Sources and Additional Reading

The International Position on Genocide

Most nations in the world have a reputation of turning the other way when a genocide is occurring.  Even neighboring countries would rather pretend nothing is happening over the border than use resources to prevent the slaughter of a people.  In 1994, 8,000 Tutsi were killed a day and no nation intervened until 100 days later [13]. This was following the invention of adequate technology for instant communication and an increase in active human rights groups. Recognizing the gravity of genocide and having enough morality to put aside financial greed and help prevent this irreversible crime against humanity is a modern international dilemma.  

It is not a question of ignorance of genocides: the New York Times published 145 articles about the slaughter of the Armenians at the hands of the Turks; US Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morganthau Sr., warned the United States government of the massacres and crimes against humanity and urged direct action.  During the Rwandan genocide, the New York Times published an article of the killings of the Tutsi people the fourth day of violence [14].  

It is a question of will.

newyorktimes An article in the New York Times in 1915

American Position

Rather than stepping up to the plate and becoming a leader in human rights advocacy, the United States has taken a double standard stance; claiming high morality as a world hegemon, but only theoretically delivering.  During the time of the Armenian Genocide as well as other twentieth century genocides, the United States sends humanitarian aid, assumes negotiations will take place, and continues sending aid to the corrupt leaders, the usual perpetrators. In most aspects, the United States does not intervene and claims neutrality, as genocide intervention and international human rights is not a national interest [15].  Sometimes there is an attempt to do the right thing, but it never works out.  US president Wilson did help negotiate an independent Armenia and attempted to make Armenia a US protectorate, but congress denied and Turkey did not recognize the treaty. Many presidential candidates including Obama have have campaign promises of formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but no president has followed through yet.

Obama

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

A major reason America is reluctant to recognize the Genocide is because Turkey has threatened to sever ties with the United States if it chooses to condemn the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.  Turkey denies the Genocide they committed and to this day, acknowledging the Genocide in Turkey is punishable by jail or death. Turkey is an ally because of its strength in the Middle East, its NATO membership and geographic position (especially in proximity to a nuclear Iran[16]). An ally in the Middle East is essential to the US in order to keep an eye on the oil in the region and the conflicts that arise because of it. By having Turkey as an ally, there is increased stability and influence in the area, meaning a steady oil price. US interests today trump any issues that happened in 1915. The US humanitarian policy has always been one of convenience not of conscience.  By denying the Armenian Genocide, the US is deciding that diplomacy and oil investments are more important than the attempt to wipe out an entire ethnic group, essentially valuing money over human life.  In fact, “President Clinton responded to Congressional opposition to a proposed $4 billion helicopter deal with the Turkish military by defending Turkey's record on human rights and regional affairs” [17].

skulls Remains of Armenians

 

skulls More remains

Turkish Position

Turks do not want to pay reparations to the Armenians and do not want to admit to the world that they have attempted to annihilate a minority as a means of managing a country, especially as they try to join the European Union and become a major force in the Middle East.

The Right Course of Action

The US as a nation needs to catch up with the rest of the modern world in formally recognizing past human rights violations and prevent future ones.  If the leaders of the world, especially the United States, recognized the Armenian Genocide as a genocide, there would be a deeper understanding of the severity of the annihilation of a race and would be more likely to intervene in future genocides like the Holocaust, the Cambodian, Bosnian, Kurd, and Rwandan genocides.
By not recognizing and sanctioning perpetrators, the United States is helping erase this dark chapter in history, and all other evil events that might come up in the future.  

The recognition by the United States of the Armenian Genocide will be the first step in preventing the increasingly popular trend of using Genocide to achieve a nation’s political goals.

sratved child A starved Armenian boy

Major Genocides that might have been prevented if the world recognized their severity:

[13] [18]
Ukrainian
1932-34 by USSR
about 6,000,000 killed

Holocaust (Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, other minorites)
1941-45 by Nazi Germans
10,000,000-12,000,000 killed

Bengals
1971 by West Pakistani Army
1,500,000 killed

Burundi (Hutus)
1972 by Tutsis
150,000 killed

Cambodia (class enemies, Cham Muslims, Vietnamese )
1975-79 by Khmer Rouge regime  
1,700,000 – 2,200,000 million killed

Guatemala (Mayans)
1981-83 by the Guatemala Government
200,000 killed

Kurds
1987-88 by Iraqi government
50,000-100,000 killed

Bosnia-Herzegovia (Muslims) (ethnic cleansing--put this in?)
1992-95 by Bosnian government
200,000 killed

Rwanda (Tutsis)
1994 by Hutus
500,000-1,000,000 killed

Kosovo (Albanian Kosovars)
1998-2001 by Yugoslav army
10,000 killed

For the complete list of genocides that have occurred since 1945, please visit:  http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocide/genocidespoliticides.html
Note: this is a list of genocides as well as politicides (attempt to eliminate a political entity), and the list starts at 1945.  It is also worth looking at the current countries at risk, and notice if there is any international interest or political and media coverage of these occurances and precursors to genocide. Take special notice of the genocides that are still happening today.

 

Back to Top