711.672/464: Telegram

The High Commissioner in Turkey (Bristol) to the Secretary of State


35. Department’s telegram number 31, May 8, 1 p.m. I feel that this Mission and every American activity interested in Turkey have submitted all information possible to show that ratification of the American-Turkish treaty is necessary for the protection and expansion of every American interest in Turkey. However, the treaty should not be brought up for consideration and a vote taken before adjournment unless it is felt that consent to ratification can be secured. A postponement of action on the treaty until next session is preferable, but such a course would only be the lesser of two evils. In view of their lack of knowledge of our legislative procedure … the Turks would regard a vote without immediate ratification to be a virtual rejection of the treaty.

In presenting my views to the Department I desire to make a final appeal for the ratification of the treaty. Such a course is indispensable for the regularization of our position in Turkey as far as the status of this Mission and the vital protection of American interests are concerned.

1. In reply to 1 (a), I desire to state that American interests would have no protection by virtue of a treaty or of diplomatic representation. I think the Government of Turkey would take the position that it was justified in retaliating against American interests since the Government of the United States had not been appreciative in a general way of Turkey’s friendly and sympathetic attitude towards this Mission and American interests generally. Recent attacks on [Page 978] Turkey such as the one by Bishop Manning6 would intensify this retaliation. Turkey is unable to understand why the Government of the United States cannot prevent these attacks. Consequently, she believes the Government of the United States and the Senate are responsible for them. It is conceivable that Turkey might object to the continuance of this Mission, in which case the good will existing between this Mission and the Government of Turkey, and thus between the two Governments, would be sacrificed, and the restoration thereof made difficult and long-drawn-out.

In reply to 1 (b), I desire to state that the effect of a postponement of action upon American interests in Turkey and upon the Government of Turkey would be similar to the effects that would result from a rejection of the treaty, but it would be less, and the present status quo under which neither the Senate of the United States nor the Assembly of Turkey has taken definitive steps against the treaty would not be disturbed. I fear that the already long delay in ratification and the continuous and extensive campaign against ratification will cause the Turkish Government to overlook the very recent publicity in favor of ratification and to view postponement of action in the same light as definite rejection. Possibly the Turkish Assembly, when it meets next October, will bring up the treaty and reject it without waiting for further action by the United States.

2. I invite the attention of the Department to paragraph 4 of note from Foreign Office, dated January 25, transmitted in despatch No. 1784, dated February 1.7 There is no reason to believe that Turkey would renew or extend the modus vivendi. In fact there are signs that Turkey would not consider renewing it. There is little likelihood that the scope of the modus vivendi could be enlarged. Should the United States approach the Turkish Government under these circumstances for a renewal of the modus vivendi, an excellent opportunity would present itself to Turkey to manifest an ill will openly against this Mission, American interests, and the Government of the United States.

3. Nervousness and alarm over the supposed designs of Italy and the reported Greco-Italian rapprochement were once discernible in official circles at Angora. At the present time, however, this attitude has completely changed, and the encouraging progress of the Mosul negotiations and the conclusion of Persian, Russian, and Syrian treaties have placed Turkey in a stronger international position than it has occupied for some time. Should the Mosul question be successfully solved, the attitude of Italy or Greece will be of minor importance to Turkey. I am of the opinion that an external [Page 979] threat against Turkey would have no material effect upon Turkey’s attitude toward American interests. If Turkey thought she could get material assistance from the United States to meet a warm Italian rapprochement, her attitude toward American interests would be less intransigent. My belief is that Turkey does not think she can get such assistance from the United States.

4. The domestic situation of Turkey appears to be good, if not better, than at any time since the new regime came into power. Efforts to balance the budget and the application of new taxes disturb the financial and economic situation. The new taxes have removed [given rise to?] an unusual amount of criticism, but, if past experience means anything, it is likely that after the first outburst the public will accept the new tax measures with the usual indifference. I believe the Turks have given up hope of interesting American capital in Turkey. In the interior, security and order are better than in many years. The crop outlook is as good as, if not better than, last season. Turkey’s international relations appear to be improving at the present time. Turkey’s negotiations with Great Britain over the Mosul question and with Greece over exchange of populations are proceeding favorably. Although it is a grave mistake to predict future political situations in Turkey and the Near East, my opinion is that the present and future domestic and international situations of Turkey are such that the rejection of the Lausanne Treaty or the postponement of action thereon would be a grave mistake. The many possibilities involved, as I have endeavored to point out in this telegram, seem to put grave responsibility upon all concerned for the Government of the United States to provide protection for American interests in Turkey which is due them; and no fervent or sentimental interests should be allowed to prevent this protection being extended without delay.

  1. Rt. Rev. William T. Manning, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York.
  2. Neither printed.