The Armenian Genocide Holds a Bitter Lesson for Those Who Weep for Ukraine

By The Intercept

From 1915 through today, politicians have made lots of great-sounding speeches. But human suffering is never part of the equation.

If there’s one thing we can say for sure about the governments of the U.S. and Europe, it’s that they sound upset about Russia’s brutalization of Ukraine. President Joe Biden recently called it “genocide.” A spokesperson for his National Security Council said that it’s working to “identify any Russians responsible for the atrocities and war crimes that have been committed.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that the civilian killings in the city of Bucha “are war crimes we will not accept … those who did this must be held accountable.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proclaimed, “We will not rest until justice is done.”

However, history suggests that this is the emptiest of rhetoric. It’s difficult to find any examples of governments sacrificing their goals for the well-being of people in other countries. Instead, governments see the very real suffering of foreigners as useful for propaganda purposes — to motivate their own citizens and make their enemies look bad — but otherwise as totally irrelevant.

A chilling story from 100 years ago illustrates this truth in the starkest possible terms. And precisely because it’s so unflattering to the powerful, it is now almost completely unknown.


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