Between Realism and Philanthropy
Ambassador Henry Morgenthau arrived at the port of New York on February 22, 1916, and the following day visited Washington for conferences with President Wilson, Secretary of State Robert Lansing, and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. In preparation for the presidential elections of that year, Morgenthau expressed the desire to work for the president’s reelection campaign. Wilson complained that “some members of the Congress were indifferent to the fate of democracy as long as their reelection was assured.” In matters pertaining to the Armenian situation, according to Morgenthau, Wilson discussed “at some length about the Armenian matters, and said that if necessary Americans should go to war for humanity’s sake.” The conversation quickly turned to the appointment of a successor to Constantinople, and Morgenthau recommended Samuel Untermeyer, a New York lawyer with expertise in finance, or Abram Elkus, a mutual friend and a judge in the state of New York.1 Whether or not Wilson had ever seriously contemplated to take Americans “to war for humanity’s sake” to protect the Armenians, he must have been aware of its implications. The power to maintain international peace and to punish violators of international law in times of war necessitated direct military engagement to prevent human catastrophes as experienced by the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
KeywordsSugar Europe Petroleum Shipping Syria
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