posts 16 - 24 of 24
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

Intervention to Stop Genocide and Mass Atrocities

When the genocide of the Armenians occurred, every country including the United States had taken on the role of bystanders and watched as the horror ensued. In A Problem from Hell, Samantha Power described the reactions that the nations had in response to the genocide. The British officials attempts to excuse their lack of action by arguing that “the message would influence Turkish behavior and might even cause Turkey to adopt more serious measures against the Armenians.” Although the allies did warn the Turkish government that they will be held accountable for the genocide, that is not nearly enough to stop the Turkish government. Despite the public outcry for action in the United States and Henry Morgenthau’s effort to stop the genocide, President Woodrow Wilson decided to stay neutral because “the Turks had not violated the rights of Americans” and that Morgenthau “[has] no right to interfere with their internal affairs.” Additionally, I find the Turkish government’s justification for the genocide similar to the American government’s treatment of the Japanese Americans during World War II. The Armenians “most expressed loyalty to Constantinople. But this did not stop the Turkish leadership from using the pretext of an Armenian ‘evolutionary uprising’ and the cover of war to eradicate the Armenian presence in Turkey.” The Japanese Americans also expressed loyalty to America but this did not stop the government from putting them in concentration camps and portraying the Japanese Americans as spies. I also agree with @coral27 that the hypocrisy of the United States having a history of oppression and genocide should not be a reason to stop us from recognizing and intervening when there is a human rights violation.

The United States and the other nations have the power and thus the responsibility to always interfere and stop the nation from committing a genocide when am entire population is being destroyed. There is no reason to excuse a nation that has the resources and influence to stop the genocide yet decided to stand by and watch millions of people tortured and murdered. Saving the lives of millions is way more important than staying neutral. The United States and the other nations should’ve collectively opposed and condemned the actions of the Turkish government. Then, they can send reinforcement and resources to help the Armenian refugees escape to nearby countries and establish refugee camps there. These are some of the possible actions that the nations could’ve taken to prevent or at least rescue some of the Armenians. If we allow one country to commit genocide without having any consequences, then other countries might see that it is okay to commit these acts against humanity. Therefore, the United States and other nations should always interfere if they witness any form of genocide and publicly condemn the nation committing the act so that it won’t happen again.

The world nations did not behave any differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the genocide in Namibia but the Armenian genocide did receive more recognition than the genocide in Namibia as mentioned by @ilikekiwis. In both cases, many nations choose to standby and watch because it does not directly affect them or violate the rights of their citizens. However, the Armenian genocide occurred because they were seen as a threat in the eyes of the Turkish government while the Germans viewed the Herero and the Nama as sub-human due to the growing belief in eugenics and social darwinism at that time. Also, there was less records from the genocide in Namibia due to German propaganda and the German government actively tried to hide this atrocity while there was a lot of proof for the Armenian genocide and Turkish government was not trying to hide their actions.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Innocent lives are not a political matter

To put it in simplest terms, yes the US should have intervened.The word genocide is not one that just gets tossed around or is placed on a situation lightly. it is one that is evaluated, and must check many boxes in order to be categorized as a genocide. given the resources that the United States and other nations had during this time, yes they should have intervened.

This genocide was being publicized. now although they may not have had the media platforms that we have today, they still knew about it and people were speaking out about it. In Samantha powers’, “A Problem from Hell,” She talks about how Teddy Roosevelt, who was the former president, had reached out and said The Americans we're being hypocritical. he expressed that their excuse for not intervening in order to keep Americans safe was ironic because they were letting innocent people die when they had the power to stop it or at least try and stop it.

I think that Americans in the world behaved relatively similarly to the way that they reacted to the genocides in West Africa. they rarely did anything about it despite after-the-fact saying how awful these events were. the difference between the West African genocides and the Armenian Genocide is that like I said previously The Armenian Genocide for much more well-known. They were fully aware of what was happening and chose to do nothing about it.

Overall when genocide is happening in the world and certain Nations have the power to do something about it I always think that it is their job to step in. innocent lives are not something that is up for political debate.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24


The Aremnian Genoice was a horrible atrocity in our world’s history that took hundreds of thousands of lives. While this was occuring, many European countries were tied up in World War I. During this time of war, America tried to remain neutral and because of that, it is my opinion that America was a bystander to the genocide and has no excuse for its lack of involvement.

America acted as a bystander by not doing anything significant to help Armenians in a time of crisis. President Woodrow Wilson was insistent on keeping America’s neutrality thus he made no moves to pressure the Young Turks or their allies. Henry Morgenthau was a US ambassador for the Ottoman Empire appointed by Wilson in 1913. Morgenthau was exposed to what he called a “race murder,” and tried to bring it to Wilson’s attention. Instead, Morgenthau was instructed to basically keep quiet so as to not start any issues with any other countries. Eventually, Morgenthau was able to bring the news of the massacre of the Armenians to the New York Times who was able to bring the genocide to the attention of the general public. Even after the public became aware of the genocide and were urging the government to act on it, the US still maintained their neutrality and told Morgenthau to look elsewhere for assistance. Morgenthau continued his efforts and even went to Turkey at one point, but by the end of his career in Wilson’s administration, he wasn’t able to get the US to intervene. Even after the war, the US still tried to stay out of conflict so the perpetrators were tried in Britain. Ultimately, the US Government was useless in helping the Armenians.

There is no doubt in my mind that the United States should’ve stepped in and helped end the Armenian Genocide. It is embarrassing and frankly disgusting that the United States stood by while thousands were slaughtered just for the sake of neutrality. It was a lousy excuse and it never should have prevented the US from intervening in the war and saving Armenians. I believe the US should’ve joined the War sooner and directed military efforts into moving the Turks out of the empire.

Posts: 23

The Cost of Bystanderism: The Armenian Genocide

The United States and other nations should always take a stand when an entire population is being destroyed, wherever and whenever it happens. The United States tried not to draw attention to what was happening in Turkey out of concern of not wanting to join the war. The quote: “Because the Turks had not violated the rights of Americans, Wilson did not formally protest” (5) really sums up how selfish and pathetic the American government’s stance in this was. While Britain and France were at least concerned about the atrocities, even while dealing with the waging war encompassing them, America decided to continue its bystanderism.

Governments can cover up their murders by claiming it is “for the country’s well-being” or “self-defense” as the Turkish leadership used “an Armenian ‘revolutionary uprising’” (3) to deflect attention from their wrongdoings. Similarly, the Germans at first claimed their killings as “self-defense” against “savage revolters” in the Herero and Nama genocide. Even so, Samantha Powers writes about how “the outside world had known that the Armenians were at grave risk well before Talaat and the Young Turk leadership ordered their deportation” (1) and “In January 1915, in remarks reported by the New York Times, Talaat said that there was no room for Christians in Turkey and that their supporters should advise them to clear out” (2). The United States knew entirely what was happening, yet we decided to be bystanders. Even after Henry Morgenthau called out the “race murder,” the U. S. was determined to stay out of foreign affairs in order to keep out of the war. American ideology is that we have the right to intervene when we think we can “save” the “unfit” people in a country, as we did with the Philippines and other countries, yet when there was a genocide underway, we stood by in order to “not interfere with Turkish affairs.”

Power writes about how Morgenthau found it maddening how policies made it so he as an ambassador had no right to interfere in any monstrosities happening. She also describes how the media attention caused the Turkish government to shift a bit and how Morgenthau continuously urged the United States to take action. If media coverage in the United States had been more forceful earlier, then perhaps the American public would have demanded more action. The United States could have and should have broken off ties with Turkey in order to pressure them into stopping the genocide. The US government should have listened to Morgenthau and confronted the atrocities.

Raphael Lemkin noticed how states would only pursue justice if they were pressured politically, the process would benefit themselves, or their own citizens were affected (19). His story of being fascinated and appalled by the the “frequency of the evil … and, above all, by the impunity coldly relied upon by the guilty” (20) when he was young goes to show how important it is for even kids to learn about the past’s atrocities in order to ensure they are remembered and that forgotten history does not repeat itself.Oftentimes as well, the League of Nations is too divided to be relied upon, as Powers explains, and so individual countries need to advocate for justice themselves. Lemkin suggested to President Roosevelt that the U. S. should adopt a treaty to ban barbarity and to declare that the Allies would protect Europe’s minorities. Roosevelt said that he urged patience, but as Lemkin argued, I also believe that patience leads to a “double murder” by the perpetrator and the bystander together. If Roosevelt had listened to Lemkin’s proposals then perhaps some of the atrocities would have been stopped.

World nations definitely behaved much differently during the Armenian genocide than they did with the Herero and Nama genocide mainly by simply recognizing the Armenian genocide and demanding that Turkey be held responsible. Powers explains how Britain, France, and Russia recognized the violations of laws of war and “laws of humanity.” The British ended up pressuring the arrest of the Turkish executioners. With the carnage in Namibia, there was no such recognition of the horrors by any country, let alone calls for arresting the perpetrators.

Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 27

US Obligation to Intervene in the Armenian Genocide

if one has the power to save lives, I believe that they should put aside their reservations and do so. With the vast power and influence held by the United States, it baffles me that they decided to choose neutrality over stepping in and using their influence to save the lives of Armenians. We know that 1 million Armenians were murdered by Talaat pasha, the Turkish leader. It began with Armenian schools being burned, along with the destruction of churches. It escalated to mass killings and the deliberate deportation of Armenians, when they were sent on a death-journey through the desert. We know that Henry Morgenthau, an Armenian Ambassador was fighting relentlessly to try to convince the US to intervene. With evidence from eyewitnesses who corroborated the horrors, and more, the US still decided to remain neutral in WWI. I believe that in such an instance, where the US held so much power, it was their obligation to intervene, yet they completely disregard human lives purposely. I think that it’s necessary for countries to always use their power for good and stop horrors like the Armenian Genocide from happening.

With The US having knowledge of the horrible violence against Armenians in 1915, I believe they should have tried to work out a diplomatic solution first. This actually was what Henry Morgenthau wanted at first, but the US Wilson administration was adamant about continuing to be neutral. America was greatly aware of what was going on, yet decided to be complacent. The New York Times published 145 stories about the genocide in 1915, referring to the many murders, and more details, I think that with the knowledge they had, despite not having too much evidence because of the Turkish government’s lies, the US had more than enough evidence to intervene and stop them. If the diplomatic solution didn’t work, then possibly violence was the way to go in order to save Armenian lives.

I believe that one thing that the US did correctly, which I believe other nations should do regarding such atrocities is educate others about them. Talaat Pasha and other Turkish representatives would lie, saying that the only thing going on was deportations of Armenians. They would say that women and children’s lives were spared, and that the Armenians who were killed were just rebels who brought their fate upon themselves. The US published many stories debunking this narrative and educating Americans about the many deaths that were occuring in Turkey. This is amazing because with so many lies, the New York Times remained a credible source that was taking initiative. Educating people on these things makes citizens want to push the government into intervening. Even though in this instance it didn’t work, I think this strategy has the potential to work in other instances.

This genocide was definitely treated different from the Herero genocide. Henry Morgenthau was an ambassador of Turkey who was fighting for the Armenians. He was able to convince the US to take in 550,000 Armenians as refugees because he believed them to be good citizens. However, the Herero didn’t have an ambassador fighting for their Justice. Germany was able to kill off 80% of their population without anyone fighting on behalf of the Herero for foreign intervention. Additionally, the US New York Times newspaper published many stories in support of the Armenians. The Herero never got such attention. Truthfully, when Black people lose their lives, especially when they were losing their lives then, no one cared as much. Afterwards, Britain fought for the Turkish government to be punished, yet the Herero didn’t get that kind of attention or support. I definitely believe there is a double standard with the treatment of Black people in these circumstances.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Bystanderism in the Armenian Genocide

The United States acted as bystanders during the Armenian genocide. Despite the many efforts of Henry Morgenthau, we stood idly by while a million Armenians were killed. The US was not the only country who was a bystander though, all of the Allied nations refused to take action. While countries like England and France have a more reasonable excuse, as World War 1 raged at their doorsteps, the United State’s policy of noninvolvement was not justified.

I understand that foreign policy is difficult and complicated. Many times when the US has gotten involved in other countries conflicts, they have made the situation worse. But when there are a million lives on the line, when it is clear that a massacre based solely on race is taking place, there is a moral responsibility to step in. In chapter 1 of Samantha Power’s book, she writes, “because the Turks had not violated the rights of Americans, Wilson did not formally protest.” True, Americans were not being harmed, but a million Armenians were, and no one was there to help them.

What could the United States have done? Well, they could have done something. Even a formal recognition of the genocide could have saved lives. Power points out in her book that the Turks did care about their image. Oftentimes they attempted to downplay the violence and continued their claim that the Armenians were a threat to them. If the United States and other countries called them out, said that they knew what was going on, and threatened to take action, things could have turned out differently. Besides a formal recognition, sending aid and money to the Armenians, sending food to those who were starving in the desert, and starting negotiations and talks with the Turks could have helped. Any of these approaches might have made a difference, yet none were even tried.

I believe that we all have a moral responsibility to help others who need it. When the situation reaches a point where an entire group of people could be eradicated, that is a crime so vulgar that it must be stopped. At the end of the day even if our country is not affected, that doesn’t mean we can blindly ignore the suffering of others under the feeble excuses of neutrality and diplomatic relations. The Armenians did not have the power to stop their own genocide, so other countries had a responsibility to step in.

The situations in Armenia and Namibia were slightly different. For one, very few were aware of the Herero and Nama genocide, while almost the whole world knew about the Armenian genocide. In both situations, however, little to no action was taken to stop the mass killings. Nations stood back and watched as people were killed, since intervening didn’t serve their own political interests. That bystanderism led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

The Dangers of Being a Bystander

It is very clear that the United States and other nations should have intervened during the Armenian Genocide. Obviously, many countries were participating in World War I, so it is partially understandable why they did nothing, however, their silence during this time was still deafening.

For example, the United States joined the war just as the majority of events happening just before (1915-1917), giving them time to intervene and help Armenians. They continued to do nothing despite Henry Morgenthau Sr., ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, detailing the “systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, whole-sale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other.” He was told by Turkish authorities that he “[had] no right to interfere with their internal affairs.” Morgenthau discussed the matter with United States leaders multiple times, but it resulted in nothing.

Through the 145 New York Times articles and testimony from Viscount Bryce, the former British ambassador to the US, the horror of what was happening to Armenians reached a far larger audience. This worried Talaat, as he quickly took steps to hide the truth of what was going on and reiterate that the mass killing of Armenians was “in truth only deportation.” Again, Morgenthau pleaded with the United States to intervene “on behalf of humanity,” and again he received no help since America was neutral in the war and was not endangered by the Turks. Who knows what could have happened if America became involved…

Although countries have many responsibilities and do not always have time to assist another country, there is no excuse for being a bystander when an entire population is being killed. Sadly, many countries are still quiet today when another country is experiencing difficulty. We learn at a young age about the dangers of being a bystander, but when will leaders of countries learn? The point is simple: when a group of people is being annihilated, you must step in. Even if you are protecting allyships you have with other countries or remaining passive since it does not concern you, it is ridiculous to simply stand there and watch. If people remain indifferent to these atrocities, history will continue to repeat itself.

To bring it back to the bystander topic we discussed earlier in the year, I believe that everyone in the class agreed that David Cash should have intervened when Jeremy Strohmeyer sexually assaulted and killed a young girl, however, he did nothing due to their friendship and the fact that he couldn’t imagine Strohmeyer killing someone. How is this any different?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Picking and Choosing Fights: Hypocrisy of US Intervention

I believe that by definition, the United States was a bystander during the Armenian genocide. The United States was present for this genocide and did nothing. The resources, influence, the powerful people were all there, but it was a choice to stay neutral. One could argue that the United States was more focused on remaining neutral in the beginnings of WWI, but at the expense of an entire population of people? Genocide is irreversible. If one had the resources to stop the mass murders of millions, but simply decided not to for their own selfish reasons. At the time, President Wilson pushed for a neutral stance if his own American citizens were not directly harmed or targetted. I see two things wrong with this: For one, the United States’ position of neutrality was not really so. They were still supplying Britain with war munitions. It was not until the German attack on the Lusitania (due to their correct assumption that the British ship was carrying US supplies) and the deaths of 128 Americans did the US decide to intervene. The argument for neutrality as a justification for non involvement is flawed. Were we not involved with Britain? The second thing wrong with this stance is it is entirely hypocritical to turn a blind eye to the events in Turkey. The Armenians were being eradicated for being Christian in a largely Muslim country. Were the early days of the United States not built upon the search for religious freedom? That may be quite the stretch, but when stripped down, American values are largely advertised as freedom as a right. (Even though it fails to provide that freedom to all Americans, marginalized groups and all.)

There was also the intervention of Henry Morgenthau Sr., a German born Jewish man who came to the US at 10 years old, appointed by President Wilson himself to be the ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. He had evidence that this wasn’t some coincidence that Armenian scholars and intellectuals were being killed, that it was a very intentional attempt at exterminating the Armenian people. At first the information he had been receiving was too fragmented for him to be sure, assured by the leader of the genocide and Ottoman political leader, Talaat Pasha, that these events were nothing more than typical mob violence and wartime retaliation. Finally with overwhelming amounts of Armenian pleas, he had seen enough graphic sources, and had solid proof to bring up to Washington. Even then, Wilson argued “that he had no right to interfere with [Turkey’s] internal affairs”. (Samantha Powers, A Problem from Hell)

In instances like these, where a whole population is at stake, it is imperative that other nations take a stand. The US in particular had the global influence, it had the resources. I would advocate for some type of peaceful conversation at first. Peaceful talks with Germany to try and use their influence and stop Turkey, or even speak with Talaat Pasha directly. If these attempts wouldn’t work, American troops could be sent there. Again with the issue of the US’s fear of intervention, that hasn’t stopped us before. We did it in China with the Boxer Rebellion, in Latin America and the Spanish American War, why didn’t we do it here? We were selfish. These types of issues are pressing, they should not involve the formalities of politics or borders. It is an issue of humanity. This is where policies should not matter, when crimes against humanity are the events in question.

I believe that the nations did behave differently towards the Armenian Genocide than the genocide in Namibia. There was at least some acknowledgement in regards to what happened in Turkey, compared to the complete cloud of mystery that was what happened in German South West Africa. I think in part, it had to do with the way the European world viewed, everyone who was not white. The Eugenics movement was on the rise, growing in popularity, and perpetuating the dangerous idea that black people were non humans, that they could withstand pain. All Africa had been seen as was “a piece of cake” to be divided up at the hands of European powers. At least the Armenians had still been seen as human. This type of thinking definitely infiltrated the psyches of many. It only takes a stereotype to influence a decision.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Don't be a Bystander

I believe that the United States acted as a bystander during the Armenian genocide, just like how they have in the past, they did this in order to protect relations with other countries, which I do not perceive as a valid excuse. “U.S. diplomats were expected to stay out of business that did not concern U.S. National interests, ‘Turkish authorities have definitely informed me that I have no right to interfere with their internal affairs,’ Morgenthau wrote. Still, he warned Washington, ‘there seems to be a systematic plan to crush the Armenian race.’” (Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide).

We, the United States, could have used their power along with allied powers to prevent this genocide, yes times were different and a world war was going on, but the US was very powerful and the fact that they just chose to ignore the occurrence of a genocide against a whole race, that’s not ok. That ties into the fact that we always talk about the Holocaust and if something like that were to ever happen again, we would help and it just shouldn’t happen, but it has, more than we think, the Armenian genoccide, the Herero, Myanmar, and what has been going on with concentration camps in China, barely any prevention from the US, we should do more. The Armenian genocide was acknowledged by more people and more widely by media outlets which covered it than the Namibian genocide, but there was still not enough done to tell the world of the atrocities Germany and Turkey committed. And shortly after both genocides, the Holocuast occured, proving that the world had learned nothing from the prior two horrific events. So, I do agree that the US, a powerful nation, along with others, should take a stand when an entire population is being targeted and destroyed, always as long it does not start another world war, because we are trying to prevent unnecessary and innocent deaths.

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