Peace Commission files: 184.02102/5
The Chief of the Military Mission to Armenia (Harbord) to the Secretary of State24
The undersigned submits herewith the Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia. The Mission, organized under authority of the President, consisted of:
- Major General James G. Harbord, U.S. Army,
- Brigadier General Frank R. McCoy, U.S. Army,
- Brigadier General George Van Horn Moseley, U.S. Army,
- Colonel Henry Beeuwkes, Medical Corps, U.S. Army,
- Lieutenant Colonel John Price Jackson, U.S. Eng’rs.,
- Lieutenant Colonel Jasper Y. Brinton, Judge Advocate, U.S. Army,
- Lieutenant Colonel Edward Bowditch, Jr., Infantry, U.S. Army,
- Commander W. W. Bertholf, U.S. Navy,
- Major Lawrence Martin, General Staff, U.S. Army,
- Major Harold Clark, Infantry, U.S. Army,
- Captain Stanley K. Hornbeck, Ordnance Dept., U.S. Army, (Chief of Far Eastern Division, American Commission to Negotiate Peace.)
- Mr. William B. Poland, Chief of the American Relief Commission for Belgium and Northern France.
- Prof. W. W. Cumberland, Economic Adviser to the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
- Mr. Eliot Grinnell Mears, Trade Commissioner, Department of Commerce;
with other officers, clerks, interpreters, etc., etc.
The instructions to the Mission were “to proceed without delay on a government vessel to Constantinople, Batum and such other places in Armenia, Russian Transcaucasia and Syria, as will enable you to carry out instructions already discussed with you. It is desired that you investigate and report on political, military, geographical, administrative, economic and other considerations involved in possible American interests and responsibilities in that region.”[Page 842]
The Mission proceeded by ship to Constantinople. From there it travelled by the Bagdad Railway to Adana near the northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea; the scene of the massacres of 1909, and the principal city of the rich province of Cilicia, where two days were spent visiting Tarsus, and the ports of Ayas and Mersina; thence continued by rail via Aleppo to Mardin; from there by motor car to Diarbekir, Kharput, Malatia, Sivas, Erzinjan, Erzerum, Kars, Erivan and Tiflis; thence by rail to Baku and Batum. Erivan, Tiflis and Baku are the capitals, respectively, of the republics of Armenia, Georgia, and Azarbaijan, and Batum is the seat of the British military government of the Georgian district of that name. Members of the Mission also travelled by carriage from Ula-Kishla to Sivas; from Sivas to Samsun; visiting Marsovan where there is much apprehension among the Armenian population at this time; from Trebi-zond to Erzerum; by horseback from Khorasan to Bayazid; from Erivan to Nakhichevan, near the Persian border. The Armenian Catholicos, His Holiness Kevork V, was visited at Etchmiadzin the historic seat of the Armenian Church, with its ancient cathedral dated from 301 A.D. The mission traversed Asia Minor for its entire length and the Transcaucasus from north to south and east to west. All of the vilayets of Turkish Armenia were visited except Van and Bitlis which were inaccessible in the time available, but which have been well covered by Captain Niles, an army officer who inspected them on horseback in August, and whose report corroborates our observations in the neighboring regions; as well as both provinces of the Armenian Republic, and the Republics of Azarbaijan and Georgia. The Turkish frontier was paralleled from the Black Sea to Persia. (See Exhibit “A”, attached, map showing routes covered.25) On the return voyage from Batum the Mission visited Samsun, the port of one of the world’s great tobacco regions, and Trebizond, the latter a principal port on the south shore of the Black Sea, terminus of the ancient caravan route to Persia, of historic interest as the point where the Greek Ten Thousand reached the sea under Xenophon over twenty three hundred years ago. The Mission spent thirty days in Asia Minor and Transcaucasia and interviewed at length representatives of every government exercising sovereignty in that region, as well as individual Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Tartars, Georgians, Russians, Persians, Jews, Arabs, British and French, including Americans for some time domiciled in the country. It also gave consideration to the views of the various educational, religious and charitable organizations supported by America. In addition to this personal contact the Mission [Page 843] before leaving Paris was in frequent conference with the various delegations to the Peace Conference from the regions visited. It has had before it numerous reports of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, and Food Administration, and that of the Mission of Mr. Benjamin B. Moore sent by the Peace Conference to Transcaucasia, as well as the very complete library on the region, its geography, history, and governments, loaned by the Librarian of Congress, the American Mission to Negotiate Peace and others. It has listened to the personal experiences of many witnesses to the atrocities of 1915, and benefited by the views of many persons whose knowledge of the various peoples in the regions visited is that obtained by years spent among them.
The interest, the horror and sympathy of the civilized world are so centered on Armenia; and the purpose and work of this Mission so focus on that blood-soaked region and its tragic remnant of a Christian population that this report should seem to fall naturally under the following heads:
- History and present situation of the Armenian people.
- The political situation and suggestions for readjustment.
- The conditions and problems involved in a mandatory.
- The considerations for and against the undertaking of a mandate.
The Report is accordingly so presented:
The History and Present Situation of Armenian People
The Armenians were known to history under that name in the 5th Century B.C., and since that period have lived in the region where their misfortunes find them today. Their country is the great rough tableland, from 3,000 to 8,000 feet above the level of the sea, of which Mount Ararat is the dominant peak. In ancient times it touched the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Seas. In later days it has dwindled to about 140,000 square miles, an area about as large as Montana, without political identity, but existing in 1914 in two parts, the eastern belonging to Russia which consisted of Kars and Erivan, and some portions of the present territory of Azarbaijan; the remainder being Turkish Armenia, comprised in the vilayets of Van, Bitlis, Erzerum, Diarbekir, Kharput, and Cilicia, though Armenians were scattered more or less throughout the whole of Transcaucasia and Asia Minor. Armenia was an organized nation a thousand years before there was one in Europe except Greece and Rome. For over twelve of the twenty-five centuries of its history Armenia enjoyed independence within borders that shifted with the events of the times. Its last King, Leon VI, an exile from his own land, spent his last years in the effort to bring about an understanding [Page 844] between France and England then in the struggle of the Hundred Years War, and actually presided at a Peace Conference near Boulogne in 1386, which brought about the understanding which led to the end of that war. Armenia was evangelized by Apostles fresh from the memory of our Lord, as early as 33 A.D., and as a nation adopted Christianity and founded a National Church in 301 A.D., which has outridden the storms of the centuries and is vital today. Armenia was the first nation to officially adopt Christianity, with all that act involved in a pagan world.
The first two centuries following the foundation of the Church were a Golden Age of Armenian literature, witnessing the invention of an Armenian alphabet; the translation of the bible into the vernacular; the thronging of Armenians to the great centers of learning at Athens, Borne and Alexandria; and the development of a flexible literary language, one of the great assets of national life.
By its geographical location on the great highway of invasion from East to West; the ambitions of Persia, the Saracens and the rising tide of Islam, and the Crusades found Armenia the extreme frontier of Christianity in the East. Persians, Parthians, Saracens, Tartars and Turks have exacted more martyrs from the Armenian church in proportion to its numbers than have been sacrificed by any other race. The last Armenian dynasty was overthrown by the Sultan of Egypt seventy-eight years before the fall of Constantinople to Mahomet II in 1453. From that time until today the story of their martyrdom is unbroken. In the Persian, the Roman, the Byzantine, the Armenian found Aryan kinsmen and tyranny was tempered with partial autonomy. Even the Saracen was a high racial type and reciprocal adjustments had been possible. The Turk to whom they now fall prey was a raiding nomad from Central Asia. His mainsprings of action were plunder, murder and enslavement; his methods the scimitar and the bowstring. The Crusades were long ended; Europe busy with her own renaissance contented herself with standing on the defensive against the Moslem, and the Eastern Christian was forgotten. For more than three centuries the Armenian people figure little in the history of the times, though at an earlier period sixteen Byzantine Emperors were of that race, and ruled the Eastern Empire with distinction. Many individuals, and even colonies, however, played a part in distant lands. Europe, India and Persia welcomed them. They were translators, bankers, scholars, artisans, artists, and traders, and even under their tyrannical masters filled posts which called for administrative ability, became ambassadors and ministers and more than once saved a tottering throne. They carried on trades, conducted commerce and designed and constructed palaces. Nevertheless as a race they were forbidden military service, [Page 845] taxed to poverty, their property confiscated at pleasure, and their women forced into the harems of the conqueror. Such slavery leaves some inevitable and unlovable traces upon the character, but in the main the Armenian preserved his religion, his language, and his racial purity, persecution bringing cohesion.
Time, temperament and talent eventually brought most of the industry, finance, commerce and much of the intellectual and administrative work of the Ottoman Empire into Armenian hands.
The progress of events in Europe brought about in the early 19th Century a revival of interest in the forgotten Near East. As early as 1744  the treaty of [Kuchuk] Kainardje had placed Imperial Russia in the role of a protector of the Christians of the Near East, an attitude many times under suspicion by contemporary statesmen, but whatever its motives, the only genuine attempt by any European nation to afford such protection to helpless Armenia. A plebiscite in Russian Armenia, if fairly held, would probably vote a reconstituted Russia into a mandatory for that region.
With Armenian consciousness of their own capacity to trade, to administer, and to govern in the name of others, there came in the last quarter of the 19th Century the opportunity to throw their weight into the scale for the reform of Turkey from within, at a time when the dismemberment of Turkey was balanced in European politics against the possibility of her self-redemption. In 1876 a constitution for Turkey was drawn up by the Armenian Krikor Odian, Secretary to Midhat Pasha the reformer, and was proclaimed and almost immediately revoked by Sultan Abdul Hamid.
The foregoing inadequately sketches the story of the wrongs of Armenia down to our own times. From 1876 it is a story of massacre and of broken and violated guarantees. The Russo-Turkish war ended in 1878 by the Treaty of San Stefano under which Russia was to occupy certain regions until actual reforms had taken place in Turkey. This treaty, through British jealousy of Russia, was torn up the following year and the futile Treaty of Berlin substituted, asking protection but without guarantees. Meantime there had been the Convention of Cyprus by which that island passed to Great Britain and the protection of Turkey was promised for the Armenians in return for an [Great Britain’s] agreement to come to the aid of that country [Turkey] against Russia. A collective note of the powers in 1880 was ignored by Turkey. Then followed the agreement of 1895 which was never carried out, and the restoration of the constitution of 1876, in 1908. A further agreement in 1914 was abrogated at the entrance of Turkey in the war,—and the last of the series is a secret treaty of 191625 beteween Great Britain, France [Page 846] and Russia, the existence and publication of which rests on Bolshevik authority, by which Armenia was to be divided between Russia and France. Meanwhile there have been organized official massacres of the Armenians ordered every few years since Abdul Hamid ascended the throne. In 1895 one hundred thousand perished. At Van in 1908, and at Adana and elsewhere in Cilicia in 1909, over thirty thousand were murdered. The last and greatest of these tragedies was in 1915. Conservative estimates place the number of Armenians in Asiatic Turkey in 1914, over 1,500,000, though some make it higher. Massacres and deportations were organized in the Spring of 1915 under definite system, the soldiers going from town to town. The official reports of the Turkish Government show 1,100,000 as having been deported. Young men were first summoned to the Government building in each village and then marched out and killed. The women, the old men and children were, after a few days, deported to what Talaat Pasha called “Agricultural Colonies”,—from the high, cool, breeze-swept plateau of Armenia to the malarial flats of the Euphrates and the burning sands of Syria and Arabia. The dead from this wholesale attempt on the race are variously estimated from 500,000 to more than a million, the usual figure being about 800,000. Driven on foot under a fierce summer sun, robbed of their clothing and such petty articles as they carried, prodded by bayonet if they lagged; starvation, typhus and dysentery left thousands dead by the trail-side. The ration was a pound of bread every alternate day, which many did not receive, and later a small daily sprinkling of meal on the palm of the outstretched hand was the only food. Many perished from thirst or were killed as they attempted to slake thirst at the crossing of running streams. Numbers were murdered by savage Kurds against whom the Turkish soldiery afforded no protection. Little girls of nine or ten were sold to Kurdish brigands for a few piastres, and women were promiscuously violated. At Sivas an instance was related of a teacher in the Sivas Teachers’ College, a gentle, refined Armenian girl, speaking English, knowing music, attractive by the standards of any land, who was given in enforced marriage to the Beg of a neighboring Kurdish village, a filthy ragged ruffian three times her age, with whom she still has to live, and by whom she has borne a child. In the orphanage there maintained under American Relief auspices, there were one hundred and fifty “brides”, being girls, many of them of tender age, who had been living as wives in Moslem homes, and had been rescued. Of the female refugees among some seventy-five thousand repatriated from Syria and Mesopotamia, we were informed at Aleppo that forty percent are infected with venereal disease from the lives to which they have been forced. The [Page 847] women of this race were free from such diseases before the deportation. Mutilation, violation, torture and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys; and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages. Yet, immunity from it all might have been purchased for any Armenian girl or comely woman by abjuring her religion and turning Moslem. Surely no faith has ever been put to harder test or has been cherished at greater cost.
Even before the war the Armenians were far from being in the majority in the region claimed as Turkish Armenia, excepting in a few places. Today we doubt if they would be in the majority in a single community even when the last survivors of the massacres and deportations have returned to the soil, though the great losses of Turkish population, to some extent, offset the difference brought about by slaughter. We estimate that there are probably 270,000 Armenians today in Turkish Armenia. Some 75,000 have been repatriated from the Syrian and Mesopotamian side, others are slowly returning from other regions, and some from one cause or another remained in the country. There are in the Transcaucasus probably 300,000 refugees from Turkish Armenia, and some thousands more in other lands, for they have drifted to all parts of the Near East. The orphanages seen throughout Turkey and Russian Armenia testify to the loss of life among adults. They are Turkish as well as Armenian, and the Mission has seen thousands of these pathetic little survivors of the unhappy years of the war. Reports from twenty stations in Turkey show 15,000 orphans receiving American aid, and undoubtedly the number demanding care is double this for many were seen cared for under the auspices of the Red Crescent, the organization which in Moslem countries corresponds to our Red Cross. Twenty thousand are being cared for at the expense of the various relief agencies in the Transcaucasus. On the route traveled by the mission fully 50,000 orphans are today receiving government or other organized care. We estimate a total of perhaps half a million refugee Armenians as available to eventually begin life anew in a region about the size of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, to which would be added those, not refugees, who might return from other lands. The condition of the refugees seen in the Transcaucasus is pitiable to the last degree. They subsist on the charity of the American Relief organizations with some help, not great however, from their more prosperous kinsmen domiciled in that region. Generally they wear the rags they have worn for four years. Eighty percent of them suffer from malaria, ten percent from venereal troubles, and practically all, from [Page 848] diseases that flourish on the frontiers of starvation. There are also the diseases that accompany filth; loathsome skin troubles and great numbers of sore eyes, the latter especially among the children. The hospitals are crowded with such cases. The refugees in Russian Armenia have hitherto drifted from place to place but an effort is now being made by the administration of Colonel Haskell to concentrate them in several refugee camps. The winter season will see many deaths, for the winters there are extremely severe, fuel is scarce, and shelter inadequate. Medicines are scarce and very dear. Quinine cost approximately thirty dollars a pound. On the Turkish side of the border where Armenians have returned they are gradually recovering their property, and in some cases have received rent for it, but generally they find things in ruins, and face winter out of touch with the American Relief, and with only such desultory assistance as the Turkish government can afford. Things are little if any better with the peasant Turks in the same region. They are practically serfs equally destitute, and equally defenseless against the winter. No doctors or medicines are to be had. Villages are in ruins, some being destroyed when the Armenians fled or were deported; some during the Russian advance; some on the retreat of the Armenian irregulars and Russians after the fall of the empire. Not over twenty percent of the Turkish peasants who went to war have returned. The absence of men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five is very noticeable. Six hundred thousand Turkish soldiers died of typhus alone, it is stated, and insufficient hospital service, and absolute poverty of supply greatly swelled the death lists.
In the region which witnessed the ebb and flow of the Russian and Turkish armies, the physical condition of the country is very deplorable. No crops have been raised for several years and the land ordinarily cultivated has gone to weeds. Scarcely a village or city exists which is not largely in ruins. The country is practically treeless. Where the desperate character of the warfare with its reprisals of burning and destroying as one side and then the other advanced, has not destroyed the buildings, which are generally of adobe, the wooden beams have been taken for fuel and the houses are ruined. In the territory untouched by war from which Armenians were deported, the ruined villages are undoubtedly due to Turkish deviltry, but where Armenians advanced and retired with the Russians, their retaliatory cruelties unquestionably rivaled the Turks in their inhumanity. The reconstruction of this country will be little short in difficulty of its original reclamation from virgin wilderness in days when the world was young.[Page 849]
Where the Russian went he built fine macadam highways, and even the main Turkish roads generally built during the war, over which our Mission travelled, were passable, and some quite good. All highways are rapidly going to ruin for lack of maintenance. A country once fairly equipped for motor traffic is sliding back to dependence on the camel caravan, the diminutive pack donkey, and the rattly, ramshackly araba wagon. The ox is the principal draught animal. A good highway existed from Erzerum to Trebizond, on the line of the most ancient trade route in the world, that from Persia to the Black Sea, through which, in all ages, the carpets and jewels of Persia have reached the western world. The distance is about one hundred and fifty miles. The freight rate is now between $145 and $150 per ton.
In the portion of Turkey traversed, we heard of brigandage but experienced no inconvenience. Apparently the Turkish government, inefficient and wicked as it sometimes is, can control its people, and does govern. In the region once policed by Russia the relaxation from its iron hand has been great, and life and property are unsafe in many regions. Our Mission was fired upon by Kurds in Russian Armenia and several motor cars struck by bullets, and over half the party were kept prisoner one night by Moslems who claimed to have been driven from their villages by Armenians. In Azarbaijan we were also fired upon. Train wrecks for robbery are frequent on the Transcaucasian railroad, and the [Georgian] government took the precaution to run pilot engines ahead of our train for safety. The highways are unsafe even to the suburbs of the large towns. Practically every man in Georgia and Azarbaijan, outside the cities, carries a rifle. If he desires to stop a traveller on the highway he motions or calls to him, and if unheeded fires at him.
The relief work consists of the allotment made to the Transcaucasus from the unexpended balance of the hundred millions appropriated by Congress for relief in allied countries, and of the funds contributed through the American Committee for Relief in the Near East. All circumstances considered, the Relief Administration in the Transcaucasus seems to have been conducted with more than average energy. It has rescued the refugees there from starvation, and brought the name of America to a height of sympathy and esteem it has never before enjoyed in this region. It extends now throughout the Near East, and is felt by the wild ragged Kurd, the plausible Georgian, the suspicious Azarbaijan, the able Armenian and the grave Turk with equal seriousness. With it or probably because of it there has come wide-spread knowledge of the Fourteen Points submitted by The President,26 and “self determination” has [Page 850] been quoted to the Mission by wild Arabs from Shamar and Basra, by every government in Transcaucasia; by the mountaineers of Daghestan, the dignified and able chiefs of the Turkish Nationalist movement at Sivas and Erzerum, and the nomad Kurds who ten minutes before had fired at our party thinking us to be Armenians. Undoubtedly some charges of corruption on the part of native officials connected with the Relief could be substantiated. Charges of partiality favoring Christian against Moslem in equal distress are not infrequent. Due to inexperience, to difficulties of communication and other causes there has been inefficiency on the part of American officials and employees. Enthusiastic young Americans out of touch with the sources of their funds, confronted with the horrors of famine in a refugee population, drew drafts on the good faith and generosity of their countrymen, procedure not usual in the business world, but drafts that were honored nevertheless. Any criticism of unbusinesslike methods must be accompanied with the statement of work accomplished, which has been very great and very creditable to America and her splendid citizens who have so generously contributed to this cause. Colonel Haskell has reorganized the work in the Transcaucasus and is getting better results. In some way funds must be found and this work must be continued and the people be sustained until they can harvest a crop. If seed is available for planting, a crop should be due in August 1920. Even this prospective amelioration only applies to those repossessed of their lands.
There is much to show that left to themselves the Turk and the Armenian when left without official instigation have hitherto been able to live together in peace. Their existence side by side on the same soil for five centuries unmistakably indicates their interdependence and mutual interest. The aged Vali of Erzerum, a man old in years and in official experience, informed us that in his youth, before massacres began under Abdul Hamid, the Turk and the Armenian lived in peace and confidence. The Turk making the pilgrimage to the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina left his family and property with his Armenian neighbor; similarly the Armenian on the eve of a journey intrusted his treasures to his Turkish friend. Testimony is universal that the massacres have always been ordered from Constantinople. Some Turkish officials were pointed out to us by American missionaries as having refused to carry out the 1915 order for deportation. That order is universally attributed to the Committee of Union and Progress of which Enver Bey, Talaat Bey and Djemal Pasha were the leaders. “A court has been sitting in the capital practically since the armistice and one man, an unimportant subordinate, has been hung. Talaat, Enver, and Djemal are at large, [Page 851] and a group of men charged with various crimes against the laws of war are at Malta in custody of the British unpunished except as restrained from personal liberty. Various rumors place Enver Bey as scheming in the Transcaucasus, and a French officer is authority for the statement that he has been in Tiflis within two months conferring with government officials. This man is in Turkish eyes a heroic figure; risen from obscurity by his own efforts; allied by marriage to the imperial House of Osman; credited with military ability; the possibilities of disturbance are very great should he appear in command of Moslem irregulars on the Azarbaijan–Armenian frontier.
Such are conditions today in the regions where the remnant of the Armenian people exist; roads and lands almost back to the wild; starvation only kept off by American relief; villages and towns in ruins; brigandage rampant in the Transcaucasus; lack of medicines and warm clothing; winter coming on in a treeless land without coal. We saw nothing to indicate that Armenians who have returned to their homes in Turkey are in danger of their lives, but their natural apprehension has been greatly increased by unbalanced advice given by officers on the withdrawal of foreign troops from certain regions. The events at Smyrna have undoubtedly cheapened every Christian life in Turkey, the landing of the Greeks there being looked upon by the Turks as deliberate violation by the Allies of the terms of their armistice and the probable forerunner of further unwarranted aggression. … The moral responsibility for present unrest throughout Turkey is very heavy on foreign powers … Meantime, the Armenian, unarmed at the time of the deportations and massacres, a brave soldier by thousands in the armies of Russia, France and America during the war, is still unarmed in a land where every man but himself carries a rifle.
The Political Situation and Suggestions for Readjustment
In seeking a remedy for political conditions which shriek of misery, ruin, starvation, and all the melancholy aftermath, not only of honorable warfare, but of beastial brutality unrestrained by God or man, but which nevertheless prevail under an existing empire with which the governments of Europe have long been willing to treat on terms of equality, one’s first impulse is to inquire as to the possibility of reform from within. The machinery of government existing, can it be repaired and made a going concern, affording to its people the guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which the modern world expects of its governments? The case for the Turkish Empire was duly presented to the Peace Conference in Paris on June 17th last by the Turkish Grand Vizier, Damad Ferid Pasha, in which [Page 852] he admitted for the Turkish Government of the unhappy region under consideration, the commission of “misdeeds which are such as to make the conscience of mankind shudder with horror forever “and that “Asia Minor is today nothing but a vast heap of ruins”. In reply made by the Council of Ten of the Peace Conference, to the plea of the Grand Vizier for the life of his Empire, the probability of that government being able to accomplish reforms from within which will satisfy modern requirements and perhaps make amends for past crimes, is well weighed in the following words:
“Yet in all these changes there has been no case found either in Europe or in Asia or in Africa in which the establishment of Turkish rule in any country has not been followed by a diminution of prosperity in that country. Neither is there any case to be found in which the withdrawal of Turkish rule has not been followed by material prosperity and a rise in culture. Never among the Christians in Europe, nor among the Moslems in Syria, Arabia or Africa has the Turk done other than destroy wherever he has conquered. Never has he shown that he is able to develop in peace what he has gained in war. Not in this direction do his talents lie.”
It seems likely, therefore, that as far as the Armenians are concerned the Turk has had his day and that further uncontrolled opportunity will be denied him.
With the break-up of Russia the Transcaucasus found itself adrift. This Transcaucasian region is ethnographically one of the most complicated in the world. In all ages it has been one of the great highways for mankind. Here stragglers and racial remnants have lodged during all the centuries that the tides of migration have swept the base of the great Caucasus range, until today its small area contains five great racial groups, divided into forty distinct races. Nine of these have arrived in comparatively recent times, but the remaining thirty-one are more or less indigenous. There are here twenty-five purely Caucasian races. This racial diversity is complicated by the fact that with the exception of the fairly compact group of Georgians, and one of Tartars, these peoples are inextricably commingled throughout the region. Their civilization varies from the mountain savage to individuals of the highest types. Of the forty distinct races, the most important groups are the Georgians, the Azarbaijanese Tartars and the Armenians.
A Transcaucasian Confederation formed by all the peoples in that region was followed by an alignment in three small republics, Georgia, Azarbaijan and Armenia. Georgia is Christian and its Iberian population are in the majority; Azarbaijan is Tartar and Moslem; Armenia is made up of the former provinces that composed Russian Armenia, less the part that went to Azarbaijan in the split, and the majority of its people are the blood brothers of the Armenians [Page 853] of Turkey in Asia. These republics have been recognized by none of the Powers except Turkey. The Armenian Republic seeks at the Peace Conference a union with the Turkish Armenians and the creation of an Armenian state to include Russian Armenia and the six Turkish vilayets (Van, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Kharput, Sivas, Erzerum) and Cilicia, to be governed by a mandatory of the Great Powers during a transition state of a term of years in which Armenians of the Dispersion may return to their homes, and a Constituent Assembly be held to determine the form of the eventual permanent government. Georgia and Azarbaijan ask independence at the Peace Conference with certain adjustments of disputed boundaries in which all Transcaucasia is interested.
Both Georgia and Azarbaijan living on the salvage from the wreck of Russia, have persuaded themselves that the civilization and governmental and business machinery they have taken over have been theirs from the beginning. The Georgians with a church of their own antedating that of Russia, and traditions of a Georgian dynasty of Armenian origin which reigned in Tiflis for a thousand years before Russia took over the country in 1802, are a very proud and plausible race. They have been much influenced by the proximity of Bolshevism, fly the red flag of revolution over their own, and have nationalized land, taking it from the original owners without compensation, to sell to peasants. This measure has been unsatisfactory to both peasant and proprietor. The Azarbaijanese are Tartars by blood and Moslem by religion and sympathy. The varied topography of their little country and the diversity of its products make them more independent of outside help than either of the other Transcaucasian republics. Both Georgian and Azarbaijan governments live in terror of the forces of Denikin coming south of the Caucasus mountains. Georgia has her little army on her northern frontier, and Azarbaijan has a tacit agreement with General Denikin to refrain from hostilities against him in return for immunity from attack by his gunboats on the Caspian Sea.
The Russian Armenians are the blood brothers of those in Turkey, and came under Russian domination in 1878. They absorbed many Russian manners and customs, and the wealth and ability of the race gave them a predominant role in the Transcaucasus under Russia, Tiflis which was the Russian capital has probably the largest Armenian population of any city in the world except New York and Constantinople. They are friendly to Denikin and a reconstituted Russia, and their refusal to join Georgia and Azarbaijan against Denikin caused the break-up of the Transcaucasian Confederation.
The dominant civilization in Transcaucasia is Russian. Everything worth while in the country is due to Russian money and Russian [Page 854] enterprise. Beside this common bond these countries are interdependent in the matter of transportation. From Tiflis, the capital of Georgia, a railroad runs west to the Black Sea at Batum and east to the Caspian Sea at Baku, the capital of Azarbaijan; and south to Erivan, the capital of the Republic of Armenia. The road is one system, of the Russian gauge, with the three radii from Tiflis each ending in a different country, something like the following:
Under Russia, the road was, of course, under one management, with shops, rolling stock and policy in common. Georgia now controls the shops; Azarbaijan the oil fuel, and each of the three such rolling stock as it can get. No one of the three trusts the others; no through or continuous traffic is possible without an outside power guaranteeing the return of the rolling stock when it passes from one jurisdiction to another. Georgia does not hesitate to embargo freight against Armenia, and from her position of vantage simply censors the railroad traffic to that unfortunate country. Azarbaijan controls the fuel supply and combines with Georgia against Armenia, which alone of the three has nothing by which to exert leverage. The railroad can neither be consolidated, nor properly operated under native control. Roadbed and rolling stock are rapidly deteriorating. An example of the power of Georgia over Armenia is that the latter is not permitted to import either arms or ammunition, though under almost constant menace from its neighbors.
The three governments from an occidental standpoint are now thoroughly inefficient, without credit, and undoubtedly corrupt. Alone each faces inextricable financial difficulties. Religious differences, added to racial, threaten to embroil them unless brought under a common control. Two of them have no outlet to the Black [Page 855] Sea except through Georgia over the railroad. They have no present intermonetary, postal or customs union, and as stated, no definite agreement for common control and use of the railroad, and are in continual squabbles over boundaries. Azarbaijan has no educated class capable of well administering a government; Georgia cannot protect itself against Bolshevism; Armenia is in ruins, and partial starvation. All our investigation brings conviction that the people in each would welcome a mandatory by a trustworthy outside power. Russian Armenia would today probably vote a mandate to Russia if that power were reconstituted. Georgia recalls its ancient independence and was never thoroughly reconciled to Russian rule. Azarbaijan, Tartar and Moslem, feels a double tie to Turkey and distrusts the Christian, but the more intelligent people realize that outside control is inevitable and even necessary to their relations with Christian countries and that Turkey is beyond consideration. So closely are the countries related geographically, commercially and by the habit of generations that this Mission not only believes that a mandatory is necessary for them, but that it is imperative from every standpoint of peace, order, efficiency and economy that the same power shall exercise a mandate over them all, leaving for the present their interior boundaries unsettled. The ultimate disposition or form of government of these states, other than that they may look forward to autonomy but not necessarily independence, should in our opinion not now be announced. Their capacity for self-government and their ability to sustain amicable and workable relations among themselves remain to be tested under control by such power as may be induced to undertake its supervision, facing a long period of tutelage for possibly unappreciative and ungrateful pupils, much expense, probably diplomatic embarrassment from a reconstitution of Russia, and little reward except the consciousness of having contributed to the peace of the world and the rehabilitation of oppressed humanity.
The covenant of the League of Nations contemplates that “certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire “shall be subject to a Mandatory Power for an unstated period, thus appearing to recognize in advance the dismemberment to some degree of that Empire. (The underscoring is ours.) This, in connection with the arraignment of the Turkish Government in the reply of the Peace Conference, partly quoted on page 15 ante,26 may not unreasonably be construed to apply to any or all parts of the Turkish Empire, as fast as they reach a certain stage of development. As between actual dismemberment and a receivership for his entire country the Turk would beyond doubt prefer a mandatory for the [Page 856] whole empire as it may stand after adjudication by the Peace Conference. Bad as he is, without the pale of consideration from many standpoints, there would seem to be no objection to action taken in his interest and in line with his preference if the interest and inclination of the world lie in the same direction.
A Power which should undertake a mandatory for Armenia and Transcaucasia without control of the contiguous territory of Asia Minor—Anatolia—and of Constantinople, with its hinterland of Roumelia, would undertake it under most unfavorable and trying conditions, so difficult as to make the cost almost prohibitive; the maintenance of law and order and the security of life and property uncertain; and ultimate success extremely doubtful. With the Turkish Empire still freely controlling Constantinople such a Power would be practically emasculated as far as real power is concerned. For generations these peoples have looked to Constantinople as the seat of authority. The most intelligent and ambitious Armenians have sought the capital as a career. The Patriarch of the Armenian Church in Constantinople, although subordinate in matters of doctrine to the Catholicos at Etchmiadzin, is in reality the political head of the Armenian people by his location in Constantinople. Every people in the Empire is numerously represented at the capital,—the Armenians reaching before the war the number of 150,000, with business connections ramifying to distant corners of the entire country. To no small degree the future business and industrial development of their native land will depend upon these men. Transportation lines and commerce center at Constantinople. Before the war Constantinople was the most important port in Continental Europe reckoned upon the basis of shipping clearances. There are well-informed business men who believe it is destined to become the third most important commercial city in the world. But, through generations of habit, unless put under a mandatory, Constantinople will continue to be a whirlpool of financial and political currents. Concession-hunting, financial intrigue, political exploitation and international rivalries will center there in the future as in the past. Concerted international action for control of Constantinople is impracticable. All concerts for governmental action are cumbersome; all concerts must have a leader to secure effectiveness, and were it possible to agree upon one power which should really lead, the reality of the mandate would exist with the handicap of a camouflage concert. In any concert for the future government of Constantinople there would still exist the temptation for single powers to play politics and befriend Turkey for value received. There must be actual control, for responsibility without authority is worse than useless in a land of oriental viewpoints. … As [Page 857] Americans supposed to be disinterested this Mission was the recipient of confidences from various sources. Turks, when not deriding these foreign efforts were deploring their effect on their unfortunate empire. … Without dependable centralized control of Constantinople a Power exercising mandate in Armenia would be crippled in administration, restricted in trade development, ridden by concessionaires, dependent on Turkish discredited diplomacy for redress of local and boundary grievances, and in extreme case practically cut off from communication with the Western World. It is believed that Allied sentiment is so crystallized in the opinion that Constantinople must be placed under a mandatory that it may safely be assumed in the report that this will be done.
Conceded that there shall be a mandate for Armenia and Transcaucasia, and one for Constantinople and Anatolia, there are many considerations that indicate the desirability of having such mandates exercised by the same Power. If separate Powers exercised such mandate the inevitable jealousies, hatreds, exaggerated separatist tendencies, and economic difficulties would compel failure. With all its faults the Turkish Empire is an existing institution and it has some rusty blood-stained political machinery which under control of a strong mandatory can be made to function. The peoples in question live in adjacent territory and whether they wish it or not are neighbors. A single mandatory for the Turkish Empire and the Transcaucasus would be the most economical solution. No intelligent scheme for development of railroads for Transcaucasia, and Armenia can be worked out without extension into Anatolia. Natural highways through the high mountains of Armenia are few, and transportation development will, with proper feeders, at best, be costly and difficult. Without access into Anatolia it will be impossible. For many years the expenses of exploitation will not be met by equivalent receipts. This situation would be alleviated by control of both regions. With Constantinople, Anatolia and Armenia in different hands, the manufacturers and exporters of Armenia could not hope for an equal share in the commerce and trade of the Near East.
The Armenian Patriarch, the head of the Armenian Protestants and others at Constantinople, on our return from Armenia called and volunteered the belief that the Armenian question could not be settled within the boundaries of that country, and that they were prepared to pass under a single mandate which should include the other parts of the Turkish Empire. In a later written statement,* however, they modified this, stating that while “Different nations [Page 858] of this empire may enjoy the help of the same mandatory power “they felt that to bring Armenia under the same system of administration as that of the Turks would defeat the object of the development of Armenian ideals, “because by assuring the individual rights of a people the national rights and ideals of the same people cannot necessarily be assured “; that “Giving a good government to the whole Turkish Empire will not induce the Armenians to gather to their native land. They will still be a scattered people, etc., etc.”
A party of distinguished Turks, including a former cabinet minister of high standing, and a diplomat who for eight years represented his country at one of the European courts, stated that as between the independence of Turkey as it existed in 1914, and a mandate for the empire given to the United States they greatly preferred the latter, and believed that they spoke for the educated classes of all Turkey.
It has been very evident to this Mission that Turkey would not object to a single disinterested Power taking a mandate for her territory as outlined in the Armistice with the Allies, and that it could be accomplished with a minimum of foreign soldiery, where an attempt to carve out territory for any particular region would mean a strong foreign force in constant occupation for many years. The aim of the Nationalist, or National Defense Party, as its adherents style it, as stated by Mustapha Kemal Pasha, its head, is the preservation of the territorial integrity of the empire under a mandatory of a single disinterested Power, preferably America.
The Mission, while at Sivas, had a conference with the chiefs of this party, which held a congress at Erzerum in July and one at Sivas in September. This movement has been the cause of much apprehension on the part of those interested in the fate of the Armenians, to whose safety it has been supposed to portend danger. The leader, Mustapha Kemal Pasha, is a former general officer in the Turkish Army, who commanded, with distinction, an Army Corps at the Dardanelles, and appears to be a young man of force and keen intelligence. He is supposed to have resigned from the army to lead this movement. It sought, as a means to its end, the overthrow of the Ferid Pasha Cabinet, which has since fallen, claiming that it was entirely under the influence of one of the great powers which itself desires a mandate for the empire. While professing entire loyalty to the Sultan the Nationalist leader had gone to the extremity of cutting all official telegraph communications between the capital and the interior, pending the removal of the cabinet. The fall of the Damad Ferid Pasha ministry in October would seem to put the empire behind the movement, for the Turkish officials in the interior were already identified with it. In a statement [Page 859] given out on October 15th, Mustapha Kemal† said “The Nationalist Party recognized the necessity of the aid of an impartial foreign country. It is our aim to secure the development of Turkey as she stood at the armistice. We have no expansionist plans but it is our conviction that Turkey can be made a rich and prosperous country if she can get a good government. Our government has become weakened through foreign interference and intrigues. After all our experience we are sure that America is the only country able to help us. We guarantee no new Turkish violences against the Armenians will take place.”
The events of the Greek occupation of Smyrna and the uneasiness produced by the activities and propaganda of certain European powers have so stirred the Turkish people in the long interval since the armistice, that the Mission fears that an announcement from Paris at this time of an intention to carve from Turkey a state of Armenia, unless preceded by a strong military occupation of the whole empire might be the signal for massacres of Christians in every part of the country. There is no wisdom in now incorporating Turkish territory in a separate Armenia,—no matter what the aspirations of the Armenians. Certainly it is unwise to invite trouble which may be avoided by the consolidation of the mandate region under a single power. Under one mandatory they will be neighbors. Under two or more they will be rivals; their small differences subjected to the interminable processes of diplomatic representation; with the maintenance of duplicate and parallel establishments in many lines of governmental activity. Only under a single mandatory can the matter of ultimate boundaries be deferred, which is believed by this Mission to be important.
In the proposition to carve an independent Armenia from the Ottoman Empire there is something to be said on the part of the Turk; namely, that his people even when all the refugees shall have returned to their homes, will be in the majority in the region contemplated for a reconstituted Armenia,—and they were in the majority before the deportations took place,—even though due, as it may be, to the gerrymandering of provincial boundaries and the partial extermination of a people. Notwithstanding his many estimable qualities, his culture, and his tenacity of race and religion, the Armenian generally does not endear himself to those of other races with whom he comes in contact. The Armenian stands among his neighbors [Page 860] very much as the Jew stands in Russia and Poland, having as he does, the strong and pre-eminent ability of that race. He incurs the penalty which attaches among backward races to the banker, the middleman, and the creditor. Unjust as it may be, the sentiment regarding him is expressed by this saying current in the Near East: “The Armenian is never legally in the wrong; never morally in the right”. Even the American Missionary who in so many instances has risked his life for his Armenian charges, does not as a rule personally like the Armenian as well as he does the more genial but indolent and pleasure-loving Turk. The Armenian is not guiltless of blood himself; his memory is long and reprisals are due, and will doubtless be made if opportunity offers. Racially allied to the wild Aryan Kurd he is cordially hated by the latter. Kurds appealed to this Mission with tears in their eyes to protect them from Armenians who had driven them from their villages, appealing to be allowed to go back to their homes for protection against the rigorous winter now rapidly approaching on the high interior plateau. The Kurds claim that many of their people were massacred under the most cruel circumstances by Armenian irregulars accompanying the Russian bolshevists when the Russian army went to pieces after the collapse of the empire. Similar claim is made by the people of Erzerum who point to burned buildings in which hundreds of Turks perished, and by the authorities of Hassan-Kala, who give the number of villages destroyed by the Armenians in their great plain as forty-three. According to British Consul Stevens at Batum, these statements were verified by a commission which examined into the allegations, and on which Armenians had a representation. In Baku the massacre of 2,000 Azarbaijanese by Armenians in March 1918, was followed by the killing of 4,000 Armenians by Azarbaijanese in November of the same year. From the standpoint of this Mission the capacity of the Armenian to govern himself is something to be tested under supervision. With that still in doubt the possibility of an Armenian minority being given authority over a Moslem majority against whom its hearts are filled with rancor for centuries of tyranny, may well justify apprehension, … There are very many who believe that the best elements of the Armenian race have perished. It is believed that with the reestablishment of order in their native country many of those who have emigrated to other countries will return. That, however, can only come with time, and even then it is doubted if many of the wealthy and influential Armenians long domiciled in happier lands will return to their somewhat primitive ancient home, even though such absentees have raised their voices most loudly for an autonomous Armenia. Certainly with arbitrary boundaries on the Anatolia side determined only by Armenian wishes, expediency, [Page 861] tradition, or even verified historical claims of former occupation, without regard to the present population, the mandatory powers for both Anatolia and Armenia should inaugurate government by placing a cordon of trustworthy foreign soldiers from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. With a single Power in control of both peoples and boundaries unannounced except as they have hitherto existed, such difficulties would not arise. Against such combination of authority and postponement of delimitation of boundaries is to be weighed the unchangeable belief of many that the Turk at the end of his tutelage will still be the Turk, bloodthirsty, unregenerate and revengeful, and that it is unthinkable that Armenia shall ever again form part of a country which may be governed by him; that the sufferings of centuries should now be terminated by definite and permanent separation of Armenia from Turkey; and that this plan seems to contemplate a tutelage of indefinite length. To this the reply is that the Armenian should have no fear to submit his case to the League of Nations,—the Court of the World,—and that he must in the meantime prove his capacity not only to govern himself but others, and that at the behest of the Great Powers a plebiscite could be had and the mandatory at any time be terminated by detachment of his territory from Anatolia as well as now and with much greater safety to him and convenience to his benefactors.
The conclusion of the American Military Mission to Armenia is that the remedy for the existing conditions in Armenia and the Transcaucasus is a mandatory control to be exercised by a single great power. The Armenian question cannot be settled in Armenia. It cannot be finally settled without answering two questions:
- What is to be done with Turkey?
- What is Russia going to do?
Pending the ultimate settlement of these questions the Mission believes that, for reasons set forth, the power which takes a mandate for Armenia and Transcaucasia should also exercise a mandate for Anatolia, Roumelia and Constantinople; the boundaries of the Turkish vilayets of Armenia and Anatolia and the interior boundaries of Russian Armenia, Georgia and Azarbaijan to remain as they are for the present. The divisions of such mandate are an administrative detail to be worked out by the mandatory power. Good administration indicates that there should be some intermediate authority between the provinces and the capital. A natural subdivision of such a mandate as has been indicated would probably be:
- City of Constantinople; (federal district)
- District of Transcaucasia, (less Russian Armenia)
The inclusion of the whole Turkish Empire under the government of a single mandatory would be simpler and proportionately more economical than to divide it. A plebiscite fairly taken would in all probability ask for an American mandate throughout the Empire. Syria and Mesopotamia, however, not being considered essential to the settlement of the Armenian question or as being the field for possible American responsibilities and interests in the Near East as contemplated in the instructions to the Mission, because actually occupied by France and Great Britain at this time, have been considered by us as excluded from our consideration, as is for a similar reason Arabia. In its belief that the Armenian problem is only to be solved by a mandatory which should include also Constantinople, Anatolia, Turkish Armenia and the Transcaucasus, the Mission has the concurrence of many Americans whose views by reason of long residence in the Near East, are entitled to great weight: Such Americans are practically a unit in believing that the problems of Armenia, Transcaucasia, Anatolia and Constantinople must be considered as an inseparable whole. …
The Mission has a strong conviction that the nation which may be induced by its colleagues to undertake this mandate should be one prepared steadfastly to carry out a continuity of policy for at least a generation, and to send only its most gifted sons to leadership in the work without regard to political affiliations. Only on the certainty of continuity of a non-partisan policy would the best men forsake their careers in their own country to take up its burdens in these Eastern lands. No disinterested nation would undertake such a mandatory except from a strong sense of altruism and international duty to the peace of the world in this breeding place of wars and at the unanimous wish of other parties to the Covenant of the League of Nations.
No duty of modern times would be undertaken under so fierce a glare of publicity. Such nation would hold the center of the international stage with the spotlight from every foreign office and from every church steeple in the world focussed upon it. No nation could afford to fail, or to withdraw when once committed to this most serious and difficult problem growing out of the Great War. No nation incapable of united and non-partisan action for a long period should undertake it.
The Conditions and Problems Involved in a Mandate for Turkey and Transcaucasia
This report has heretofore endeavored to consider the conditions and questions of which it treats in the abstract sense applicable to any nation which might be induced to assume the task of a practical [Page 863] regeneration of this region. Its interest for our country, however, lies in the possibility that it [the United States] may be called upon by the world to undertake the task, and the necessity therefore of knowing what it would mean for America. The problems for the United States would not be identical with those of any other nation which might undertake it. A not too sympathetic Old World, without pretensions to altruism or too much demotion to ideals, will expect of America in the Near East the same lofty standards shown in Cuba and the Philippines,—the development of peoples rather than of material resources and commerce. Distance, our time-honored detachment from the affairs of the Old World, our innocence from participation in the intrigues which have hitherto characterized intercourse with the Turk, our freedom from bias through the necessity of considering moslem public opinion in other parts of the world, and the fact that we have no financial interest in the great foreign debt of the Ottoman Empire, give America a viewpoint and an advantage in approaching the situation that are enjoyed by no other great power. A great part of the work of the Mission has been devoted to a consideration of the situation as it would affect our own country should it be invited to assume a mandate in the Near East. The problem as a whole has been kept in mind while individual members of the Mission have made special inquiry into different matters of which knowledge is necessary to reach an intelligent appreciation of the difficulties to be solved in this region. Each of these studies constitutes a unit on the subject with which it deals, too important to justify the risk of an attempt at epitomizing for this report. They are therefore submitted as appendices as follows:27
- —Political Factors and Problems, by Captain Stanley K. Hornbeck, Ordnance Department, U.S. Army.
- —Government in Turkey and Transcaucasia, by Lt. Col. Jasper Y. Brinton, J.A., U.S. Army.
- —Public and Private Finance of Turkey and Transcaucasia, by Prof. W. W. Cumberland.
- —Commerce and Industry in Turkey and Transcaucasia, by Trade Commissioner Eliot Grinnell Mears.
- —Public Health and Sanitation, by Col. Henry Beeuwkes, Medical Corps, U.S. Army.
- —Population; Industrial and Other Qualities; Maintenance, by Lt.-Col. John Price Jackson, Engineers, U.S. Army.
- —Climate, Natural Resources, Animal Industry, and Agriculture, by Lt.-Col. E. Bowditch, Inf., U.S. Arnry.
- —Geography, Mining and Boundaries, by Major Lawrence Martin, General Staff, U.S. Army.
- —The Press of Turkey and Transcaucasia, by Major Harold W. Clark, Inf., U.S. Army.
- —The Military Problem of a Mandatory, by Brig.-Gen. Geo. Van Horn Moseley, General Staff, U.S. Army.
- —Transport and Communications in Asia Minor and the Transcaucasus, by Win. B. Poland, Engineer Member of the Mission.
The Military Problem
Our country has so recently sent its young manhood to war overseas, and the heart of the nation is so sensitive to any enterprise which calls for its sons to serve as soldiers in distant lands, that the greatest interest attaches to the military problem involved in any mandate to which our people may ever give consideration.
The immediate problems which would lay before the Army and Navy of a mandatory power in Turkey and Transcaucasia are:
- The suppression of any disorder attendant upon withdrawal of occupying troops and the initiation of the government.
- The maintenance of order until a constabulary could be organized for the rural police of the mandatory region.
- To help organize and train a native constabulary.
- To constitute a reserve for moral effect; for possible actual use in supplementing the local constabulary in case of emergency; and for the prestige of the mandatory government in a region which has been governed by force since the beginning of history.
The inauguration of a mandatory government would be followed at a very early date by the withdrawal of the foreign troops now occupying the region, and by the dissolution as soon as practicable of the permanent military establishments now maintained by Turkey and Transcaucasia. The United States accepting the mandate at the request of the other great powers and of the peoples interested, no resistance to her troops would be anticipated. On the contrary, they would doubtless be welcomed. No problem of external defense of the country occupied would exist.
- The present occupying force of the region under consideration, Roumelia, Constantinople, Anatolia, and Transcaucasia, excluding five Greek divisions occupying Smyrna, is the Army of the Black Sea and the troops in Cilicia, comprising about 50,000 of the British, French, Italian and Greek Governments. The regular troops of Turkey and Transcaucasia to be disbanded in the same region at the convenience of the mandatory government aggregate about 92,000 men. The gendarmerie of Turkey amounts to about 30,000 men. The loss of man power in Turkey has been appalling, and too many men are still absent from work and carrying rifles.
- It is not thought that any serious disorder would attend this substitution of the troops of the mandatory power for the army of occupation, and for the native regular forces.
- During the formation of an efficient native constabulary, a period of six months to a year, small garrisons would have to be furnished along the railroads and in isolated towns, especially on the old frontiers, where feeling runs high between races. This would give security while the various nationals are being repatriated reconstructing their homes, and adjusting themselves to new conditions. The suppression of outlaw bands which already exist in some localities, and the formation of which in Eastern countries invariably follows the disbandment of armies after a long war, would call for constant use of a certain number of United States troops pending the completion of the constabulary organization for service. During this period the disarmament of the civilian population would be accomplished.
- The first duty of a mandatory would be to guarantee the safety of life and property through the country, and to this end its earliest efforts should be directed to the establishment of a native rural police or constabulary for the suppression of brigandage outlawry and other crimes outside the towns. This force, with a military organization, should be a force of peace officers as that term is used in our own country, empowered to make arrests of criminals of all kinds, serve warrants, execute orders of arrest, etc. While decentralized in its administration, and destined eventually to operate in small bodies, it should be a Federal force, co-operating with but not serving under provincial officials. Its personnel should absorb the best elements of the present gendarmerie, and also provide suitable employment for deserving officers of the disbanded armies. For a considerable period its highest officers would necessarily be Americans but as fast as the quality of the native officers justifies, the force should become native. The strength of the constabulary should be such as to enable it to take over the whole task of maintaining order outside the towns and release American troops at the earliest practicable date. Coincident with the organization of the constabulary would be the creation of efficient municipal police.
- Considering the uncertain character of the neighboring populations, the traditional lawlessness of migratory Kurds and Arabs, and the isolation of certain regions where the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs will be strong for at least a generation, a certain force must be kept in hand to supplement the native constabulary when needed. Such a force will also be necessary for general moral effect. Its mere existence will prevent organized disorder on a scale too large for a peace force to handle. Such a force would be stationed near the capital, trained for quick expeditionary work, and sent where needed.
The character of the troops should be suited to the purpose for which used. For expeditionary purposes marines or infantry with artillery would be best. For moral effect in the interior and during the period of constabulary organization cavalry would be preferable. A small efficient air service should be maintained. The aeroplane is not only a means of very rapid communication, but its value for dealing with a distant small problem among half-wild tribes cannot be overestimated. The country much resembles Mexico and the conditions would be not unlike our border cavalry service. A regiment of railway engineers would be a necessity. During the initial period of the mandatory troops would be needed in connection with the general problem of sanitation and cleaning up and an extra proportion of sanitary troops would be necessary.
Estimates of the necessary number of mandatory troops vary greatly,—from twenty-five thousand to two hundred thousand. Conditions change so rapidly that plans made today for the use of troops might be obsolete in six months. … Uncertainty as to the time the mandate will be tendered and accepted make estimates merely approximate. Under conditions as they exist today the undersigned believes that a force of two American divisions, with several hundred extra officers, or a total force of fifty-nine thousand would be ample. Such force would be specially organized; one aeroplane squadron; a minimum of artillery; not to exceed one regiment of seventy-five’s motorized; a minimum of the special services; four times the usual number of sanitary troops; four regiments of cavalry, with minor changes in organization at the discretion of the senior general officer on duty with the mandatory government. This force should be substantially reduced at the end of two years, and by fifty percent at the end of the third year. After that some further reduction could be slowly effected, but the irreducible minimum would be reached at about the strength of one division.
The annual cost for the force of the army above stated would be at the maximum;—
|For the first year||$88,500,000|
|At the end of two years perhaps||59,000,000|
|At the end of three years||44,250,000|
with thereafter a continuing appropriation of that sum less such amount as the local revenues could afford, probably a very substantial fraction of the cost.
To offset our expenditures there would be available at least a part of the naval and military budget hitherto used for the support of the disbanded armies in the region. In Turkey before the war this totaled about $61,000,000 annually for the army including $5,000,000 for the navy.[Page 867]
The naval establishment should consist of a station ship for the capital, and probably one each for Smyrna, Mersina, Batum and Baku, to meet local needs in quick transportation of troops. A transport of light draft capable of carrying a complete regiment should be permanently on station at the capital. Four to six destroyers would be needed for communication and moral effect. Collier, repair and hospital service afloat should be in proportion. Old ships of obsolete type would probably answer for all except the station ship at the capital and the destroyers. Some ships of the Turkish Navy, of which there are over thirty, could doubtless be used with American crews soon to be replaced by natives.
The naval establishment might not entail any additional Federal appropriations. Ships and personnel could probably be drawn from existing establishment; the only additional expense would probably be the difference in cost of maintenance in Near Eastern and home waters.
It is very important that a proper military and naval setting be given the mandatory government at the beginning. In no part of the world is prestige so important, and in no region have people been so continuously governed by force. The mandatory could at the outset afford to take no unnecessary risks among such a population in densest ignorance as to our resources and our national traits.
This Mission has had constantly in mind the moral effect to be exercised by its inquiry in the region visited. Very alarming reports had been received from Transcaucasia for several months before its departure from France, particularly as to organized attacks by the Turkish Army impending along the old international border between Turkey and Russia. The itinerary of the Mission through Turkey was planned with those reports before it and with the intention of observing as to their truth and if possible to exert a restraining influence. We practically covered the frontier of Turkey from the Black Sea to Persia, and found nothing to justify the reports. The Turkish Army is not massed along the border; their organizations are reduced to skeletons; and the country shows an appalling lack of people, either military or civilian. At every principal town through which we passed the Chief of the Mission held a conference with the Turkish officials. Inquiry was made as to the Christian community, some members of which were always interviewed; the interest of America in its own missionaries and in the native Christians was invariably emphasized; the Armenian deportations, the massacres and the return of the survivors were discussed on each occasion, as well as other matters intended to convince Turkish officials that their country is on trial before the world. The visit of the Mission has [Page 868] had a considerable moral effect in securing the safety of Christian lives and property pending action by the Peace Conference.
We would again point out that if America accepts a mandate for the region visited by this Mission, it will undoubtedly do so from a strong sense of international duty, and at the unanimous desire, so-expressed at least, of its colleagues in the League of Nations. Accepting this difficult task without previously securing the assurance of conditions would be fatal to success. The United States should make its own conditions as a preliminary to consideration of the subject,—certainly before and not after acceptance, for there are a multitude of interests that will conflict with what any American would consider a proper administration of the country. Every possible precaution against international complications should be taken in advance. In our opinion there should be specific pledges in terms of formal agreements with France and England, and definite approval from Germany and Russia of the dispositions made of Turkey and Transcaucasia, and a pledge to respect them.
Of particular importance are the following:
- Absolute control of the foreign relations of the Turkish Empire, no ambassador, envoy, minister, or diplomatic agent to be accredited to Turkey, and the latter to send none such abroad.
- Concessions involving exclusive privileges to be subject to review if shown to be contrary to the best interests of the state.
- Concessions undesirable from the standpoint of the mandatory upon which work has not been started to be cancelled. Compensation to be allowed to holders when necessary.
- The system by which specified revenues are assigned for particular purposes to be discarded. All revenues to be controlled by the Treasury, and all creditors to look only to the Treasury as the source of payment.
- Foreign control, over Turkey’s financial machinery to cease, meaning the dissolution of the Council of Administration of the Ottoman public debt, reserving the right to retain some individual members of the Council as advisors because of their familiarity with Ottoman finances.
- All foreign obligations of the Empire to be unified and refunded.
- Those countries receiving territory of the Turkish Empire, e.g., Syria, and Mesopotamia, to assume their reasonable share of the paper currency, of the foreign obligations, and of obligation for possible reparation payments.
- Abrogation, on due notice, of existing commercial treaties with Turkey.
- All foreign governments and troops to vacate territorial limits of mandate at dates to be fixed by the mandatory power.
Consent to many of these measures would not easily be obtained. Many nations now have some sort of financial control within the Ottoman Empire, and they would not see this control taken away without protest.[Page 869]
It needs no argument, however, to show that the United States could not submit to having her financial policies controlled from foreign capitals. The refunding of the debt, possibly with a reduction of the capital amount, would raise a storm of protest, but it should be insisted upon. Otherwise an American administration would be embarrassed and run the risk of being discredited.
The Mission has not felt that it is expected to submit a recommendation as to the United States accepting a mandate in the Near East. It, therefore, simply submits the following summary of reasons for and against such action, based on all information obtainable during six weeks constant contact with the peoples of the region:
|reasons for||reasons against|
|1. As one of the chief contributors to the formation of the League of Nations, the United States is morally bound to accept the obligations and responsibilities of a mandatory power.||1. The United States has prior and nearer foreign obligations, and ample responsibilities with domestic problems growing out of the war.|
|2. The insurance of world peace at the world’s
cross-ways, the focus of war infection since the
beginning of history.
Better millions for a mandate than billions for future wars.
|2. This region has been a battle ground of militarism and imperialism for centuries. There is every likelihood that ambitious nations will still maneuver for its control. It would weaken our position relative to Monroe Doctrine and probably eventually involve us with a reconsituted Russia. The taking of a mandate in this region would bring the United States into the politics of the Old World, contrary to our traditional policy of keeping free of affairs in the Eastern Hemisphere.|
|3. The Near East presents the greatest humanitarian opportunity of the age,—a duty for which the United States is better fitted than any other,—as witness Cuba, Porto Rico, Philippines, Hawaii, Panama, and our altruistic policy of developing peoples rather than material resources alone.||3. Humanitarianism should begin at home. There are a sufficient number of difficult situations which call for our action within the well recognized spheres of American influence.|
|4. America is practically the unanimous choice and fervent hope of all the peoples involved.||4. The United States has in no way contributed to and is not responsible for the conditions, political, social or economic, that prevail in this region. It will be entirely consistent to decline the invitation.|
|5. America is already spending millions to save starving peoples in Turkey and Transcaucasia and could do this with much more efficiency if in control. Whoever becomes mandatory for these regions we shall be still expected to finance their Relief, and will probably eventually furnish the capital for material development.||5. American philanthropy and charity are worldwide. Such policy would commit us to a policy of meddling or draw upon our philanthropy to the point of exhaustion.|
|6. America is the only hope of the Armenians. They
consider but one other nation, Great Britain, which they
fear would sacrifice their interests to Moslem public
opinion as long as she controls hundreds of millions of
that faith. Others fear Britain’s imperialistic policy
and her habit of staying where she hoists her
For a mandatory America is not only the first choice of all the peoples of the Near East, but of each of the great powers, after itself.
American power is adequate; its record clean; its motives above suspicion.
|6. Other powers, particularly Great Britain
and Russia, have shown continued interest in the welfare
of Armenia. Great Britain is fitted by experience and
government, has great resources in money and trained
personnel, and though she might not be as sympathetic to
Armenian aspirations, her rule would guarantee security
The United States is not capable of sustaining a continuity of foreign policy. One Congress cannot bind another. Even treaties can be nullified by cutting off appropriations. Non-partisanship is difficult to attain in our government.
|7. The mandatory would be self-supporting after an
initial period of not to exceed five years. The building
of railroads would offer opportunities to our capital.
There would be great trade advantages not only in the
mandatory region, but in the proximity to Russia,
America would clean this hotbed of disease and filth as she has in Cuba and Panama.
|7. Our country would be put to great expense,
involving probably an increase of the army and navy.
Large numbers of Americans would serve in a country of
loathsome and dangerous diseases. It is questionable if
railroads could for many years pay interest on
investments in their very difficult construction.
Capital for railways would not go there except on
The effort and money spent would get us more trade in nearer lands than we could hope for in Russia and Roumania.
Proximity and competition would increase the possibility of our becoming involved in conflict with the policies and ambitions of states which now our friends would be made our rivals.
|8. Intervention would be a liberal education for our people in world politics; give outlet to a vast amount of spirit and energy and would furnish a shining example.||8. Our spirit and energy can find scope in domestic enterprises, or in lands south and west of ours. Intervention in the Near East would rob us of the strategic advantage enjoyed through the Atlantic which rolls between us and probable foes. Our reputation for fair dealing might be impaired. Efficient supervision of a mandate at such distance would be difficult or impossible. We do not need or wish further education in world politics.|
|9. It would definitely stop further massacres of Armenians and other Christians, give justice to the Turks, Kurds, Greeks, and other peoples.||9. Peace and justice would be equally assured under any other of the great Powers.|
|10. It would increase the strength and prestige of the United States abroad and inspire interest at home in the regeneration of the Near East.||10. It would weaken and dissipate our strength which should be reserved for future responsibilities on the American continents and in our Far Eastern dependency. Our line of communication to Constantinople would be at the mercy of other naval powers, and especially of Great Britain, with Gibraltar and Malta, etc., on the route.|
|11. America has strong sentimental interests in the region: our missions and colleges.||11. These institutions have been respected even by the Turks throughout the war and the massacres; and sympathy and respect would be shown by any other mandatory.|
|12. If the United States does not take responsibility in this region, it is likely that international jealousies will result in a continuance of the unspeakable misrule of the Turk.||12. The Peace Conference has definitely informed the Turkish Government that it may expect to go under a mandate. It is not conceivable that the League of Nations would permit further uncontrolled rule by that thoroughly discredited government.|
|13. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said: ‘I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?’”||13. The first duty of America is to its own
people and its nearer neighbors.
Our country would be involved in this adventure for at least a generation, and in counting the cost Congress must be prepared [Page 872] to advance some such sums, less such amount as the Turkish and Trans-Caucasian revenues could afford, for the first five years, as follows:
|Communications, railroads, etc||20,000,000|
|Relief, repatriation, education, etc||50,000,000|
|Army and Navy||88,500,000|
|Communications, railroads, etc||20,000,000|
|Relief, education, etc||13,000,000|
|Army and Navy||59,000,000|
|Communications, railroads, etc||20,000,000|
|Relief, education, etc||4,500,000|
|Army and Navy||44,250,000|
|Communications, railroads, etc||20,000,000|
|Relief, education, etc||4,500,000|
|Army and Navy||44,250,000|
|Communications, railroads, etc||20,000,000|
|Relief, education, etc||4,500,000|
|Army and Navy||44,250,000|
|Total first year||275,500,000|
|Total second year||174,264,000|
|Total third year||123,750,000|
|Total fourth year||96,750,000|
|Total fifth year||85,750,000|
|14. Here is a man’s job that the world says can be better done by America than by any other. America can afford the money; she has the men; no duty to her own people would suffer; her traditional policy of isolation did not keep her from successful participation in the Great War. Shall it be said that our country lacks the courage to take up new and difficult duties?|
Without visiting the Near East it is not possible for an American to realize even faintly the respect, faith and affection with which our country is regarded throughout that region. Whether it is the world-wide reputation which we enjoy for fair dealing, a tribute perhaps to the crusading spirit which carried us into the Great War, not untinged with hope that the same spirit may urge us into the solution of great problems growing out of that conflict, or whether due to unselfish and impartial missionary and educational influence exerted for a century, it is the one faith which is held alike by Christian and Moslem, by Jew and Gentile, by prince and peasant in the Near East. It is very gratifying to the pride of Americans far from home. But it brings with it the heavy responsibility of deciding great questions with a seriousness worthy of such faith. Burdens that might be assumed on the appeal of such sentiment would have to be carried for not less than a generation under circumstances so trying that we might easily forfeit the faith of the world. If we refuse to assume it, for no matter what reasons satisfactory to ourselves, we shall be considered by many millions of people as having left unfinished the task for which we entered the war, and as having betrayed their hopes.
Major General, U.S. Army, Chief of Mission
Note. The Mission is indebted for assistance to the American High Commissioner, Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, U.S. Navy, and to Consul General G. B. Ravndal at Constantinople, to American Consuls Jackson at Aleppo, and Doolittle at Tiflis, as well as to the Allied High Commissioner to Armenia, Colonel W. N. Haskell, U.S. Army. Acknowledgments are also made to Dr. Mary Mills Patrick, President of the Woman’s College of Constantinople; to the authorities of Robert College, particularly Professor Hussein Bey; and to Messrs. Barton, Chambers, Christie, Riggs, Partridge, Professor Robert P. Blake, of National University, Mr. Benjamin Burgess Moore, Chief American Political-Intelligence Mission to the Transcaucasus, Tiflis, and Misses Graffam and Fenanga, as well as to various other representatives of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, and of the several missionary centers. All of these devoted missionaries have passed years of exile in this country, offering their lives for its betterment, and have the high respect of not only the people among whom they live, but of the various foreign representatives to whom they are known. American Missions and Schools have for a hundred years produced striking and far-reaching results in Asiatic Turkey, and are a credit to our country. The Mission is also under obligation to government officials in all the countries visited, from whom it has received nothing but courteous assistance in its work.
- Text here printed is that of the signed original left by Major General Harbord with the Commission to Negotiate Peace, at Paris. An unsigned copy of the report, with the exhibits and appendices, was transmitted by Major General Harbord at Washington to the Secretary of State, Nov. 14, 1919 (File No. 860j.01/575).↩
- Not reproduced.↩
- See footnote 23, p. 840.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1918, Supplement 1, vol. i, p. 15.↩
- See p. 852.↩
- See Exhibit “B”, joint letter, October 15, 1919, from Armenian Patriarch, Catholic Armenian Patriarchat, and the Vekil of Armenian Protestant Community. [Footnote in the original; this exhibit is not printed.]↩
- See Exhibits: “C”, Statement of Mustapha Kemal Pasha concerning organization, objects, “League for the Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Roumelia”; “D”, Gen Harbord’s letter, Oct. 9, 1919, to Mustapha Kemal; “E”, Declaration of the Congress of Sivas; “F”, Resolution of National Congress of Sivas addressed to Senate of the U.S. of America requesting that Senatorial committee visit and investigate conditions within Ottoman Empire. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The appendices are not printed.↩
- Exhibits A and B not printed.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Exhibit E, p. 886.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Not printed.↩