posts 1 - 15 of 24
Boston, US
Posts: 350

Read: Chapters 1 and 2, from Samantha Power, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2001), pp. 1-29.

We will have been looking at the Armenian genocide this week, so I would like you to break open your “virtual copy” of former UN Ambassador from the United States (and current USAID chief, playing a significant role in help for Ukranian refugees) Samantha Power’s 2001 book, “A Problem from Hell”: America in the Age of Genocide.Here’s the link to the reading.

Power begins her volume by talking about the Armenian situation before there was a word “genocide” in the English language. She the introduces Based on what you read in her account, I would ask you to consider the following, based on what you read in this chapter AS WELL AS what you see in the materials we look at in class. Make sure you support your observations with specifics. (In other words, vague generalities not accepted.)

Did we --the United States--and our allies act as bystanders during the Armenian genocide?

Admittedly, between 1914 and 1918, most of Europe was caught up in World War I; the United States joined the war in 1917, after remaining steadfastly isolationist in the preceding years. The Armenian genocide occurred between 1915 and 1923, with the bulk of events occurring between 1915-1917. Needless to say, folks were busy during that period. So maybe it’s unfair to ask this question.

But I’m asking it anyway.

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…)

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

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?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Yes absolutely we were bystanders, if not perpetrators ourselves but by refusing to do anything we were the most intense version of a bystander, not doing anything is hardly different that committing an act of it ourselves in this scenario. If it weren't for no one's interference then thousands could have been spared but instead they were slaughtered mercilessly.

What could we/should we have done? We could have done plenty of things. The US government has shown very little problem with interfering in other countries buissness before so why stop then? So we don't make enemies? To keep up a strong image? as if it isnt being destroyed by our actions of non-involvement anyway. I think it is a very hard descision in some cases but morally we should always help out if we can. What constitutes mass murder? Allyship? To who?

If I was in control I would have come up with some sort of plan to help out the Armenians, I'm a kid so I don't exactly have all the answers but these people were literally being paid to sit on their asses and pout about it all. I would try to come into the place with a mindset of keeping murder at the lowest number and saving all those possible. So many genocides has gone by and passed without any representation or help from those who could have helped. Sure people may have been busy but does the mass death of humans based off religion (we got so heated in WWII so why not then...) not take priority over other things? Cause it does to me.

I do actually think people behaved differently. The Armenian genocide got a ton of coverage in top-tier newspapers but the only coverage that the killings and camps in Africa were just because they were angry at the time at Germany. Racism is run so deep down into governments and society that it even shows up in the coverage of genocides...

Posts: 21

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

"The outside world had known that the Armenians were at grave risk well before Talaat and the Young Turk leadership ordered their deportation. When Turkey entered World War I... Talaat made it clear that the empire would target its Christian subjects." Power begins her discussion of the Armenian genocide and the involvement, or lack thereof, of the outside world with this quote. It shows that Turkey made their stance clear on Christians and Armenians, and instead of taking the threat seriously the rest of the world ignored it. Obviously this was also around the time of the World War, but it was still a crime filled with hate that should have been taken to the world stage. Maybe people fighting in World War I had no idea why they were even fighting each other. The Armenian genocide would have given them a better reason as to why they were all fighting each other.

This is similar to Ukraine and Russian war happening currently. A lot of the world has forgotten or doesn't even care about the hundreds of deaths in the war that is still going on. No country has gotten involved yet because that would be the start to a world war, and obviously no one wants that. Except we could still help, even more than just giving them weapons that the US wants to see even work. We could get over the obsession we have with making regulations on when we can interfere with other countries' issues, because we should see Russia's threat to Ukraine as a threat to the world. As their power continues to grow everyone is in danger. I think the U.S and other nations should intervene if an entire population is being targeted. The same thing happened before WWII because the U.S didn't want to get involved with fighting Hitler even though he was in the process of erasing the Jewish population of the world. I think we should still follow some principles of war, like avoiding world war as much as we can, but these people are real people. The people in Ukraine are real people whose lives have been destroyed because of Russia's obsession with power. The Armenians were real people who were targeted just because of their religious beliefs.

We shouldn't just sit by and bystanders to other genocides. We can't let history repeat itself. Instead Of treating places like they are all alone we should all help. In the end all the countries and people are still living in the same world, on the same Earth. We all have to learn how to live with each other, or we can never have real evolution. I fear that because in the hundreds of years modern day people have been around and living with each other that we will never learn how to live and interact with each other without resulting in war and killing.

The Armenian and Namibia genocides were very similar in the sense that, like every other genocides, the world knew what these countries were doing and decided to do nothing or even support them. I don't think, as Americans, we have learned enough about either of these people and the people who tried to erase them. When we learn about World War I we should also learn about these people to bring awareness to their possible erasion. I don't know to much about the Armenain genocide or how Turkey is trying to give reperations to fix the damange that it caused, but if they aren't I think they should; or atelast start putting itinto their history. In Germany they have put the Holocaust into their history and have changed their own environment, like getting rid of the death penalty, as a result of the Holocaust and their disgusting history. The point is they aren't running from it; and neither should Turkey.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

I don’t think there was much that the U.S. could have done for the Armenian genocide. However, the U.S. and other European nations should have gone to the Ottoman Empire to verify the event after WWI, as the Ottoman Empire was on the Central Powers, fighting the Allies. I think it would’ve been hard to verify the events that were occurring during the war, as every nation involved was focused on the war, not internal events of a foreign nation. Regardless of this, genocides should always be stopped, no matter how far the genocide has taken place. Whether there are early signs of an organized genocide occurring, or there have been already thousands or tens of thousands of victims, a genocide must be stopped. This also includes the legacy of genocides, with acknowledgement of the genocide, promised reparations that should go through, and to protect the affected population.

I think world nations did behave differently during the Armenian genocide, especially compared to another event like the Herero and Nama genocide. History is very European-centralized, which leads to some events being mentioned more than others, while other events are completely forgotten. Prior to WWI and during WWI, Africa was still split up like a cake, where European countries settled in parts of Africa for their own goals: trading, exploitation of natural resources, religious conversion, and more. To many Europeans, African colonies were simply an extension of that country’s sphere of influence, which meant that there wasn’t much to worry about. In addition, there were many countries involved with settling in Africa, so interfering in another territory that belonged to another nation could be risky. Within the reaches of Europe, if it involved a major power, then it involved many other nearby countries. As stated previously, the Ottoman Empire was involved in WWI, on the side of the Central Powers, who fought the Allies, containing countries such as Great Britain, France, the United States, and Russia. Due to these connections, the international community was fully aware of the Armenian genocide, with former Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha declaring that the Ottoman Empire would target its Christian population, which were the Armenians. It wasn’t small rumors or articles written by journalists that brought awareness to the events ongoing, like the situation in Namibia, but a declaration of ethnic cleansing to the world. Despite these two major differences, both genocides have one thing in common: the lack of acknowledgement. Germany did not officially recognize the atrocities they had committed in the early 1900s until 2021, a hundred years later. Compared to modern day Turkey, many Turkish officials have not acknowledged the Armenian genocide, or directly deny the fact that it occurred. This is also combined with the fact that German leaders responsible for the genocide were not tried and many Turkish leaders had avoided being prosecuted, as they fled to Germany. The stance of failing to pay reparations to descendants of the genocides or denying the existence / justifying the massacres are both in the same boat, in which nations avoid responsibility for what they caused, yet still benefiting from the atrocities that they committed.

lil breezy
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

To put it bluntly, as a whole, the US and our allies were 100% bystanders to the Armenian Genocide.

Obviously, there were people like Henry Morgenthau who fought tirelessly to bring awareness, yet there never seemed to be enough. I think the least that we could have done was listen. That was the problem, nobody was really listening to Morgenthau’s cries. Even though many heard about the active genocide, they became skeptical. The US also defended their inaction based on the fact that it wasn’t an American problem, or it wasn’t the worst thing that has happened, which is obviously a horrible excuse. After taking the time to listen, America should have done whatever they could to help the Armenian people. I am not sure of the exact logistics and terms of this solution, but I do know that we COULD have done something, and we didn’t. I do think that the US and other nations should step in when genocides happen, even if it is happening thousands of miles away. This country is very privileged to have the things we have. Yes, America isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean we cannot lend a hand to a community that has less than us. I am sure that we can help out given the resources we have, along with other fully developed countries. It is especially important for America to step in, considering the US praises equality, and so we need to uphold those values by helping out these victims of genocide. In terms of where, I believe that we can help wherever, and also whenever; but there are of course limitations on just HOW much we can help. Nevertheless, I strongly believe it is always best to do whatever you can.

In terms of the role the US and other nations should take, I believe that aiding genocide victims with very much needed help should be viewed as a civic duty/responosibilty. If we start viewing it this way, I think America (as well as other nations) would feel better inclined to help.

There is a difference between how the nations reacted to the Armenian genocide vs. the carnage in Africa. I think in both cases, we didn’t do nearly enough. But I do notice that the Armenian genocide was most likely known about more widely than the genocide in Namibia. People actually spoke about it as it was happening, whereas we see that accounts of the genocide in Namibia were recounts from soldiers who didn’t speak up in time, or at all. I just think the main difference was how much the genocides were talked about. I think the main reason why some nations did talk about it was a tool used to bash the enemy, rather than a tool used to bring awareness about a genocide.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 11

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism 22-23

According to Samantha Power's book "A Problem from Hell," the United States and its allies were largely bystanders during the Armenian genocide. The bulk of events occurred during World War I, when most of Europe was caught up in the war and the United States was still isolationist. The Armenian genocide took place between 1915 and 1923, with the bulk of events occurring between 1915-1917, which was during the height of the war.

Regarding the role of the United States and other nations in witnessing genocides, there is a moral imperative to take a stand when an entire population is being destroyed. This is a principle that should apply always, without exceptions. However, there are practical considerations that must also be taken into account, such as the ability of a nation to intervene effectively and the potential consequences of intervention.

In comparison to the Armenian genocide, it is likely that world nations behaved differently during the carnage in Africa, specifically in German South West Africa (Namibia) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This difference is likely due to a variety of factors, including the global political and economic context, the level of awareness and understanding of the events taking place, and the willingness and ability of nations to intervene.

In conclusion, the role of the United States and other nations in witnessing genocides is a complex and challenging question that requires careful consideration of both moral principles and practical realities. The Armenian genocide serves as a reminder of the devastating consequences of ignoring mass atrocities and the importance of taking a stand to prevent them from happening. However, effective intervention must be based on a clear understanding of the situation, a well-planned strategy, and the resources and support necessary to carry out the intervention effectively. In the case of the Armenian genocide, the United States and its allies were largely bystanders, but this experience should serve as a lesson for future generations to be proactive in preventing genocides and mass atrocities.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Imagine the population of Boston, times two, entirely wiped out.

The US should have been adamant in providing refuge to the 550,000 Armenians who needed to leave Turkey. The US could have rallied itself and other nations in sending aid and soldiers to Armenians. Everyone was telling the Wilson administration to do something, that all signs point to “You have the power to help the Armenians,” from the NYTimes with over a hundred articles on the Armenian genocide, Henry Morgenthau, to the Britain’s Viscount Bryce. Yet the country as a whole did not do anything. It’s just as if all my friends were telling me to save a puppy a few inches from me being attacked by a person, and I decide to turn a blind eye to the situation, even though I have full capabilities of saving the puppy.

It seemed America was grasping at any reason to not take action. They as disbelievers make excuses of the accuracy of the information when 1.2 million people, or Boston’s entire population today times two, died. They say that Turkey did not report their numbers properly…well, of course they didn’t! That country was deliberately trying to play everything down. It was not seen as an American problem, and one quote by Lemkin stands out to me:

“If women, children, and old people would be murdered a hundred miles from here, wouldn't you run to help? Then why do you stop this decision of your heart when the distance is five thousand miles instead of a hundred?”

The absurdity of it all and the way America is grasping at straws for an excuse to ignore an outright genocide is scary to see. Seeing how selfish countries have become, to take on bystander actions as a deliberate benefit for just themselves — and how that continues to exist today is even worse.

When an entire population is being destroyed, nations with the capabilities to provide aid, refuge and protection must take a stand. Some believed that “the most expedient way to end the killings would be to defeat the alliance,” but the Western nations, and especially America (who was not even fighting at this time), had the ability to protect the Armenians from war and genocide. And we’ll see this pattern again with Roosevelt in WWII.

Yes, world nations (specifically Western European nations and the US) did behave differently in reaction to the Armenian genocide versus the Namibian genocide. The Western Europeans did not mind if they were enacting death and systemic destruction upon African colonies, whose people were seen as animals ready for slaughter or for exploitation. Even when I was researching for the Namibian genocide timeline and was looking at the NYTimes TimesMachine for articles on the genocide during the time, I could only fine small squares of text in the middle pages. But as we know, there were large headlines dedicated to the Armenian genocide. Obviously, more should’ve been done for both (and for all genocides). But why couldn’t the force from the NYTimes be paralled for the atrocity occuring in Africa?

In all, this assignment leaves me wondering, “How will everyone look back on America’s role in the War in Ukraine?” Even looking back at the talk with Tim Snyder about the War in Ukraine being a genocide, will students look back on this piece of history and say, yet again, America turns a blind eye?

Side note, but important note: How ironic it is that Talaat Pasha, the orchestrator of the Armenian genocide, is buried today in the Monument of Liberty, while the bodies of the innocent killed were left in lakes, gorges, rivers, along roads?
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Armenian Genocide

There is so much, as a country, that we could have done to prevent this tragedy. As a neutral power, that shouldn’t be an excuse to do nothing, but as a justification to call out atrocities and genocides that are objectively wrong, even under the guise of war or feared rebellions or whatever excuse the Turkish conjured up. From an economic standpoint, we as a country invested so much more into the Allied Powers that it seemed to be a no-brainer that we’d eventually side with them anyways. We would then directly oppose Turkey and that’s when we 100% should have done something to intervene directly in the Armenian Genocide. I know that it’s not realistic that all nations can protect every minority group on the planet from genocide, but in an ideal universe that would be the case. However, when genocides like this occur on such a massive or brutal scale like this, to even be labelled a genocide, it is absolutely our responsibility as human beings to stop these crimes, and minimize the damage done. I understand why people were hesitant to believe Lemkin at the time, as genocides weren’t known and the word genocide hadn’t even been coined yet. But now that we know the damage that can be done, thanks to the likes of the Nazis, the Kongo, and the Armenian Genocide, we really have no excuse to not intervene in any genocides that may occur in the future. Even if the state doesn’t listen, there will always be people advocating, whether it be survivors or important political figures such as Henry Morgenthau. As long as we listen to these stories, we can overturn public opinion and thus the government to ensure future prevention of genocides.

Direct intervention isn’t always the best option to dealing with international crises, so I think aiding the victims would be the bare minimum here. As a country of immigrants, we should be open to refugees, especially ones escaping massacres and brutalities committed by their own governments. Even foreign nations should be obligated to help them; this is a humanitarian issue, not a state issue. From there, that’s when we, or any other nation, should start doing everything in our power to stop the crisis as a whole and end the root cause of the problem, whomever or whatever it may be.

I think that even though both genocides were completely unjust and don’t have nearly the right amount of recognition that they should, there is a clear difference in the response to them. There was a greater response to the Armenian Genocide, with Morgenthau even planning to spend $1 million in order to help usher refugees to safety, and other institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation raising money for the survivors. None of this really occurred for the survivors of the Kongo or Namibia. The only thing that the Kongo got over the Armenians was that Belgium acknowledges the crimes they committed (even if they haven’t paid reparations), whilst Turkey still refuses to acknowledge what they did to the Armenians. Most of these genocides were eventually just used as propaganda for the Allied Powers, who really didn’t do much for the actual victims, and just showed how little colonial powers cared about their subordinates during the time. It’s so belittling to downplay all of this as just “some bad thing that this enemy country did, so join our army!”, and highlights a general disregard for human life that was held by those in power.

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 22

Hopes and Realism

The US was already on a path to prospering economic success and strength during this time. However, it was not in the same position it is today or 3 decades ago where America had unfettered access to military deployments and economic power. While I think Samantha Power’s depiction of Morgenthau’s dilemma is clear, it is beyond clear that America’s primary concern was not international affairs but domestic policy and isolationism. We absolutely could have intervened either militarily or indirectly- simply the passage of a declaration or summit with international actors would not be hard to accomplish. There is no world where we shouldn’t take a stand, yet this world frequently exists. On principle, the US should be an upstander but pragmatically, it is a bystander. Indeed, Power’s shows us that Woodrow Wilson and, actually, from my background knowledge, the start of America’s founding such as with Washington were centered in isolationism. This isolationism has marked American foreign policy for decades, even until now.

So in essence, I don’t think our principles will match our actions. Lemkin’s story depicts this clearly: a man who learned more than 6 different languages, bartered for international law, and hired as a chief consultant but ignored by executives and the American people. Now, perhaps this is too pessimistic but history, itself, is very pessimistic.

However, as I noted above, American power is changing and times are different. I realize that proactivity should never be circumstantial, but in terms of the will of the American people, it is absolutely necessary to reconcile with. Today, American aid is far more expansive and contributes to one of the largest budgets. We also frequently invoke the use of sanctions to curtail oppressive regimes with little economic costs.

We see this with indirect involvement in Ukraine with military aid but not US troops or condemnation of China but nothing more than that in Xinjiang. America balances its interests at homes and abroad, but this balance is tough. I think there will always be room to improve but there’s also a very tight margin to improve onto given constraints on our political, financial, and military systems.

Yet, I don’t want to end any message with “we should accept sometimes we are bystanders" because I don’t believe that has to be the case. The United States and all nations can choose proactivity, and solving crises before they erupt into genocides. The question, then, is not about resource allocation but are we willing to act quickly with any signal or impetus. Morgenthau and Lemkin both show that all these events were preventable early on and had recognized the issue before America could embarrass itself. But now it is the time for the American people and government to acknowledge solutions don’t have to be zero sum.

Finally, there absolutely is a bias in how countries reacted to the Armenian genocide and carnage in Africa. Britain legitimately tried to intervene afterwards and get officials into Malta, Morgenthau attempted to buy refugees from the government, and there was high amounts of publicity. In contrast, the carnage in Africa was justified by the pretense of White Saviorism and more openly, greed. In one example, you are fighting a war between major powers where exposing the enemy is a common tactic. In another, imperial powers control the media, travel, and story of everything that is happening.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

While I don’t think the United States and our allies were complete bystanders during the Armenian genocide, I still think we didn’t do enough. Britain and France helped spread a lot of information about the treatment of the Armenian people under the Turks, but I want to highlight the US’s lack of action, especially early on. At first, President Woodrow Wilson was determined to not aggravate the Germans or the Turks because of his hope that America would remain neutral during the war. Essentially ignoring the 1915 Allied declaration against “crimes against humanity” along with their warning to the Turks allowed Woodrow Wilson to control the public opinion of US citizens and prevent the US from joining the war. However, by doing this, Woodrow was basically refusing to stand with countries that were at least declaring against what was happening to the Armenians. Ignorance is bliss for Wilson, but nobody should be able to remain ignorant in the face of a literal genocide. Even Morgenthau himself, who was very much pushing for American action against the Turkish treatment of the Armenians, admitted that since the Armenian genocide didn’t directly affect American citizens, the government does not have to directly act against it. The US government was essentially turning their heads away from the Armenian genocide in order to remain neutral during the war and as Secretary of State Robert Lansing said, they were concerned that the massacres would “jeopardize the good feeling of the people of the United States toward the people of Turkey.” Because of the fact that the US and our allies did little to actually directly help the Armenians (especially the US, who spread even less awareness if we’re ignoring the work of citizens like Morgenthau), I would consider them bystanders towards this genocide.

I believe that a direct military intervention as well as an early formal statement against the Armenian genocide would’ve done so much more in helping to stop the genocides. Honestly, most ideas would’ve been better than the US’s willful ignorance of the killings. Even just giving that public statement would have put much more pressure on the Turks to end the massacre, but direct military aid from such a large country would have been very effective.

If a genocide is occurring anywhere in the world, I think that the US and other nations should automatically take an active stance against the event. If a nation has the ability to help another group of people who are being actively prosecuted, they should go ahead and help them simply because that is the right and moral thing to do. In no circumstance should a country’s government be actively working against spreading awareness about such an event for various political reasons. The active killing of an entire population of people is not something one can just ignore. This is why I would 100% advocate a supporting role for nations that are witnessing a genocide; Being a bystander in such a horrible event is basically helping it grow since ignorance helps the perpetrator continue on with the knowledge that no one will stop them. Ignorance and inaction should not be a choice.

Honestly, I think world nations reacted very similarly to the massacres in Africa as they did with the Armenian genocide, as the victims of both events faced a great deal of ignorance from governments who did not feel like stepping in. The main difference is that many of the more powerful world nations were also invading Africa at the time for natural resources and land, so they had a common purpose with the Germans. The ignorance that America showed during the Armenian genocide was more due to a wish for neutrality. However, I believe that world nations still reacted similarly to both events because they simply didn’t care for what was happening. The US government didn’t act because it had little to gain from helping the Armenians, so despite the moral wrongness of that decision, they stayed largely ignorant.

boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

Yes, the United States were bystanders to the atrocities of the Armenian genocide. During WWI, America was in a better position to prevent some of the horrors going on in Turkey than most other nations. They weren’t nearly as invested in the war as countries like Britain and France, so they were definitely capable of at least further investigating the situation. It’s not like Turkey was eradicating its Christian population in an unnoticeable manner. Talaat Pasha, Turkish interior minister at the time, was vocal about his thoughts on the “Armenian Problem”. He said “that there was no room for Christians in Turkey”, and, on the deportation of Armenians to facilities that didn’t exist, he wrote, “we are ensuring their eternal rest”. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out that Turkey wanted to get rid of its Christians, the Armenians. But, the United States did what every bystander does, and found an excuse to do nothing. The excuses being thrown were that the United States had to remain neutral, that there wasn’t enough evidence, and that the United States shouldn’t meddle with Turkey’s business. The excuse of not having enough proof isn’t a valid excuse because the United States very well could have sought after proof. It doesn’t matter the validity of the excuse, it will always remain true that it’s easier to do nothing than to stand up. We’ve seen a good couple of examples in our first discussion (on a smaller, more intimate, more comprehendible scale), of bystanders doing absolutely nothing about horrific incidents. The incident on the 36 bus we read about, where a man punched a young boy in the face and took the boy with him off the bus, is one of the most memorable of those examples. I still remember one of the witnesses of the incident saying that he did nothing because he thought it must’ve been a family issue. That’s just such an absurd excuse in that situation, but it was enough to keep him seated. As soon as there’s one possible tiny reason not to stand up, people will stop themselves from doing anything. What rings true for people, rings true for nations (or at least the people running those nations).

America at the very least could have put a greater effort in confirming what was happening in Turkey. All they did was send the diplomat Henry Morgenthau Sr. to hear stories. Morgenthau wanted more to be done, but no matter how much he pushed, America was reluctant. Morgenthau wrote, “Technically, I had no right to interfere. According to the cold-blooded legalities of the situation, the treatment of Turkish subjects by the Turkish Government was purely a domestic affair; unless it directly affected American lives and American interests, it was outside the concern of the American Government”. Morgenthau was in a spot where all he could do was watch as Turkey murdered an entire race. The sad truth is, every nation only cared about its lives and its interests.

All America did was say that Armenians were welcome in their country. “But the Turks, insincere even about helping Armenians leave, blocked the exit of refugees.” America did the bare minimum to show they cared, and nothing further. The Armenian genocide was definitely more focused on than the genocide in Namibia. It probably had to do with Armenians being a Christian race.

Every nation that wants to call itself righteous, on principle, should take a stand when entire populations of people are being threatened.

freddie gibbs fan
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The American government and other Allied forces should have done something. A military intervention was not really possible from any side but I think using optics and public opinion this genocide could have been stopped. Talaat and other Turkish officials clearly cared about public opinion and the international community's view of the situation, ("The Turks, who had attempted to conduct the massacres secretly, were unhappy about the attention they were getting") he tried to limit coverage of the genocide from reporters etc. I think the US should have denounced their acts and brought public opinion around to heavily criticize Turkey. On the question of when to intervene and when, I would say that we should always denounce these acts and put diplomatic pressure on government to stop them, however in some cases I don't think all-out military intervention is the right option. In some circumstances I think direct action to stop genocides would be military and I am generally opposed to military interventions as they are often used by more powerful countries to gain a foothold in weaker ones, exploiting them in the future.

The role countries must play is the upstander, call out everything internationally and if direct action to stop killings is possible then take that route. The US is pretty isolated from many other parts of the world so I don't think we have a direct responsibility to militarily stop genocides (because I don't really trust the government and we haven't been able to stop genocides inside our own borders) but with our powerful international voice we should bring attention and support against genocides.

I think nations behaved similarly, many disliked the perpetrators or thought less of them but no real consequences came to them. In Namibia, Lothar Von Trotha committed many huge atrocities and yet there is still a street named after him in Germany. This is similar to what was in the chapters I read - European nations wanted to prosecute the perpetrators yet never got around to it, just like how Germany took minimal responsibility for their genocide only recently, and don't mention it in their museums.

ok i pull up
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

It is bad to just look at a crime happening and do nothing about it, especially when you have the power to prevent it. The US has a lot of army power and could have stopped this had we knew what was going on. No government should stand to an entire group of people getting killed off, and that's what our country did. As one of the world's renowned "superpowers", we should have taken action by perhaps sending people to support the Armenian people at least. All this to say that yes, we were unfortunately bystanders to this while it happened, and we could have done a lot more than just witness this tragedy, even before genocide was a word in our dictionary.

As for roles that countries should take, I believe that they should take affirmative action and directly interfere with this, by sending military troops there. So many lives could have been saved, and the world should have known that a third world country such as Africa, has no chance to fight back against the European troops, excluding Ethiopia. We must take into account racism back in the early 20th century, because colored people were not seen as valuable as the white man. This could have been a problem because this could have been a reason for America to think that they shouldn’t interfere with this.

In the carnage in Africa, the countries didn’t really bahave any different, and Africa was left to defend for themselves, just like previously stated, Ethiopia fought hard to keep their independence, however I must mention that Benin was protected by America, not allowing any european countries to take over, so I believe that was a good thing that America has contributed to this. This wasn’t the same case for Namibia however. They were put into concentration camps, and 80 % of their population gone… This could have been prevented, but no body did anything about this, and although they showed some resistance, such as the battle of Sandfontein, however still the german had higher technology and the people advantage, so other countries should have seen this and helped, however, we were just bystanders.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

The United States most definitely acted as a bystander in view the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire and the Turks, and as a matter of fact they acted with the most polarized version of bystanderism that one was capable of perpetuating. By not choosing a side, and by not standing up for the Armenians in wake of the World War, by that very act of doing nothing the United States acted at the hands of the perpetrators. What I also don't understand is that throughout the United States' history we have had literally no problem meddling with the affairs of other countries and inserting our own will for our benefit, so here, when it came to an issue as humanitarian and dire as the Armenian Genocide, it reveals the levels of selfishness, greed, and corruption in the US government on issues that will not directly benefit us. That is what makes this version of American bystanderism so disgusting. But the thing people were directly calling for the action, ANY action from the Wilson administration to help these people and no response was fixed by the government. However we cannot ignore the upstanders that aimed to change this: voices in the media, the voice of Henry Morgenthau, and countless others who advocated and made their efforts to be upstander can't go unnoticed.

In short: the United States needs to stop adhering to bystanderism and start upstanding to the best of their ability, whenever atrocities like this happen, and stop only upstanding when it benefits themselves.

In addition to this, I believe another key factor hindered the US from neglecting to take action to support the Armenians. That factor: racism. I think that nations did act differently to the Armenian genocide that they did during the Herero and Nama genocide. Oftentimes when we look at issues that have happened in history, Europe seems to be always highlighted as a "special case". To preface, ALL genocide, as we know, is evil, and horrible. So when when we look back at history, and at awful acts such as the Holocaust, or today's genocide in Ukraine, I find it important to note how people seem to 'care' more, or are more informed about such issues when they are more Euro-Centric. And how being European somehow equates that those events are more humanized. When we look at the Herero and Nama genocide in the early 1900's it is genuinely sickening how people can't, or won't see that atrocity on the same level as other terrible acts simply because of racism, whether that it conscious or unconscious, and the fact that "since these events didn't happen in Europe they are more 'dehumanized.' " And the result of little to no action taken by "the international community" at the time was simply to due to racism, and the Herero and Nama people simply just not being thought of as human.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Yes the United States and their allies did act as bystanders during the Armenian genocide. The US had ambassadors in Turkey that

pleaded to the government to intervene or do something to stop the mass murders of Armenian people, yet time and time again he

was denied and ignored.

The U.S. has been known to be a global superpower and have an advanced and organized military. The U.S. has the power to take a stand against Turkey and its allies to defend the Armenians. The U.S. and other nations should be taking a stand when an entire population is being decimated. Turkey is committing crimes against humanity, and when we are at war with this country and its allies we should use the war as a reason to defend the people at risk. They should take a stand wherever it happens no matter what but I understand why countries would be hesitant to in other cases. Its a risky decision to interfere with countries issues that we might have no affiliation with, but you can aid targeted people without completely interfering and declaring war. I would advocate for the United States and other nations witnessing and hearing about the genocide to take action. To discuss with leaders of their allies and determine what they can do to stop the country from committing more atrocities against the Armenians. I’m not sure how far negotiations can go but I assume Turkey officials wouldn’t stop willingly. Yes I do, most countries did nothing to bring attention to German South West Africa, Britain posted news about it but only because they were trying to give their enemy a bad reputation. They did nothing to actually stop any of the atrocities in Namibia. So many countries participated in carving up Africa for territories they could claim, they viewed both genocides as something that was for the country it was occuring in to take charge of. Only in the Armenian genocide did we see advocates for an intervention from another countries military.

posts 1 - 15 of 24