President George W. Bush on Tuesday re-nominated as ambassador to Armenia a career diplomat whose confirmation was blocked by Senate Democrats in the last Congress.
The White House announced the submission of Richard Hoagland Tuesday, despite calls by top Democrats to withdraw the nomination because of his refusal to call the World War I-era killings of Armenians genocide. Hoagland's predecessor, John Evans, reportedly had his tour of duty cut short because, in a social setting, he referred to the killings as genocide.
Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, blocked the nomination after Hoagland's refusal to use the word genocide at his confirmation hearing in June. Bush needed to resubmit the nomination, because it effectively expired at the end of the previous Congress in December. Menendez and the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid, wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in early December asking the Bush administration to withdraw the nomination.
The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate on the genocide question could damage relations with Turkey, a moderate Muslim nation that is a NATO member and an important strategic ally. Turkey has adamantly denied claims by scholars that its predecessor Ottoman state killed Armenians in a planned genocide.
(Photolur photo: Richard Hoagland.)