|Saturday, 24 February 2024
The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919
III-REPORT UPON NON-ARABIC SPEAKING PORTIONS OF FORMER OTTOMAN EMPIRE
III-THE PROBLEM OF A TURKISH STATE
We have now frankly recognized the necessity, in bare justice to the Armenians, for an Armenia separated from Turkey, and the equal necessity for a separated Constantinopolitan State, in response to a just and imperative world interest
Turkey is thus called upon to surrender her sovereignty over certain modest portions of Asia Minor, but in no way treated as her own conquerors treated territories won in war.
(1) General Extent. But in pursuance of this different spirit shown in conquest, if the principles of national unity and of self-determination are to be truly applied to the Turkish people, Anatolia, the bulk of Asia Minor remaining, with ample outlets to the sea, should be left for a Turkish State, but under such conditions as may sacredly guard the rights of all minorities, whether racial or religious. This would give to Turkey a comparatively very large area-larger than France,-having a population one-fourth that of France-of approximately ten millions, of whom some eight millions are Moslems (about seven millions Turks) and one and one-half millions Greeks. This should assure to the new Turkey an ample opportunity of development. In the interests of a reasonable self-determination for some of the smaller racial groups, it may be also necessary to allow their transfer, if they so choose, to Syria or Mesopotamia, or to grant them at least local autonomy.
(2) Reasons for a Mandate for the Turkish State. It seems to be generally recognized by the Turkish people themselves, that the surest and speediest road out of their present evil conditions is way of a mandate under the League Nations, and so shifting from an imperialistic state to a democratic one. And from every point of view that appears desirable. Indeed, it seems impossible to expect any satisfactory change in the government of Turkey by any other method. And if the Turks had not themselves suggested a mandatory, the Peace Conference might well have felt obliged to require one.
This general statement, indeed, may be said to include the specific reasons why Turkey should have a mandate; to secure genuinely good government, without oppression, bribery, or corruption, for the Turks themselves; to guarantee the rights of all minorities, racial or religious; to deliver Turkey from the demoralization of incessant intrigue from outside; to secure, without selfish exploitation by the Mandatory or any other outside Power, Turkey's economic development and economic independence, for there is not the slightest doubt that she has been living far below her material possibilities; in line with the Allied settlement with Germany, to disband the most of the Turkish Army and do away with all military conscription, depending upon a well organized gendarmerie for the larger police duties of the State,-all this for the better good of the common people and to break the power of intriguing imperialists over them, to put beneath all Turkish life a national system of universal education that should lift her entire people, to train the various peoples of the State steadily into self-government; in a word, to make of Turkey a state of a high order on a modern basis of equal rights to all before the law, and of full religious liberty. This would inevitably result in a state not purely (though predominantly) Turkish in race and in control, a cosmopolitan state in which various racial stocks were contained and in whose government all representatively shared.
(3) Turkey's Desire for An American Mandate. For the reasons given in an earlier section of the report-especially since the Peace Conference had not declared that Turkey must herself have a mandate, and because a free expression was not allowed-it has been very difficult to get clearly decisive evidence of the desires of the people of Turkey upon the choice of mandate. But many indications tend to confirm the opinion that the great majority of thoughtful Turkish leaders sincerely desire an American mandate.
That a nation so long independent should seek a mandate, in any sense of the term, is sufficiently remarkable, and it tends to confirm the opinion of a trustworthy and university-trained Turkish journalist, who wrote: "The Turks have been so hardly tried by the events in the past, that most of them are ready to submit themselves to some regular schooling, instead of making any hazardous experiments with new, ignorant leaders." And he thus sums up Turkish public opinion concerning a mandate for Turkey:
The following divisions can be noticed: (1) the large majority which realizes that the country has only the choice between an American mandate and an eternal chaos, coupled with foreign occupation and the loss of national unity; (2) a minority which does not like to discuss any settlement which implies a theoretical restriction of sovereignty; (3) a minority of supporters of an English solution.
As giving an idea of the strength of the American majority, he calls attention to "The elements which make it up":
The National Congress, a body formed in Constantinople several months ago by the delegates of fifty-three different Turkish societies and organizations, is one of the chief supporters of the American mandate. As all the Turkish intellectual organizations are represented in the Congress, it may almost be considered as representative of the educated classes in general. The National League, containing about forty of the most respected citizens and Senators is also for the American mandate. This means at the same time, the majority of the Senatu The "Nationalist" Party in Anatolia in general are in favor of the American mandate. The professors of different faculties of the university favor the American mandate. So do most of the lawyers, teachers technicians, and merchants. At present, most of the papers with large circulations are taking the same view of things. This state of things is very surprising, because there is, on the one hand, a very active propaganda for the English mandate; on the other hand the Americans do not make any propaganda.
Another journalist gave detailed corroborative evidence looking in the same direction. For example, he said that he had been carrying on a campaign in his Constantinople paper for three months for an American Mandate, and that this campaign had called out only two letters protests while, on the contrary, many words of approval had come from men of all parties.
The delegations who have met the Commission, when the question of mandate was taken up, have generally favored an American Mandate. A delegation representing the intellectual leaders among the women, including presidents of educational institutions and of national and provincial educational associations, were especially emphatic in declaring for an American Mandate. The general judgment of the most trustworthy observers whom the Commission were able to consult confirmed these results. The delegates of a Congress held a few months ago at Smyrna, and representing 1,800,000 people, have declared for an American Mandate. The Congress at Sivas held on the 20th of August, probably the most representative recent gathering of the Turkish people, is expected by those in closest touch with the movement for which it stands, to declare for an American Mandate.
On the whole, it is highly probable that a large majority of the Turkish people, wishing a mandate at all, would favor the American Mandate.
(4) Territorial Conditions in Anatolia. To complete the survey of the problems involved in a reconstitution of the Turkish State in Anatolia, a general discussion, in brief summary, of territorial conditions in Anatolia-touching also upon various subject races-seems called for. This is also furnished by the General Adviser.
I. After setting off definitely from the Turkish Empire as it was in 1914 all the Arabic-speaking areas, Armenia, and the Constantinopolitan State, there remains a large mass of territory, in which the greatest single element of population is Turkish (this word being limited to those persons whose mother tongue is Turkish and who profess the Mohammedan religion). Claims have been advanced toward setting off portions of this remaining area, by Kurds for "Kurdistan ;" by Greeks for "Pontus,"-an area along the Black Sea coast from Sinope to Batum; by Syrians for Cilicia; by Italians for Adalia and the whole southwest, and by Greeks for Smyrna and the west. The only one of these portions that is advisable, in the opinion of the Commission, actually to handle separately at present, is "Kurdistan." All will be discussed briefly in the order named.
II. Kurdistan. The Kurds claim a very large area, on the basis of their distribution, but since they are greatly mixed with Armenians, Turks, and others, and divided among themselves into Kizilbash, Shiite and Sunnites it seems best to limit them to the natural geographical area which lies between the proposed Armenia on the north and Mesopotamia on the south, with the divide between the Euphrates and the Tigris as the western boundary, and the Persian frontier as the eastern boundary. A measure of autonomy can be allowed them under close mandatory rule, with the object of preparing them for ultimate independence or for federation with neighboring areas in a larger self-governing union. It is possible to shift most of the comparatively small numbers of both Turks and Armenians out of this area by voluntary exchange of population and thus obtain a province containing about a million and a half people, nearly all Kurds. Full security must needs be provided for the Syrian, Chaldean and Nestorian Christians who dwell in the area. This plan would probably provide for all of the Sunnite Kurds in Turkey, and the Kizilbash group lies almost wholly to the west. The area contemplated looks more to the south than the west and lies wholly about the upper waters of the Tigris and its tributaries. It would seem better, therefore, unless the population itself strongly prefers the other plan. to place it under the control of the power which cares for Mesopotamia, than to connect it with Armenia across the mountains at the north, or with Anatolia with which it would have only narrow contact at the west.
III. "Pontus." About one-half of the area asked for by the Greeks of "Pontus" should be included in the Armenian State, in order to give it access to the sea. The remainder is needed by Anatolia for the same reason. There were approximately 200,000 Greeks in each of these portions in 1914. This would seem to he too small a minority in both Armenia and Anatolia to be erected into an autonomous province. The rights of these Greeks can in each state he provided for fully by general laws, enforced in each case by the mandatory power until such time as the states are ready for self-government with adequate protection of minorities.
IV. Cilicia. Cilicia is claimed by both Armenians and Syrians, in each case by a minority which did not exceed 25 per cent in 1914. Reasons are stated above for not giving it to the former. It is unimportant to Syria as an outlet, since that area has many ports. But it is very valuable to the areas both at the northeast and the north. It should not be separated economically from Anatolia at present. and if at any future time the Armenians should receive it, provisions would have to be made for the use of its ports by the interior regions of Anatolia from Kaisariyeh to Konia.
The region between Cilicia and Armenia, containing Albistan, Malatia and Kharput is claimed by the Armenians, but should also be left with Anatolia. It contained in 1914 a mixture of Turks, Kizlbash, Armenians, Sunnite Kurds and others, proportioned apparently in the order named. Strong mandatory control would be difficult because of the distance from the coast across rough mountainous country but it would be very necessary, lest the region become a hunting ground for Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian bands, each anxious to acquire the territory for its people.
V. Adalia and the Southwest. Italy's claim to the southwest of Asia Minor rests upon nothing that is compatible with the principles of the Commission's instructions. There are no Italians native to the country, and no evidence exists that the population desires Italy as a mandatory over them. In this region the Moslems are to the Greek Orthodox Christians as ten to one. None of this area should be separated from Anatolia.
VI. Smyrna and the West. The problem of the west coast is a difficult one, not because of the intrinsic situation, but because of the persistency of the Greek Government in demanding an area there, and of the fact that a Greek army is in occupation.
Nowhere except perhaps in the Sanjak of Smyrna and certain coastal Kazas is the Greek Orthodox population in a majority, and the complete proof that it is in majority there awaits an impartial census. If any question existed previously as to the unwillingness of the majority of the population in the area now occupied by the Greeks to be annexed to Greece, or to have Greece as a mandatory, the question has been answered by the circumstances of the occupation.[NOTE: This is an allusion to the massacres of Moslems by Greeks, and subsequent atrocities upon the occasion of the landing at Smyrna May 15, 1915. An official Inter-Allied inquiry has confirmed the fact of the atrocities.] The question has also been answered as to whether the Balkan State of modern Greece has reached such a degree of civilization that it can be entrusted with mandatory rule over a people of different faith and hostile feeling.
The Greek army and all authority of the Greek Government ought to be withdrawn from an area where better order was kept by twelve British officers than can be maintained by one hundred thousand Greek troops. There can be no settled peace until either a Greek conquest has swept far to the interior, with great destruction of property and life, or until the Greek power is wholly removed. In the latter case the question would still remain: Should an area in Western Asia Minor be set off as a special Greek region and placed under a separate mandate? The answer is in the negative for the following reasons:
(1) The character of the country is such that no good natural boundary can be found except high up in the hills If such a boundary be traced, the population within it would be so markedly Moslem (about three to one) that the area could have no special Greek character.
(2) If, on the other hand, a more or less arbitrary line be drawn farther west, it would not constitute a good barrier for defense against smugglers or brigand bands.
(3) Any line drawn now would be regarded, more or less, as an economic barrier, cutting off Smyrna and other coast cities from some of the trade with the interior, to mutual disadvantage.
(4) Neither Greeks nor Turks in Western Asia Minor would believe anything except that it is the intention of the League of Nations to permit Greece later to annex the territory set off, and perhaps to extend her holdings further. The elements would therefore be present for a Macedonian system of sustained brigand warfare, which could be kept down only by more military effort and expenditure than any mandatory power cares to assume.
Shall any measures be taken then to develop a special Greek area in Asia Minor? The maximum that would seem to be advisable at the present would be that a strong mandatory power should be entrusted with a single mandate for all Anatolia, and should take special pains to protect Greeks and Turks alike and preserve order in the west, with the possibility of a limited locally autonomous Greek area. The question of a future separated Greek area could then be left in abeyance, to be brought up again if circumstances justify.
VII. A Mandate for Anatolia. While the instructions of this Commission do not directly mention the assignment by the League of Nations of a mandatory nation to assist the Turks, many of the Turks themselves have suggested such a plan, and some have presented urgent requests for America as the mandatory power. The need of supervision over finance, public works, education, internal order, and all the processes of government is hardly less for the Turks, despite their centuries of political experience, than for the Armenians, Syrians, and Mesopotamians. It is in fact impossible to discern any other method of setting Western Asia in order. The Turks if left to themselves in a condition of poverty, ignorances and general exhaustion, with a feeling that they had been unjustly treated and then abandoned by all the world, could not fail to be a source of trouble and disturbance until another crisis, with perhaps another great war, would necessitate some such solution as is now suggested but under conditions less favorable to success.
VIII. The Desirability of a Single Mandatory for Armenia, Anatolia, and Constantinople. While it is desirable that Armenia, Anatolia, and Constantinople should be placed under separate mandates, and governed by separated administrations, it is also desirable that the three mandates should be held by one great power.
(1) Those areas have been held together for several centuries, and have a great number of close ties of all sorts, the delicate adjustment of which can be best accomplished under one power.
(2) Unity of economic control, with similar commercial laws, coinage, weights, and measures, and language of business is advantageous to all concerned.
(3) Problems of repatriation and exchange of populations, can be arranged more justly and promptly under one mandatory.
(4) The adjustment of the public debt will be easier.
(5) The building of railroads and the improvement of routes of travel can be better arranged.
(6) Police control and repression of brigandage will be far simpler. On the contrary the holding of the three areas by separate powers permits the taking of refuge by bandits and criminals across the borders.
(7) Unity is urged by many well-informed foreigners, looking from various points of view. Many of these favor not merely a single mandatory power, but a single mandate. Practically all the benefits can be obtained by the first plan that could be obtained by the second, and many serious difficulties can be avoided, such as arise from persecution of Armenians, interference with navigation, and complications of intrigue.
(8) Friction which might arise between three mandatories, and which might conceivably lead to a great war, could be eliminated.
(9) The transition would be more easily acceptable by the Turkish people, than if two or three powers should take control of the three areas. The fact that the mandatory would probably establish a central control in Constantinople would aid the transition still further.
In the foregoing discussion of Territorial Conditions in Anatolia, various minority people have been briefly studied. It seems necessary to consider further, at this point, only the rather pressing problems of the Greeks.
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