Sharing the Burden: The Armenian Question, Humanitarian Intervention, and Anglo-American Visions of Global Order
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, 301 pages. ISBN 9780190618605.
The destruction of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire was an unprecedented tragedy. Theodore Roosevelt was adamant that it was the “greatest crime” of the First World War. The mass killing of approximately one million Armenian Christians was the culmination of a series of massacres that Winston Churchill would recall had roused publics on both sides of the Atlantic and inspired fervent appeals to see the Armenians “righted.” This book explains why the Armenian struggle for survival became so entangled with the debate over the United States’ international role as it rose to world power at the turn of the twentieth century. In doing so, it provides a fresh perspective on the role of humanitarian intervention in US foreign policy, Anglo-American relations and the emergence of a new international order after World War One. The clash over the US responsibility to protect the Armenians encapsulated the nation’s conflict over its global position and was a central preoccupation of both Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. For American and British leaders, a US intervention in the Near East to secure an independent Armenia was key to establishing a revised international system and to their visions for the new League of Nations. The debate over safeguarding the Armenians reveals the values that animated American society during a pivotal period in its history. In forcing US politicians to grapple for the first time with atrocities on this scale, it also demonstrates dilemmas in humanitarian politics that continue to bedevil policymakers today.