860j.01/13: Telegram

The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Acting Secretary of State

2961. Department’s 2461 June 28th. Following for Charles E. Hughes committee:

“Your cable June 22nd referred by President to this Commission for reply. Active relief work on a large scale is now in progress in the most distressed areas of Armenia but will require much enlarged support in view of the expiration of congressional appropriations and falling off of public charity. Competent observers report that immediate training and equipment of adequate Armenian forces is impracticable and that repatriation of refugees is feasible only under protection of British or American troops. British authorities inform us that they cannot spare troops for this purpose. The problem cannot be handled without authority and adequate appropriation by Congress. We requested Hoover and Morgenthau who have organization[s] in [this] territory composed of economic, military and transportation experts, to prepare memorandum on the points raised by you. Memorandum begins:

‘Information herewith is broad summary of the views of economic, military, political, and relief missions and agencies of the various Allied Governments with whom we are associated and to some extent based on our own experience. First it appears there are now approximately 2,000,000 surviving Armenians in Russia and Turkey of whom about 750,000 [are] refugees from their homes in Turkish Armenia and these refugees are largely centered in Russian Armenia. Therefore the center of greatest present suffering lies in Russian Armenia in the area of the de facto Armenian Republic and this suffering is largely due to the flooding of the native Armenians with refugees from Turkey who have not only been driven out but whose lands have now been settled by Turks or villages destroyed. Turkish forces and bandits of considerable strength still occupy the old Armenian districts and the frontier between Turkish and Russian Armenia. Starvation has been greatly ameliorated by the United States Food Administration, American Commission for the Relief in the Near East and British military authorities in the Caucasus. The limiting factor has been the quantity of foodstuffs that could be gotten over the Caucasus railway which mainly traverses the new Georgian Republic whose people are antagonistic to the Armenians. Except for the small British occupying force it would have been practically hopeless to secure any railway service at all. The funds and supplies available from all sources for this relief will be exhausted by the end of September and the problem is entirely beyond the reach of private charity so that government support will be necessary. Aside from sheer support to refugees it is necessary to repatriate them, to reestablish their ability to support themselves, and incident [al]ly to dispossess and repatriate the Turkish intruders. Until this is done the entire displaced population must depend on charity. All military advises [advisers?] agree that the Armenian population itself even if furnished arms and supplies will be unable to overcome Turkish opposition and surrounding pressure from Georgians et cetera. The area proposed to be assigned to the new state of Armenia in order to include all Armenian settlements will contain a population of approximately 5,000,000 so that the large majority will consist of Turks, Kurds and other non-Christian population. The state as outlined will in large part be a mountainous area and expensive for railway transportation and traffic in general with limited resources beyond primitive agriculture. It is agreed that an Armenian gendarmerie could be built up after some years with sufficient sprinkling of foreign instructors but it is not believed that it could be built [Page 826] up to sufficient strength to dominate the major and antagonistic population that will necessarily be included in the Armenian state and it is generally considered that it will not only require an initial force of at least 60,000 foreign troops to even secure repatriation but to [sic] a continued force of at least one half this number in occupation over a number of years to maintain order and support any government that may be created. The economic resources of the new state appear to us incapable of supporting such a force for some years and the mandatory that assumes the new state of Armenia must bear these charges for that period. To secure the establishment and protection and undertake the economic development of the state until it becomes self supporting such mandatory must provide not less than $300,000,000. This would have to be looked upon largely as a sheer effort to ease humanity. Whoever undertakes it will be exposed to constant political difficulties with the surrounding states on account of the mixed populations and the racial antagonistics [antagonisms] that go back over centuries. In [any] event exhaustive investigation should be undertaken by impartial experts on the ground as to the problems involved and measures to be taken before more than support to refugees is undertaken. Hoover, Morgenthau.’

Mr. Hoover wishes to add on his sole responsibility that he considers that this is [sic] the only practicable method by which a government in this region could be made economically self supporting would be to embrace in some [same] mandate the area of Mesopotamia where there are very large possibilities of economic developments, where there would be an outlet for the commercial abilities of the Armenians, and with such an enlarged area it could be hoped in a few years to build up a state self supporting although the intervention of some dominant foreign race must be continued until the entire population could be educated to a different basis of moral relations and that consequently whatever state is assigned the mandate for Mesopotamia should at the same time take up the burden of Armenia.” For American Mission, Robert Lansing, Henry White, Tasker H. Bliss.

American Mission