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Old 01-27-2010, 14:48
freemanjud freemanjud is offline
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The Armenian Genocide and Bystanderism (due Friday, January 30)

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

Remember that book that I gave you (and you read a chapter of) earlier this year? Hope you have it at hand! You are going to need it frequently over the next several months. A reminder that Samantha Power is now a senior adviser to Barack Obama and a member of Obama’s National Security Council. For a brief description of Power’s background, see http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2009/01/30_power.html

Regarding the Armenian genocide, please read through Ms. Power’s chapter, and, based on what you have read there, discuss the following questions in a post, supported by specifics.

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? In short, what sort of role would you advocate for the United States and other nations witnessing this genocide?
Ms. Freeman
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Old 01-28-2010, 21:59
sbpink sbpink is offline
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The United States, and every other nation that knew what horrible crimes were being committed against the Armenians, were most definitely bystanders. The United States knew what was going on. Henry Morganthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Armenians, was wiring them practically every other day, imploring them to take action. American newspapers such as The New York Times was printing testimonies from missionaries, survivors and witnesses, with headlines such as, “One Million Armenians Killed.” Europe may have been consumed with World War I, but the U.S. hadn’t entered the war yet. President Wilson was so focused on trying to stay neutral, that he would have rather let the Armenians die than get involved.

I know it would have been difficult for Wilson to try to reason with Talaat, for it was Talaat’s empire and citizens, but nonetheless, he should have tried. It’s just so ironic to me that Wilson eventually entered World War I on the pretense that it was a moral war, and yet, when it had been time for him to actually act on principle, he didn’t. Had the U.S. taken the stance that Turkey was in the wrong, it’s true, they might have been dragged into the war earlier. But they would have been drawn in regardless. At least, they could have saved some of the million Armenians killed.

In short, we should have done something. I understand that it would have been difficult. After all, this was pre-Holocaust, and the world had not yet seen a mass killing of this kind, so they did not know how to react. Nonetheless, someone should have taken a stand. An entire population was being brutally annihilated, for no reason except that Turkey needed someone to blame for their military losses. No one should ever sit back and watch an innocent people be killed on such a grand scale. The Armenians desperately needed help, and simply because they are our fellow humans, everyone who could have aided them, the U.S. especially, should have.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:39
bikesnotbombs bikesnotbombs is offline
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Torn Between Being an Upstander and Bystander

Personally, I am torn in this situation. On one hand, I agree with sbpink that we absolutely should have done something, and that it would have (and was) pretty immoral to sit back and watch millions of people die. And yet, on the other hand I am still aware of the reasons why President Wilson and Washington made the decisions they did. Couldn't it have been even worse to gotten involved, sent troops to Turkey, and as a result seen many American soldiers killed (like we did in Iraq)? That would have been another tragedy in itself.

I do however want to chastise the President and Washington for not taking more legal action. If the USA and other countries had put more emphasis on the matter politically, there may have been a chance that it could have been done with little physical intervention. In this way, the USA would no longer be bystanders, but would not have to risk our own troops' lives. I know, former President (Teddy) Roosevelt hated these "talks" as Power mentions, but I think it would be considered different if these dignitaries actually sat down with Turkish official and just settled the matter.

Basically, I am confused with this situation, and I think that's why it is such a hard question. Theoretically, yes, I am completely for the USA intervening and trying to stop the genocide; simply because genocide (and any killing for the matter) is wrong. But I can't blame our government on the actions we took.

Instead, the government should have taken a similar stance that the New York Times did. They should have raised the same awareness with many other countries. Perhaps then the Turkish government would have felt too much political strain, and been pressured to stop what they were doing.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:01
LATIDA LATIDA is offline
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In the case of the Armenian genocide the U.S. definitely acted as a bystander. The government knew exactly what was happening, yet they refused to accept their responsibility to humanity. There was ample evidence of the atrocities being committed in Turkey, as well as first hand account from people such as Henry Morganthau. Despite this the U.S. decided to take a backseat approach and watch while millions of people were being systematically exterminated.

I don’t think that WWI was an excuse for not entering Turkey. Maybe it would allow for a little waiting time to test the waters, but the fact is that the U.S. did not enter the war until the VERY end. The U.S. may have no wanted to enter WWI because they wanted to remain neutral, but when as soon as a genocide began it was their duty to humanity to act. The U.S. is good at the whole “it’s our duty” thing if you remember manifest destiny and all that good stuff.

Bikesnotbombs had a good point when they pointed out that the U.S. should have worked to make other countries aware of the problems in Turkey. We looked at some of the war time propaganda in class. Clearly, there was a lot going into the advertisment of the war. I think that the government should have worked to educate the people about the situation in Turkey. We didn't hear a lot about charity groups, and I wonder if the government had talked about the situation if (more?) charity groups would have been made and more supplies sent to the Armenians.

Sbpink mentions that perhaps the world did not comprehend exactly what was happening in Turkey, or know exactly how to go about stopping it, because the Holocaust had not yet happened. This is sort of in relation to our last What If? post: I suppose that it sort of okay to use the “we didn’t know what was happening because nobody had ever committed a genocide before” excuse. Once. The knowledge the government had about the Armenian genocide should have meant that they would respond extremely quickly when the Holocaust took place. I admit, I am fuzzy about the details of exactly what point the U.S. entered WWII. However, because of their previous knowledge that systematic killings occur the government should have acted extremely quickly.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:29
stoopkid stoopkid is offline
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During the Armenian genocide, the US and its allies definitely did act as bystanders. While it is true in the beginning that the world did not completely understand what was going on, Morgenthau repeatedly tried to alert the US government of the atrocities that were taking place. Word eventually did spread. There were pictures being released of the corpses on the side of the road, and newspaper headlines declared the number of lives that had already been taken in the genocide. Ignorance isn’t an excuse that could be used for not doing anything to help the Armenians. The United States and its allies actively chose to do nothing, and allow the Ottomans to continue to carry out the genocide.

I agree with bikesnotbombs and LATIDA that the US should have worked with its allies to do something to stop the genocide. The reading mentioned that the Ottoman Empire seemed to be sensitive to what the rest of the world thought of it, so the world powers could have pressured the Ottomans to stop their systematic killing of the Armenians. Had that not worked, they could have imposed economic sanctions. In fact, they could have taken any number of actions without having to declare war on the Ottoman Empire. This is why the United States’ excuse for wanting to stay neutral is pathetic. They didn’t have to necessarily declare war in order to stop the Armenian genocide.

Even if not-violent tactics did not work, the US still had a moral obligation to get involved and do whatever it could to stop the genocide. It isn’t okay to just sit by and watch while a group of people are being killed. As we discussed in the beginning of the year, doing nothing makes you responsible in a sense. No matter the circumstances, there is no justification for letting a genocide occur, and I believe that the US and its allies should have taken an active role in stopping it.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:40
GreyAradne GreyAradne is offline
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I appreciate the conflict between bystanderism and upstanderism that bikesnotbombs discussed, but I don't think that the US's response to the Armenian genocide needed to be either full-scale military prevention or nothing.

I don't think our responsibility to end genocide requires us to act violently. (This is a view shared by many of the American activists against the Armenian genocide, who supported aid but not war.) stoopkid mentioned economic sanctions. I think the first response we should have to any sign of genocide (like the disarmament of a race within the army or proclamations against an entire group of people claiming that group is actively campaigning, as a whole, against their sovereign nation) is to freeze and halt all trade with that nation. Obviously there are economic difficulties tied up in that, but it sound silly to protest boycotts on account of your not having enough oil or something when an entire group of people is being massacred.

I agree with everyone else who's posted that the US was a bystander in this situation. The US was not at war in 1915 and had the freedom to act outside the limitations on countries like Britain and France, all of whose resources were tied up in battling the Axis (and who, clearly, couldn't penetrate the enemy enough to stop the genocide--I don't think the allies were all bystanders because there wasn't much the Europeans could do). Like other posters, I think Wilson's policy of "neutrality" was far too timid.

Many individuals within Turkey, especially Morgenthau, were not bystanders: they acted bravely to spread the word about what was happening. But as a whole, our nation did virtually nothing to stop the massacres.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:49
papaya64 papaya64 is offline
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It's pretty ridiculous hearing the statistics on how many Armenians were killed during the Armenian Genocide when the first page of Samantha Power's book talks about how the world pretty much knew about Turky's intentions and their dislike of the Armenians for a while before Turkey actually expelled them. America most definitely acted as a bystander, and so did most of the other countries involved in war as well as many not in the war. America decided not to act since they wanted to remain neutral in the war and going against something that was happening in Turkey would have put them in too uncomfortable water for their liking. Other countries felt the same way and to them, they had to press more attention on not getting too deep in other countries business in a time of war.

I truly believe that no matter what we should help out when another race is being completely wiped out. It is wrong to just sit back and watch because you do not want to get your hands dirty. While it is true that the whole mess was a bit much for all of the countries, but no matter what was going on with the countries, the Armenians being Christian had nothing to do with why the countries were all fighting, it was just Turkey's wish to get rid of them. Even when the United States' ambassador Henry Morgenthau, reported back the attrocities that he was witnessing, America barely winced and turned the other way. Morganthau kept on insisting however and in the end countries finally started to take notice, unfortunatley, the killing was way under way at this point.

I think that the allies and the United States have the obligation to step in when something of such disturbing matter is going on. They should step in to try to smooth things over if not at least to help out some of the Armenians with shelter and protection for the killings. Saving a few would have been better than just sitting back. The countries had an obligation to say that this was not right and do something about it, but as in most cases, this did not happen until it was much too late to do much saving.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:00
secrets92x secrets92x is offline
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Where's the U.S. when you need it?

After reading Samantha Power's account on the Armenian Genocide, I was disappointed in the United States government in particular. Henry Morgenthau appears as a "hero," and I greatly admired all of his efforts to try to get the U.S. to step in and do something. I was somewhat frustrated when I was reading because the U.S. kept turning its back and acting like a complete bystander while innocent Armenians were being massacred. I was especially surprised that the American government chose to officially ignore that the Armenian genocide even occurred. America was so caught up in its neutrality policy that it didn't stop to see what was going on in the rest of the world. Power, it seems, was the nation's primary concern, which is disappointing because countless Armenians were being massacred. Intervention was largely not even discussed in the U.S.; Morgenthau’s views and suggestions just kept being pushed aside. Where were the government's moral duties? How could they have not helped after seeing pictures and other evidence of what was going on? Like LATIDA, I find it hard to believe that the Turkish government killed nearly 1 million Armenians while the United States and its allies acted as complete bystanders. Turkey claimed that the actions were necessary to suppress Armenian revolt, but few of those killed were involved in anything other than survival.

On May 24, 1915, the Allied governments published a declaration condemning the Turkish government's "crimes against humanity" but they were more concerned with the overall war than with Armenian victims. The United States, still maintaining its neutrality, refused to join the declaration and its policymakers chose not to pressure Turkey or Germany, Turkey's ally in the war. So basically, the Armenians were on their own: women were being raped and murdered, people were dying of hunger or exhaustion in the desert, and no one was there to help. I think whenever the signs of genocide are there, the most powerful (military and money wise) nations in the world should step in to stop the mass murders of the victimized group of people. The nations should follow their moral duties before their own national agendas which can be put off. But if you wait too long to intervene in a genocide, hundreds of thousands of innocent people may be killed. The United States, and other nations, should have intervened in the Armenian genocide as soon as they had evidence that it was happening. This includes pictures, reports, etc. "America's lack of response 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." (Ch.1 pg. 13-14) During WWII, the United States did intervene, but not till virtually the end of the war! It was too little too late. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if powerful nations around the world formed a coalition to stop genocides once they saw that they were happening. "The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred." (Preface, xv) This nation needs to stop being a bystander and step in to stop genocides from happening. As such a powerful and respectable nation, the United States has much influence on the rest of the world. If the United States becomes an upstander and stands up against genocides, other nations might too, and maybe the nations can create a global pact to stop genocides wherever and whenever they are going on.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:36
sacardo16 sacardo16 is offline
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The Armenian Genocide was a horrific, and messy event in history. US involvement or noninvolvement only made it more complicated.

Henry Morgenthau, as secrets92x pointed out, was portrayed as a hero for raising awareness in the US but I’m not sure what direct actions occurred as a result of this (and we all know actions speak louder than words). Samantha Powers portrayed the Americans as the worst kind of bystanders, and in some ways I agree.

While I agree that United States did act virtually as a bystander during the Armenian Genocide, I think there may be some grey areas that could possible justify the nations inaction. The US always seems to be doing too much or too little when it comes to foreign policy. I think that Americans at the time would have been very against our intervention then (especially since as Ms. Freeman said we were just emerging from a period of isolation) just as many people are opposed to our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan now. We also know that all the stats on the number of people who were killed are indefinite now; so all the information back then must have been even more mixed up. But at the same time I think that they should have done something, maybe like what GreyAradne brought up, an embargo of some sorts, but how effective would that have been in stopping the killings? I’m really not sure. Ah confusing…=/

Nations who are witnessing should do everything and anything in reason to stop the killings, but what is “in reason” differs from country to country. I really am not entirely sure what they should have done here.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:45
JDiscipulus JDiscipulus is offline
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As nearly everyone before me has said, I too feel that the U.S. and the Allied nations certainly acted as bystanders in the midst of Armenian genocide. There were countless reports and photographs of atrocities; there was no excuse for feigned ignorance. It made more sense for the Allies not to stop the genocide due to their fighting elsewhere, but the U.S. virtually did nothing in terms of its military until the end of the war in 1917. I had always previously thought Wilson had some basis for wanting to avoid war at all costs, but when atrocities of such a magnitude are being carried out with blatant reports from one’s advisors, it is difficult to find reasons to ignore them.

I think the U.S.’s reason for staying neutral was absurd. The U.S. clearly had more ties to the Allies from the start; it should have been eager to contribute toward their goal in any way possible. If they had intervened they would have emerged at the end of the war as one of the most truly heroic nations. In saying such, I feel the best plan of action would have been to take direct military action.

Talaat was clearly in no position to negotiate on the matter of genocide, as he even tried to appeal to Morgenthau, basically saying that since the Armenians aren’t Americans, the U.S. should have absolutely no reason to care. That essentially sums up the U.S. response to Armenian genocide. Despite 145 stories by the NY Times, continuous requests to take action by Morgenthau, and missionaries’ personal accounts, they refused to act.

I am in the same mindset as Theodore Roosevelt, who felt donations and awareness were not enough. He called for action, and a quote he spoke at that time dictates the feelings that most of us now share about the inability to act to prevent genocide, “Until we put honor and duty first, and are willing to risk something in order to achieve righteousness both for ourselves and for others, we shall accomplish nothing; and we shall earn and deserve the contempt of the strong nations of mankind.”

Thus, as I have already said, I feel military response was completely necessary. If the U.S. is truly concerned with the rights to life, liberty, and happiness, it should have had no qualms about butting in –especially since it was remaining almost completely neutral otherwise.
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Old 01-29-2010, 05:24
Boston4 Boston4 is offline
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As most people have said, America acted as a bystander in this situation.
I agree with sbpink in that someone should have done something, anything. I also agree with GreyAradne's point that the U.S. did not necessarily have to respond to the genocide with military action. Stopping trade could have helped the situation, as GreyAradne suggested, but I also think that the U.S. could have simply told the Turks that they did not agree with what was going on.

If America had raised it's voice and expressed its disapproval of Turkey's actions against the Armenians, other countries may have joined in with them, and they could have prevented the deaths of many innocent Armenians. Henry Morgenthau did spread information about the genocide in America, as has been previously mentioned, but he needed to take one step further and speak directly to the Turks. If he did this, I think he could have possibly had a positive affect on the situation.

To speak more generally, I can understand the wish of a country to remain a neutral power, but when something that is clearly unnecessary and just plain wrong is going on, such as a genocide, there is a moral obligation to step in. Even the smallest action can make a big difference. It is not okay to simply stand back and be a bystander, simply watching mass killings of innocent human beings and pretending to be oblivious. Some action must be taken, whether it is sending in military troops, ending trade, providing aid, or simply speaking out against the injustices being committed.

We have a moral duty to stand up for one another, because we hope that if any kind of genocide occurs in America, that other countries will do the same for us.
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Old 01-29-2010, 05:29
jellojamboree jellojamboree is offline
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I think when we're discussing whether a country was being a bystander or not, we need to separate 'the US government' from 'the people of the US'. Because, yes, President Wilson and his administration did little militarily to try to stop the genocide, but Powers mentioned what other people, not directly affiliated with the US government, did try to do to alleviate the suffering: churches and the wealthy donated money, and a bunch of (non-Armenian) Americans set up the Committee on Armenian Atrocities. As everyone has said before me, I don't think there's much of a question as to whether or not the US government was a bystander. But I firmly believe that the people did as much as they can. After all, regular people (hopefully) can't raise an army. But they did what they could, and for that I think it's unfair to say that the US as a whole acted as a bystander.

And at the same time, I kind of get why the US didn't join the war. I'm not justifying it (though I do have a little soft spot in my heart for President Wilson), but I understand why he was reluctant to join the war at all, let alone in the case of an oppressed minority halfway across the globe. After all, at that time, the US was still living under this impression that it could still follow the advice of George Washington, who said that the US shouldn't form permanent alliances. Joining a World War? That's choosing sides, and forming permanent alliances. I mean, the US doesn't join the war until the Germans attack the Lusitania, and 120 Americans are killed. They're joining at that point because a direct attack has been made on them. In my mind, I think the US still had the impression, proved false by Lusitania and then Pearl Harbor, that it could stay out of things as long as one of their own isn't killed. Yes, what they heard was happening to the Armenians was awful, but was it really worth endangering their country and their own people on the behalf of some little-known group halfway across the world?

Again, I'm not saying it's right. I just think that was why no military action happened.

The problem in this situation is that I having a tendency to be somewhat pacifistic, though apparently Teddy Roosevelt would make fun of me for that, according to Powers. And I don't think that sending troops would have necessarily been helpful. The Russians were already in the country at that point, and that was clearly not helping, and the Armenians were already seen as traitors; if the US had joined the war on the Allied side and then sent troops trumpeting to the aid of the Armenians, public opinion (in Turkey) against them would have skyrocketed. Yes, the troops would have been able to crush (I assume) the Ottoman troops, but then what would they do with displaced people who are now 'confirmed' traitors in the eyes of their former neighbors? They wouldn't have been able to send them back, because they would just have been killed by the same vigilante justice that killed the Armenians en route to Syria. And had we sent troops, I agree with bikesnotbombs that it would have been a sort of early-20th century Iraq war, complete with a ridiculous amount of American casualties, and maybe no real gains for the Armenians.

And with that rant over, I'd just like to say that I agree with GreyAradne. Economic sanctions would have been the best idea when dealing with Turkey in this situation. The Ottoman Empire was already crumbling, and the US had already emerged as one of the greatest industrial powers of the world. Cutting them off, which Samantha Powers mentioned the US did not do even after entering the war on the Allied side, would have sent a clear message without necessarily violating the neutrality of the US in the war. I mean, maybe it would've worked, maybe it wouldn't have. I just think it's the better solution than sending a couple thousand men over to die.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:41
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I don’t think there’s any doubt that America was a bystander in the Armenian genocide. Whether or not they acted properly is a whole other question completely. Like bikesnotbombs, I am also torn in the situation.

I think the main problem in this ordeal is America’s attempt to stay neutral. Until World War 1, America had been relatively uninvolved in international affairs. For a long time, this decision had paid great dividends to the US. To some degree, I could understand that America didn’t want to risk the lives of their soldiers and their own welfare. Contrary to the beliefs of some the previous posters, I think America had very little “moral obligation” to step in.

On the other hand, to let a whole nation of people just perish, without the least of aid, is definitely not right. News of the genocide was out there; Morgenthau had worked tirelessly to make it public news. I believe what the United States should’ve done is to at least take some kind of stand against this travesty. Even if the US didn’t want to send in military aid, there are still many ways to make a difference. Like many posters have said, I strongly believe that if America had made the mass killings apparent throughout the world, the murders would not have gotten to such extreme lengths. I think the Ottoman Empire felt justified carrying out these murders because no one seemed to mind that this was happening. The Ottoman peoples were fine with it, the government was fine with it, there was no problem with it. If these the knowledge of these events were known widespread, then the Ottoman empire would’ve been more obligated to discontinue for fear of defamation of character. Yes, I believe that the US and other nations should’ve taken a stand when an entire population is being destroyed All the nations around the world should take a proactive stand against genocide, whether it being by sending military aid or by other means. Genocide is a serious situation and it is a crime against ALL of humanity to engage in one.
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Old 01-30-2010, 14:26
YamiYasha YamiYasha is offline
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I agree with the posters above. America could have played a larger role in the Armenian genocide. News of the genocide was definitely spread. The government knew and was coldblooded in doing nothing for the genocide victims.

As jellojamboree mentioned, American people were helping, even though the government could not, but had the government intervened, it would not have been as terrible as it turned out to be. US foreign policy of neutrality was very restrictive, but it could make an exception. Sending humanitarian aid is not enough. It's akin to bandaging the burn victims when you should be stopping the fire.

Yes, it is worth endangering Americans for Armenians. If there were would be fewer deaths, that is rationally moral. Also, one cannot compare the Iraq War with this genocide because it simply has not ended. Sure, it has officially ended, but what does that really mean? It means the death toll stops, but we still do not know the fate and impact we have on them and their government.

I think these points are valid only because we live in America. This is false justification, just as history textbooks find excuses for their own country. The truth is Americans could have done much more than they did. Any restrictions they put on themselves is artificial and for the most part, falsely justified.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:02
fryitnilleatit fryitnilleatit is offline
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I tend to agree with the former posts that the US was definitely a bystander in the happenings in Turkey. We can of course find reasons for not acting, like not knowing exactly what was happening or perhaps not knowing what to do, but we were a powerful nation that had the resources and the intelligence to find out for ourselves. Perhaps the need to stay out of WWI was a priority of the US, but it should clearly have not ranked of most importance after finding out about the atrocities in Turkey.

As for what America should have done, I'm still a bit on the fence. I would like to agree with GreyAradne and say that sending aid would have been a good action, but would it really have made a difference? What needed to happen was to stop the killings. The Americans could have used their economic status to control Turkey and make them stop the genocide. They could have spread awareness about it, empowering the people to act out politically. Or, although I hate to say it, we could have had military go into Turkey and forcefully stop the genocide. Each of these options would have had a varying degree of effectiveness, but the fact that we did nothing until it was too late suggests that we wanted to deny what was happening in Turkey.

I realize that some suggest we did not know what genocide was, so how were we supposed to recognize the steps leading towards it? In response, I simply say that you don't have to mark violence against a people as a certain crime, and particular word that denotes a particular punishment for it to be wrong. We should have recognized what was happening in Turkey, not as genocide, but as something we should work to have stopped.

In the bigger picture, I think it is the humane duty of a nation to help a people being slaughtered, no matter where or when. When a people cannot fight for themselves, all we can do is help them. If we were in that situation, I would hope that other nations would have the decency to help stop it, especially since they have witnessed the steps of genocide already. So, yes I think that a nation should act against this crime against humanity, even just on principle.
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Old 02-02-2010, 14:36
skyrider15 skyrider15 is offline
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There aren’t many things that we could have/ should have done. To try to take over the powers of someone else’s country especially since we don’t have any rights to any say upon their constitutions. No one can come into America without being an American and have say on rights of Americans, even though we want to help in the same ways we have to understand that we cannot control everything. The U.S. could try to take a stand when the entire population is being destroyed because it is part of us as Americans to help out when we can, but on the other end of the spectrum we cant not expunge all of our assets and be left with nothing for ourselves. I am not trying to be selfish or un-thoughtful but I have to look at both ends of the spectrum. I hate the thought of genocide because it is cruel punishment that is highly unnecessary but we have to find ways for the US to take action without going against the words or constitutions of other countries. I would not advocate being a bystander as a US citizen but the ways that we can take proper and complete action is very slim

I agree with some of the things that SBpink was saying, some of the actions that the UN and US were bystanders but what could we do within reason? I don’t agree with the choice of taking blind action on any situation. We need a proper action plan somehow to make sure that A) the problem is stopped and B) how to keep the issues of genocide in check. I think someone who I have a similar beliefs to in a way is bikesnotbombs, they explain their stance very well
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Old 02-04-2010, 03:02
Mookie Dog Mookie Dog is offline
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I recently found myself in a group discussion that began with my talking about the Facing History course and ended with a heated talk about genocides in the past and in the present and how we stand around and do nothing. The discussion happened to be with both high school students and Jewish elders in our community, some of who had husbands who fought in WWII or friends who had survived the Holocaust. Needless to say, it was extremely interesting to hear many different perspectives on the matter.

This does relate the the topic of this post. You ask what America, and other nations, could have or should have done to help the Armenian genocide. And although it is horrible to say and I wish we had done more, like skyrider15 said, I don't believe there is much more we could have done. We did not have any type of organization such as the UN, and with Turkey's claims to it being a "civil war" we had no way of intervening or really knowing what was happening over there. Should we have invaded Turkey, beginning our own war with them? I don't believe this would have helped. There are so many woulda, coulda, shouldas, when you look at an awful situation in hindsight, but it wasn't as easy at the time.

But I think the more important question to ask now is why do we still let it happen? This is the question that was most upsetting to everyone in our discussion. Have we not learned from our mistakes? Have we not become more aware of these evils in the world? Is there not more we can do nowadays to help situations, natural or evil, such as in Darfur or Haiti? Maybe there is more we could have done to help prevent or stop the Armenian genocide, but there is nothing we can do about that now. What we can do is use our knowledge to stop the same thing happening in the world now.
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