16 Bob Dole and the Armenian Genocide. From Dr. K to Mr. Byrd
During his long political career, Bob Dole was a loyal friend of the Armenian American community and a consistent supporter of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States. His attachment to this cause stemmed from his special relationship with an Armenian American surgeon, Dr. Hampar Kelikian, who gave new meaning to Dole’s life after he returned from World War II severely handicapped. It led him to defend Armenia and the Armenian people in Congress and to fight for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States (which proved reluctant to antagonize Turkey, its NATO ally). In 1990, Dole and Armenian activists led a long and tough battle in the Senate to pass Senate Joint Resolution 212 (S. J. Res. 212), a resolution recognizing the Genocide. They faced strong opposition from Turkey, the Executive branch, and Robert Byrd, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The resolution was eventually rejected. This article analyzes Dole’s strong relationship with the Armenians and his struggle to obtain the recognition of the Genocide in Congress. It focuses on Dole and Byrd, and it discusses how the Senate operated, Congress-Executive relations, and the significance of lobbying.