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?