18 February 2012

3339) Armenian Relocations & Ottoman National Security: Military Necessity Or Excuse For Genocide? by Edward J. Erickson

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US Marine Corps University, USA
Professor William A. Schabas has provided a lens through which the modern world might compare atrocities committed in the past with the intent and terminology of contemporary international law.

In my view, Schabas establishes, in a unique way, a context for broadening the historical narrative by narrowing de?nitions and terminology. Unfortunately, some partisans in the contemporary debate over the Armenian relocations and massacres of 1915 may seek to use his ideas to establish retroactive accountability. In this article, my intent is not to establish any kind of retroactivity regarding these events. Rather, here I offer an opinion as to whether the relocation of the entire Armenian population of eastern Anatolia was necessary for reasons of national security during the First World War.

As a matter of historical record, the Ottoman government considered the Armenian population of eastern Anatolia as ‘enemies within’ during the First World War.

When in April 1915, internal rebellion by Armenian revolutionary committees and external invasion by the Russian army supported by Armenian guerrillas began, the Ottoman high command responded with an active counterinsurgency campaign of population relocation and cordon and destroy operations.

The speed and ferocity of the Ottoman counterinsurgency campaign was a function of imperative military necessity. In fact, actual Armenian threats to the logistics and security of three Ottoman armies caused the Ottomans to consider the potentially catastrophic effect on the national security of the Ottoman Empire should these armies collapse. The government considered this situation as an existential threat to the national security of the Ottoman state.

Today the Ottoman government’s relocation decision continues to feed a polarized academic debate that hinges on two positions that interpret the decision either as one of military necessity or as an excuse for genocide.

The Historical Context
The historical context that led to the events of 1915 is crucial for understanding the framework within which the relocation decision was cast. There are four main historical antecedents that must be understood in order to establish this context:
  1. the activities of the Armenian revolutionary committees (particularly the Dashnaks);
  2. the activities of outside powers supporting the Armenian committees;
  3. the contemporary counterinsurgency practices used by the Great Powers; and
  4. the Ottoman counterinsurgency policies and practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This history and these four elements form a lens . .

. . .



Middle East Critique
Vol. 20, No. 3, 291–298, Fall 2011
.

1 comments:

Sukru Server Aya said...

Please also refer to posting:

http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2010/08/3138-armenians-and-ottoman-military.html

which covers chapter 21 of my book "The Genocide of Truth Continues but Facts Tell the Real Story" (21 pages. I had given excerpts from Mr. Erickson's "War in History", which are somewhat similar to this new article of Fall 2011.

Mr. Erickson's neutral and documented-objective remarks are irrefutable by logic and military records.

Thank you for this new addition.

Sukru S. Aya

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