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Posts: 20

Read: Chapter 1, from Samantha Power, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2001), pp. 1-14

We are in the process of looking at the Armenian genocide this week, so I would like you to break open (once again!) Samantha Power’s “A Problem from Hell.” Power begins her volume by talking about the Armenian situation before there was a word “genocide” in the English language. 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 saw in the documentary, “The Armenian Genocide” and have learned in class thus far. 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 the Belgian Congo and German South West Africa (Namibia) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

Posts: 30

As Powers notes on page 5 in her book "A Problem from Hell," "The United States, determined to maintain its neutrality in the war, refused to join the Allied declaration. . .Because the Turks did not violate the rights of Americans, Wilson did not formally protest."

Powers emphasizes on page 13 that "America's nonresponse to the Turkish horrors established patterns that would be repeated. Time and again the U.S. government would be reluctant to cast aside its neutrality and formally denounce a fellow state for its atrocities. Time and again though U.S. officials would learn that huge numbers of civilians were being slaughtered, the impact of this knowledge would be blunted by their uncertainty abut the facts and their rationalization that a firmer U.S. stand would make little difference."

Are you getting deja vu? Strikingly similar to the Rwandan genocide that would happen 80 years later, the United States stood by in a state of inaction, refusing to acknowledge that this was, in fact, a genocide. As with the Rwandan genocide, even acknowledging that injustice was present would urge action. Instead, the United States turned its head away in favor of supposed neutrality and peace.

The United States should have sent troops to intervene and fight the Turkish forces. It can be argued, however, that the United States should not intervene in events that don't pertain to them. In that case, what if a politically isolated country were to commit mass genocide on a scale of the Holocaust? Should everyone just turn a blind eye because "it's not our problem?" Reeking of a David Cash-like mindset, unnecessary pain and death then result.

As humans, how can we stand by while our fellow people are crying out in pain? How can we watch the bully and do nothing just because the bully is our ally? Doesn't morality transcend mere political policy?

Otto von Bismarck
Posts: 32

Armenia and Bystanderism

The problem with asking whether the US and the Allies were bystanders or not during the Armenian Genocide is a question that's framed a little unfairly. While technically America was a bystander during the genocide, in which to say we didn't take direct military action to stop the massacres, to give us and the Allies the label 'bystanders' is connotative of guilt. So while the US and the Allies didn't take direct action to stop the genocide, if you look at the circumstances in which the actions were being carried out, there really wasn't that much that could've been done.

Because just keep in mind the circumstances: the British and French were already at war with the Ottomans, allied with the Central Powers, and "publicized the atrocities," according to Power. She also details in chapter one how the French and British agencies and lobbies pressed their national papers to cover the events more, while most Allied leaders at the time knew that their hands were tied, because since they were already literally at war with the offending Ottomans, what else could they do to help the Armenians? Most of them thought the only way to help the Armenians would be to continue what they were doing, and that the "most expedient way to end the killings would be to defeat the German-Austrian-Turkish alliance." I agree with that, because what else could the Allies have done? Declare war twice?

As for the United States, although we didn't intervene, we also had a reason for it: we were trying to keep out of WWI, and if we were to intervene on the side of the Armenians against the Ottomans, we would've picked the Allied side and launched ourselves into the war. With that being said, I think American citizens still had their hearts in the right place by donating a lot of money to help with Armenian supplies and aid. It was simply not the age of the American Policeman, where our nation could've been persuaded to intervene by force somewhere that did not affect us at all and would cost American lives. Even if in hindsight, we as a modern society disagree with the path that generation took, their actions are still understandable.

For the broader-ranged questions, I believe that the United States and other civilized nations need to take stands in the face of genocide, but what that stand entails, differs from case to case. Military intervention is simply not practical many of the time, and might even worsen the situation over the long run. Moreover, sometimes we might be prevented by global politics from intervening. We must adopt the role of the preventer whenever practical. However, we must always publicize cases of genocide and at least utilize everything within our capabilities of preventing it short from force, with tactics such as sanctions.

Finally, I think that the world did react differently, with a much more muted reaction than the outrage the Belgian Congo provoked, specifically because the world was in the middle of a war. In the great tomes of history, the sad truth is that the peoples genocide-ed are usually always marginalized peoples, and no matter how many of them perish, no one's going to place the livelihoods of a marginalized group over their country's own interests in winning a world war.

Posts: 31

In Power's final paragraph of this section, she emphasizes the US's repeated failure to act in situations such as that of the Armenians, saying that "America's nonresponse to the Turkish horrors established patterns that would be repeated" and "The United States would offer humanitarian aid to the survivors of 'race murder' but would leave those committing it alone. Of course, as Mr. Gavin and Ms. Power mentioned, we were in the midst of WW1, and perhaps this is something that we should consider before we jump in and berate our government at the time for their inaction. However, genocide is never convenient. There never has been, nor will there ever be a time when an event is labelled as genocide and nations feel like they can immediately jump in. No one wants to take responsibility for something like that unless it is absolutely necessary. We weren't completely bystanders, but certainly there was a lot more than we could have and perhaps should have done, since I think it also would have been possible for other countries to follow in action.

I wish I knew the correct response, but if there was one, none of these decisions would have to be made. The 2 biggest issues that I realized were that a) I wish Morgenthau could have been taken more seriously by other government officials, and b) I think the fact that Turkey didn't allow reporters to come in played a big part in our inaction. Perhaps if Morgenthau was actually given an opportunity to fully explain what was happening, the US could have investigated it much more, at the very least. I also think that if newpeople were able to report and publish more current images and stories, the public could have been more mobilized and could have pressured the government to do more. On principle, we should take genocide very seriously and at the very least, spend a genuine amount of effort to see what we can do and how we can do it. However, maybe because I don't feel like I fully understand, I don't know what the US could have done, reasonably, other than place some political and maybe economic pressure on the Turks, and I don't know how effective that could have been. Also, perhaps pushing for the Armenian refugees to be allowed to leave also would have been an acceptable method of attack.

One major issue is that nearly all countries are afraid of genocide, but not in the appropriate, effective way. We are afraid of what it means and what it entails, and this makes us afraid to act. If nations were more willing to act, if it was seen as a politically honorable thing to do, if more countries viewed it as an international humanitarian disaster than another political decision to make... maybe things could change and we could break even the US cycle of inaction.

Finally, I do believe that the world reacted differently to the Armenian genocide, versus the Belgian Congo and Namibia. A large part of the Belgian Congo was publicity- at least that's what I believe from the video we watch- and unfortunately this was prevented in Armenia by the Turkish government. I also think that the world had been sort of numb to carnage at this point: those involved with the war had grown accostumed to casualties, and those not, like the US, were so determined to stay away from violence that it didn't seem to matter how the violence was applied.

Posts: 31

I think that the USA was a bystander in the Armenian Genocide without a doubt. We received countless reports and had many diplomats stationed within Turkey begging the United States to denounce Turkey’s actions. But we didn’t in the name of staying neutral but in the end we joined the war. I think it’s ridiculous that the Woodrow administration couldn’t publicly denounce Turkey’s actions. Yes it would have made us less than neutral but no one was asking America to send troops to Turkey for combat. All they asked for was a statement of denouncement. We should have made a statement. End of story. We had relations with Turkey and most of their allies. It would have made a big difference for them to hear that we didn’t like what they were doing. All nations should take a stand when a population is being destroyed. I don’t know what the right action would be but something needs to happen and like Power said, we’ve seen the US be a bystander time and time again. Nothing has changed, we continue to see history repeat itself and I can’t be the only one who’s tired of it. The biggest thing I would advocate for would be just denouncing countries committing these atrocities and making them isolated so that they have no choice but to stop. But if that doesn’t work I think there might need to be military intervention. Also like I said before the world nations didn’t act differently at all from the Congo and Namibia genocides. We did the exact same thing. We sat and watched despite how well it was documented. We know some genocides are carried out very sneakily but this genocide was so well documented but it didn’t change anything.

Posts: 33

Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism

During the Armenian Genocide, the United States, and our allies, did act as bystanders. This cannot be questioned, as even Henry Morgenthau, the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the genocide, gave plenty of warning signs to the American government. One would think that this would be a clear sign of genocide, and overall annihilation of a population. However, American diplomats were expected to stay out of business related to Armenia because it “did not concern American National interest” (Power 7). Not only did Morgenthau send direct information to the US government, though, but he also alerted the media in an effort to have the atrocities gain more attention, so that action may have a better chance of being taken. This can be seen when Morgenthau commented “Turkish authorities have definitely informed me that I have no right to interfere with their internal affairs”. But he still warned D.C. that, “there seems to be a systematic plan to crush the Armenian race” (Power 7). Was action taken though? No.

Throughout the chapter, Power discussed the overwhelming and outright denial of the genocide. A startling example is when the Allies were met with false reports and denial after they inquired about the genocide. On page 4 Power writes “…German officials generally covered up Talaat’s campaign, ridiculing the allied accounts of the terror as ‘pure inventions’ and ‘gross exaggerations” (4). Talaat Pasha was apart of the “Young Turks” triumvirate that de facto ruled the Ottoman Empire at the time of WWI. He reassured Morgenthau that the violence against Armenians was simply “mob violence” and should not be of much concern to him. The rulers at the time also claimed that it was not a genocide they were carrying out, but a “civil war”, and that the Armenians were being aided by the Russians. However, forced deportations and mass killings of about 55,000 people within one month (April 1914) basically dispels that. All of this may partly explain why the Allies did not care too much about what was happening to the Armenians. WWI gave them an excuse to overlook the Armenian genocide, as they “had” (not really but in their eyes) to choose between which of the 2 evils was more worth fighting for-- ultimately, they chose the war.

I feel as though even though the U.S. and the Allied powers were fighting in World War I, they should have at least addressed the Armenian genocide occurring. It wasn’t completely hidden, as Morgenthau was communicating with the American government about it and attempting to get their help. I know that it would have been an extremely difficult thing to do given the circumstances of the War and of public opinion at the time. However, we as humans, and us as Americans, should have a responsibility to others in times of moral crises and atrocities. The United States should have intervened or have put some type of trade sanctions on the Ottoman Empire until they saw an improved treatment of the Armenian people. If I’m being completely honest, money and the economy seem to be the most important factor for most countries and their governments. People are, by nature, greedy. The sanctions would have caused the Turkish government to lose a LOT of money. It may have worked, may not have, but it’s better than not doing anything.

I believe in the modern day it is always the responsibility of other countries to step in and prevent any type of persecution, because history just repeating itself over and over. Without intervention from outside nations, millions of innocent people lose their lives. Shouldn’t it just be our basic responsibility to help, even if in a small way?

Regarding the Namibian genocide, I believe that both were largely ignored by powerful countries across the globe. However, I think that the Armenian genocide probably had more public attention and availability of information because they were a white and Christian people. That sounds awful, but it seems as if people care more about others if they are more “similar” than they are different. The genocide of the Herero and Namaqua in Namibia received practically no attention at all because the people were considered “uncivilized”. They were a colonized people. Why would other powers get involved with a group of people that at the time were considered inferior? In no way am I justifying the lack of attention that it received, however that may have been the way of thinking at the time. Which is absolutely disgusting.

Posts: 33

The United States during World War I definitely acted as a bystander as the Armenian Genocide occurred. As Samantha Power states, the U.S. was determined “to maintain its neutrality in the war, [and] refused to join the Allied declaration” (Power 5). Just like what we will do in future genocides, the United States refused to meddle in the affairs of another government, despite the terrible atrocities that government was committing. In fact, Samantha Power writes, “Officials urged [Morgenthau] instead to seek aid from private sources” (Power 10). There was a clear lack of interest towards the genocide that occurred, and it just shows how little America cared for human rights violations. Similarly, our Allies generally reacted the same way. Britain at least lobbied for the press to cover the genocide, but just like with Morgenthau’s efforts, the higher-ups did little to support them. Of course, the Allied government made declarations condemning the Ottoman Empire for their horrific actions, but there was no action taken to stop the genocide from continuing.

And that leads us to the question of whether or not the U.S. did the right thing by being a bystander. Of course, the results of the Armenian Genocide (1-1.5 million dead and deported) are gruesome and terrible, but should Americans have helped Armenians when they needed it? The humanitarian part of me says yes. These people did no wrong, and yet they were killed and hurt because they practiced Christianity (which I might add is literally related to Islam). There are so many levels of wrongness to this, and as human beings in one of the most powerful countries, we should have sent some sort of military aid to support these peoples. And yet, the pragmatist in me is more cynical. The same pattern is repeated throughout American history Power says: “Time and again though U.S. officials would learn that huge numbers of civilians were being slaughtered, the impact of this knowledge would be blunted by their uncertainty about the facts and their rationalization that a firmer U.S. stand would make little difference” (Power 13). As an outsider, it’s easy to condemn the U.S. for their neutrality and lack of response, but even if one does try to rise up the ranks politically and advocate for action when genocides occur, the interests of America are always top priority, and probably will be for as long as this country stands. Therefore, I find the questions asked a little useless and idealistic; why discuss if America should act on genocides and human rights violations when for a century, we have continued to prove time and again that America puts its people, its interests, its resources first? Heck, we can’t even demand that Turkey admit they committed genocide because we need them as an ally. Therefore, the pragmatic side of me believes that while America should take a stand, with the use of military or monetary support, in reality it would be amazingly rare feat if we actually ended up helping out at least one population and taking a stand against one act of genocide.

To answer the question however, I think that America should try to help other races and populations when there are atrocities like the Armenian Genocide happening. We can help with the use of monetary or military aid, in addition to support for the victims of the war. I also think we should help whenever we can, but especially when it can benefit us, because Americans will reap benefits and the rewards will encourage them to continue supporting interventions in genocides and the like. Finally, I think this was a little different than the Belgian congo and the German South West Africa because these two events weren’t as publicized as the Armenian Genocide, which gives more leeway to other foreign countries for not knowing about such massacres. However, their reactions were pretty much the same: all bark and no bite. No action was being undertaken whatsoever, and just like in the Congo and in Namibia, foreign nations continued to show no effort in righting wrongs.

Posts: 36

Watching a genocide unfold

In many cases throughout History we can see how many global superpowers have sometimes stood by and watched genocides and many massacres unfold. We saw it in WW2, we have seen it in Rwanda and now that we are talking about it, it also happened in Armenia. Often enough there are things that these super powers could have done. There was aid military or medical aid that could have been sent but because they wanted to stay out of the problem because of the military ties that we had with the country committing the genocide. For example with the Armenian genocide as the videos and the book suggest the reason that we refuse to also identify it as a genocide is because of how important Turkey is to the US with military alliances and even the resources that they hold. Now a common argument that people make on why the superpowers of the world did not get involved with the genocide is the fact that they were all involved with WW1. Which is a fair assumption/ reason as it was a terrible conflict and left millions of people dead or wounded. However with the United States for example did not join WW1 until towards the end so what could we have done prior to that. Well one thing that we could have done is we could have provided aid to the people that we were being massacred. Now , the argument that some make is that the US never knew that the genocide was taking place. However as Samantha Power writes in her book in talking about the genocide she writes how the US diplomat that was in Turkey even wrote back to the US, "there seems to be a systematic plan to crush the Armenian race"(7 Power). However, even with that, the Turkish government did not want anyone getting involved because if one huge power gets involved all the others would as well. Which is one thing that I think that we should have done. I think regardless of what the Turkish government said the US should have gotten involved. Because with any problem on a global scale such as racism it only takes one country to start taking a stand and other countries will join in. I think providing the military aid and medical aid that they needed would have encouraged other countries to also join in. Even with WW1 if all countries joined together and took a stand against the injustices that were taking place would have made a huge difference. Now with thee genocides I think that it should not be a general responsibility of A SINGLE super power on that global scale should do it all by themselves. But I think if one super power really kicked it off and really made a difference when a genocide was taking place it would help an awful lot. I think that the fact that countries especially large ones and ones that have a lot of pull in the world should definitely not just stand by and let something happen. But the unfortunately with many superpowers, they have political ties much like the ones the US has with Turkey that really prevent it from speaking out against these atrocities. I think that when something like the Armenian genocide and all the things that lead up to the genocide I think there could have been a lot done to prevent this from happening. One thing that I found interesting in the reading is how the Turkish government tried to turn around and questioned why the US was complaining because they treat the people from the US ok so he is questioning why is the US complaining about other people's lives. From the reading actually on like page 7 you can see one of the politicians from Turkey get very defensive when we started to ask questions about the genocide. And he started to ask why we were so interested. As I stated before, it is crazy to think that the Us did not do anything after hearing about the report directly from Turkey and what they were doing to the Armenians. Finally, I would like to say that these super powers even today, keep trying to say that this will never happen again and that being genocide. But even today we can still see how they take place and many superpowers still don't do anything one because of their political ties and two on account of the fact that they think that someone else will step up and do it but they never do.

Posts: 29

The Armenian Genocide

I think that the United States definitely acted as a bystander in the Armenian Genocide. The U.S. government had a full understanding of what was happening in the Ottoman Empire due to the detailed messages sent by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau describing the atrocities being committed against the Armenian people. Despite that, the government did nothing to act on that information. The citizens of the United States also failed the Armenian people. According to Samantha Power’s book, the New York Times alone published 145 articles about the Armenian genocide in 1915. However, the people of the U.S. were more focused on the war in Europe and domestic affairs then they were on the horrors being committed overseas, and so no help was given from the American people to Armenia.

There were many things the United States could have done to help the Armenian people. In 1915, the Allied nations released a proclamation “condemning ‘crimes against humanity and civilization.’” However, according to Samantha Power, the United States refuse to take even this small step and join the Allies in condemning the genocide. Instead, the United States focused on itself, refusing to intervene in any way because no American citizens were directly affected by the genocide. Joining onto this declaration would have been a easy first step towards stopping the genocide. Instead, the U.S. decided its neutrality was more important, even though it would break that neutrality just two years later.

I think that the United States and the world should absolutely take a stand whenever a genocide is occurring or an entire population is being destroyed. It may not always be the easiest thing for the nation to do, or the thing that would most directly benefit the Nation, but from a moral position, the U.S. and the world have an obligation to intervene. We have seen the terrible results in Rwanda, Namibia, and the Congo that happen when there is no outside intervention, and if outside intervention can lessen those horrors in any way, that action should be taken.

As meager as the global response was to the Armenian Genocide, I think it was received differently and the world nations behaved differently from the early African genocides. The genocides in the Congo and Namibia received next to no coverage in the global news, while the Armenian genocide was covered extensively. Also, no nations made any sort of statement condemning the African genocides, while the Allies issued a forceful condemnation of the Armenian genocide. I think that one major reason for this was the colonial nature of the African genocides; none of the other colonial nations were willing to condemn things that they themselves may or may not have been doing in their own colonies. Also, the Armenian genocide occurred during a war, and it is much easier to condemn the actions of an enemy than it is to condemn the actions of an ally. Other factors may have played a role in the differing reactions, but I think that those two reasons are the most significant.

Posts: 30

The Kardashians Have Done More for the Armenians Than the Young Turks

Yes, the United States acted as a bystander during the Armenian Genocide. As noted in both Samantha Power's text and the documentary in class, the United States received numerous reports from journalists inside the country, eyewitness reports, as well as Morgenthau's cautionary warnings of a "race murder" taking place-- and still decided to do nothing. Power stresses in her book that "it was better to not draw attention to the atrocities" due to the fact that Wilson insisted on maintaining a position of neutrality throughout the war (p. 5). I understand that remaining unbiased was extremely important to Wilson, and even a statement of denouncement would have placed a target on our backs, but couldn't any of the countries who were already allied against the Ottoman Empire have sent aid or even addressed the genocide in Armenia, considering that they were already an enemy of the Central Powers?? I don't really understand foreign relations all too well so maybe that would have been a terrible idea for the Allied Powers but it's just a thought.

To answer the question concerning how often nations should intervene when an entire population is being destroyed, I believe that countries should always make the decision to at least try to help humanity. Realistically I know that this is practically impossible, but as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

In regard to actions that could have been taken to mitigate the genocide, I hope that countries would have taken a different stance on the situation if World War I was not occurring. As Otto von Bismarck (the student, not the German foreign affairs leader) noted, military intervention would have probably been ineffective or made the situation even worse. As suggested in "A Problem From Hell", if the United States was not "reluctant to to cast aside its neutrality and formally denounce a fellow state for its atrocities... established patterns would not be repeated" (p. 13). It's interesting to question how the rest of the 20th century would have played out if a global superpower had officially called out the Turks on the Armenian Genocide, and how that statement of denouncement would have changed the way Turkey views the genocide today.

Lastly, I think that the world failed to act much differently in relation to the Armenian Genocide and the Belgian Congo & Namibia. Even though the Armenian Genocide was much more publicized, foreign powers once again turned a blind eye as the atrocity unfolded.

Posts: 32

Response to the Armenian Genocide

Overall, the United States most definitely acted as by standers during the war. President Wilson, the Secretary of State, and most private citizens did nothing to aid the plight of the Armenian population. In fact, the entirety of U.S. foreign policy was based on isolationist principles, basically we were purposely trying to be bystanders. That is also why the “we were at war” defense doesn’t work. They weren’t even at war when they heard about this, they were just to scared to intervene. While Wilson and other Allies “condemned” the actions, insincere condemnations with no follow through are not proof of help, but political necessities.

The only tangible defense for the Armenians was seen my the Ottoman ambassador, who tried to defy his superiors, but was ultimately left to flail in the wind because both the U.S. and Turkey were condemning action on behalf of the Armenians. Even though publications like the New York Times, as well as several religious and service organizations raised money for the Armenians and correct the U.S. response, it is logistically difficult to efficiently help an entire ethnic group with small scale donations. While these people were being moral and had good intentions, the act of a population segment doesn’t compensate for a government’s ignorance.

The U.S. defense for their neutrality was that it didn’t involve U.S. interests and therefore they couldn’t be involved. However, I do believe that there is a basic responsibility for the global community to intervene during crimes against humanity. Even the name implies that. We should have pressured our allies to make a joint commitment and agree to target the Turkish government and help destroy the infrastructure and trains that were being used to “deport” and kill Armenians. Banding together and saving a populations is ALWAYS the right stance, whenever and wherever it occurs.

I think that the Armenian genocide was different only because of the increased flow of information. At the time of Africa’s colonization, technology wasn’t as developed. Therefore, we had an increased knowledge of the atrocity and so we understood the events. Even so, the nations just ignored the informations and used selfish excuses to dismiss responsibility. Another major difference is that at least the high level perpetrators were found guilty of crimes. While they weren’t jailed, at least nations recognized those responsible after the fact.

Posts: 30

Armenian Genocide

The United States were bystanders in the Armenian Genocide. The U.S. government had a complete understanding of what was happening in the Ottoman Empire. We had Henry Morgenthau, a U.S. Ambassador, who sent multiple messages back to the U.S. and tried his hardest to continue to send them when they forbid it. He went to neighboring countries to make sure that they would do something because it was so atrocious. Despite that, the government did nothing to act on that information. The citizens of the United States also failed to help the Armenian people and acknowledge it was even happening. According to Samantha Power’s book, the New York Times alone published 145 articles about the Armenian genocide in 1915.

The United States and the world should have taken a stand. Whenever a genocide is occurring, people need to come together and resolve it. It may not always be the easiest thing for the nation to do, or the thing that would most directly benefit the Nation, but from a moral position, the U.S. and the world must intervene. Imagine if their own nation had a genocide were they were going to have been completely wiped out, wouldn't they want the help of others? We have seen the terrible results in Rwanda, and the Congo in class where there was no outside intervention, and if outside intervention can lessen those horrors in any way, that action should always be done.

Finally, I think that the world did react differently during the Armenian genocide than they did during the carnage in the Belgian Congo and German South West Africa (Namibia) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They had a more silent reaction compared to the outrage the Belgian Congo caused, because the world was in the middle of a war. Sadly nations won't put the livelihoods of a marginalized group over their country's own interests, especially if they are trying to win a war.

Posts: 33

"Cold Blooded Legalities"

From the reading, I do believe that most of us and our allies acted as bystanders. We all clearly knew what was going on but because of “cold blooded legalities,” we did nothing. The Armenian genocide was serious— people were dying— and we just watched. Now, there were some people like Morgenthau who went out of their way to put some light onto the genocide but that wasn’t enough. Yes, it’s not our legal obligation to step in, but are we not humans? Do we not have souls? Okay, yes, some of us maybe think that the genocide is no big deal (I don’t know who, but there’s always that one person.), but if the majority of us believe one thing, why are we not doing anything about it….? Morgenthau says to Talaat, “I do not appeal to you in the name of any race or religion but merely as a human being.” Literally everyone should have felt this way.

Okay, yes, it’s an argument that the U.S. was “busy” during this time but, if it had been one of our close allies, we would be quick to jump to help. Why can’t we just do the same for the Armenians. WE’RE ALL HUMANS HERE. Just watching the movie, it was clear that the Armenians needed some kind of support.

Morgenthau’s plan of spreading the news was actually pretty smart, even if it didn’t produce the results he hoped. If news is everywhere, it gets hard for people to deny that it is true. I think that the first step to stopping something like a genocide, is making sure that everyone knows that it’s happening. From there, we should negotiate with the offenders, and maybe try to talk them down. This step obviously didn’t work for Morgenthau but I think it is pretty smart. If this plan doesn't work, I would honestly suggest stepping in on the behalf of the victims, even if you have to step on the feet of some people.

I believe that nations should step in when an entire population is being destroyed because it’s the right thing to do. I’m sure that if the tables were turned and that nation was being targeted. They would expect people to help them. We have to give what we expect from other people and not be selfish 24/7. In a perfect world, I would say step in all the time, but I know that there are some restraints (laws, alliances), but we should definitely do it whenever we can without getting in trouble.

I don’t think that the world nations acted differently in the Belgian Congo and Namibia. In all cases, they just sat back and let everything happen. The were no actions being taken and people continued to suffer.

Posts: 29

Facing the Armenian Genocide

In my opinion- yes the US was obviously a bystander. Samantha powers even admits in her book that the US’s main aim was to keep their neutrality so while they did not support the mass murder of thousands of Armenian people they didn't defend them either. Of course the US being a global superpower would have had a large effect on the whole endeavor as the Germans had. Since the Germans were backing the Ottoman Empire they defended their excuses for the massacres being carried out against the Armenians and in an attempt to battle these efforts England released newspaper articles and photos about the killings taking place but, according to Samantha Powers, these were almost unfathomable and too dramatic for the world to take seriously. Perhaps if the US had been supporting them we would have reached justice earlier. And although we wanted to stay neutral and US diplomats were supposed to stay out of business that wouldn't directly affect the national interests it was clear we should've done something as Morgenthau had done. Because this was much bigger than a “national interest”, it was a world interest. Humanitarian issues should be addressed globally and the US trying to stay out of it and in their lane is ridiculous. Talaat speaking to Morgenthau asked why he was concerned with the Christians if he were a Jew, and he replied saying he cared because he was a human- well I think this is a great analogy for the reason the US should've aided Armenia. We should not have aided the Armenians to take a side but to save lives because we are human and would want aid if such a massacre were to happen to us.
what redbone would sound like if you were wearing sweatpants
Posts: 28

The United States and our allies really didn’t do much during the Armenian genocide, not the first time nor the last where we just watched horrible things play out without any action or help. Yes, we were “caught up in WW1”, but even as that was dying down we would not step in to stop these atrocities. A man in the documentary we watched in class recalls his grandmother being ruthlessly stabbed over and over just for speaking her mind. We definitely should have stepped in. Just asking the question “Should the U.S. and/or other nations take a stand when an entire population is being destroyed?” should be rhetorical and easy for anyone to answer. The easy thought should be what if we were in their shoes? Why are our lives more meaningful than theirs?

In the film they speak of bodies, particularly of the weaker children and the elderly being littered on the street in plain sight. The caravans would dwindle in size as only the strongest or most fit would survive. Murdered and driven out of their homes just because they were christian? Yet the turks deny that this is at all a genocide just because they don’t want the negative light/publicity or to be forced to pay reparations. It is this kind of selfish narrow minded thinking that plagues so many leaders around the world, to the point where they won’t step in to help a group of innocent people being killed, the fear of involvement. We should have rallied for the other nations to join us to send in troops and defend the Armenians and publicly expose the turks/kurds.

Regarding the Belgian Congo, a big part of how action was taken was because of the publicity, specifically the iconic picture of the father and his childrens feet/hands. Things like that move the world to act in some way, shaming at the very least Belgium. The Namibian genocide was less publicized, less action taken, even though it was just as disturbing and cruel as others. As Samantha Powers stated in her book, “American readers would have difficulty processing such gruesome horrors, so they scoured history for parallels to events that they believed had already been processed in the public mind.”, relating to “similar” events. Obviously world nations behave differently for different genocides even though they should have the same base reaction and action whenever a mass killing like this occurs. Whenever physically possible, we should always help.

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