RECOGNIZING FACT OF GENOCIDE SHOULD BE BY-PRODUCT OF HISTORIAN'S WORK

PanARMENIAN.Net
02.05.2006 00:43 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ In the books "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman
Turkey: A Disputed Genocide" by Guenter Lewy and "The Great Game of
Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman
Armenians" by Donald Bloxham, the authors pay special attention to
the term "genocide". Both Bloxham and Lewy dwell at length on genocide
denial, and the appropriateness of genocide as a term. "Genocide," says
Bloxham, is a 1940s word being applied as a "retrospective projection"
upon historical events of decades before: [p.95] "...the killing
did constitute a genocide - every aspect of the United Nations'
definition of the crime is applicable - but recognizing that fact
should be a by-product of the historian's work, not its ultimate aim
or underpinning." The sticking point is the perpetrator's intent:
without intent there cannot be genocide. But intent need not be a
clear-cut, one time manifestation: it can develop, grow, and feed
upon itself and events. Hence, says Bloxham: "[p.96]...Pinpointing
the precise time within that period of radicalization at which a
state framework that is demonstrably permissive of murder and atrocity
becomes explicitly genocidal is extremely difficult and unlikely ever
to be achieved definitively."

Meanwhile, Lewy finds little tangible evidence of premeditated mass
homicide (i.e. genocide), of Armenians. Perhaps this evidence will
be found, he allows, but it is not there yet. Apparently, crucial
archival documents have gone missing, or have been destroyed, or have
not been made available by Turkish authorities (even now, possibly
due to archival disorganization). In addition, documentation might
have been deemed spurious to begin with, or was used selectively for
political purposes (e.g. to deflect blame for Armenian massacres,
or, on the other hand, to build a case for creating an Armenian
state in eastern Anatolia, or for keeping land and property out
of Armenian hands after the collapse of the Ottoman empire). Lewy
concludes that there is plenty of testimony and documentation that
atrocities and massacres occurred, but, he cautions, premeditation
has yet be ascertained.

Lewy analyzes what he calls the "politicization of history" regarding
Ottomans and Armenians, and believes both sides are stuck in a semantic
bind. He says that the legalistic definition of "genocide" has been
conflated with the common use of the word as a term of opprobrium,
and proposes that separating these two meanings just might provide
the basis for more productive discussions between Turks and Armenians
today. This is a point worth pondering, while not forgetting that the
1948 UN definition of genocide was based on writings by jurist Raphael
Lemkin - who had precisely the Armenian, and other, massacres in mind.