh my god, he changed his stance and we should kill him for it"
so what....
diplomacy may have called for him NOT to say the word.

and also, has anyone brought up the information on the NET about 1915 Armenia?
It's interesting reading. One point that is most valid - Young Turks taking over after the Ottoman Empire...is not the government of modern day Turkey we know now.

I have no opinion yet on this but I do believe that it is "okay" that he did not say the word.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:35 PM

alstl:

At least he doesn't want to get rid of our nukes (yet).

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:30 PM

TheBabeNemo:

Care to answer my questions to you (I did not ask whether it was his hardest speech to make or not)?

wardropper:

Fine, we will have to agree to disagree about everything except for (YOUR QUOTE): "As a candidate, Obama pledged to label the mass killing of Armenians more than 90 years ago a 'genocide.' As president, he doesn't."

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:29 PM

Not condemning the obvious was wrong. Obama is correctly reaching out to the Muslim world in an effort to tamp down the anger engendered by the Iraq folly. But this is not about diplomacy, it's about honesty, and it is long past time this genocide was recognized and a formal apology issued.

Posted by: bklyndan22 | April 6, 2009 3:27 PM

The Turks appreciate a straight shooter even if he is indicting them of horrible historical misdeeds. President Obama has retreated to a long time political ploy of playing to any audience he is in front of for simple matters of expediency. He has lost face with the Turks now and the greated Human Rights arena. But then this seems now to be a recurring pattern of appeasement in the face of personal criticism. Witness the reversals on China and Tibet, Iran and the Nuclear Issue The man just nees to be loved, ala Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Stevedoro | April 6, 2009 3:27 PM

Not surprising, he refuses to call it the war on terror any more. Bin Laden is just "ethnically aware", not a terrorist.

At least he doesn't want to get rid of our nukes.

Posted by: alstl | April 6, 2009 3:26 PM

"Did Obama explicitly call the Armenian genocide 'genocide' today? No."

Thank you. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:25 PM


jakey:
i saw the live press conference at 5AM my time in Arizona.
I will venture that this was the hardest speech for the President to make.
I was proud of him for choosing his words so correctly and astutely.
He was very reverent, serious, kind, and staunch. Our President did wonderful.
Much better than Bush did when he went to the UN in March of 2003 and kinda sorta point blank told them we were going to invade Iraq.

In the atmosphere of President Obama's administration, this new wind of change we are all hoping for, I am glad he did not take 3 steps back with the word.

While it remains a gruesome fact of history, America was not the force behind the Armenia disaster.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:25 PM

JakeD wrote:
"I mean, even wardropper admits that Obama failed to label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide.""

Wrong, Jake. I admit no such thing. I just didn't get round to mentioning it, since it seemed more important to remind people of what a REAL liar is.

Posted by: wardropper | April 6, 2009 3:25 PM

Thats not change
That's more of the same.

Posted by: asmith58 | April 6, 2009 3:24 PM

TheBabeNemo:

Care to answer my questions to you?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:24 PM

In point of fact, Pres. Obama has already delivered on a great many of his campaign promises. But we can put that aside for the time being, the same as we can that John Boehner and a number of other Republican Congressmen who signed onto the Contract on America 14 years are still in office years after they promised they would step down -- a campaign promise that they could keep with absolutely no hindrance from the Democratic Party.

Did Obama explicitly call the Armenian genocide genocide today? No.
Did he get the Turkish government to agree to re-evaluate their perspectives? Yes.
Will they? I don't know, and neither does anyone else posting.
But does this represent at the least a step forward towards recognition of the genocide? -I- think so, even if JakeD for his own reasons prefers not to.
How many Americans, officially or otherwise, recognize the genocide of Native Americans? Ask yourselves. Many of the people posting on these fora don't even want to recognize that waterboarding, etc. is torture, at least when Bush functionaries do it.

Posted by: edallan | April 6, 2009 3:24 PM

Allow me to quote the WaPo article (unless 2008 is too far in the past to dwell on now too) re: an issue that likely won Obama many Armenian American votes during the campaign:

"As a senator, Obama signed letters to then-President George W. Bush demanding that he recognize 'the mass slaughter of Armenians as genocide.' Joining him on those letters were [then-Senator] Biden and [then-Senator] Clinton ..."

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:23 PM

a better sentence for the president to take is something like:

"history has proven that the ruling Turk revolutionary government of 1915 chose the wrong side (referencing WW1)

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:20 PM

DCTrk:

Are you an American citizen?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:19 PM

TheBabeNemo:

Are you at least disappointed that Obama did NOT label the killings as "genocide"? He did promise he would do so as President. What is your take about his NOT answering the second part of the question: "did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?"?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:13 PM

The decision to annihilate the entire population came directly from the ruling triumvirate of ultra-nationalist Young Turks. The actual extermination orders were transmitted in coded telegrams to all provincial governors throughout Turkey. Armed roundups began on the evening of April 24, 1915, as 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were taken from their homes, briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 3:10 PM

This incompetent bozo lies so much he makes Bill clinton look like an honest, upstanding individual.
What an embarrassment Obama and his groveling trip are to our nation.
This guy is a disgrace and a joke.

Posted by: LarryG62 | April 6, 2009 3:08 PM

eine1:

As Garak already conceded, indeed, a long time ago. So was 1943 and Auschwitz. So was 1965 and the Selma march. So was 9/11, it seems.

ArlingtonHokie:

Exactly right! | thought that Bush was the "worst President ever"?

TheBabeNemo:

Maybe if he ever answers the actual question posed to him today, then he will answer why he used the word "genocide" before.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 3:06 PM

Well look at the pros and cons. What do we have to gain by pressing Turkey on this issue? Yes it is important that humanities tragedies are recognized so that they not be repeated.

But I think at the moment it is EXTREMELY important to have Turkey as our strategic ally. Do we really need to force the issue on something that happened 95 years ago? As I said, I don't see anyone skewering the PM of Japan about Nanking.

And seriously, this is almost a non-issue. We are arguing over the fact that the president didn't say one word. He didn't say nothing happened, he didn't say Turkey was not responsible, he just chose not to use a word that could damage our relationship with an important ally. Is that really news?

Posted by: eine1 | April 6, 2009 3:00 PM

News: President Obama punched a little girl in the face today.
Leftists: But,but,but BUSH!

Posted by: ArlingtonHokie | April 6, 2009 2:58 PM


why does he have to use the word genocide?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 2:57 PM

I really hate to argue with JakeD since he is a stupid as a brick. So, this is addressed to the broader readership and I hope never to have a dialogue with JakeD. Is it possible that Obama thought that it would be counterproductive to say that he told the Turkish President to admit to genocide? Might the Turkish President feel bullied by that and more resistant to admitting to the facts? Did Obama promise to go to Turkey and use the word genocide at a press conference? No. If a reporter asks Obama back in the States whether he'd use the word, we'll see. As usual, it looks like a pragmatic way of accomplishing Obama's goal which, in this case, is to get the Turk's to admit that genocide occurred so that some healing could occur.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:52 PM

Veridico:

For the record. I didn't expect him to keep the promises he made during campaign either.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:52 PM

Again, no. He didn't say it wasn't genocide, and when asked what label applies, he said the old one. He clearly stated that his views haven't changed. Why is this hard for you?

Posted by: jamesdg | April 6, 2009 2:52 PM

And, by "Obama" I mean Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Jr. not someone else named Obama living in Africa or even Sr. raised from the dead.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:50 PM

Fine: Yes or no, did Obama fail to label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide" TODAY?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:48 PM

JakeD,

The clear answer to your question is NO. He did not fail to label it a genocide. He referred the questioner to his prior record, in which he repeatedly calls it a genocide. So he labeled it a genocide. This isn't hard.

If you can't see that, you either can't read or you're being willfully ignorant. My bet is on the latter.

Posted by: jamesdg | April 6, 2009 2:47 PM

Yes or no, did Obama fail to label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide"?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:45 PM

I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over!

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:44 PM

Mr. Wilson:
Your cheap effort to MAKE news is more than tasteless: it's appalling.

It seems the President understands the prudence of not directly insulting a nation which extended a welcome. That nation's revisionist perspective is as skewed and pathetic as your sense that "news" is what is not said.

Posted by: drjillshackford1 | April 6, 2009 2:43 PM

"Don't wait for the translation, answer 'yes' or 'no'!"

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:39 PM

Yes, I've read the transcript. Yes or no, did Obama fail to label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide"? It's a simple FACTUAL question.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:37 PM

I mean, even wardropper admits that Obama failed to label the mass killing of Armenians a "genocide."

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:36 PM

excerpt from actual transcript


Q Thank you, Mr. President. As a U.S. senator you stood with the Armenian-American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and you also supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution. You said, as President you would recognize the genocide. And my question for you is, have you changed your view, and did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my views are on the record and I have not changed views.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:35 PM

Renur1:

FACT: As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged that as president he would label the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman government more than 90 years ago a "genocide."

FACT: Today, he declined to do so.


FACT: In addition to the YouTube video (link above), as a senator, Obama signed letters to then-President George W. Bush demanding that he recognize "the mass slaughter of Armenians as genocide." Joining him on those letters were Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, both also senators at the time.

You can't handle the facts, let alone me.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:32 PM

Obama said something during the election that he's back-tracking on now? No way!

We've seen this before and we'll see it again. This isn't CHANGE, it's more of the same old political BS that all politicians play - say whatever it takes to get elected, then cower like a little dog when it's time to stand by your previous statements, especially when you're speaking in front of those you denounced.

For him to DEMAND that Bush renounce the killings as genocide and then to refuse to do the same thing when it's time for *him* to stand by his own word is yet one example of the hypocrisy that prevented me from voting for Mr. Teleprompter.

Posted by: johnwp | April 6, 2009 2:32 PM

This issue needs to be openly investigated by expert historians! Amenian assertion are a joke! No one massacred them, their numbers are exagerated, they instigated the killing themselves!!
Was this a genocide? NO
Was the Turkish Republic involved? NO
Is this a debatable issue? YES
Are Turk open to a full investigation? YES
Are Armenians open to an investigation?NO
Is it a legal or political issue? NO
Did Turkish Soldiers fight for U.S.? YES
Did Armenia/Armenians fight for U.S.? NO
Is Turkey a proven U.S. ally? YES
Does this issue benefit America? NO
Can this issue harm America? YES
Do American care about this issue? NO
Does this issue waste U.S. Tax $$s? YES
Does this issue waste Congress' time: YES
Did Armenians kill Turks before 1915? YES
Did Armenians kill Jews before 1915? YES
Did Armeians arm and attack Ottomans? YES
Are Armenians innocent here? NO NO NO
Do Armenians say its like Holocaust?YES
Is this a solely ethnic issue? YES
Is it motivated by Armenian hate? Yes
It is like Holocaust? NO
Do Armenians want land from Turkey? YES
Do Armenians want pay day from Turkey? YES
Is this why Armenians push this issue? YES

Posted by: DCTrk | April 6, 2009 2:28 PM

JakeD posts numerous thoughtless, factless comments, and, as anyone familiar with the Post's comments sections is painfully aware, JakeD should be banned from the Boards.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:27 PM

jermcpicky:

I thought that the Obama team said he could walk and chew gum at the same time?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:27 PM

Perhaps California was a lost cause either way, but other significant Armenian-American communities include:

Boston, Massachusetts, mainly the Boston suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts

Detroit, Michigan, also widely known as the richest Armenian community in America

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area

Northern New Jersey and the New York City metropolitan area.

Providence, Rhode Island, and its surrounding suburbs also contain flourishing Armenian-American communities. Providence is home to the Armenian Heritage Park, which recognizes Armenian heritage, culture, and religion.

There will be some blowback on this issue (which is why I didn't think that Turkey would be the first Muslim country Obama would travel to).

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:25 PM

adrienne_najjar:

If Armenian-Americans could re-cast their vote knowing this information, perhaps Obama would not have won?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:21 PM

Yes adrienne_najjar, we need to "get this genocide thing on the books." And it is clear from the transcript that "getting it on the books" is exactly what Obama is trying to do. Again, from the transcript it appears that Obama didn't want to say anything counter-productive, but he wants Turkey to admit genocide occurred at the hands of their army.

Isn't that the fair reading of the transcript?

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:21 PM

Renu1:

I think it's more than fair, especially since the obvious implication is that Obama did NOT ask Gul to recognize the genocide by name (you know, the actual question he declined to answer).

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:19 PM

I'm sure there was a lot of pressure brought on for him to let them deal with it themselves. Perhaps they will do what they say and perhaps their team of historians won't be pressured to come up with a certain conclusion. Either way; the U.S. has too much on its hands right now to go around making more countries mad over something that happened before WWII.

Posted by: jermcpicky | April 6, 2009 2:16 PM

This is GREAT news, and confirms my belief in Obama as a pragmatic non-ideologue. How many of you know that there is an Armenian lobby in the US that is hell bent on getting this genocide thing on the books?

Please read this:

http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2009/03/ask_congressman_frank_pallone.html

These congressmen are in the pockets of the Armenian lobby. Sound familiar? The same can be said of many more congressmen and the Israel lobby. The parallels are telling. If Obama's Armenian shift extrapolates to the Israel lobby, we are in for a game changing shift in American foreign policy, but it's a long shot because AIPAC is very powerful, well-heeled, and determined. Until the US starts spanking Israel over its ignoring of numerous UN resolutions, don't expect the arab-muslim world to look any more kindly upon us. We need to decide whether we really stand for justice, or whether we just give it lip-service while our so-called leaders continue taking campaign contributions from AIPAC and their surrogates.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | April 6, 2009 2:15 PM

wardropper:

Since Bush did -- to the best of his abilities -- preserve, protect, and defend ("uphold" was not his job) the Constitution, my answer is: Barack Obama (assuming he is even legally President of the United States). Next question?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:13 PM

I'd like to see some polling on that in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and right here in southern California.

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:09 PM

Is the Post's spin on the Q and A fair? Looks like a classic case of gotcha to me.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:08 PM

I seem to recall an American politician saying that words matter.

Oh well, at least he is out of the country for awhile. I guess it's better to have him bashing America from a distance.

Posted by: alstl | April 6, 2009 2:07 PM

I wonder how many of his Armenian-American voters are disappointed with Obama today?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 2:06 PM

For those of you worthless good-for-nothings too lazy to take the link to the transcript. Here is the relevant part:

PRESIDENT GUL: You can start, yes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christy Parsons, Chicago Tribune -- hometown -- hometown newspaper.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As a U.S. senator you stood with the Armenian-American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide and you also supported the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution. You said, as President you would recognize the genocide. And my question for you is, have you changed your view, and did you ask President Gul to recognize the genocide by name?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my views are on the record and I have not changed views. What I have been very encouraged by is news that under President Gul's leadership, you are seeing a series of negotiations, a process, in place between Armenia and Turkey to resolve a whole host of longstanding issues, including this one.

I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly very soon. And so as a consequence, what I want to do is not focus on my views right now but focus on the views of the Turkish and the Armenian people. If they can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage them.

And so what I told the President was I want to be as constructive as possible in moving these issues forward quickly. And my sense is, is that they are moving quickly. I don't want to, as the President of the United States, preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. I just want to say that we are going to be a partner in working through these issues in such a way that the most important parties, the Turks and the Armenians, are finally coming to terms in a constructive way.

Q So if I understand you correctly, your view hasn't changed, but you'll put in abeyance the issue of whether to use that word in the future?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I'd like to do is to encourage President Gul to move forward with what have been some very fruitful negotiations. And I'm not interested in the United States in any way tilting these negotiations one way or another while they are having useful discussions.

Q Thank you.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:06 PM

Why should US care about labeling the events that took place almost hundred years ago on the other side of the universe? Does it in any way advance US interests? NO. On the contrary. US risks quite a bit. Then why all these talks? Those in Congress who need Armenian votes do a good job.

Posted by: Neutro | April 6, 2009 2:01 PM

Here is a link to the transcript of the press conference

http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2009/04/2798-transcript-obama-turkish-president.html

It should have been linked in the Post article.

Posted by: Renu1 | April 6, 2009 2:01 PM

.
.
Your dammed if you do, and your dammed if you don't.
.
.
.

Posted by: A-Voter | April 6, 2009 1:56 PM

As a candidate, Obama pledged to label the mass killing of Armenians more than 90 years ago a "genocide." As president, he doesn't.

As a president, Bush pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States. As a president, he didn't.

Now you tell me which is the more serious oversight.

Posted by: wardropper | April 6, 2009 1:51 PM

It was politics in the period right after 1915 which prevented condemnation of the genocide of Ottoman Armenians and it is politics today which prevents Obama, as well as the pro-Turkish Israelis, from using the word genocide. The Armenians were considered a deadly threat to Turkish nationalism during WWI. The Jews were considered a deadly threat to Germany -- in both cases paranoia was to blame more than actual fact. It is true that an Armenian state which contained all the Armenians living in the Ottoman domains before 1915 would threated a Turkish state but that is no justification for genocide. Jews in any case would have been enthusiastic about Hitler had he not had his anti-Jewish mania.

Posted by: ravitchn | April 6, 2009 1:45 PM

Well I don't see anyone trying to force the Japanese to own up to the Nanking massacre or the other incidents where thousands of civilians were slaughtered in WWII? Have we forced China to own up to the millions killed by Mao?

Is it important to reconcile the past? Absolutely. But it is a bit hypocritical to be holding this over Turkey's head when we don't do that to everyone else.

Posted by: eine1 | April 6, 2009 1:44 PM

Amen, Veridico. You beat me to what I was going to say.

Posted by: segeny | April 6, 2009 1:41 PM

Politicians will always be "politicians". For Obama to have campaigned on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915--a well-documented, irrefutable historical fact--as Senator and now he's flip-flopping. As President he is now saying "it's between the Armenians and the Turks to deal with the past". In other words, forget what I said. It was just 'campaign talk'.

The holocaust that deeply traumatized the Armenian people may never be healed.
But having the former rapists and murderers of their families held accountable, at last, will surely be therapeutic for the Armenian people--just as the Jewish survivors can never forget the despicably horrendous racist attacks of the Nazi monsters in WWII.

Obama should quit talking from both sides of his mouth and do the decent thing expected of his transcendant presidency that has put the Bushian nightmare in the ignominious past of history...

Posted by: MSakel | April 6, 2009 1:40 PM

Anybody who expects Obama to keep the promises he made during campaign, must be either naive or a fool. He's spineless and gutless and will always tell his audiences what they want to hear, to wit his current European tour, just so he can remain popular among the world leaders at the expense of his own country. I never believed his beautiful teleprompter speeches and will never trust him. He's all talk but never walk the walk.

Posted by: Veridico | April 6, 2009 1:38 PM

askgee wrote: "How are we ever going to fix the present to guarantee we have a future if we're to busy wasting time on the past? Not even our past."

Let the Turks stop wasting time on their fraudulent past and stop blackmailing us. And as the man said, those who would forget the past are condemned to repeat it. And if the rest of the world took you attitude, they'd tell us that 9/11 is our problem, not theirs.

TheBabeNemo wrote: "1915 was a long time ago."

So was 1943 and Auschwitz. So was 1965 and the Selma march. So was 9/11.

Posted by: Garak | April 6, 2009 1:36 PM

askgees:

Perhaps Obama should have been more careful as a candidate then? Did you even watch the YouTube video above?

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 1:35 PM

Wikipedia entry on Air Force One:

"On 26 December 1973, then-President Richard Nixon flew as a passenger aboard a Washington Dulles to Los Angeles International flight. It was explained by his staff that this was done in order to conserve fuel by not having to fly the usual Boeing 707 Air Force aircraft; however, the 707 followed behind in case of emergency.[12]"

The only incidence of a U.S. President flying commercial since WWII, and it doesn't look like much of a cost savings was involved. Just a typical Nixonian subterfuge.

Not that this has anything to do with Armenian genocide or foreign policy; but any issue suffices for this source to parade his latest bugbears.

Posted by: nodebris | April 6, 2009 1:32 PM

How are we ever going to fix the present to guarantee we have a future if we're to busy wasting time on the past? Not even our past.

Posted by: askgees | April 6, 2009 1:24 PM

I just want to know how much it cost the U.S. taxpayers to transport 500+ people for this little European vacation? I thought we were in the middle of an economic "crisis"? Can we really afford to spend over $2 BILLION per year to run the White House anymore?

P.S. Richard Nixon flew commercial as President:

http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1973-12/1973-12-27-CBS-8.html

Posted by: JakeD | April 6, 2009 12:53 PM

1915 was a long time ago.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 6, 2009 12:02 PM

Was it Genocide - of course.

Does it matter? Yes. Reconciliation cannot take place without the Truth.

How can Turkey be trusted in their promises of looking at history when they prosecute and imprison anyone in Turkey who says Ottoman Turkey committed Genocide against the Armenians and Assyrians. Turkey should first allow full freedom of speech for its own Historians before it suggests leaving the matter in the hands of historians.

Posted by: Victor8 | April 6, 2009 11:38 AM

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