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Bush's Reelection / Armenian Interests 08/14/2003
Supporting Pres. Bush's Reelection
Could Undermine Armenian Interests

By Harut Sassounian,
Publisher, The California Courier

Even though it is a little bit too soon to comment on the presidential
election of November 2004, a press release issued last week by the National
Organization of Republican Armenians (NORA) on contributions provided by
Armenian Americans for the reelection of Pres. Bush leaves us no choice but
to deal with this subject more than a year before the election.
The press release titled, "Republican Armenians among early supporters of
Bush-Cheney reelection campaign," reports that 45 Armenian Americans have
already contributed more than $75,000 for the reelection of Pres. Bush
during the first six months of 2003. NORA lists the names of the Armenian
contributors and indicates that these figures reveal "strong early Armenian
American support for the Bush-Cheney reelection effort."
Why would any Armenian American consider supporting the reelection of Bush
and Cheney, the most anti-Armenian presidential team in recent memory? We
all recall that Pres. Bush, while still a candidate, made a pledge in
writing to support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Since his
opponent, Vice President Al Gore, had not made a similar commitment, this
writer chose to endorse Bush for President. A large number of
Armenian-Americans voted for Bush rather than Gore in the 2000 presidential
election because of his promises on the Armenian Genocide.
Regrettably, the Armenian community was deceived once again by yet another
President who promised one thing as a candidate and ended up doing the exact
opposite after coming into office. Despite his pre-election commitment and a
subsequent petition signed by more than 100 members of the House of
Representatives requesting Pres. Bush to refer to the Armenian Genocide as a
genocide in his annual April 24 statement, he has adamantly refused to do so
in the past three years.
Furthermore, various Bush administration officials have taken positions
inimical to just about every Armenian issue, such as proposing a substantial
reduction of U.S. foreign aid to Armenia, opposing the self-determination of
Karabagh, and waiving section 907 banning aid to Azerbaijan. Even more
egregious is the Bush administration's vehement opposition to a
congressional resolution commemorating the U.S.  implementation of the
Genocide Convention, simply because it makes a passing reference to the
Armenian Genocide.
Who can forget the shameful letter written by Secretary of State Colin
Powell trying to block a resolution by the State of Maryland to recognize
the Armenian Genocide? How about the letter recently sent by the Assistant
Secretary of State Paul Kelly urging Members of Congress to vote against the
Genocide Resolution? Need one be reminded of the apologists for Turkey, such
as Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz,
Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman and many others, who are occupying
the highest echelons of the Bush administration?
Given the Bush administration's terrible record on Armenian issues over the
past three years, the leaders of NORA are hard pressed to make a case why
any Armenian should support the reelection of Pres. Bush. The small number
of Armenians who have contributed so far to the reelection campaign of
Bush-Cheney may have several reasons for doing so, such as strong ties to
the Republican Party, a personal preference for George Bush, a business
relationship to Republican circles or simply contribute to both Republican
and Democratic candidates just to hedge their bets. All of these are
understandable reasons for supporting the Republican ticket. But, let's not
fool ourselves into believing that supporting the reelection of Bush-Cheney
is in the best interest of Armenians or Armenia. On the cont rary!
Contributing to Pres. Bush's reelection campaign would be sending the wrong
message that Armenians are not serious about their own issues, and that they
can be easily fooled, not just once, but twice. As the popular saying goes:
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
Rather than endorsing this administration's unacceptable record, Armenian
Americans should have the courage to stand up for their rights and give
their hard-earned money and votes only to those candidates, be they
Republicans or Democrats, who have a proven track record and have followed
through on their commitments to the Armenian community.
Finally, this criticism of the Bush administration's record on Armenian
issues should not be misconstrued as a partisan attack. The Democratic
candidates for President should be similarly scrutinized. After being fooled
so many times by candidates from both parties, Armenians should not trust
politicians who make big promises to get their money and votes and totally
ignore their issues, once elected!
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