posts 16 - 26 of 26
coffee and pie
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

What could we/should we have done? Should the U.S and/or other nations take a stand when an entire population is being destroyed? On principle? Wherever and whenever it happens? No matter what? Always? Sometimes? Rarely? (Whoa, quite a few question marks here…)

Most nations are bystanders, the U.S. included. We knew what was happening, we knew in detail and how dire it was, but we did nothing about the armenian genocide. As a nation, we have always praised (on paper and publicly) that we were a free and just nation. It was part of our brand, the thing Lady Liberty stands for, that immigrants move here in hopes of. Though it doesn’t happen all that often, the U.S. should stand for it’s word. During the armenian genocide, I think the United States, with it’s influence, moral standard, and resources, should have helped and at least spoken up about it. They were urged by Henry Morgenthau, which he grew to be desperate, yet they still refused. There was this concern with ‘neutrality’ which, in my opinion, was not worth ignoring the deaths of millions of innocent people. There were so many options on what to do, of varying levels of involvement, from sending troops to directly involve to just publicising those atrocities. Even that we didn’t do - does that seem humane, to absolutely ignore a genocide? (the answer is absolutely no). What we did was simply selfish. Most of the world is in agreement when it comes to the opinion that killing innocent people is bad - so one of the scarce reasons why a nation would not step in is political. A nation should step in though, it is the just thing to do. Everyone should step in, on the grounds of morality and humanity. As of now I can’t think of any reason why entire populations are reasonably destroyed, so yes, we should intervene every single time, all the time. Back to calling us bystanders, though. I feel the word often has a neutral connotation, that by being a bystander you are neither helping or worsening a situation. Being a bystander in genocide is actively continuing the act of genocide. We did not do anything, and in doing so, let it continue. In that sense, we are less bystanders and more supporters, a sick thing to support.

In short, what sort of role would you advocate for the United States and other nations witnessing this (and by extension, any other) genocide?

I think if all nations should just agree to not commit genocide. Lemkin proposed a draft law that basically said genocide was internationally illegal, where the perpatrator would be punished wherever they were caught. If everyone agreed to this, there would be less concern with who is allied with who and whether it would be ‘friendly’ to prosecute, because it is just international law. The point is we should be proactively fighting against genocide. The role most take up is empty: standing idle and waiting for something to happen or turning their cheek. We have to stop.

Do you think world nations behaved differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the carnage in Africa—specifically what we saw in German South West Africa (Namibia)--in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? Why or why not?

I think the world nations had a slightly more humane view and more awareness of not being allpowerful. In the carnage of Africa, they were doing more than doing nothing, they were asking for heads, sending them to deserts, raping, starving, and murdering, outright saying that they knew what they were doing was bad, that they knew they were killing innocent lives, they simply didn’t care. It was worse than the documents of the holocaust and the Armenian genocide, where they atleast tried to justify their actions through religious or moral motives. But no, in Namibia, commanders were explicitely saying they were doing it for personal gain. The sheer audacity makes it different. Additionally, the European powers had an unchecked superior feeling towards basically everyone else, so they continued plundering Africa with no consequence to be worried of. This is different than that of the armenian genocide, when nations were aware of their image to others and had atleast some grasp of morality more than before. America tried to remain ‘neutral’ (as we have discussed before, is still active) because they had relations to uphold. European powers had trios against trios. There was much more careful calculations to be made, whereas before they just took what they wanted and minded their own business, not too concerned with war. Nevertheless, they continue to ignore pleas and be a bystander.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

The United States did act as a bystander during the Armenian genocide. It was mentioned in the text that Talaat “made it clear that the empire would target its Christian subjects.” There’s no way that we were not bystanders in this. We knew what was going on but did absolutely nothing. Why? Because we wanted to stay neutral. It was not until we joined the war that something was done about it. I will say that Morgenthau is not a bystander. He did everything he could to try to gain attention to help the Armenians. It was just the government that did not do anything. Multiple times did he talk to them to change their minds about what to do to help the Armenian people. Our allies are not free from this either. The reading says, “[t]he British Foreign Office dug up photographs of the massacre victims and the Armenian refugees in flight.” Britain knew of these things. They deliberately went out of their way to find evidence, yet they barely did anything to stop it. They were too focused on winning the war.

We should’ve brought more awareness to the genocide. I know that we tried to, but there were still skeptics and people that didn’t believe in it actually happening. If we tried hard enough, majority of the people would not have been so iffy about the information. Of course, it’s impossible for everyone to understand that the Armenian genocide happened, just like how there are people that don’t believe the Holocaust happened. It’s just better to have most people know than to have only half. I think that all countries should do something when an entire population is being targeted. I understand that it may be difficult to help with everything but, if all countries, and I mean most/all, put their efforts towards helping that certain population, it would be less stressful. In the text it said that U.S. diplomats were “expected to stay out of business that did not concern U.S. national interests.” Putting “national interests” over people, like actual living human beings, is something that is incredibly wrong. That idea is something that we should stop believing in.

The world nations’ responses to what happened in Turkey and in Namibia are different. For the atrocities that occurred in Namibia, there was rarely any case in which outside countries helped. There was not much awareness to it either. For the Armenian genocide, there were newspapers and an entire U.S. ambassador that brought attention to it. Unlike the incidents in Namibia, the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide actually got punished for their crimes. Fast forwarding to modern day, both are still not that widely talked about.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

When the question is posed, it is clear that America did not do enough to help the Armenians during their genocide. Despite knowing about it the whole time, and constant advocacy from Henry Morgenthou, the Turkish ambassador, America was complacent and acted as a bystander. It is true that the Armenian genocide was a Turkish internal matter, and not the United States’ job to fix it, as a dominant power, however we had the recourses to help. In general, I think that it is important for a dominant power to help solve human rights issues, especially when those issues threaten to destroy entire populations. On principle, America should have helped in the Armenian genocide. We should be helping, right now, with the genocide of the Uighyrs in China. It is almost impossible for an entire group and culture to deserve to be eradicated. The only condition which America would not be obligated to help is if we were so preoccupied with our own issues that we would be unable to. However, in none of the examples given this was the case.

In general, when a nation, or group of nations, is in a position of power, it is their responsibility to stop human rights violations from happening in other places. If we allow other nations to mistreat and abuse their citizens, then we, as humans, cannot call ourselves just. Thus, every nation does not just have a duty to its own people, but also to the people of the world. While this ideology has been used negatively in the case of colonialism, it is important that people of privileged nations help others, no matter what, to stop other governments from abusing their power. As such, it is clear, that when witnessing a genocide, if it has the resources necessary, a nation must step in to help, and take an active role in stopping it.

There are many similarities and differences between the reactions of the world powers of the Armenian genocide, and the atrocities within German West Africa. For example in both cases, outside nations did very little to help the afflicted people. Despite most major world powers knowing about these genocides, they decided to play a passive role, rarely even officially acknowledging them. However, in the case of the Armenian genocide, public outcry was far greater. In the United States, a large portion of the media was covering this terrible event, while almost nothing was heard about the Herero Nama genocide. I think the reason for this is simple: the (majority white) American public did not care as much about the suffering of people from a different race. These similarities and differences show, again, the sad response from the rest of the world.

To conclude, I just want to add one piece which was not specifically asked for in the questions. I think, while almost every side of the response to these events were bad, something which is particularly shameful is the way that these genocides are forgotten. As upstanding citizens of the world, it is important to remember the lives and stories of those who were killed in unfair ways. While we may not have done enough in the past, we can still do our part today by remembering those who died.

South Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 11

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

The United States and our allies unarguably stood and watched as bystanders during the Armenian genocide. We knew exactly what was happening and the drastic assistance the Armenians needed yet we stood still and did nothing about the Armenian genocide. In fact, President Woodrow Wilson choose not to pressure the Turks or their German backup as he saw it was better to not draw attention to the deliberate atrocities taking place otherwise the US society and public opinion may get stirred up, demanding US involvement which Wilson was trying to restrict as the Turks had not directly violated the US or right of the Americans. This is quite disgusting as the U.S. was established upon liberty and freedom, the land of liberty in which immigrants moved here in hopes of opportunity. But the US as a nation stayed quiet. With the simple moral power of the United States and the influence behind it, the US should have stood up and interfered with the Turk's abomination of the Armenians. The decisions made not to interrupt Turks' internal issues are solely derived from selfish antics. The US was much more concerned with staying out of World War 1 than helping the Armenian race. The Wilson administration resolved to stay out of WW1 and defined a diplomatic protocol that demanded that ambassadors act respectfully towards host governments as US diplomats were expected to stay out of all business that did not concern US national interests. US ambassadors made trips to invoke the United States' moral power after hearing many eyewitness accounts and were met with admitting to the inhumane termination of the Armenian race as well as a request to help Turkey in their extinction of the Armenians by sending a completed list of all the Armenian policyholders to Turkish authorities, which they hoped the US had access to as for years we have done business with them through the New York Life Insurance company and Equitable Life of New York. The lack of US involvement was an undeniably selfish decision and with the moral reputation of the US quite disgraceful as well. Personally, I believe due to the moral reputation and significance and reputation the US has it should have most definitely interfered with the Armenian Genocide and any other genocide that could take place.

Many Nations have both similarities and differences in their reactions to Armenian Genocide and the atrocities taking place in German West Africa. During the Armenian Genocide, in most cases, despite knowing of the carnage taking place, most world powers decided to either play a passive role completely disregarding the genocide taking place or passively acknowledged the genocide and not interfere due to WW1. In the case of the Armenian Genocide, there was much more public support for the Armenians as many news stations were covering the atrocities happening, compared to the Herero Nama genocide which was silenced and had almost no public outcry. I believe this comes from both societal communication development as well as the lack of consideration for other races facing these conditions of extermination. Another major difference is the repercussions of the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide, whereas those responsible for the Herero Genocide faced not only a lack of attention but also a lack of punishment. These atrocities are still talked about nowadays, and although both massacres were both intense and horrifying genocides, the Armenian Genocide is talked about much more.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 20

I believe the least the U.S. could’ve done is send the Armenians supplies so they could defend themselves. While the U.S. wanted to remain neutral during WW1, killing hundreds of thousands of defenseless victims is a war crime, so aiding them shouldn’t be considered as “taking a side”. The fact that the U.S. knew about this and had the resources to prevent the genocide yet stayed silent is frightening. It raises many questions about other things the U.S. government is willing to ignore. I think all countries, especially nearby ones, should provide aid for populations that are being destroyed. This doesn’t even have to be helping fight the opposing power, but something as little as opening borders for refugees and escapees would go a long way. This should always happen, and yes, on principle, because war crimes should not be tolerated even in the “fog of war”.

Currently, countries see helping foreign populations through a lens of practicality. Many immigrants from Mexico are admitted to be used for cheaper labor, and refugees from Middle Eastern countries are barred from entering because they are seen as less desirable. Trump made it obvious that the U.S. had these racist views when he wished for more Norwegian immigrants. Because of this desire for practicality, the U.S. has lost their sense of humanity and chose to ignore the genocide because it didn’t benefit the U.S. in any way. Why would we save a million lives if it would get little media coverage? If it wouldn’t be known to other countries? Or if it wouldn’t help the U.S. economy? Nations need to take action against genocides because they need to recognize the victims as actual people. If a million of a country’s native population were going to be destroyed, the country would do everything in its power to prevent this. No human lives are worth more than others, so it would be nice if countries put atleast a little effort in preserving others.

I think the two situations differed in the motives for killing huge groups of people. European countries massacred and exploited populations out of greed. Africa had natural resources and cheap labor that would provide a huge boost to the economies of countries that were willing to take advantage of it. In World War 1, countries acted from a mix of fear and hatred. Turkey’s fear of an Armenian uprising was one reason for the genocide, but definitely not the only. There are many pictures of citizens being tortured and populations being killed, which is a clear sign that fear was not the only factor at play. Torture doesn’t happen because one is afraid of the other. It happens often because of hatred.

Posts: 18

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

1. Yes, the United States undoubtedly acted as a bystander during the Armenian genocide. We acted sure. but only to those who had already suffered. Opening our country to refugees and not fixing what they have to take refuge from had just about the same effectiveness of placing mugs under a leaky roof. We claim to not have been prepared to step in, yet joined in the very next year. Our allies who really had an excuse not to take measures directly against Turkey, still put them on blast in the media, holding them accountable for their "crimes against humanity." They did everything they could to help and raise awareness for the situation without exacerbating it. They called the rest of the world to action, but we never came.

2/3. The United States could have done a number of things. Their excuse to not join in a militaristic fashion was that they were not prepared to take on such an undertaking. However, their approach did not necessarily have to be militaristic. They could have sent people to parley with the Turkish government, and even brought other representatives with them. If Turkey wasn't willing to listen, they would at least know that their actions were not going unnoticed and were not going uncondemned. The Turks might have slowed down a little bit or thought of possible repercussions. The United States could have also potentially done what we've been doing during the war in Ukraine, which is sending supplies and troops as needed to the Armenians to help them fight their battle. Or, they could have started preparing to join their allies so as to defeat the Axis powers, and take Turkey with them. After all, it was known that their plan to stop the genocide was to stop the Axis powers.

I think that yes, as people we are morally obligated to step in when we see a group of people being not just oppressed, but obliterated at the hands of another. Extermination is for bugs, not people. Historically, genocide or ethnic cleansing has been commited by ethnicities or religions or races that considered themselves superior, or that considered the oppressed race a threat to their society. Never has there been a deserved genocide, and there never will be. I think that we as a large, affluent country have more of a responsibility for taking on or responding to genocides that happen around the world. I understand that there are a lot of things to consider, like how far we would be willing to go to help people, how much money would every genocide cost, how many resources we'd use up, and how much of our buisness each situation is. That being said, I think that at the very least, if we choose not to actively participate in stopping the genocide, we need to bring it to everyone's attention and spread awareness about it, and help the people who turn to us for aid. We need to hold the perpetrators accountable because in almost every situation, if one country won't or can't help, another one will.

4. I think that some countries reacted differently to this than they did to the carnage in Africa. First of all, the division of Africa was carried out by seven countries, including France and Britain, the whistleblowers on the Armenian genocide. While they did not do what Belgium did to the Kongo, or what Germany did to German Southwest Africa, they didn't really do anything to stop it. There's no way they didn't know what was happening. They were bystanders then. Unfortunately, the United States had the same reaction to the Armenian genocide and the Scramble for Africa. As we discussed in class, they told everyone to leave Libya alone, and then did nothing else as land was being claimed, tribes were broken up, and genocides were happening. Despite being well informed on both events, they chose to remain in isolation, away from everything else.

boston, massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

All in all, the US has a tendency to only get involved out of obligation. It really places where our priorities are. My morals make me want to say “we have the resources, ofcourse we should fight on their behalf!” but realistically speaking, our government would probably see that as a “waste” of resources because we wouldn’t necessarily benefit (as terrible as that sounds). Then there begs the question of which nations should take a stand? When should they? How should they? There are so many moving pieces. I gather that the US was (predictably) only providing aid to individuals, rather than attacking the main problem. The fact that they didnt even weigh the possibility of joining the Allied Powers is disappointing, yet not surprising. Within Samanta Powers “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” she explicitly states that the US did everything possible to remain neutral. In reality, in any situation like this, staying neutral just perpetuates the problem. It says, “I do not care enough to fight for the underdog”, and that speaks volumes. They had the literal epidemy of bystander behavior.

I believe that the US should’ve used their voice to do some good for once. It goes without saying that the US has always been a more powerful than not country, and their forces and influences could have had a real benefit. Staying neutral ultamitely condoned the atrocities commitred. The problem is, the only way to have really made an impact was to directly connect with Turkey. Even though we didnt officialy join the war until 1917, there were still so many opportunities to do *something* to help.

I personally think it goes without saying that the world nations treated the Armenian genicde differently than during the carnage in Africa. It blatantly recieved more publicity. Africa has never been the center for the press, and the misconceptions about the nation as a whole that live to this day highlight that. Even looking at the horrid genocide in Namibia, not much awareness has been spread, and it truly horrifies me how little actually know about it. I honestly hate to go here, but I think it also relates to the fact that Armenians are white Europeans, while those killed in Africa are Black. It goes without saying that media outlets tend to cover genocide of white groups more often than those of color. Obviously, each group should get coverage to the nines, but I think the disparity in coverage is sad to look at.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20


Without a doubt, the Allied Powers were all complicit in the genocide against the Armenians. There was overwhelming proof that Armenians were being killed, expelled, and having their livelihoods destroyed. As it was shown in major news outlets and acknowledged on several occasions. The US at least helped people who were trying to escape Turkey, but they did little to help solve the issue because they were worried that doing so might cost them their neutrality during World War I. However, even this amount of help did not seem sufficient due to the fact that the borders being opened didn't matter if someone didn’t have the funds or method to arrive at the border. I think rather than open borders we could have sent neutral aid for the civilians. By this, I mean we should have maybe sent medics who could assist and say they are for either side, soldiers or for the civilians. Despite it being sent specifically for civilians, disguising the medics as being for both sides may show neutrality. I believe that a nation is only as helpful when they are sufficient in themselves. If country B is in need of help due to a genocide, it’s not fair for country A to assist when they’re also in economical problems. Instead, a neighboring country or even a country that is more stable can help. I do understand when things may be more of a hands off issue, where other countries would be fighting a super power and they would have somewhat valid reasoning to be more lenient to send help out of fear for their own people. I’m not saying that not helping is excusable but it’s easier to forgive a country who economically couldn’t help rather than a country who just stood there.

To restate, the United States could have sent aid that could be disguised neutrally like medics or people to help with some of the extensive destruction. Neighboring Nations could definitely step in much easier due to proximity in this specific example. For all genocides, they could pressure leaders, physically go and help the people. Countries can’t just stand back and watch as a group of people are being decimated, it’s unjust, especially if that grouping is completely helpless.

I think nations should have behaved differently during the African carnage. Although there was little publicity as far as the genocides across Africa, it was still a genocide, people still died and people were still hurt. And still, there were definitely several countries who thought that the genocides in Africa were right because they genuinely thought that Africans were less than their own kind, which could have 100% played a factor in the little intervention. It’s just so jarring to think that all these neighboring countries and countries in general never thought to say “hey, the genocide in Rwanda is getting pretty bad” or to say “Belgium is going overboard, we need to help,”

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Bystanderism in the Armenian Genocide

While the text states that the United States was willing to provide humanitarian aid to those Armenians fleeing their own genocide, it is very clear that we were willing to do anything else- including adressing that it was a genocide until very very recently. I believe that we as the United States were most defenitley bystanders throughout, and I believe we are partially at fault for allowing the genocide to occur.

I think we should have definetly combined forces with other allied powers, in order to have actually attempted stopping the genocide. I think, as since it was before the establishment of NATO, the US should’ve interfered with Turkey directly. While they were trying to remain relatively neutral until later on in the wars, I believe that the information of what was happening should’ve been enough to engage the country’s morals and principles, causing them to do something or anything more than just providing humanitarian aid. The explanation that we and British provide in A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide is inexcusable, and it’s clear that nations both care about their egos more than the Armenian people and what happened to them.

I think the US’s response to the Armenian genocide and the Namibian genocide show just how much we and other government are bystanders when it comes to genocides. Maybe its the fact that the Namibian genocide isn’t as well known as the Armenian genocide that plays a role in that, in addition to racism and popular beliefthat the people of Namibia were inferior to the white Europeans.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 16

The Armenian genocide and bystanderism

The United States was definetely a bystadner during the genocide commited by the Turks to the Armernians duirng WWI. It is not like some people did not try to help, like U.S. Ambassador Morgenthau went to great lengths to draw attention to this issue and tried to take matters into his own hand but was shut down by the higher ups because it wasn’t in the United States’ best interest to intervene. There was the Committee on Armenian Atrocities which gained lots of help and money from foreign governments and other loans set in place to help refugees but nothing directly interfering with the murdering of the Armenian people. We knew what was going on, but let it happen. It would’ve been difficult to intervene and we liked to keep our title as a “Neutral Nation”, but if we would have just listened to Morgenthau maybe we would have been able to save many lives.

I think the easy thing to say is yes we should have intervened. But it is definitely easier said than done. Of course in a perfect world all the nations would come together and stop the Turks from murdering the Armernians as soon as they got word, but that was not the case. Also as said before the U.S. wanted to maintain their title as a neutral nation for as long as possible. But the reason Woodrow Wilson gave was not valid. He said that because it wasn’t harming Americans that it wasn’t their problem. Which is true, but is that the moral thing to say? Coming at severe issues such as this with a “not in my backyard” mindset is dangerous and nine times out of ten results in the problem not getting fixed. It would’ve been hard to intervene and would’ve caused an array of political issues, but at the cost of saving millions of lives it would have been worth it, at least I think. But again that is easier said than done and the safer thing for the U.S. at the time was to do nothing and watch it happen because they didn’t necessarily have the means and clout that they do today.

I would advocate for the U.S. and other nations who witness genocides such as this to locate the leader and go on a secret assassination mission to stop the mastermind behind it. I’m sure if any country would have sent an undercover mercenary into Turkey with a sniper rifle and killed Talaat Pasha early on a lot of people would have been saved. Same goes for the Holocaust, if some mercenary from any country were to assassinate Hitler and important leaders of the SS and Gestapo they would have gone into a panic and operations would come to a halt. If it was possible to assassinate heroes like JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and so many more, how hard would it have been to do it to such evil people such as Talaat and Hitler? Of course easier said than done, but just a thought.

Nations definitely viewed the two events as sort of different. The genocide that happened with the Germans in Namibia was viewed as more of a conquering than a genocide even though it was one and the Armerian genocide was viewed as a true genocide and the extermination of a group of people based on their religion and race. So other nations saw the taking over of Africa as “no big deal” or as “oh they are just taking it over good for them” if they even knew it was going on because the Euroeans did a very good job of sweeping it under the rug. But the whole world knew about the Armenian genocide and was outraged but were just to scared to intervene with Turkey.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

I believe without a doubt that the United States and many other nations acted as bystanders during the Armenian genocide. I think there are some circumstances where countries have a valid excuse as to not intervene, however I believe that the matter of genocide trumps over most excuses. There is almost no reason for countries to watch innocent people get tortured, murdered, and treated with such indecency as the victims of the Armenian genocide, and not do anything about it.

To address the question of what we should have done as a country, I think that it is despicable that until very recently the Armenian genocide was not even recognized as genocide. To know what happened to the Armenian people, and look past it is something I will never comprehend. Other than this I think that we should have gotten together with other countries and nations, and fought to stop what was happening. It would have been much more impactful than standing by and watching. There was also no excuse for any country not to directly confront Turkey considering NATO did not exist at the time. There are several examples of media about the Armenian genocide that we looked at in class and were given as sources, including “A problem from Hell” by Samantha Powers, which discusses America’s neutrality during the genocide. The United States “refused to join the Allied declaration” which just goes to show their lack of interest in helping the human race, in the context of keeping relations with other countries.

The United States' role and every other country watching this was 100% bystander because they did nothing but sit back and watch while an entire population of people was being completely wiped out. They should have stuck up for the Armenian people and there should have been something done. There should have been more respect for morality and what is right and wrong, which is pretty black and white in this case.

I think that the way that countries handled Namibia and Armenia was very similar. There was nothing done to stop or even attempt to stop either event. They are also barely acknowledged considering not many people knew about the Namibian genocide prior, and the Armenian genocide is barely recognized as genocide. I think that there was definitely more of a racial component with the Namibian genocide, whereas the Armenian genocide was more political. German South West Africa was silenced much more. We learned in class that Germany played a very big part considering they had control over this part of Africa. Also most other countries were silent because they were benefiting in some way from the Namibian genocide, and in turn keeping the racial status of African Americans the same.

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