Mandates or War?

March 3, 2015

Filed under: Writings

The following article was submitted to us by Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos.



World Peace Held to be Menaced Unless the United States Assumes Control of the Sultan’s Former Dominion

B y H E N R Y M O R G E N T H A U
Ex-Ambassador to Turkey

I am one of those who believe that the United States should accept a mandate for Constantinople and the sev-
eral provinces in Asia Minor which constitute what is left of the Ottoman Empire.I am aware that this proposition is not popular with the American people. But it seems to me to be a matter in which we do not have much choice. Nations, like individuals, are constantly subject to forces which are stronger than their
wills. The responsibilities to which individuals fall heir, are frequently not of their own choosing. The great European conflicts in August, 1914, seemed to be a matter that did not immediately concern us. In two years we learned that it was very much our affair. The impelling forces of history drew us in, and led us to play a decisive part. It we could not keep out of this struggle, it is illogical to suppose that we can avoid its consequences.

One of the most serious of these consequences and the one that perhaps most threatens the peace of the world is a chaotic Turkey. Unless the United States accepts a Turkish mandate the world will again lose the opportunity of solving the problem that has endangered civilization for 500 years.

The United States has invested almost $40,000,000,000 in a war against militarism and for the establishment of right. We must invest three or four billions more in an attempt to place on a permanent foundation the nations to whose rescue we came. An essential part of this program is the expulsion of the Turk from Europe and the establishment as going concerns of the nations which have been so long subject to his tyranny. Unless we succeed in doing this we can look for another Balkan war in a brief period perhaps five years.

Another Balkan war will mean another European war, another world war. It is for the United States to decide whether such a calamity shall visit the world at an early date. If we assume the mandate for Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire probably we can prevent it; if, as so many Americans insist, we reject this duty, we shall become responsible for another world conflagration.

Perhaps the most ominous phase of world politics today is that new voices are interceding in behalf of the Sultan and his distracted domain. The Government at Constantinople is making one last despairing attempt to save the bedraggled remnant of its empire. It has reorganized its Cabinet, putting to the fore men who are expected to impress Europe favorably; but it is not punishing the leaders who sold out to Germany and murdered not far from a million of its Christian subjects. The new Sultan has given interviews to the press, expressing his horror at the Armenian massacres, and promising that nothing like them shall ever occur again. More ominous than these outgivings is the fact that certain spokesmen in behalf of the Turk are making themselves heard in the allied countries. Again it is being said that what Turkey needs is not obliteration as a State, but reform.

Probably the financial interests which look upon Turkey as a field for concessions are largely responsible for this talk; the imperialistic tendencies of certain European countries are blamable to a certain extent, for, strange as it may seem, there are still many people in England, France, and Italy who urge that the
Turks, bad as his instincts may be, is better than the Oriental peoples whom he holds in subjection.

If we listen to these arguments, and to the fair promises of the Turkish Government, we shall put ourselves into the position of a society which fails to protect itself against the habitual criminal. Every civilized society nowadays sees to it that constant offenders against decency and law are put where they can do no harm. Yet the Turk is the habitual criminal of history, the constant offender against the peace and dignity of the world, and if we permit him to remain in Europe, and to retain an uncontrolled sovereignty, it is easy to foresee the time when a regenerated Russia will again be dependent on him for a commercial outlet, so that the dangerous situation of the world-order will be duplicated and perpetuated. We cannot hope sanely for peace unless America establishes at Constantinople a centre from which democratic principles shall radiate and illuminate that dark region of the world.

If we look at the Near Eastern situation we perceive that Italy and Greece are reaching out to such distances for territory and power that both, if their ambitions are gratified, will find themselves not only unable to govern the new lands they have acquired, but will be greatly weakened at home through expenditures in the maintenance of troops and Governments in their colonies. The danger is not only that the Balkans will
be more Balkanized than ever, but that Russia, too, will be Balkanized. The only safety lies in setting up a beneficent influence through a strong Government in Constantinople, which would counteract the intrigues and contentions of embittered rivals.

A brief survey of the history of Turkey in Europe will suffice to make clear the danger of accepting in this late day any promises of reform from that quarter. I have always thought that the final word on Turkey was spoken by an American friend of mine who had spent a large part of his life in the East, and who on a visit to Berlin, was asked by Herr von Gwinner, the President of the Deutsche Bank, to spend an evening with
him to discuss the future of the Sultan’s empire. When my friend came to keep this appointment he began this way: “You have set aside this whole evening to discuss the Ottoman Empire. We do not need all that time. I can tell you the whole story in just four words:Turkey is not reformable!”

“You have summed up the whole situation perfectly,” replied von Gwinner.

The reason why this conclusion was was so accurate was that it was based, not upon theory, but upon experiment. The history of Turkey for nearly a hundred years has simply amounted to an attempt to reform her. Every attempt has ignominiously failed. Up to fifteen years ago Great Britain’s policy in the Near East had as its controlling principle the necessity of maintaining the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The folly of this policy and the miseries which it has brought to Europe are so apparent that I propose to discuss the matter in some detail, particularly as it is only by studying this attitude of the past that we can approach the solution of the Turkish problem of the present.

From 1853 to 1856 Great Britain and France fought a terrible, devastating war, the one purpose of which was to maintan the independence of Turkey. At this time the British public had before them the Turkish problem in almost the same form as that which it manifests today. As now, the issue turned upon whether they should regard this question from the standpoint of civilization and decency, or from the standpoint of national advantage and political expediency.

The character of the Turk was the same in 1853 that it is now; he was just as incapable politically then as he is today; his attitude toward the Christian populations whom the accident of history had placed in his power was identically the same as it is now. These populations were merely “filthy infidels,” hated by Allah, having not rights to their own lives or property, who would be permitted to live only as slaves of the mighty Mussulman, and who could be tortured and murdered at will. All European statesmen knew in 1852 that the ultimate disappearance of the Ottoman Empire was inevitable; all understood that it was only the support of certain European powers that permitted it to exist, even temporarily.

It was about this time that Czar Nicholas I. applied to Turkey the name, “sickman of the East,” which has ever since been accepted as an accurate description of its political and social status. The point which I wish to make here is that as it was then. The Turk had long since learned the great resource of Ottoman
statesmanship—the adroit balancing of one European power against another as the one security of his own existence.

Yet, there was then a school of statesmanship, headed by Palmerston, which declare that the preservation of this decrepit power was the indispensable point in British foreign policy. These men were as realistic in their policies as Bismarck herself. Outwardly they expressed their faith in the Turk; they publicly pictured him as a charming and chivalrous gentleman; they declared that the stories of his brutality were fabrications; and they asserted that once given an opportunity, the Turkish Empire would regain its splendor and become a headquarters of intelligence and toleration. Lord Palmerston simply outdid himself in his adulation of the Turk. He publicly denounced the Christian populations of Turkey; the stories of their
sufferings he declared to be the most absurd nonsense; he warned the British public against being led astray by cheap sentimentality in dealing with the Turkish problem.

To what extent Palmerston and his associates believed their own statements is not clear; they were trained in a school of statesmanship which taught that it was well to believe what it was convenient to believe. The fact was, of course, that the British public was under no particular hallucinations about the Turk. But its mind was filled with a great obsession and a great fear. The thing that paralyzed its moral sense was the steady progress of Russia.

This power, starting as a landlocked nation, had gradually pushed her way to the Black Sea. There was something in her steady progress southward that seemed almost as inevitable as fate. That Russia was determined to obtain Constantinople and become heir to the Sultan’s empire was the conviction that obsessed the British mind. Once this happened, the Palmerston school declared, the British Empire would come speedily
to an end. It is almost impossible for us of this generation to conceive the extent to which this fear of Russia laid hold of the British mind. It dogged all the thoughts of British statesmen and British publicists. There appeared to be only one way of checking Russia and protecting the British fireside—that was to preserve the Turkish Empire. England believed that, as long as the Sultan ruled at Constantinople, the Russian could never occupy that capital and from it menace the British Empire.

Thus British enthusiasm for Turkey was merely an expression of hatred and fear of Russia. It was this that led British statesmen to disregard the humane principles involved and adopt the course that apparently promoted the national advantage. The English situation of 1853 presented in particularly acute form that question which has always troubled statesmen: Is there any such thing as principle in the conduct of a
nation, or is a country justified always in adopting the course that best promotes its interests or which seems to do so? As applied to Turkey it was this: Was it Great Britain’s duty to protect the Christians against the murderous attacks of the Mohammedans, or should she shut her eyes to their sufferings so long as this course proved profitable politically?

I should be doing an injustice to England did I not point out that the British public has always been divided on this issue. One side has always insisted on regarding the Turkish problem as a mater simply of expediency, while another has insisted on solving it on the ground of justice and right. The part of hu-manity existed in the days of the Crimean war. Their leaders were Richard Cobden and John Bright—men who
formed the vanguard in that group of British statesmen who insisted on regarding public questions from other than materialistic standpoints.

Cobden and Bright saw in the Ottoman question, as it presented itself in 1853, not chiefly a problem in the balance of power, but one that affected the lives of millions of human beings. It was not the threatened aggression of Russia that disturbed them; their eyes were fixed rather on the Christian populations that were being daily tortured under the Turkish rule. They demanded a solution of the Eastern question in the
way that would best promote the welfare of the Armenians, Greeks, Syrians, and Jews, whom the Sultan had maltreated for centuries. They cared little for the future of Constantinople; they cared much for the future of these persecuted peoples. They therefore took what was, I am sorry to say, the unpopular side in that day. They opposed the mad determination of the British public to go to war for the sake of maintaining the Turkish Empire.

The greatest speech John Bright ever made was against the Crimean war. “That terrible oppression, that multitudinous crime which we call the Ottoman Empire,” was his description of the country which Palmerston so greatly admired. Richard Cobden had studied conditions at first, hand and had reached a conclusion identically the same as that of my friend whom I have already quoted —that is, that Turkey was not reform-able. He ridiculed the fear that everywhere prevailed against Russia, denied that Russia’s prosperity as a nation necessarily endangered Great Britain, declared that the Turkish Empire could not be maintained, and that, even though it could be, it was not worth preserving.

“You must address yourselves,” said Cobden, “as men of sense and men or energy to the question— What are you to do with the Christian population? For Mohammedanism cannot be maintained, and I should be sorry to see this country fighting for the maintenance of Mohanmedanism. * * * You may keep Turkey on the map of Europe, you may call the country by the name of Turkey if you like, but do not think that you can keep up the Mohammedan rule in the country.”

These were about the mightiest voices in England at that time, but even Cobden and Bright were wildly abused for maintaining that the Eastern question was primarily a problem in ethics. In order to preserve this hideous anachronism England fought a bloody and disastrous war. I presume most Englishmen today regard the Crimean war as about the most wicked and futile in their national existence. When the whole thing was over, a witty Frenchman summed up the performance by saying: “If we read the treaty of peace, there are no visible signs to show who were the conquerors and who the vanquished.” There was only one power which could view the results with much satisfaction; that was Turkey. The Treaty of Paris specifically guaranteed her independence and integrity. It shut the Black Sea to naval vessels, thus protecting Turkey from attack by
Russia. Best of all, it left the Sultan’s Christian subjects absolutely in his power.

The Sultan did, indeed promise reforms—but he merely promised them. Despite experience to the contrary, the
British and French diplomats blandly accepted this promise as equivalent to performance. It is painful to look back to this year 1856; to realize that France and England, having defeated Russia, had a free hand to solve the Ottoman problem, and that they refrained from doing so. That absurd prepossession that this Oriental empire must be preserved in Europe simply as a buffer State against the progress of Russia entirely
controlled the minds of British statesmen—and millions of Christian peoples were left to their fate.

What that fate was we all know. The Sultan’s promises to reform, never made in good faith, were immediately disregarded. Pillage, massacre, and list continued to the chief instruments used by the Sublime Porte in governing his subject peoples. Again the Sultan maintained his throne by playing off one European power against another. The “settlement” of the Eastern problem which had been provided by the Crimean war last until 1876.

These twenty years were not quiet ones in the Ottoman dominions; they were a time of constant misery and torture for the abandoned Christian populations. Great Britain and France learned precisely what the “integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire” meant in 1876, when stories of the Bulgarian massacres again reached Europe. Once more Europe faced this everlasting question of the Turk in precisely the same form as in 1856. Again the British people had to decide between expediency and principle in deciding the future of Turkey. Again the British public divided into two groups. Palmerston was dead, but his animosity to Russia and his fondness for the Turk had become the inheritance of Disraeli. With this statesman, as with his predecessor, Turkey was a nation that must be preserved, whatever might be the lot of her suffering Christians. The other part, that played by Cobden and Bright in 1856, was now played by Gladstone.

“The greatest triumph of our time,” said Gladstone in 1870, “will be the enthronement of the idea of public right as the governing idea of European politics.” And Gladstone now proposed to apply this lofty principle to this new Turkish crisis. Many of us remember the attitude of the Disraeli Government in those days. We are still proud of the part played by two Americans, McGahan, a newspaper correspondent, and Schuyler, the American Consul at Constantinople, in bringing the real facts to the attention of the civilized world.

Until these men published the results of their investigations the Disraeli Government branded all the reports of Bulgarian atrocities as lies. “Coffee house babble” was the term applied by Disraeli to these reports, while Lord Salisbury, in a public address, lauded the personal character of Sultan. But these two Americans showed that the Bulgarian reports were not idle gossip. They furnished Gladstone his material for his famous Bulgarian pamphlet, in which he propounded the only solution of the Turkish problem that should satisfy the conscience of the British people. His words, uttered in 1876, are just as timely now as they were then.

“Let the Turks now carry away their abuses in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying away themselves.
Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Bimbashis and their Yugbashis, their Kaimakans and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned.”

Gladstone’s denunciation stirred the British conscience to its depths. The finer side of the British character manifested itself; the public conscience had made great advances since 1856, and the masses of the British people began to see the Ottoman problem in its true light. Consequently, when Russia intervened in
behalf of the Bulgarians and other persecuted peoples, England did not commit the fearful mistake of 1853—she did not go to war to prevent the intervention. British public opinion at first applauded the Russian armies; when, however, the Czar’s forces approached Constantinople, the old dread of Crimean days seized the
British public once more. Again Englishmen forgot the miseries of the Christians and began to see the spectre [sic] of Russia seated at Constantinople. Again Great Britain began to prepare for war; the British fleet passed the Dardanelles and anchored off Constantinople. England again declared that the safety of her empire demanded the preservation of Turkey, and gave Russia the option of war or a congress at which the treaty she had made with Turkey should be revised.

Russia accepted the latter alternative, and the Congress of Berlin was the result. This Congress could have freed all the subject peoples and solved the Eastern question, but again civilized Europe threw away the opportunity. At this Congress England, in the person of Disraeli, became the Sultan’s advocate, and again the Sultan came out victorious. Certain territories he lost, it is true, but Constantinople was left in his
hands and a great area of the Balkans and a larger part of Asia Minor. As for the Armenians, the Syrians, the Greeks, and the Macedonians, the world once more accepted from Turkey promises of reform. Thus Gladstone and the most enlightened opinion in England lost their battle, and British authority again became the instrument for preserving that “terrible oppression, that multitudinous crime which we call the Ottoman

Had it not been for the Congress of Berlin it is possible that we should never have had the world war. The
treaty let Austria into Bosnia and Herzegovina and so laid the basis for the ultimatum of July 22, 1914. It failed to settle the fate of Macedonia, and so made inevitable the Balkans wars. By leaving Turkey an independent sovereignty, with its capital on the Bosporus, it made possible the intrigues of Germany for a great Orient empire. No wonder Gladstone denounced it as an “insane covenant” and “the most deplorable chapter in our foreign policy since the peace of 1815.”

“The plenipotentiaries,” he said, “have spoken in the terms of Metternich rather than those of Canning. * * * It was their part to take the side of liberty— as a matter of fact, they took the side of servitude.”

The greatest sufferers, as always, were the Christian populations. The Sultan treated his promises of 1878 precisely as he had treated those of 1856. It was after the treaty, indeed, that Abdul Hamid adopted his systematic plan of solving the Armenian problem by massacring all the Armenians. The condition of the subject peoples became worse as years went on, until finally, in 1915, we had the most terrible persecutions in history.

The Russian terror, if it ever was a terror, has disappeared. England no longer fears a Russia stationed at Constantinople, and threatening her Indian Empire. The once mighty giant now lies a hopelessly crippled invalid, utterly incapable of aggressive action against any nation. What her fate will be no one knows. What is certain, however, is that the old Czaristic empire, constantly bent on military aggression, has disappeared forever. When we look upon Russia today and then think of the terror which she inspired in the hearts of the British statesmen forty and sixty-two years ago the contrast is almost pitiful and grotesque. The nation that succeeded Russia as an ambitious heir to the Sultan’s dominions, Germany, is now almost as powerless.

Moreover, the British conscience has changed since the days of the Crimean and Russo-Turkish wars. The old-time attitude, which insisted on regarding these problems from the standpoint of fancied national interest, is every day giving place to a more humanitarian policy. Glandstone’s idea of “public right as the governing idea of European politics” is more and more gaining the upper hand. The ideals in foreign policy represented by Cobden and Bright are the ideals that now control British public opinion. There are still plenty of re-actionaries in England and Europe that might like to settle the Ottoman problem in the old discredited way, but they do not govern British public life at the present crisis. The England that will deal with the Ottoman Empire in 1919 is the England of Lloyd George, not the England of Palmerston and Disraeli.

For the first time, therefore, the world approaches the problem of the Ottoman Empire, the greatest blight of modern civilization, with an absolutely free hand. The decision will inform us, more eloquently than any other detail in the settlement, precisely what forces have won in this war. We shall learn from it whether we have really entered upon a new epoch; whether, as we hope, mediaeval history has ended and modern history
has begun.

If Constantinople is left to the Turk, if the Greeks, the Syrians, the Armenians, the Arabs and the Jews are not freed from the most revolting tyranny that history has ever known, we shall understand that the sacrifices of the last four years have been in vain, and that the much-discussed new ideas in the government of the world are the merest cannot. Thus the United States has an immediate interest in the solution of this problem. The hints reaching this country that another effort may be made to prop up the Turk are not pleasing to us. We did not enter this war to set up new balances of power, to promote the interest of the concessionaires, to make the new partitions of territory, to satisfy the imperialistic ambitions of contending European powers, but to lend our support to that new international conscience that seeks to re-
organize the world on the basis of justice and popular rights. The settlement of the Eastern question will teach us to what extent our efforts have succeeded.

If this mistake of propping up the Sultan’s empire is not to be made again, either that empire must be divided among the great powers—a solution which is not to be considered for reasons which it is hardly necessary to explain—or one of these great powers must undertake its administration as a mandatary [sic]. The great powers in question are the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. Of these only the first two are capable of assuming this duty. Lord Curson has told me personally that for political and economic reasons Great Britain cannot assume the Ottoman mandate. Lloyd George has said essentially the same thing. And Stephane Lauzanne, who speaks in a semi-official capacity for France, said, in an interview Nov. 1 with a correspondent of the times:

“In the offer of a mandate to her America should see more than the selfish desire of Europe to involve her in European affairs. It is true she fears to be the centre of intrigues and difficulties. She fears distant complications. However, the question is nobler and higher than that. America is an admirable reservoir of energy. She holds the secret of that which is best in our modern life—to build largely and to build quickly. She has youth; she has power; she has wealth; she has that which she calls efficiency. We in Europe are old,
poor, enfeebled, divided. It would be prodigiously interesting if America, after she has given us to her power, of her money and her material, should give us also an example.

“And what an example it would be if America were to accept the mandate for Constantinople! Here is a city which is one of the marvels of Europe and of the world, which is the jewel of the Orient, and which after twenty centuries of European civilization remains the home of wickedness and corruption. Every one disputes possession of its hills and harbors, and no one tries to make of it a great modern city which, rid of
international intrigues and rid of politics, would be the shining pole of Europe. Only America can transform Constantinople; only America can establish herself there without suspicion of bad faith and without jealousy; only America can civilize the capital of Islam.

“To do that America has no need of regiments of soldiers or of cannon. She has need only of her workers and her constructors. A Hoover or a Davison would be enough. And America is full of Hoovers and Davisons.”

I recognize the tremendous problems which confront us in our own country. Those problems must and will be solved. But the day is past when the individual citizen can permit absorption in his personal affairs to exclude the consideration of the community’s or the nation’s wellbeing. A new social conscience has maintained itself. And it is equally true that the United States, as a member of the League of Nations, must take an active and altruistic interest in world affairs, however pressing our own problems may seem. The European situation, indeed, is really a part of them. Our associates in the war cannot drift into bankruptcy and despair without involving the United States in the disaster. The losses we would suffer in money would be the least distressing, should the world fall into the chaos which is threatening. If we cannot solve our own problems and at the same time help Europe solve hers we must be impotent indeed.

So much, then, for the general principles involved; what are the practical details of such a mandate? Last May William Buckler, Professor Philip M. Brown, and myself joined a memorandum to President Wilson, outlining briefly a proposed system of government for the Ottoman dominions. This so completely embodies my ideas that I reprint it here, with two slight omissions:

“The government of Asia Minor should be dealt with under three different mandates, (1) for Constantinople
and its zone, (2) for Turkish Anatolia, (3) for Armenia. The reason for not uniting these three areas under a single mandate is that the methods of government required in each area are different. In order, however, to facilitate the political and economic development of the whole country, these three areas should be placed under one and the same mandatory power, with a single Governor in charge of the whole, to unify the separate administrations of the three States.

“Honest and efficient government in the Constantinople zone and in Armenia will not solve the problems of Asia Minor unless the same kind of government is also provided for the much larger area lying between Constantinople and Armenia, i.e., Turkish Anatolia. Constantinople and Armenia and mere fringes; the heart of the problem lies in Anatolia, of which the population is 75 per cent. Moslem.

“The main rules to be followed in dealing with this central district are: “1. That is should not be divided up among Greeks, French, Italians, &c. “2. That the Sultan should, under proper mandatory control, retain religious and political sovereignty over the Turkish people in Anatolia, having his residence at Brusa or Konia, both of which are ancient historic seats of the Sultanate. “3. That no part of Anatolia should be
placed under Greeks, even in the form of a mandate. The Greeks are entitled by their numbers to a small area surrounding Smyrna. Under no circumstances should Greece have a mandate over territory mainly inhabited by Turks.

“The above solution of the problem of Asia Minor means refusal to recognize secret deals such as the Pact of London and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and especially the Italian claims to a large territory near Adalia. If Greeks and Italians, with their long-standing antagonism, are introduced into Asia Minor, the peace will constantly be disturbed by their rivalry and intrigues. Italy has no claim to any part of Anatolia, whether
on the basis of population, of commercial interests, or of historic tradition.

“No solution of the Asia Minor problem which ignores the fact that its population is 75 per cent. Turkish can be considered satisfactory or durable. The only two countries having any prospect of successfully holding a mandate over Anatolia are Great Britain and the United States.

“The large missionary and educational interests of the United States in Anatolia must be adequately protected, and it is illusory to imagine that this can be done if Anatolia is subjected to Greek, French, or Italian sovereignty.

“Only a comprehensive, self-contained scheme such as that above outlined can overcome the strong prejudices of the American people against accepting any mandate to cure the ills of Turkey and to deliver her peasantry from their present ignorance and impoverishment requires a thorough reconstruction of Turkish institutions, judicial, educational, economic, financial, and military.

“This may appeal to the United States as an opportunity to set a high standard, by showing that it is the duty of a great power, in ruling such oppressed peoples, to lead them toward self-respecting independence as their ultimate goal.”

The Armenians are wholly unprepared to govern themselves or to protect themselves against their neighbors. Mere supervision will not be adequate. What the Armenian State requires is a kind of receivership, and we should take it over to trust, to manage it until it is time to turn it over when it is governmentally solvent and on a going basis. Anatolia should be under a separate management and have its own Parliament; its Executive should be a Deputry Governor under a Governor General at Constantinople. The three Governments should have a common coinage, similar tariff requirement, and unified railroad systems; and in other respects should be federated somewhat as States in this country are.

The commercial importance of such an arrangement is enormous, for Constantinople must continue as Russia’s chief outlet to the world, and it is the gateway to the East. The commercial policy would, or course, be an open-door policy. All nations would have equality of opporturniy in trade and would be free in regard to colonization. As a matter of fact, the commercial situation is of little importance to us. Prior to the war our foreign trade amounted to only about 6 per cent. of our total trade; and although it increased during the war to about 11 per cent., it is likely to recede soon to the neighborhood of 8 per cent. It will consist largely of raw materials, such as wheat, cotton, copper, and coal, which other nations must get from us, whether or no. Foreign trade is a mere incident; our prosperity is not what we are fighting for.

It need not require the extension of large credits from us to put these nations on a sound footing. They could be financed by bond issues issued in each case against the resources of the territories involved. If the United States held the mandates, there would be no difficulty, I apprehend, in floating such issues. And as for the policing necessary, that need be very small, provided a man of strong will and quick decision,
fertile in resources and of unshakable determination, were assigned to the Governorship General at Constantinople. The opportunity would be a great one for an American completely imbued with our institutions. The succession of able pro-Consuls whom we have sent to the Philippines shows that we shall not lack such men. We shall surrender our mandates over these three territories when we have finished our work. We shall not necessarily leave them all at the same time; we shall turn each one over to its people
when the public opinion of the world, expressed in the League of Nations, has decided that it is capable of directing its own affairs. It might be necessary for us to remain in Constantinople longer than elsewhere, and there is reason to suppose that Constantinople will become the Washington of the Balkans and perhaps of Asia Minor, the central governing power of the Balkan confederation. But if left without the guidance and help of outside intelligence and capital, those peoples will necessarily continue to retrograde. They must have security of property if they are to have an incentive to labor. Unless they have that, the blight of Souteastern Europe will remain, and the Turks, originally a marauding band of conquerors, who have held a precarious and undeserved footing for more than 500 years on European soil, will continue to menace its peace and safety. If ever there was a chance to put them out, we have that chance now. The United States is the only Government which can undertake the purification of the Balkans without incurring ill-will and jealousy. We need not indulge in over polite phrases. This is the only nation which can accept these mandates and maintain international good feeling. It is absosutely our fault if the Turk remains in Europe.

The difficulties inherent in this situation can be cured only at the source. The League of Nations, when it comes into being, must not operate exclusively through a central agency at Geneva, because it cannot learn in that way the real difficulties and the wants of dependent peoples. That can be done only in the directest [sic] way, through representatives on the spot. The people, moreover, want to be heard. They are wonderfully relieved after they have had their say. That fact has its touch of pathos, perhaps to some a touch of the ridiculous; bit of a factor of the human equasion [sic] which we cannot afford to ignore. And if we supply
American tribunals, disinterested and just, before which these peoples can state their grievances and their aspirations, we will have taken a long step toward their pacification and stabilization.


Typed word for word. (SKK)

(For educational, archival and “fair use” purposes only.)

Please see:

· The New York Times, Editorial -“The Turkish Mandate” – November 9, 1919

· The New York Times – Front Page – By Henry Morgenthau, Ex-Ambassador to Turkey –

“Turk’s Eyes on Europe, Says our Ex-Ambassador” – November 12, 1922 –