Middle East
By L. Carl Brown

>From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006

The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the
Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. Donald Bloxham. : Oxford
University Press, 2005, 344 pp.$35.00

The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the
Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians

Donald Bloxham

Oxford University Press, 2005, 344pp., $35.00

The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide

Guenter Lewy

University of Utah Press, 2005, 356pp., $24.95

During World War I, the Ottoman decision to deport Armenians out of
the war zone in eastern Anatolia set in motion a massacre that
produced casualties probably numbering well over a million. As much as
40 percent of the prewar Armenian population in Anatolia may have been
destroyed, a destruction proportionally far greater than that of any
other people in the terrible carnage that was World War I. Was this a
premeditated plan to annihilate the Armenian population? Was it
genocide? The authors of both these books give unstinting attention to
the horrors that occurred, but they differ in their judgments about
whether the massacres were premeditated and about the Ottoman role.

Lewy sifts the available documentation and the charges and
countercharges of scholars to decide that although the Ottoman
government bears indirect responsibility for overreacting to the
possible security threat Armenians posed and for mishandling the
deportation, there was no plan to eliminate the Armenians; it was not
genocide. To Bloxham, it clearly was. He offers a broad historical
account of Armenian relations with the Ottoman Empire leading up to
the 1915 deportation orders and the ensuing massacre. Thereafter, he
weighs the "international response and responsibility" in this case of
genocide in the years since. A penultimate chapter offers a
penetrating review of official and unofficial U.S. responses from the
time the massacres were taking place to the present.