Armenia: Condi in the Crosshairs
Many ethnic Armenians who read ex-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recently published memoirs ("No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington") are spitting fire over her descriptions of her battles with the US-based Diaspora Armenian lobby. Both in 1991 as a presidential aide (to then US President George Bush) and in 2007 as secretary of state (under then President George W. Bush), Rice worked to defeat the congressional push for recognizing the World-War I-era slaughter of ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. While acknowledging the brutality and the scale of the bloodshed, Rice writes that US recognition of the act as genocide would have antagonized Turkey, a key strategic ally for the US. She argues that she was guided by the raison d’état that labels are best left to historians. Not in the view of American-Armenian Diaspora groups or many Armenian-language news services, who have republished a letter from Harut Sassounian, the publisher of Los Angeles' The California Courier, a weekly catering to the city's sizable Diaspora Armenian community, that advises Stanford University (where Rice now works as a political science professor, a political economy professor at Stanford's business school and, lastly, a public policy fellow) to inform the 57-year-old foreign policy veteran that "genocide deniers are not welcome at one of America’s most distinguished institutions of higher learning." Warming to his task, Sassounian charged that Rice had behaved as “a spineless official of a banana republic” by allegedly caving in to Turkish interests. And Rice? Ever the diplomat, she's keeping quiet.