|Wednesday, 21 February 2024
The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919
III-REPORT UPON NON-ARABIC SPEAKING PORTIONS OF FORMER OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The recommendations, dealing with mandates in the Asia Minor portion of the former Ottoman Empire, follow naturally upon the preceding discussions of pertinent action already taken by the Peace Conference; of dangers arising from a selfish division and exploitation of Turkey; of considerations looking to a proper division of Turkey; and of problems naturally resulting. For the recommendations built directly on foundations already laid by the Peace Conference. They aim to prevent a selfish exploitation and division of Turkey. They intend not less surely to ground such division of Turkey as is recommended solely upon considerations of justice and the good of all men. And in this spirit they endeavor honestly to face the grave problem arising, and to seek their solution in the light of the full discussion which precedes. That discussion has been so full, that the Recommendations of the Commissioners need do little more than summarize conclusions, except upon two points-the reasons for a general American Mandate, and the conditions upon which such a mandate might be taken by America.
The Commissioners Recommend
1 The formation, under a Mandatory of an Armenian State, completely separated from Turkey, as defined in the preceding section of the report, for reasons already fully given.
It is consequently recommended that Cilicia should not be separated from Anatolia at present.
2. The similar formation. under a Mandatory, of an International Constantinopolitan State, completely separated from Turkey, as defined in the preceding section, also for reasons already fully given.
3. The appointment of a Mandatory for the continued Turkish State, in line with the apparent wishes of the majority of the Turkish people; the major terms of the Mandate to be defined by the Peace Conference or the League of Nations, and further adjustments to be arranged between the Mandatory and Turkey. The reasons for the Mandate and its necessary scope have been already fully given.
4. That. for the reasons already stated, no independent territory be set off for the Greeks; though local autonomy be granted to that portion of the Sanjak of Smyrna which has a decided majority of Greeks, but under the general mandate for Turkey.
5. That a commission or commissions on boundaries in Asia Minor be appointed to study on the ground and to exactly define the boundaries of the states named in the first three recommendations, and the precise limits of any locally autonomous area in Smyrna. The definition of the boundaries of the Turkish State would require the study and definition of the northern boundaries of Syria and Mesopotamia as well, with special reference to allowing to the Kurds a measure of autonomy under close mandatory rule, possibly in connection with Mesopotamia, and with the clear understanding that the rights of the Syrian, Chaldean, and Nestorian Christian minorities in this whole region shall be carefully guarded.
6. A general single mandate for the whole of Asia Minor (not assigned to Mesopotamia or Syria) to include under it the mandate for Armenia, the mandate for the Constantinopolitan State, and the mandate for the continued Turkish State, each with a governor of its own to insure full attention to its particular interests besides a governor-general over the whole. The various interrelations and common concerns of the constituent states would thus be studied and cared for, as well as their individual needs. The reasons for such a general mandate have been fully given and need not be repeated here.
7. That the United States of America be asked to take this general single mandate, together with its inclusive mandates for the Armenian State, the Constantinopolitan State, and the continued Turkish State. This recommendation is made for the following reasons which need to be developed in full:
(1) As already pointed out, it seems to be generally desired that America should take the mandate for Armenia. In this, both the Armenians and the Allies seem agreed-and even the Turks, if there must be an Armenian State at all. Nevertheless, America cannot wisely take this mandate without at the same time taking a mandate for the rest of Asia Minor as well.
For, in the first place, this Armenian mandate would be in many respects the most difficult of all: because it would begin in relations of bitter hostility; because the State would have to built from the bottom under most peculiar circumstances; and because the mandate would have to be prolonged against the impatience of the Armenians. And these difficulties would all be accentuated, if the surrounding conditions could not be determined. It concerns the world that this Armenian State should clearly succeed. its mandatory should not be needlessly handicapped.
In the second place, the problems of the different States in Asia Minor are too closely related to be wisely entrusted to entirely different Powers, with different ideals and methods. That situation would inevitably tend to produce friction, waste, and bad feeling, and unsatisfactory conditions in one state would naturally spread to other states also.
In the third place, if the rest of Turkey, outside of a modest Armenian State, were divided into spheres of influence and exploitation areas, the direct hindrance to the working out of a truly conceived mandate in Armenia would be well nigh insuperable.
The American mandate for Armenia, thus, calls for a general mandate over all of Asia Minor.
(2) America is also the most natural Power to take the mandate for the International Constantinopolitan State as well as for Armenia, for the simple reason that she is the only Great Power territorially and strategically disinterested. The mandatory for this international state should be herself strong, to discourage any further intrigue for control of the Straits, disinterested, to command the confidence of all the nations concerned, and in unmistakably earnest sympathy with the aim of such a state, and with those international means by which this aim is to be achieved,-the League of Nations and its mandatory system. These needed qualifications are best met by America. Now the full fruits of such an international state cannot be secured unless the rest of Asia Minor is made a fit environment for such a state, practically embodying the same great principles
The mandate for the Constantinopolitan State also calls for a general mandate over all Asia Minor.
(3) It is to be added that America is also the most natural Power for the mandate over the New Turkish State, because the Turkish people want her, and generally trust her, as the evidence previously given indicates, and because America is peculiarly prepared to meet the needs of the Turkish people in this crisis in their history, as the reasons to be given for a general American mandate will later bring out.
The desired American mandate for the new Turkish State, then, calls also for a general mandate over all Asia Minor.
(4) The best solution for mandates in Asia Minor would seem then to be, to combine all three mandates in a composite mandate, which would be put in the hands of America as the single mandatory
The general reasons for a single mandatory for all Asia Minor, already given are not to be lightly regarded. They give solid grounds for a composite supervisory mandate.
The further direct reasons for making America that single mandatory should now be considered. To begin with, there is the recognized fact that all the other Great Allies are already heavily loaded with colonial responsibilities, which of itself suggests a special obligation here for America. But the positive reasons-if there are any-lie necessarily in some special fitness of America for the particular task in hand-a fitness growing naturally out of her experience as a great growing democracy, largely freed hitherto from European entanglements. Those reasons, that is, lie inevitably in certain dominant national convictions of America, in a certain idealistic international faith; in her record in these international relations, and in the indications of her duty at this critical point in human history. All of these considerations concern the Turkish situation.
In the first place, we have found both the Syrian and Turkish peoples recognizing that at the foundation of the common life of America were to be found certain great dominant convictions. They saw that she had a passion for peace and for the possibility of its attainment, in spite of all sordid manifestations to the contrary, and that to bring such a righteous peace nearer, she entered this war. They saw that she had a passion for democracy, for the common man everywhere, in spite of inconsistencies at home and abroad, and could treat men of all races with a genuine respect born of some insight into their own individual gifts. They felt sure that she would not go into any situation simply to dominate, and to stamp American customs on a people. They knew that, because she really believed in democracy, she had also a passion for universal education, as possible for the rank and file of every nation, and as absolutely essential to a democracy. They believed, therefore, that as a mandatary she would gird herself to help a people fulfill its own highest possibilities. They believed, indeed, that she had a passion for the development of a national spirit in every people, not as narrow conceit, but as faith in a divine individuality, to which the people must be true, if they were to be significant members of that larger fellowship of nations for which the world longs. They instinctively felt, thus, that she combined in a way fairly unique, educational emphasis with respect for the values of another people. They knew, too, that with a high religious idealism, America somehow combined belief in the principle of the separation of Church and State in governmental administration, for the highest good both of religion and of the state, and was thus especially fitted to render help to a state like Turkey at so peculiarly critical a point in her transition from an imperialistic to a democratic state on modern lines and with complete religious liberty.
In the second place, with these mastering convictions, the Syrians and Turkish people believed that America combined a certain idealistic international faith, in her stubborn belief in the League of Nations and in the possibilities of its mandatory system, when honestly carried out. She was naturally prepared, therefore, they believed, to throw herself into the responsibilities of a mandate; steadfastly to seek to train the people entrusted to her care into self-government and into economic independence; and promptly to withdraw when that task was complete; for she would measure the success of her stewardship by both the completeness and the promptness with which her task was accomplished.
In the third place, both the Syrian and the Turkish people, in expressing their desire for an American mandate, have laid steady emphasis upon the assurance which came from America's record in dealing with other peoples. They believed in her unselfish aims in the war and that she was now seeking for no share in the spoils of the war. They believed that she had no territorial or imperialistic ambitions. They believed in her high and unselfish aims in dealing with Cuba and the Philippines. They believed that she was not involved in any joint plan for an exploiting division of either Syria or Turkey. They believed in the high quality of her relief service and especially of her educational service in both countries-a service so fine, that so competent and impartial an observer as Ramsey can say: "I firmly believe that Robert College has done more to render possible a safe solution of the 'Eastern Question' in Turkey than all the ambassadors of all the European Powers have succeeded in doing to render that solution difficult." They believed that, so far was America from scheming to obtain a mandate in Asia, she was honestly reluctant to undertake such a mandate of any kind.
In the fourth place, America is peculiarly fitted to be the single Mandatory Power for all Asia Minor, not only because of her national convictions, her international faith, and her record, but also because the course of duty for her would seem to lie in this direction.
It is no part of the task of the commissioners to determine whether America is now willing to accept the general single mandate for Turkey, with its three involved subordinate mandates. It is their business to point out where, in their honest judgment, that mandate belongs (if proper conditions can be fulfilled) and so given an opportunity to the Peace Conference to put the resulting obligation squarely up to the American people.
Can America deny all obligation in this matter of a mandate for Turkey? She has believed perhaps more than any other people, in the high possibilities of the League of Nations: but, if the League of Nations is not to be a sham and a delusion, all nations must be willing to bear their share in the resulting responsibilities. America, certainly, cannot be an exception. She came into the war, too with the ardent faith and hope that a more democratic world might result. Is she willing to carry those war purposes through to the end? Here in Turkey is an unrivaled opportunity to try these purposes out, for the good not only of a single people, but of the entire world; for here in Turkey has been through centuries a center of intrigue and strife that has engulfed all nations in its consequences. Moreover, America's intervention in the war went far to determine the war's issue. Was that intervention justified? America must still do her utmost to complete the proof.
But America's obligation goes still deeper, in this desperate hour of human need. Men still need peace-long deferred. They need far better provision for bodily wants. They need simple, homely happiness. But beneath all this, they need renewed faith in one another and in one another's honest purposes of good.
The war destroyed that faith between the hostile forces, the settlements of the war, it is to be feared, have gone far to destroy that faith among the Allies themselves. It is not roseate dreaming, but practical politics of the most imperative sort, to do something to bring back men's faith in men. If we can see the radical necessity of such faith, to prevent or break a financial panic are we to see less clearly in times like these, of a moral world panic? Cynicism and disillusionment, as we have seen, are rife. Can they be conquered? Only by indisputable examples to the contrary. It may be doubtful, then: if America could do anything so significant for the human race today, as to prove that she had not forgotten her own ideals and purposes in the war, but was willing to give a new and even greater proof of them in undertaking unselfishly a difficult and distasteful, but highly important and far-reaching task-by taking on the general mandate for Turkey (as well as for Syria, if the Peace Conference thought best). In fidelity to herself does not America owe that demonstration to the world ? It is hard to estimate the immense effect of so important a mandate under the League of Nations being carried through with absolutely honest unselfishness. It would make a reality of the League of Nations; it would make a reality of the mandatory system. It would set a new standard in international relations. It would renew men's faith in one another. It would help to save America herself from a disastrous reaction from her genuinely high aims in the war.
Nothing has been said of America's ment of Turkey's large resources, though it is not suggested that the financial relations of Turkey to America should be finally other than those of self-respecting independence. Turkey's present condition, however, is so necessitous in a thousand ways, that very large amounts of capital would be initially required, and returns at first would be small and slow. But before the mandate ended a fair return on capital, put into direly needed public improvements and the development of natural resources, might properly be expected at the same time that Turkey's own interests were guarded against selfish and monopolistic exploitation. Ample means for the economic develop America should not come into the Turkish Mandate with the expectation of large financial profits. But if even so favorable a result as that indicated proved quite impossible, America might well spend millions to insure relations of peace and good will among nations, rather than the billions required for another war, sure to come if the present cynical national selfishness and lack of good will are not checked.
As against the considerations now presented, it might be urged that the very suggestion of so large and significant a mandate for America is itself proof that America too is grasping imperialistic power. The answer is, that America's idea of a mandate is emphatically that a mandate is for limited term (so that even if a mandate for Syria were added to the mandate for Turkey the whole would mean no long retention of power by America, except as the League of Nations should continue her as mandatory over the Constantinopolitan State, that she literally does not want this mandate, except to meet her fair share of responsibility in the world today; that she would have to be persuaded by a campaign of education to take it on; and that she ought not to take it at all, if certain important conditions cannot be fulfilled.
(5) Considerations on which America would be justified in taking a composite general mandate for Asia Minor. Those conditions are: That she is really wanted by the Turkish people, that Turkey should give evidence that she is ready to do justice to the Armenians, not only by the allotment of the territory within her borders, recommended for the Armenian State, but also by encouraging the repatriation of Armenians, and by seeing that all possible just reparation is made to them as they return to their homes; that Turkey should also give evidence that she is ready to become a modern constitutional state, and to abolish military conscription; that Russia should be ready to renounce all claims upon Russian Armenia; that the Allies should cordially welcome America's help in the difficult situation in Turkey, and especially that all plans for cutting up Turkey, for the benefit of outside peoples, into spheres of influence and exploitation areas should be abandoned.
These conditions are necessary to a successful solution of the Turkish problem. Unless they are fulfilled, America ought not to take the mandate for Asia Minor. And the Commissioners do not recommend that the mandate be given to America if these conditions cannot be essentially met.
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