Open Letter to President Obama

“If you fooled us once, shame on you.
If you fooled us for a second time, shame on us.”
January 2, 2012

Dear Mr. President,

The Armenian-Americans overwhelmingly voted for you in 2008 election because we believed in you! We believed that you were going to be the president of change. We believed that you were going to change Washington and that you would stand for the truth. But it was business as usual again after you were elected. Nothing really changed in Washington. Nothing you promised really materialized. Needless to say, we are all disappointed.

“If you fooled us once, shame on you.
If you fooled us for a second time, shame on us.”
January 2, 2012

Dear Mr. President,

The Armenian-Americans overwhelmingly voted for you in 2008 election because we believed in you! We believed that you were going to be the president of change. We believed that you were going to change Washington and that you would stand for the truth. But it was business as usual again after you were elected. Nothing really changed in Washington. Nothing you promised really materialized. Needless to say, we are all disappointed.

I for one, for the first time in over thirty years, voted for a democrat. Because, I believed that you were different from other politicians. You spoke honestly and sincerely. You told us that you were going to be the president that would recognize the Armenian-Genocide. You reneged on your promise and used evasive words like “Mets Yeghern” instead of the correct translation for Genocide which is: “Tseghasbanoutiun”. The president of France, Sarkozy recently used both English and the Armenian word for Genocide why can’t you?

Armenians are fed-up with vain promises. We want action! Your words, or the words of any politician for that matter, mean nothing to us anymore! We will judge you and all politicians by their actions! Not by their words.

The polls show a very close race, no matter who is running against you. So, I don’t think you can afford to lose the Armenian-American vote of 1.5 million! 3 million, if you consider the fact that, not only they will not vote for you, they will be voting for your opponent. I know that you are fair and reasonable man and that you are getting bad advice from bureaucrats in the State Department. There is still time before the next election to keep your campaign promise. If you don’t honor your campaign promise, the only loser in this election, would be you Mr. President and not the bureaucrats in the State Department!

Therefore, I strongly suggest that you reconsider your Campaign promise of 2008 and recognize the Armenian Genocide before it is too late. Remember, Mr. President, by recognizing the Armenian Genocide you will be the winner of next election! I guarantee that you will get almost all of the Armenian-American vote because when it comes to this issue, Armenians are united. So, why don’t you surprise everyone and recognize the Armenian Genocide before November, 2012! Remember! We will judge you by your actions this time!

Respectfully yours,

John Keusseyan, Lt. Col. USAF (Retired)


  1. Outstanding letter

    Outstanding letter! I liked it so much.

    Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on President Obama’s actions. I congratulate Lt. Col. Keusseyan for his bold move.

    1. Thank you for your kind words

      Thank you for your kind words Sylva.  Judging from the above comments, it looks like only Armenians in Lebanon have some azkayin voki left in them.

  2. Vote for Or Against

    It would have been proper if John had personalized this letter instead of taking the liberty of speaking on behalf of Armenian-Americans. He may have elaborated his point by stating that many Armenian-Americans may act the same way. It is out of line to make a blanket assertion. Recently I read an article in an Armenian daily advocating that Armenian-Americans not participate in the upcoming elections. The author stated that those who renege on their promises must be punished.

    Obviously, it is John’s prerogative to vote against President Obama should the latter not use the word "Genocide" at the upcoming April 24 commemoration and for the writer of the article in the Armenian-American daily not to vote for any candidate. Since I emigrated to the U.S., I have followed nine presidential elections, the first being Carter’s in 1976. I have voted in every presidential election since becoming a citizen. Those presidential elections constituted ample experience for me with candidates from both sides of the aisle when it comes to keeping the promises they made on their campaign trail. We should all heed to what Gov. Como of New York said: a politician campaigns in poetry but governs in prose. I will discharge my civic duties and vote in 2012 but will not vote for or against a presidential candidate to the total disregard of his platform.

     I also am not sure what would a president’s using the word "Genocide" in his April 24 proclamation mean in way of recognition of the Genocide by U.S. President Ronald Reagan used it. I doubt that all Armenian-Americans voted for him or supported him for having used the G word.

    The recognition of the Genocide at the legislative level is what we need to strive, and not resort to such sentimental and extreme public stands advocating that Armenian- Americans–natural-born or naturalized–not to discharge their civic duties as best they know because a president does not use the G word in his April 24 commemoration.

    1. Obviously you missed the paragraph

      Obviously you missed the paragraph in my letter where I said "almost all Armenians". I figured there would be some Armenians like yourself. Also see the above comment.

  3. The open letter to President Obama

    To the readers of

    Yes, the letter is to the point, but I am really surprised for the naivety of its content, specially coming from a retired lieutenant in the US Air Force. Do you really believe that anything  can be changed in the foreign policy of the US, don’t you all know that every political decision is made only by the military and their leaders? So, please, be a little bit more mature. Obama cannot be a decision maker, and also nobody else if making any promise can fulfill it in that country. Unfortunately, we the simple-minded Armenians think that anybody can change this attitude…Let us think and then act from now on…

    I am sorry, but this is what is happening now not only in the US but all over the world. It is the hegemony of the powerful that rules….Until something is changed in the people and they rise against the rulers, nothing can be accomplished, including our rights and demands.

    1. I totally agree with Arsineh.

      I totally agree with Arsineh. The president of USA is only a puppet of the dictatorial ‘board’ of the government which presides president-after-president and nobody gets to vote them out.

      The president really doesn’t have any power, if they try, they might have the fate of JFK.

      Democracy you say??  Not in ‘real’ America, don’t be that naive…


    2. What is your point Ms. Attarian

      What is your point, Ms. Attarian? You want us to roll over and play dead? Why are you addressing the Keghart readers? They did not write the letter; I did. You have also confused Lieutenant with a Lt. Colonel.

      I only have three words–"DO NOTHING PEOPLE"–to individuals who criticize others who are doing something. If Thomas Edison had listened to these people, we would still be sitting in the dark. If Alexander Graham Bell had listened to these people, we would still be communicating with smoke signals. If Henry Ford had listened to these people, we would still be riding donkeys. If the Wright Brothers had listened to these people, we would not have airplanes; and thank God that they believed in what they were doing and continued to do it until they were successful. I know it is a long shot but as Napoleon said: "There is nothing impossible." Failure follows when people stop trying and give up.

      It’s a mistaken notion (or view, or opinion) that the US military leadership makes foreign policy and controls the U.S. government. I don’t know about Canada but in the US only the President makes foreign policy and the State Department implements it and not the military; the military leadership advises the president on military matters only and follows the president’s orders.

      I don’t know about you, but I am a second-generation of the Genocide survivors and I remember my father’s stories of how he lost all of his family; how the Turks drafted all seven of his older brothers and sent them to amala capu (labor camps) and forced them dig their own graves and he never saw them again; how the Turks slaughtered his parents and how Turks burned his only sister in a church. She was only four-years-old. You can call me anything you want and that will not stop me from pursuing the Armenian Cause until justice is served and the souls of our Martyrs rest in peace.

  4. Open letter to President Obama

    Colonel Keusseyan,

    Please picture yourself sitting in the Oval Office, confronted by overwhelming international problems, and forced to make timely and monumental decisions, all the while praying that your judgments are wise and appropriate. Now that Mr Obama resides in the White House as president, his situation is radically different (an understatement!) than before he entered it.  It’s not easy being president.

    The issue of Turkey’s barbaric slaughter of more than a million Armenians, and her unwillingness to confess and make amends, is a critical one.  Yet it’s NOT the only issue facing the president today.

    Mr. Obama does not have narrow tunnel vision, and Armenia, which I honestly believe he’s concerned about, must be dealt with in context of the whole.  He is not a one-agenda person, and shouldn’t be.

    Mr. Obama is not perfect (no one is!), but I believe that, while trying to juggle a thousand balls in the air at one time, his intentions are  honorable.  Irrespective of what he "promised" Armenian-Americans, perhaps you and I and others will appreciate difficulties facing him in a most volatile area of the world, namely the Near and Middle East.

    Eli Takesian

  5. You’re Too Naive

    You’re either too naive or just wanted to write something. Your call to President Obama is a shot in the air. You are blowing a punctured balloon.
    Many have written to him, including myself, prior to his first April 24th address because that was the best time he could have delivered on his promise, but sadly disappointed us all. He can’t make that decision. Remember the petition signed by seven Secretaries of State against a recognition of "Genocide"? He shouldn’t have made any promises he couldn’t keep

    President Reagan did but nothing happened. The world didn’t come tumbling down nor did the wheels of reparation start rolling. 

    Recognition only on US administrative/legislative level can start to roll those wheels for further action. I agree with Garabed that this is what we should strive for.

    As for voting, it is our duty to share in the making of the countries that we now call home. It is our constitutional right and duty to vote, and we must do it for the love of our country of citizenship and residence.


  6. Obama

    Some years ago Gore Vidal wrote that America is ruled by two parties of the rich–the Republicans and the Democrats. It didn’t make any difference who ran the country as they–sharing the same interests–alternated in serving their own interests or of their mutual establishment friends. The president who doesn’t observe this arrangment is turfed pronto. Remember what happened to Jimmy Carter.

    1. Canadians and Americans

      I was in Toronto in 2008 to attend a conference and then extended my stay to be with my friends and the friends they had made. We were all from Middle-East and settled on this northern continent. I was taken back and disturbed by the rampant anti American feelings prevailing among my friends. They seemed to be focused on America way more than the average American on Canada. 

      Mesrob, reading your comment along with the comments made by Arsineh, Vartkes to this article reinforced my impression that Canadians continue to harbor a very low regard to their southern neighbor. 

      1. Anti-American Canadians

        Garabed, your observation re Canadian attitudes toward America is bang on.

        Although Canadians benefit from their proximity to the US (the list of the benefits is too long and too obvious to list), many Canadians are not impressed by America. In addition to all the reasons so many people around the world are hostile to America (political, military, economic, cultural hegemony all over the globe), Canadians resent that America takes Canada for granted, ignores it and is ignorant about the second-largest country in the world.

        Among endless examples of these slights: Many Americans think Canadians speak French; many Americans think Toronto and Ontario are in the US; many Americans think it snows up here year round, although the temperature in most Canadian cities is no different from temperatures in New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago… Most Americans can’t name a single Canadian prime minister.

        What also galls Canadians is that so many "American" entertainers are Canadian, although Americans merrily claim these artists as their own–from Celine Dion to Paul Anka to Joni Mitchell to Neil Young, Dan Ayckroyd, Raymond Burr, the Guess Who, Glenn Ford, Raymond Massey, many movie/TV producers, directors, writers/actors, the producer of Saturday Night Live, Peter Jennings, Morley Safer, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Kenneth Galbraith, Marshall McLuhan, Leonard Cohen, Lorne Greene, Norman Jewison … thousands of famous "American" names in entertainment, business and the sciences.

        Americans love to claim as their own the genius of other people, although America is not short of remarkable people. As an Armenian, you must have felt the same way when Aram Khachaturian, Anastas Mikoyan, Charles Aznavour, Henri Troyat are identified by non-Armenians as Russians and French.

        Canadians are understandably jealous of their powerful, affluent neighbour. They also know that if Ottawa doesn’t abide by Washington’s foreign policy diktats we would be penalized. In recent years Canada has participated in American aggression (Afghanistan, Libya and will also be there if there’s war against Syria) because of US pressure, although most Canadians are against these American imperial wars.

        Some Canadian-Armenians share many of these Canadian antipathies toward the US.
        Canadian-Armenians have another reason not to feel particularly warm toward our giant southerly neighbour because of Washington’s close ties to Ankara and a number of other states which are not friendly toward Armenia. Obama’s forked tongue re the Genocide added fuel to the disenchantment of Armenians.

        Finally, being so close to the US, Canadian social life is impacted by the spillover of American problems (drugs, violence, racism, etc.) into Canada. In the political arena, we know that what happens in the US also impacts our lives here. Thus if there’s a far right government in Washington, Ottawa has to make a rightward shift. If loony fundamentalists become too strong in the US, they energize our domestic loonies.
        A Canadian saying: "When America coughts, we catch cold; when America catches cold, we catch pneumonia."

        The above list is by no means comprehensive.

  7. Judging Comments

    Judging from the comments, most Armenians always see the glass as half-empty. Let us be positive. I encourage every Armenian to take the intiative, make this a number-one priority and encourage others to do the same, instead of putting road blocks in front of people who have taken the time to act.

    This is a great letter. Keep up the good work Col. Keusseyan.

    1. Thank you Zohrab

      Thank you Zohrab.  My sentiments exactly.  Unfortunately, most Armenians are good at critisizing, but they never offer a better solution or any solution for that matter.  That’s why we never get anywhere.  They cut the branch they are standing on. For whatever reason, they made this into a Canadian and American issue instead of concentrating on the core subject; go figure.  I don’t mind constructive critisism as long as they offer a better solution.  Somtimes I wonder if it is even worth to spend my time on this matter.  That’s exactly what the Turks want and we are helping them by shooting ourselves in the foot.

  8. Lt. Col. John Kuesseyan Articles

    Excellent opinions expressed on both sides. I may be partial towards Lt. Col. John Keusseyan's articles and his approach to this difficult subject that he has taken up head on. He is a childhood friend of mine, and I'm very proud to still call him my friend.

    Levon Poladian 

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