The Special Mission at Lausanne to the Secretary of State
[Received May 14—4:15 a.m.]
325. The following telegram has been received from Constantinople as number 12, May 12, 3 p.m., with request that it be repeated to the Department:
Referring to the Mission’s 22, May 10, from Lausanne, which repeated the Mission’s 272 of April 29 to the Department.49 I am moved to recommend earnestly that while negotiations are proceeding between Turkey and the Allies at Lausanne we refrain from entering upon direct negotiations of our own with the Turks. Present state of feeling at Lausanne cannot be favorable to discussions with the Turks in a spirit of friendliness, such as we may have after [Page 1060] Turkey and her enemies have reestablished the peace. There is no reason to expect that by beginning our negotiations now we shall get better terms than the Allies, and we cannot be sure what the Allies will agree to until they have actually signed a treaty. That is to say, the final provisions of the treaty may be quite different from the substance of their present contentions. It is not to be supposed that the private understandings among the Allies or between them and the Turks will be revealed to us. As an instance there is the present report of an agreement between the French and the Greeks. We might be put in a very embarrassing position if after having begun our negotiations the conference should break up and we should wish to drop the negotiations with Turkey. Even after peace is established it is possible that the United States will regard the Government at Angora as hardly regular enough and stable enough for recognition. In that case our greatest and perhaps our only resource for the protection of American interests will be the desire of the Turkish Government to resume relations with us. For the present American interests are not being injured. We are approaching a solution of the flour tax question, we are arriving at arrangements for American schools, and we are making progress toward better protection of our interests. Since we have not been at war with Turkey it is not necessary that in agreeing with the Turks upon the date of the effective abolition of the capitulations we should assent to the same date as is named by the Allies in their agreement with the Turks. We can insist that, until modified by a new treaty, our present treaty rights continue undiminished. We would lose this advantage, and we could not hope to obtain any better terms than the Allies in our later negotiations if we committed ourselves prematurely.
When peace is once restored in Turkey there is no question but that we can negotiate a treaty upon most-favored-nation principles. It is my firm conviction that the desire of the Turks to begin immediate negotiations with us springs from a wish to play us off against the Allies. In support of this belief I cite the fact that, in spite of Ismet’s repeated suggestions to our delegation that we begin negotiations, he admitted, toward the close of the last conference, that he had no powers to negotiate.
We should only commit ourselves irrevocably and ruin all our chances for obtaining any better terms from the Turks if we signed the Allied conventions. It cannot be reasonably argued that we ought not to take part in the discussions of the present conference whenever our interests are involved, as we did, or even more fully than we did, in the first conference. The Allies are very jealous of our favored position in the Near East, and they will not scruple to involve us if possible to our disadvantage. Neither will the Turks be slow to play us off against their adversaries at the conference.
I should be glad to receive as soon as possible a copy of the draft treaty sent with Turlington.50 Bristol.