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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, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

The Armenian genocide and bystanderism

Yes, the United States and our allies were bystanders, especially the United States. France, Britain, and Russia were busy fighting in the war while the U.S., afraid that we would be implicated, stayed silent. When Morgenthau, U.S. ambassador in Turkey, reported evidence of the genocide, the U.S. told him to turn a blind eye. One, because we want to keep “friendly relations” with Turkey, and two, it wasn’t any of his business. Then, later on when he urged the U.S. to save the Armenians, America said no because they didn’t want to give up the safe position they were in. Some American people did advocate against the genocide, but they also advocated against participating in the war. Former President Theodore Roosevelt was angry at their hypocrisy. How could you say you want to help the Armenian people but won’t join the war to stop their genocide?

The U.S. didn't want to join the war, however, it should've taken a stand against Turkey instead of acting like “allies”. On principle, America brands itself as “the land of the free”, but they’re unwilling to help out anyone else except their own. This “neutrality” does more harm than good for America’s image in the world. As Lemkin said, if it happened once, it could happen again. History will keep repeating itself. If America stays silent now about the Armenian genocide, it will stay silent forever when other genocides are happening. We can see this happening during World War II, but during that time, a lot more countries were willing to condemn Germany and help the Jews. I believe that the U.S. should always be ready to take a stand when entire populations are being destroyed. If we cannot protect persecuted communities, then we cannot call ourselves as a world power. Lemkin, driven on by the massacre of the Armenians and the massacre of his own people, sets out to raise attention to these crimes. He would eventually come up with a word for it: genocide.

I would’ve advocated for the United States and its allies to be upstanders. They could’ve acted as refugee centers for escaping Armenians or tried taking down the Turkey regime. The U.S. administration could’ve also released information about it to people overseas. It’s more significant this way because it shows that Turkey’s actions are “condemned” by the U.S. One thing that really irked me in the reading and that I hoped they would stop doing is playing devil’s advocate. Whenever the topic of the genocide is brought up, government officials would say something along the lines of, “Maybe it’s not one-sided,” “Maybe the Armenians did something, were disloyal, etc.”. This does nothing to help our cause. Not only is the U.S. being a bystander, but it’s also actively victim-blaming the people dying. That’s what I mainly disliked about the U.S.’s “neutrality”.

Yes, the world nations did behave differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the carnage in Africa. The Armenian genocide made it into the headlines AND they had a U.S. ambassador advocating for them (not that it did them any good). News sources like the New York Times and British Press published articles bringing awareness to it. The Congregationalist, Baptist, and Roman Catholic churches also gave donations. After the war, Turkish leaders were tried at court and executed for their crimes. If you compared their punishment to the punishment the Belgians and Germans got for their atrocities in Namibia and the Congo, you can see that there’s basically no punishment for what the Europeans did in Africa at all. Of course, we should never compare genocides, and I’m not comparing the 2 genocides, but we can’t deny the fact that there WAS a difference between how these 2 genocides were handled by the public.

Martha $tewart
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

In the face of genocide, the American Government should have chosen humanity over political neutrality, we were bystanders. Before WWI, America was seen as an economic superpower, but not neccessarily a wartime one. However, America definitely had the resources to be able to intervene in the Armenian Genocide. Just like with the Holocaust, America knew it was happening but did nothing. Excuses were made about protecting the American reputation or not having valid information from their sources, but these would be hard to believe given the first hand accounts of America’s own ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Countless lives could have been saved had America intervened physically or even through threats towards Turkey. Even after America joined the war, it did not fight Turkey. Even after the war ended, it said Turkey should not be prosecuted.

The US and other nations should always intervene when an entire population is being destroyed. It’s hard to understand how anyone with a soul could knowingly watch mass murder happen. Even if the people being affected are not the same race, nationality, or religion as you. Of course, if there was ever a targeted attack on American citizens, America would expect every other nation to come to their aid. Whether or not help is given to a group should not be determined by territorial lines, alliances, or possible economic gain. There is no logic in the idea that one sovereign nation can do whatever they want to their people. Citizens of a nation are not property of the government, they are meant to be protected and not abused. Also, it is usually a minority group of a nation that is targeted, making it even more unlikely that people within that nation will care enough to stop it. Nations need to pay attention to the warning signs. Hitler recovered the ashes of Talaat and brought them back to Turkey where they were enshrined. This was an obvious alarm that people missed.

America cannot carry on with the idea that,“Unless it directly affected American lives and American interests, it was outside the concern of the American Government”. America, being a very influential country, should be the leader in addressing world change with regards to genocide. Policies should reflect the ideas stated by Lemkin in the article, countries should take exception when whole groups of people are being erased.

Though both genocides were ignored for political reasons for a long time, the atrocities that occurred in German South West Africa received much less attention then the Armenian Genocide and were not addressed until very recently. In the Ottoman Empire, claims of wiping out the Armenians were ignored due to political tension, but eventually caught on due to the efforts of Morgenthau and the New York Times. Christian groups joined with wealthy families in the US, such as the Rockefellers, to raise money to help save the Armenians, though their attempts went nowhere. Morgenthau also argued that Armenians are hard workers and that the states should let them in, but the Turkish leaders would not let this happen. The Namibian Genocide happened without gaining attention from other nations and was even advertised by Germany as a great way for its citizens to make money. Though the atrocities committed on both groups of people were unimaginable, less attention was brought to Namibia because its people were not Christian or light skinned.

Posts: 14

the Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

Yes both the allies and our own country acted as bystanders but it was more the US than the allies. As stated in the first reading, the Allies had come together to create a declaration that the Turkish would be held accountable for their actions. But for US president Woodrow Wilson he decided to not be a signer on this declaration because he thought it was better to “it was better to not draw attention to the atrocities”, because it could cause pressures from within the US to get involved. By actively turning a blind eye and just deciding that the loss of human lives via mass killings didn't concern the US, it 100% makes them a bystander. But, it wasn't just turning a blind eye to what they saw the Allies doing but also ignoring the things that were coming from US ambassadors and diplomats were telling Washington. Although the Allies had made some effort to put an end to the genocide of the Armenian people, signing a decloration and saying that something is bad and recognizing that it is something is happening can only do so much. It was definitely a step in the right direction but needed more for the Allies to not be considered bystanders. However, it would be incorrect and unfair to make it seem like the Allies had written that declaration and then just left it out to dry as they were fighting in WW1 and had their own countries to worry about.

The US would've done anything to offer support but they just stood by and let it happen because it wasn’t their battle to fight in. The US and other countries should take a stand when populations are being annihilated but it seems hypocritical to do so when the US and the other nations that could potentially be involved have done the same thing. Although it seems hypocritical it doesn't mean that they shouldn't do anything but perhaps is more of a reason to act. To me it just seems like the principle of the act, by deciding that the human lives being lost are worth more than the political aspect of it. Although it does seem unrealistic to jump to help every group at any given moment, it should never be so blatantly ignored like it was in Armenia.

I would push and advocate for anything other than just sitting with the information of what is happening to a whole group of people and watching them be annihilated from their own country. Offering support in the way of refuge, trying to stop the Turkish, acknowledging what was happening, pushing other nations to act -- literally anything other than doing nothing and making the decision that this wasn't their fight. Not to try and compare the Holocaust to the Aremnian Genocide in any way, but the type of outcry that came out of the Holocaust the the reaction that it warented is an example of what could be done. By no means am I trying to say that we should have a world war every time someone gets killed but people getting killed by the hundreds of thousands is beyond the means for reaction.

Besides the fact that the world at least recognized that it was happening, I don't think the world really acted any different. Although yes the circumstances that the world was in during Germany’s rule in Namibia and the Armenian genocide were very different from one another, there wasnt that much of a difference in behavior from other nations. However, I think that the media coverage that the Armenain Genocide was somthing that the genocide in Nambia didn’t have. Granted they were different time periods, by having newspaper reports in the US as well as other places around the world, it made it easier for the average person to gain knowledge about what happened and perhaps pressure their governments to act.

Brighton, MA, US
Posts: 21

I think that the United State's bare minimum response to the genocide should have been providing extensive aid to refugees and as much assistance as possible to those still inside Ottoman territory, a public condemnation of the Ottoman Empire, a commitment to putting those who put the genocide into motion on trial, and some form of sanctions against Ottoman leaders. Although I am opposed to all forms of war on principle and believe that the vast majority of wars throughout history have only been fought for the benefit of the powerful, I have to make an exception for invading countries that are actively committing genocide. Even if the country stopping the genocide is no better than the country committing it, at least the genocide is being stopped. The actual responses to the genocide by major powers were pitiful, as they basically only acknowledged the genocide was happening in newspapers, provided aid to some refugees, and attempted to try some high-level perpetrators in an international court---which went nowhere. However, Talaat Pasha, the former Turkish interior minister who oversaw much of the genocide, was executed for his crimes against humanity by an Armenian man whose entire family was murdered during the genocide. This genocide was far more publicized than against the Herero and Nama peoples, largely due to it occurring within a European nation instead of a colony and being committed against a primarily Christian, quasi-European ethnic group. In the eyes of European Nations, the Herero and Nama were simply colonial subjects not worth raising an outrage over---unless it was to make Germany look bad.

Posts: 21

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

(I’ve answered all the questions in a long stream of consciousness because I found my answers too intertwined with one another to separate the way Ms. Freeman did. That being said, I did try to break it up in a way that would be easier on the eyes.)

I think that the United States and other nations witnessing this genocide absolutely needed to do more. Considering how much of a global powerhouse the U.S. was during this time, and continues to be, they could’ve put a lot of pressure on the Ottoman Empire. Be it through diplomatic negotiations, offering asylum, or placing the empire under economic stress- a lot of political manipulation could’ve been done to save people. No one on this earth will ever convince me that the combined political brain power of the top nations in the world could come up with nothing. Our class of less than 30 high school students can think of something.

I also think that when viewing the right of the U.S. to intervene or not, I think the formation of the United Nations plays a big role. In the modern world, the barrier of “oh this is an internal affair! We don't owe you anything because we are our own sovereign nation! Look away LOL!” doesn’t hold up whatsoever- (not that it should’ve in the first place when the topic is literal mass murder.) There are 195 countries in the world, and 193 of them are currently part of the UN. 193 countries adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and every single one can and must be held responsible if they violate it.

I absolutely believe that world nations behaved differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the atrocities in Africa, and I believe it was because of selfishness. Nations, particularly European ones, that spoke out against the Armenian genocide from the get-go were already at war with the Ottoman Empire. While countries like Britain and France reported on genocide taking place in the German colonies, their outrage was by no means comparable to taking part in The Great War.

I don’t think that there is a scale of suffering- that atrocities should be compared to one another to determine which one was worse. Responses on the other hand can, and should be compared and more importantly criticized- not on the basis of comparison of the event, but on the basis that the event was, by itself, appalling. It’s the principle, and it sets a precedent. The suffering of those in German South West Africa does not negate that of those in Turkey. The responses of world nations to these genocides reveals everything about said nations, not the genocides. Those already at war with the Ottoman Empire had the perfect opportunity to rally their troops, to boost morale, to convince everyone that they were doing the right thing. Germany, of course, is an exception to this as they maintained support for the Ottoman Empire. Of all the things to be morally consistent on…support of human rights violations is the worst possible one.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

During the Armenian genocide, the United States acted as bystanders throughout the entire genocide. Morgenthau had clearly pointed out that the Armenians were getting brutally killed under the Ottoman empire and even though there was solid evidence of it, the United States did nothing. Other than expressing their sympathy towards the Armenians. Morgenthau advocated many times for the United States to stop this act of mass killing of Armenians and even tried to reach President Roosevelt, but all he was left with was failure. The United States remained as bystanders throughout the Armenian genocide.

I feel like the United States and other nations should have done something more than expressing their sympathy to the Armenians. They should have helped with providing refugees to the Armenians so they can have a chance to flee. They should also try stepping in and putting a stop to this. The United States and any other nations should always no matter what take a stand when an entire population is being destroyed.

I would advocate for the United States and other nations witnessing this genocide to do anything other than not doing anything. By doing nothing while witnessing a mass of people get killed is not something one should be proud of. In short, the United States and other nations should not be a bystander but an upstander.

Frankly, I think the world nations did not behave that differently during the Armenian genocide and what they did in Africa. In both events, they both knew the horrors of what was going down but did not do anything. Although the evidence was more clear for the Armenians and what was happening, which made it worse considering they had solid evidence of a genocide but sat idlely. For Namibia, it was much for difficult to send messages back to Europe and it made sense why some would think it’s false information and not act on it. But in both cases, the world nations had the same reaction for the events.

Steely Gibbs
Posts: 23

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

To start, yes, the United States and our allies did act as bystanders during the Armenian genocide. However, there should be more emphasis on the US’ onlooking than allies. It’s detailed how US President Woodrow Wilson was plenty aware of what was happening, but they pretended it was just the wind. There wasn’t accountability being taken, rather there were responsibilities being avoided. It’s quite scary to think about. Being keenly aware of a literal massacre of a group of people, but merely brushing it off your shoulders because it’s better to “not draw attention”. Later on, Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, tried to rehash this and make a plan to intervene, but nothing came out of it. Even after 26 months of trying, there was little to show for it from the US government. There is a line between the American government and the American people though. The American people tried to do their part, through donations and contributions, but that isn’t enough to stop something on this scale. Even after having allies sign a declaration, it seemed very performative. Acknowledging the problem is definitely a good first step, but not acting on that acknowledgement is where things begin to get shaky.

What we should’ve done was to act on what we knew and heard. There could’ve been more pressure put on through the government, given the people were already putting in more effort as a collective group. Using things to our advantage such as our economy could’ve put Turkey into a restricted position, or there could’ve been full deployment of our military to show that we actually care about this atrocity. I feel as if all nations should take a stand if there is evidence of an entire population being destroyed. Even if it will be the cause of wars or may not be the best for the economy, there should still be greater emphasis on life. No matter what.

Comparing the Armenian genocide to the massacre in Namibia, there was definitely a change in responses. The US put effort into applying pressure against Germany during the Namibia massacre. Both diplomatic and economic were taken, showing that the US is definitely capable of doing them. It’s interesting how even though the US has proven it’s ability to do this, they still didn’t in the case of the Armenian genocide.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

The United States did act as bystanders during the Armenian Genocide. The United States took a stance, however an extremely minuscule one, that basically did nothing for the Armenian people. The United States and all other bystanders basically said "don't do that" and nothing else. The bystanders could have done anything other than be silent and it would have had a larger impact on the situation in Armenia. Launching a war to counteract these crimes would have been an overreaction, but the consensus reaction of ignoring the genocide was a terribly wrong decision.

The United States should take a stand all of the time when another population is being targeted and harassed, however there is a realistic limit as to what the United States and other countries involved can do due to the fact that nobody wants another World War. The consequences of advancing their stance to a major extent is not worth threatening all out chaos in the perspective of the country's leader(s). I would advocate for the United States to be as vocal as possible about condemning the actions, as well as for them to suggest other countries to do the same.

I believe they acted the exact same with the Germans in Namibia. As said in the book by Samantha Power, political strategy does have an effect on what happens when a genocide is committed. At the time of the genocide in Namibia, Germany was a top power, and the repercussions of having a large scale fight with such a power over an issue that doesn't directly affect the people of your country is not worth said fight. It also is a struggle to get people to become aware about a genocide, once again mentioned by Power. If public support is not large and demanding, then why would the government put their own country at risk for seemingly no reason. The leaders of the world's most powerful countries have to be precise and directly aware of all potential conflicts and consequences of their actions, making actively taking a stand a hard decision to make. Ultimately it seems that this decision is made in favor of staying quiet almost all of the time.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

I think that in this situation, the United States and its allies acted as a bystander. Although the chapters give examples of American citizens advocating for support, those with the true power over the United States’ decisions failed to act upon that advocacy. Even though they had the means to do so, they chose their ‘neutrality’ over the lives of innocent people.

The US should take a stand against against genocide the instant that it is recognized that that’s what’s happening. Their decisive ‘neutrality’ on the subject of genocide didn’t get them anywhere in the case of the Armenian genocide. I thought it was hypocritical that they so easily and willingly stepped into WWI without a concrete reason, resulting in catastrophic damages and losses, and wouldn’t even do the bare minimum of formally acknowledging the actual genocide that was going on in a country that they were engaged in war with.

In these situations it’s hard to determine a ‘right’ thing to do, but the wrong thing is definitely being a bystander or doing the very bare minimum like the US and its allies did. I would advocate that there were several things that they could have done without the conflict they were trying so hard to avoid. For example, they could have sent real aid to refugees to try and get them out or even contested the Turkish government any other way than just sympathy. These

I think that the world did behave differently at the two genocides, and I think that one of the main reasons for that was the amount of interaction between Turkey and the rest of the world during WWI. This greater exposure to the world led more people to advocate against the genocide, but even so, neither situation was dealt with the amount of respect or urgency that it should’ve been.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

The United States and our Allies did act as bystanders during the Armenian genocide because we did not help the Armenian people, and ignored the pleas for help. The United States did not want to declare war on Turkey, and instead ignored what was happening to the Armenian people. The President of the US, Woodrow Wilson had decided not to join the Allied declaration, and did not want to pressure either the Turks or the Germans. The reasoning was that President Wilson did not want to draw attention to the events and have the people pressure the US to get involved, and the Turks had not affected Americans directly. When accounts and photographs of the genocide came out of Turkey, Morgenthau was hesitant to show them to Washington, and when he did, President Wilson still did not want to interfere because it was not affecting the US. Because of this, Turkey did not have much backlash, and could escape consequences by hiding what was happening to the outside world, and they could keep trying to wipe out the Armenian population. Even after the war, Talaat did not face any consequences, as he was the leader in Turkey and there were no crimes against what he did.

The United States should have interfered in the war and helped Armenian fugitives and tried to stop the Turks from furthering their attack on the Armenian population. Even if President Wilson wanted to stay neutral and not get involved in the war, he still could have allowed refuge for the Armenians fleeing away from the genocide.

World nations did behave differently during the Armenian genocide than during the carnage of Africa because the genocide of Armenian people was mainly about religion, and wanted all Armenians and people in the Ottoman Empire to be Christian. In the carnage of Africa it was more about the economy, and while Africans were also being force to convert to Christianity, they were seen as less than human, and in an effort to "civilize" them, they were taught about Christianity. The Armenian people weren't seen as less than human, and were being killed because they believed in a different faith, while the African people were being used as cheap labor to help the European colonizers gain more power, money, and resources.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

The United States and other countries who were witnessing and well aware of the genocide could most definitely have done more. They clearly were acting as bystanders and allowing any atrocity at this large of a scale to simply play out with minimal intervention is simply not acceptable. For the United States, world war 1 was a financial opportunity. Because of the war, exports from the US increased drastically which caused a boom in the economy. The United States was not devastated by the war as many other of their allies were and could have much more easily intervened with the Armenian genocide. Additionally, there is substantial evidence proving that “awareness” was not the question at all. The United States was well aware of what was going on and the severity of the horrors. The British Foreign Office dug up photographs of the massacre victims and the allied governments did make a declaration condemning “crimes against humanity and civilization.” However, the United States, “determined to maintain its neutrality in the war, refused to join the Allied declaration.” Wilson believed it was better not to “draw attention” to the atrocities. The United States says it extremely clearly: they intentionally were a bystander for their own gain.

The United States and other nations should have taken a stand. The United States should have at the very least sent resources or even acknowledged what was happening, shining a light on the horrors. I believe that all nations should feel obligated to put aside their personal financial greed when it comes to situations where people are not treated humanely and to uphold generally agreed upon standards of human rights. Nation’s generally pursue everything out of self-interest, however, I believe that it should be in a Nation’s self interest to demonstrate to the world how humane they are. Instead of glorifying military strength and who has the most control of the market, the world should shift its mindset to glorify those that could pursue a primary goal of material domination, and choose to instead be active in supporting those in need. More specifically however, I believe that more defensive pacts could be put into place that intertwine more of the world’s standards of treatment. Although this would be difficult and could have potential downsides, a world where nation’s are more committed to a common goal is much more productive.

I believe that nations did behave differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the carnage in Africa. Although there was an extreme lack of intervention in both, the Armenian genocide was at the very least made slightly more public. This point of publicity however makes the United States more of a bystander and brings up the question of whether someone can be a bystander if they lack a certain amount of awareness. Although information was publicized during the Armenian genocide, the US government worked hard to keep that information away from its citizens because that would give them “complications”. Currently, from our perspective from high school it is clear that more people are aware of the Armenian genocide, however, that awareness is still minimal.

East Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

Yes, during the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923, the United States and its allies did not take significant action to stop the mass killing and forced relocation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. While some diplomatic efforts were made, they did not lead to concrete measures to halt the genocide. It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the genocide. It is important for nations, including the U.S., to take a stand against acts of genocide, including the destruction of an entire population like what happened to the Armenians. Genocide is a horrific crime against humanity, and nations have a moral obligation to speak out against it and to use their political and diplomatic leverage to try to prevent it from happening. Moreover, taking a stand against genocide sends a message that such acts will not be tolerated and can serve as a deterrent against future occurrences. Additionally, taking action can help provide justice and support for the victims and their families, and contribute to efforts to ensure that the events are remembered and not repeated. It is important to note that taking a stand against genocide can also have implications for the stability and security of the international community, as mass violence and humanitarian crises can destabilize regions and generate regional and global impacts. The United States and its allies could’ve offered their troops to help prevent the genocide. Yes, the responses of world nations to the Armenian genocide and the German colonial massacres in South West Africa (Namibia) were different. During the Armenian genocide, many world nations failed to take meaningful action to stop the violence, despite knowing what was happening. The reasons for this can include a lack of political will, competing priorities, and difficulties in collecting accurate information about the events. In contrast, the German colonial massacres in South West Africa (Namibia) received relatively little international attention at the time and have since been largely forgotten. This may be due in part to the limited communication, which made it difficult to disseminate information about events taking place in remote colonies.

Posts: 21

We - the United States - and our allied did act as bystanders during the Armenian genocide because they knew about the horrors that was going on in the Ottoman Empire but did nothing about it. They only wanted to protect their own interest at the cost of millions of lives. The Ottoman Empire ambassador, Henry Morgenthau Sr., warned the Unites States that if it did not help the Armenians or at least denoucnce them, there would have been a lot less carnage. The “race murder” (an earlier version of the word/concept of genocide) was being talked about in newspapers, by ministers, by other Europeans that say the devastation, and even Morgenthau himself. From petitions to the president to seeking aid from private individuals/businesses, Morgenthau tried to get help or at least have any of the allies denounce the leaders of the Ottoman Empire to prevent even more death. Even after the overwhelming amount of evidence showing how hundreds of thousands of Armenians were being brutally murdered, President Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson stuck dearly to the idea of isolationism and neutrality, and telling the Ottoman leaders to stop would endanger that, (depending on the situation), inhumane policy.

The Unites States should have done something to prevent the massive loss of life suffered by the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. While it could have pushed the country (and its allies) into war, the world was already fighting a meaningless war and intervening in the Armenian genocide could have saved millions of lives. Unlike the usual trend of remaining blind to genocides and cruelty all around the world, more attention should be brought to those struggling populations who are persecuted and usually murdered. The “race murder” should never be ignored because there is always something that can be done. The US could have sent aid or accepted the Armenians as refugees into the country, as Morgenthau proposed, but it didn’t. Instead the US just said that they couldn’t and to look for other people/businesses that could help. Because of that simple refusal, hundreds of thousands of Armenians who could have been refugees were killed.

If the US and other countries had intervened, there might have been a war (even though there already was one), but it could have saved even a few thousand lives, which does make a difference. When it comes to genocide and war, it is hard to imagine the amount of death that goes on, but you need to see every number as a human being who had a family, loved ones, and a full life. Those few thousand that they could have saved would have been given the gift of life, but instead they were robbed of it. Even though the Unites States did nothing to help the Armenians, many did however spread the news about the genocide and what the Ottoman Empire did and how it refused to stop. Genocide in Africa, like the one in Namibia, were not given nearly as much attention, meaning that businesses and people couldn’t promote or support a cause because of how Black people were, and to some degree, still are treated as inferior. Less businesses and people would donate money and give support to Africans than they would other Europeans.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 23

The Armenian genocide and bystanderism

The United States, and other countries around the world, need to take more responsibility and action towards recognizing acts of genocide when they are occuring, and then taking the measures that are needed to to prevent them from continuing to happen. In the past, as was seen during the Armenian genocide, earlier during the Herero and Nama genocide, and later during the Rwandan and Cambodian genocides, the United States government and military did not acknowledge these events until years after they were over, and far too late for any remedial action to be taken.

In the case of the Armenian genocide, the United States government under Wilson sought to avoid getting involved in World War I, and thus ignored the many examples of the atrocities committed against the Armenians provided by Morgenthau and other sources. These were even fairly well-known to the public at the time through articles run in the New York Times and other newspapers. However, despite this public knowledge and the creation of charities and relief funds to benefit Armenian refugees, the United States was still not willing to run the risk of angering Turkey to prevent further humanitarian crimes. This fear of offending Turkey, later made more difficult by the inclusion of both the United States and Turkey in the NATO alliance, prevented the US government from even acknowledging the genocide until 2019, over a century later.

From an ethical standpoint, all should absolutely do all they can to intervene to prevent any acts that could be defined as genocide. However, as a matter of policy, this does not mean that this intervention should necessarily be defined as military action. Most nations seek to minimize foreign military involvement, and thus may deny evidence of genocide if that would prevent them from having to become militarily involved. Other options could include economic sanctions, and cooperation towards creating more effective United Nations assistance missions. In the case of the the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, which lasted from 1993 to 1996, the mission was ultimately deemed a failure due to a lack of troops and supplies, as well as the UN’s refusal to agree on any set of actions for the mission to take in order to prevent the imminent genocide from occuring. The United States in particular refused to contribute towards the resources of this mission, and on the Security Counsil even advocated for the mission to be withdrawn from Rwanda in April of 1994, during the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. While the mission remained in place though 1996, and was able to save the lives of several thousand Tutsi people near areas of UN control, its effectiveness in preventing the genocide from occuring and in averting many of the atrocities committed was severely limited by the unwillingness of the United States and other countries to act.

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