Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why the removal of Hoagland's nomination doesn't impress me

Before I begin I'll admit my views may prove controversial and isn't representative to how most Armenians view this situation, but I'm going to write it here because I feel the urge to say it. All I'm providing is my views and analysis on the situation, feel free to disagree.

It's old news but Bush removed the nomination of Hoagland as the new Ambassador of Armenia. For those who don't know, Democrats in Congress acted with the discretion of Armenian voices (namely but certainly not limited to the ANCA) and blocked the nomination and Hoagland was named a genocide denier.

Well, does it seem like a victory for us? Perhaps on the surface, democrats worked in conjunction with the Armenian community in a move against genocide denial. Several democratic and republican senators grilled Hoagland at his hearing just over one year ago. Does this send a message to the Bush administration that Armenian Genocide Recognition should be taken seriously? Is this a victory for us? I don't think so.

The reason why Hoagland's nomination was removed was because Bush declined to use a recess appointment. A recess appointment is a tool that the President can use where an ambassador gets appointed to a position during a congressional recess. It pretty much bypasses congressional opposition. Why didn't Bush use a recess appointment for Hoagland? Enter Sam Fox and John Bolton. John Bolton was the Permanent US representative to the UN and Sam Fox is the current ambassador to Belgium, both were appointed via recess appointments with Fox's appointment happening recently on April 7, right in the middle of the Hoagland crisis. Looks like Bush has a history of nominating ambassadors that congress doesn't like, looks like Bush has a history of using recess appointments to get these guys through, and it looks like congress finally got fed up with it. So what happened to that recess appointment for Hoagland? Sorry buddy, you're collateral damage, congress is griping at me because of these recess appointments and I don't want to deal with it anymore. Bush needs his guys at the UN and the EU a lot more than he needs them in Armenia (EU headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium). Armenia is expendable to Bush, seeing that he doesn't really need an ambassador in Yerevan he took the easy way out and withdrew. Now, does it really matter to Bush why congress didn't want Hoagland? My guess is no. Does it matter to congressional democrats? Or are they just using this as a tool to score points off of Bush? Does it matter to anybody? Ok ok now I'm being too cynical. This was a huge act of defiance against Genocide Denial by the Armenian community, but is this move what the Armenian community is making it out to be, i.e. is this a success for the Genocide Recognition? Or did it get jungled up together with Washington politics?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for advocacy, and the Armenian community did stand up for something they believe in, but I think there's a tangible difference between what we want this to be and what actually happened. Maybe I'm thinking too much through the DC perspective, but this perspective is the way we are going to get Genocide recognized.

About the merits of urging congress to block Hoagland's nomination, I was against this move from the start. It doesn't make sense to me to have Armenia without an ambassador during a critical time in US Armenian relations highlighted by the MCC deal.

Does it seem prudent to go against the wishes of the Armenian government in its dealings with the US? (yes the Armenian governments stance was in favor of Hoagland being appointed, but you won't find this stated everywhere). The Armenian government generally isn't much prudent either I'll admit, but in this case I think it's a legitimate question to ask.

I welcome debate.