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The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919



(1) The reasons why it is necessary that a separate Armenian State should be set up, have already been fully given. They need not be restated.

(2) The conception of such a State. It is well to have in mind the exact nature of the State proposed in this report in order to prevent misunderstandings on any side.

It is not proposed in such a state to establish the rule of a minority of Armenians over a majority of other peoples. That would inevitably seem to the Turks to be very unjust, and would at once excite resentment and unremitting opposition. Moreover, such an arrangement would be unfair to the Armenians as well. For it would place them from the start in a false and untenable position. It would put them, too, under great temptation to abuse of power. And it would be no fair trial of a truly Armenian State. It would of course, also make any mandate mean little or nothing, if not make it entirely impossible.

But such a separated State should furnish a definite area into which Armenians could go with the complete assurance that there they would never be put under the rule of the Turks. It should be also a region in which Armenians could gradually concentrate, and from which the Turkish population might tend increasingly to withdraw; though no compulsion should be put on any people.

All this necessitates a strong Mandatory Power. The State could not even start without such help. This separated State should be therefore a state definitely under the rule of a Mandatory Government, organized on modern lines to do justice to all elements of the population: and a state from which the Mandatory should not withdraw, until the Armenians constituted an actual majority of the entire population, or at least until the Turks were fewer than the Armenians. This would necessarily mean that full Armenian self-government would be long delayed. And that fact should be definitely faced as inevitable. The conditions are such that there is no defensible alternative.

(3) The term of the Mandate is practically involved in the conception of the State, which is forced upon us. It cannot be a short-term mandate, not because of any reluctance to withdraw on the part of the Mandatory, but because under the peculiar circumstances, a true Armenian State cannot be established in a brief period of time, however ardent the desires of both the Armenians and the, Mandatory Power. For the Armenians cannot safely undertake the government independently, until they constitute an actual majority. There is also the added consideration of the natural need of considerable time for the amalgamation and consolidation of the Armenian people, as against some tendency to split up into fragments. The mandate must be long enough, too, to make the people thoroughly ready for both self-government and self-protection, through an increasing use of Armenians in the government even from the beginning.

(4) An American Mandate Desired. It seems universally recognized that the Armenians themselves desire an American Mandate. And this choice is apparently generally approved by America's Allies. The Turks, too, though not wishing any separate Armenian State, would probably favor an American Mandate for Armenia, if there must be an Armenia at all.

(5) The conditions upon which America would be justified in taking the mandate for Armenia may be said to be: The genuine desire of the Armenians; the cordial moral support of the Allies in carrying out the mandate; willingness on the part of the Armenians to bear with a pretty long mandatory term, for the reasons already stated, and to give up all revolutionary committees that Armenia should have territory enough to ensure a successful development; and that the peculiarly difficult mandate for Armenia should not be the only mandate given America in Turkey. None of these conditions, perhaps, call for comment, except the last, which will come up for later consideration.

(6) The Extent and Boundaries of the Armenian State. The General Adviser, Dr. Lybyer, has expressed so exactly the conditions of the Commissioners concerning the extent and boundaries of the Armenian State. that his statement may well replace any other discussion of this question:

1. The Armenians should be provided with a definite territory, and organized as soon as practicable into a self-governing independent state. Otherwise the questions of their safety and of their ceasing to be a center of world disturbance cannot be answered.

2. This area should be taken from both Turkish and Russian territory. The wars of the Nineteenth century divided the proper Armenian land between these two empires.

3. The Armenians are entitled to an amount of Turkish territory which takes into account their losses by the massacres of 1894-6, 1908-9, and 1915-16. These losses may be estimated at one million. [This estimate of Armenian losses by mandate in the past thirty years is especially valuable in the light of conflicting statements]

4. They should not be given an excessive amount of Turkish territory, if their state is to be practicable.

a. The Turks, Kurds, and other races should not be left with a just grievance, since that would solidify their traditional hostility, and embitter them against the League of Nations.

b. It has been questioned, even by many of themselves, whether the Armenians are ready for self-government at present; certainly an imperial rule by them over other people should not be thought of for the present or the future.

c. It is too much to ask of the League of Nations or a mandatory power that they undertake to hold down and perhaps squeeze out a large majority, in order that a small minority may have time to multiply and fill the land.

d. There is a limit beyond which the project of ever producing an Armenian majority is actually not feasible; that is to say, if the Armenians are assigned too large an area, they will never be able to occupy and hold it.

e. The idea has been suggested that Armenia should be developed as a wall of separation or a buffer state between the two Moslem areas occupied by Turks and Arabs. This might be done by a compact, homogeneous state with considerable population and resources, but it is a burden which the Armenian state cannot be expected to bear within a conceivable time.

5. The proposed large Armenia, to extend from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, is probably impossible of realization, and therefore should not be planned for. It encounters all the objections previously mentioned.

a. In 1914 and before 1894 the Armenians were in a small minority in such an area, probably never exceeding twenty-five per cent. If they should he given the control, the majority populations would be injured, in violation of all "Wilsonian principles" and war aims. With allowance for the estimated million who perished, and assuming that all these could have been gathered into the territory, the Armenians would still now number only about one-third of the total population.

b There never was an Armenia which ruled all this territory. The real Armenia, as maps and records show, was a highland country which at one time reached the Caspian Sea, which came near to the Black Sea without reaching it, and which never came to the Mediterranean Sea. The Lesser Armenia of the Middle Ages in the Cilician region was the result of the expulsion and flight of Armenians from further east,-a process which scattered them over a large area, in which they have ever since been in a minority almost everywhere. The demand for both areas is therefore an imperialistic claim, based historically upon an overstrained interpretation of facts.

c. The Armenians are reduced, allowing for the return of survivors, to about ten per cent of the population in the large area proposed. Assuming an optimistic amount of migration of other Armenians into, and of Turks and Kurds out of the land, the Armenians still would constitute only about one-fourth of the population (See appended table of estimates of population.) The situation of mandatory power would be extremely difficult in defending this minority, which would as future owners and rulers of the land, be much more obnoxious to the majority than at present.

d. No European power will undertake so difficult a task, and it must therefore be left to the United States. If the American people should be induced to begin the process, and this should turn out to be fundamentally unjust, they would modify their intention. The chances are considerable that the large Armenia would never become an Armenian state at all, but a mixed state, composed of minorities of Armenians, Turks, Kurds, etc., which would not maintain internal order or security against external aggression without the support of a strong mandatory power. This would disappoint both the Armenians, who could never control the government, and the mandatory power, which could never leave the country.

6. On the contrary, an Armenia reduced to the Armenian highlands in both Turkey and Russia, with an outlet on the Black Sea, would have a good chance of establishment and continuance. The Turkish area which the Russians held in 1917 may be taken approximately as the Turkish portion of this "small Armenia," and the present territory of Russian Armenia as the remainder. Engineers could overcome the physical obstacles to internal and external communication.

a. The Turks and Kurds could not rightfully complain of such an area, because it is the historical Armenia, and because if the million dead Armenians could be restored and brought into the land, the Armenians would have about one-half the population (see table). Migration of Turks and Kurds from this area can be more easily accomplished than from the larger land, inasmuch as a considerable proportion of them fled before the Russians, and thus are in a dislocated condition.

b. The Armenians might become the majority of the actual population within a few years, and with that in view, and with the smaller area, they could be given a larger share in the administration from the start, and trained more rapidly to self-government,

c. The duration of the mandate would be materially shortened, with a solider ethnical foundation and a more compact area. The mandatory would need far fewer troops, and would be put to much less expense.

d. The doubts as to the possibility of erecting an Armenian state in the larger area are reduced for the smaller land. The mandatory power could with a prospect of success, keep in mind the giving of control to the Armenians, since they would after a time not be a minority, causing trouble by incessant pushing for special privileges of an economic and political nature, but a majority with a just right to a larger place.

e. This land having secure frontiers, as was tried out thoroughly during the great war, gives promise of self-defensibility. A state reaching to the Mediterranean is a far more difficult matter, with its long frontiers, containing each a number of vulnerable spots, and its permanent difficulties of internal communication, due to the broken configuration of the land. Its very existence might moreover be regarded by the Turks and Arabs as a provocation.

f. The economic opportunity of an Armenia on this basis would be ample; all essentials for food, fuel, and shelter can be obtained locally, and surpluses are easily to be produced which can be exchanged for other wares .

i. In Turkish Armenia the Armenians were able to live and often to prosper, and yet they paid considerable taxes and were subject to frequent robbery.

ii. In Russian Armenia the Armenians have thriven greatly, under only moderately favorable conditions.

iii. This area is crossed by commercial routes of immemorial importance, notably through Erzingan and Erzerum between Anatolia and Persia and Trans-Caucasia, and through Trebizond toward the Persian Gulf. This guarantees the importance of several towns at nodal points, such as Sars, Erivan, Erzerum, Mush, and Van, and suggests valuable possibilities in the direction of transportation, trade, and manufacture for export.

7. All this is argued with the best interests of the Armenians in mind, on the basis of genuine friendliness toward them, and of concern to give them a real and not an illusory opportunity. They are in genuine danger of grasping at too much and losing all.

If they establish themselves securely in the more restricted area, and if Anatolia fails to develop as a well knit and successful states there is no reason why the question should not be resumed later of connecting Cilicia with Armenia.

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