The U.S. and Turkey: Honesty Is the Best Policy

Recognizing the Armenian genocide may seem risky, but keeping quiet is the bigger danger

Kathryn Cook / Prospekt

A funeral procession for Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Dink was shot in broad daylight outside of his newspaper's office in Istanbul.

Ninety-two years ago, the "Young Turk" regime ordered the executions of Armenian civic leaders and intellectuals, and Turkish soldiers and militia forced the Armenian population to march into the desert, where more than a million died by bayonet or starvation. That horror helped galvanize Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew, to invent the word genocide, which was defined not as the extermination of an entire group but rather as a systematic effort to destroy a group. Lemkin wanted the term — and the international legal convention that grew out of it — to encompass ethnic cleansing and the murdering of...

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