Genghis Khan Popular in Mongolia

Genghis Khan is becoming a heroic figure as Mongolian nationalism reasserts itself.

Mongolia sees Genghis Khan’s good side (IHT)

“Genghis Khan wasn’t really a bad guy,” Elbegdorj Tsahkia, the Mongolian prime minister, said with a grin. “He just had bad press.”

He was only half joking. Ever since Mongolia emerged from the Soviet Union’s shadow in the early 1990s, the lore and myth surrounding the khan, the original bad boy of history, have captured the imagination of the country.

A popular and official movement to reassess Genghis Khan’s marauding image is being marshaled by admirers who say he was a truly great, if irascible, ruler. “He is like a god to us,” said Bat-Erdene Batbayar, who also goes by the name Baabar, a historian and adviser to Elbegdorj. “He is the founder of our state, the root of our history. The communists very brutally cut us off from our traditions and history and got us to adopt the ways and views of Western civilization – with a red color of course, but still Western. Now we are becoming Mongols again.”

Too bad for John Kerry that this is just hitting the press now. If only he’d known that “in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan” was a good thing he might be president today.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Actually, considering the context of the times he lived in, Genghis Khan was a fairly enlightened ruler.

  2. Anyone who supported the invention of Mongolian BBQ gets my vote (by the large number of Mongolioan BBQ places named Genghis Kahn, I assume he came up or supported its invention – either that or there is no other famous Mongolian the proprietors could come up with)

  3. Nathan Hamm says:

    I mention it in the post I sent a trackback from, but for everyone’s benefit, I highly recommend Jack Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. He wasn’t just fairly enlightened for his times, he was extremely so.

    I went to a Mongolia exhibit at the Smithsonian and UPenn’s museum a couple years back and now understand why they made such a big deal out of democracy under Genghis. (They used the kuriltai system that Kyrgyz protesters recently used to select leaders.)

  4. Eric says:

    How do modern Mongolians pronounce it? Soft or hard “G”?

  5. James says:

    Actually here in Mongolia they say “Chingis Khan”, not “Genghis”. The aforementioned book by Weatherford, which I highly recommend, says that we westerners got the “Genghis” pronunciation from the Persians.