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The reconstruction of Poland and the Near East ; problems of peace online

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position upon the part of European states-
men that Islam had to have a universal
khalifate. As different Powers aspired to
be predominant in Constantinople and
Arabia, it was believed by each of these
Powers that the khalifate could be cap-
tured and used for the greater glory of
the successful Power and the confusion of
the rival Powers! Ilence we read con-
stantly in the newspapers and magazines
of Europe and America the statement that


the Sultan of Turkey is khalif of the entire
Islamic world, a sort of pope, whose re-
ligious authority is everywhere acknowl-
edged, and articles are frequently written
about "the revival of the Arabian khalif-

The erroneous conception of the uni-
versal khalifate was born of European in-
trigues and rivah'ies. Abdul-Hamid was
quick to seize upon it, however, and use it
S.S the means of making himself the center
of Panislamism. In their eagerness to
thwart one another's schemes of expansion
and upset one another's already acquired
hold in INIohanimedan countries, the states-
men of the Powers acknowledged Abdul-
Hamid's possession of an office that had
disappeared with the immediate successors
of Mohammed — an office which the ances-
tors of Abdul-Hamid, in the heyday of
their prestige three centuries before, had


been unable to revive to their profit. Aus-
tria-Hungary and Italy were so anxious
to get away with their loot that in the
treaties of 1908 and 1912 with Turkey, the
sultan was recognized as the spiritual
suzerain of subjects lost to the Ottoman
Empire by the Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Tripoli grabs. The same blunder was
planned for Albania. The action was as
foolish as it was meaningless: it created a
dangerous precedent. Since Islam is or-
ganically theocratic, a JNIohammedan ruler
cannot be khalif of people who are not
under his political jurisdiction. It is pos-
sible to conceive of a universal khalifate
only if all Mohammedan countries are
united in a single Mohammedan empire.
That is what Selim I had in mind when,
after the conquest of Egj^pt, he assumed
the title of khalif and turned against Persia.
German scholars know all this, but their


kaiser evidently did not. Else he would
have been prepared for the failure of a
repercussion in the jNIohanimedan world
when his Ottoman ally unfurled the green
flag and solemnly declared a d jehad (holy
war) of "the faithful"' against the enemies
of Germany.

The idea of reviving the Arabian
khalifate as a means of hastening the dis-
integration of the Ottoman Empire has
long been gravely discussed. From the
British point of view there have been pros
and cons; also from the French point of
view. The British have opposed the idea
when they felt friendly to Turkey and
when they feared that an Ai'abian khalif-
ate might lead to a free Arabia which
would endanger their position in Egypt;
they have encouraged the idea when they
wanted to threaten Turkey and when they
hoped that JNIesopotamia and the holy


places might fall under their political
control. France has viewed the Arabian
khalifate in the light of its advantages and
disadvantages in furthering her ambitions
to acquire Syria and to consolidate her
IMohammedan northern African empire.
Before the Agreement of 1904, many
Frenchmen interested in the near East
looked favorably upon the Arabian khalif-
ate as a means of ousting the British from

During the present war the agitation for
an Arabian khalifate has come to the front
again as a war measure against Turkey.
The Sherif of IMecca, encouraged by Great
Britain and France and now actively aided
by contributions of munitions and the
sending of native regiments from ]Moham-
medan colonies of the Entente Powers, is
in rebellion against the Turks. lie calls
himself "King of Arabia," and is formally


recognized by France and Great Britain
as "King of the Hedjaz." But the poor
sherif has not made good his right to the
hmited title the French and British au-
thorities are wilhng to let him bear. To
the south of Mecca, Said Idris and Im-
mam Yahia, both of whom are "strictly
neutral" in this war, are much more
powerful Arab rulers than the Sherif of
Mecca; and on the north the new "king"
(melek, by the way, is not a INIohammedan
title) is meeting with serious difficulty in
conquering the second sacred city of his
"kingdom." At this writing Medina is
still held by the Turks. As cabinet minis-
ters, the former sherif has appointed three
of his sons, and his army is led by the im-
placable foe of Italy in Tripoli, Aziz Ali
Pasha. Before the assumption of sover-
eignty by the sherif, France sent to Mecca
a delegation of distinguished African


Moslems — a tentative step toward recog-
nition of the sherif as "khalif of the Mo-
hammedan world." This mission, which
cost the French budget over a million
dollars, indicates that French statesmen
are persisting in the old error of believing
in the universal khalifate — a belief as con-
trary to the interests of France as it is
contrary to reality.

There ought to be no "question of the
khalifate" for Europe. It took centuries
for Europe to learn the folly of trying
to use the Christian religion as a cloak
for territorial ambitions and aggression
against enemies and rivals, of working to
control the head of the church for political
ends, of setting up ecclesiastical establish-
ments for reasons of diplomacy. Can we
not apply to Asia and Africa the lessons
learned? Khalifs and the INIohammedan
religion ought to have no connection with


European chancelleries. If European
chancelleries believe that the connection
should exist, it is because they have in
mind schemes of conquest and exploita-
tion of JVIohammedan countries.^


In discussing this question, it is difficult
to go back of the status quo — not only
difficult, but unprofitable. Once started,

1 When General Maude brought liis army trium-
phantly into Bagdad, he issued a proclamation assuring
the Arabs that the British had not come to subjugate
them. I have from reliable authority, also, the fact
that in the propaganda among the Messopotamian
tribes of Arabia, whose aid to the British made possible
in 1917 what could not be accomplished in 1915, emphasis
was put upon the "mission of liberty" of the British
army. To promise liberty to the Arabs was essential
to military success. It is to be hojicd that the British
at home — the Foreign Office — will realize that liberty to
the Arabs is essential also to political success. We have
arrived at a point in the world's history when govern-
ments must not be dazzled or tempted by immediate



there is no end to the labyrinth. One
wanders in circles, and finds himself in
culs-de-sac. In regard to Mohammedan
territories already in possession of Euro-
pean Powers, one can ask only for the
strict application of twentieth-century
principles of treatment of subject races:
that the holder prepare the people for self-
government, and refrain from exploiting

But we have Egypt, whose status has
not yet been determined by international
agreement; the independent countries,
Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan ; the country
Italy is trying to conquer, Tripoli; the
country Austria, Italy and the Balkan
States are eager to possess, Albania; and
the quasi-independent Arabian sultanates
and tribes.

From the material point of view, Great
Britain has governed Egypt justly, and


there can be no question of the material
benefit the Eg^^ptians have gained from
the British occupation. The sovereign of
the country is content to be under British
protection, and, from my personal knowl-
edge, I feel sure that the Egyptians do
not want to return to Turkey, or to ex-
change their British masters for any other
actual or formal European protection.
From the point of view of the population,
then, if the officials of the British Govern-
ment, following out a policy definitely es-
tablished by London, rule in such a way
as to prepare the Egyptians for internal
autonomy, Great Britain is welcome to
remain in Egypt. From the European
and world point of view British control of
Egypt is dependent upon the solution of
the question of the world's waterways.
Other nations control passages from
ocean to ocean: the United States the


Panama Canal, Germany the Kiel Canal,
Turkey the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.
It would be incumbent upon the British
to give up the guardianship of the Suez
Canal only if the Americans and the Ger-
mans and Turks are willing — or are made
— to accept the internationalization of the
world's waterways. Unless arguments
based on principle are applied to all par-
ties alike, can we hope for the "durable
peace"? And how else will right tran-
scend force than by the prevalence of ar-
guments based on principle?

The peace conference, seeking an equi-
table and durable peace, based upon the
freedom of small nations, will guarantee
the neutrality of Afghanistan and Persia.
Such a measure is not only an act de-
manded by a sense of justice, but also by
a sense of political wisdom. The inde-
pendence and integrity of these two ]Mo-


hammedan states, an independence and
integrity assured by international sanction
and not by alliance with or protection of
one Power or group of Powers, are as es-
sential for the equilibrium of western Asia
as are the independence and integrity of
Belgium, similarly assured, for the equi-
librium of wTstern Europe. We cannot
presuppose a permanent alliance and a
permanent common policy between Great
Britain and Russia.

The Ottoman Empire is the rock upon
which peace conferences have split.
1815, 1856, 1878, marked a new lease of
life for the Osmanlis. Each time, during
the struggle preceding the conference, the
disappearance of the Turks from Europe
was confidently predicted. Each time the
Turks not only stayed in Europe, but suc-
ceeded in keeping under their domination
a large portion of their Christian subject


races. But in the approaching peace con-
ference the Turks will not have as power-
ful friends as formerly, and their crimes
have been more widely advertised. It is
impossible to conceive of a peace that will
leave to the Turks the power to complete
the systematic extermination of the Ar-
menian nation by massacre, starvation,
and forcible conversion. The Syrian
Christians and the Jews of Palestine have
also to be considered. As we have seen
above, a portion of the Ottoman Arabs,
controlling the city of Mecca, have already
broken away from Turkish domination.
In Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Tur-
key we have the problem of a dominant
race ruling conquered races that have a
historic past and that have preserved their
separate language, customs, and national
consciousness. The setting forth by the
Entente Powers of the emancii3ation of


small nationalities as the principal object
of the war affects Russia in Europe and
Great Britain outside of Europe as much
as it affects Austria and Hungary and
more than it affects Germany. When it
comes to application of the principle, the
Great Powers may find mutually a way
of escaping. But there is not apt to be a
way out this time for Turkey. The Otto-
man Empire will undoubtedly be shorn of
its alien elements.

I have set forth the considerations in-
volved in the problem of Constantinople.
Albania, INIacedonia, Thrace, and the
Greek Islands are dealt with in the next
chapter on the Balkan balance of power.
A partition of the Asiatic portions of the
Ottoman Empire among the conquerors
in the European War is inconceivable.
Turkey is an ally of the Central Powers,
and they could hardly despoil her after


several years of comradeship in arms.
The Entente Powers, on the other hand,
have taken upon themseh^es before the
whole world the solemn obligation to ap-
ply in the peace which they would dictate
the principle of nationalities in establish-
ing the political status of emancipated ter-
ritories. Public opinion in the Entente
countries must insist, then, upon unswerv-
ing loyalty to the ideal in a peace imposed
by their arms and their sacrifices.

The Armenians are a nation, with a his-
tory of fifteen centuries, a language, a
literature, and a church, who have resisted
every effort of non-Christian barbarians
to uproot them or assimilate them. We
want to see them freed, not put under the
yoke of Russia to suffer as the Finns,
Poles, and Ruthenians are suffering.
The Syrians of the Lebanon Mountains
are Christians wliose separate national


existence is guaranteed by an interna-
tional treaty, signed by the European
Powers. France cannot make Syria a
colony without regarding this treaty as a
"scrap of paper." And who dares to ad-
vocate with honest conscience that the En-
tente Powers, whose program is the free-
dom of small nationalities, consent to put-
ting the Greeks of the ^gean Islands and
the Asia Minor coast-line in political sub-
jection to their traditional and worst
enemies, the Italians?

The problem is a thorny one, and, I am
told by my diplomatic friends, "exceed-
ingly difficult." But that is only because
European statesmen and politicians have
made it so. Let every Power in Europe
proclaim its own disinterestedness, and
state that it does not regard this war as a
war of conquest, but as a war of emancipa-
tion, and, lo! the problem disappears. A


Syrian state in Syria, an Armenian state
in Armenia or Cilicia, under the collective
guarantee of all Europe, and the union of
the Greek islands and the middle portion
of the Asia Minor littoral to Greece — this
is the only program that will satisfy the
aspirations of the subject Christian na-
tionalities, and assure a durable peace in
the near East. As the Turks (including
all ^lohammedans who regard themselves
as Turks) number nearly ten millions, and
are a virile nation, it is foolish to talk of
dispossessing them and subjecting them.
Desires do not make realities. The Greek
and Armenian and S}Tian frontiers will
have to be drawn moderately.

Beyond Cilicia and Syria there are no
Turks, and we can assume, from the les-
sons of history and from indications man-
ifested everywhere in Syria and Meso-
potamia and Arabia to-day, that the


Arabic-speaking jMohammedans will make
no effort to conserve the tie that has bound
them for centuries against their will to the
Ottoman Empire. The political future
of the Arabic-speaking Mohammedans —
the relations of the rival emirs with one
another, with the Syrian Christians, and
with the Palestine Jews — is too complex
a question to be broached here. I can
only assert that the difficulties, however,
are no more formidable if the principle of
"eminent European domain" is w^aived
than if it is maintained. Here, again,
there is need of a declaration of territorial
disinterestedness all around the table at
the peace conference. The Sherif of
Mecca, after the proclamation of the king-
dom of Arabia, stated this in no uncertain
terms. "Al Kibla," the new king's offi-
cial journal, reports him as saying, when
he announced to the Arabic-speaking


world that France and Great Britain were
collaborating with him to establish Ara-
bian independence:

If we have expelled the Turks from our ter-
ritory, it is because we have considered them
as foreigners, and they have no part in our his-
torical and religious traditions. How then
could we be wilhng to accept the supremacy of
otlier foreigners? We have prepared our own
rebellion against the Turks. No person not of
our own race has taken part in it. We have
begged the Powers of the Entente not to mix
up in our affairs. We have made them well
understand that we have determined to preserve
Mohammedan independence against all at-
tacks. . . . The Entente Powers are alhes
whom we respect, and friends whom we love.
But, I repeat, our alHance with them is based
upon the most complete independence.

All the JNIohammedans in the world are
of the opinion of the King of Arabia.
Islam wants friends, not masters.



One can scarcely count upon a durable peace
unless three conditions are fulfilled: (1) exist-
ing causes of international troubles should be
eliminated or reduced as much as possible; (2)
the aggressive objects and the unscrupulous
methods of the Central Powers should be dis-
credited in the eyes of their own peoples; (3)
above international law, above all the treaties
having as object the prevention or hindrance
of hostilities, there should be established an in-
ternational sanction which would stop the most
daring aggressors. — Foreign Secretary Bal-
four, in a cablegram to the British Ambassador
at Washington, January 15, 1917.

EVERY student of international af-
fairs and the Great War, every
thinker who has his mind fixed upon the
problem of the durable peace, every lover
of humanity, will endorse the three condi-


tions laid down by Mr. Balfour, with one
modification. In the second condition,
justice as well as common sense leads us
to substitute "all the Powers" for "the
Central Powers." Only one who is
blinded by passion and prejudice, or who
feels that some special interest compels
him to keep alive the fiction that all the
right is on one side and all the wrong on
the other, still allows himself the privilege
of an "I-am-holier-than-thou" attitude.
While the fighting is on, there is such
a thing as a sacred cause. France and
Belgium, who took up arms in defense of
their soil, have felt and are still feeling the
moral force of being in the right. An ap-
peal to fight for a principle brought to the
British Government the support of the
Anglo-Saxon race in the colonies and in
the United States as well as in the mother
country. But there never was a quarrel


that did not have two sides, and no quarrel
was ever mended unless the acknowledg-
ments and concessions were mutual.

We must remember that ^Nlr. Balfour
was talking about a world peace, and was
commenting upon the reply of ten states
to iNIr. Wilson's peace overture. He was
not speaking for Great Britain alone,
nor was he speaking for Great Britain and
France. Did he expect to make intel-
ligent men believe that none of the En-
tente Powers has "aggressive objects"
and that none of the Entente Powers is
guilty of "unscrupulous methods"? If he
could assure us that Japan is prepared to
hand over the Shan-tung peninsula to
China, that Russia waives her claims to
Constantinople and Armenia, that Italy
has no territorial ambitions in the Balkan
peninsula and iEgean Islands and Asia
]Minor, that Serbia had not been plotting


against Austria- Hungary for years before
the war, that Rumania joined the Entente
with no "aggressive object," and that no
members of the Entente Coalition had
been guilty of "unscrupulous methods"
(i.e., massacre and pillage in invaded
countries, barbarous treatment of pris-
oners, ruthless repression of rebellions
at home, cruelty on the battle-field, break-
ing of international law on the high
seas), he would be justified in saying
"Central Powers" instead of "all the
Powers" in settino; forth the second con-

Partizanship is natural. If neutrality
of persons does not mean ignorance, it
at least means indifference. But parti-
zanship must not be carried over to the
post-bellum period, else it is as harmful to
one's friends as it is to one's foes. We
can afford to have neither a pro-Ally nor


a pro-German point of view in writing on
the causes of the war and on the recon-
struction of the world after the war. If
lawyers handled the cases of their clients
in the same spirit that most writers are
handling the cause of their country or of
the group of belligerents to which they
have attached their fortunes, i.e., making
the abandonment of cold, sober judgment
a test of loyalty, could they put up a good
defense in court or arrive at a satisfactory
settlement out of court? The fact that
the United States may be forced to take
an active part in the war through Ger-
many's submarine madness in no way
lessens the force of the plea for preserving
detachment in forming judgments and in
envisaging the problems of the recon-
struction era. There must be a remorse-
less pointing out of past errors, a frank
acknowledgment of each nation's part in


the development of the general causes of
the European War, a mutual willingness
to meet on new ground, before we can
hope for the reconstruction of Europe on
just and durable bases.

The people of France and Great Britain
and of the British colonies believe in the
justice of their cause, and have a sincere
desire to see a new Europe — a new world,
indeed — come out of the present cataclysm
of suffering and destruction. Until
President Wilson gave Count Bernstorff
his passports they were grieved and angry
at the passive attitude of the people of the
United States. They could not under-
stand American official neutrality in the
face of the crimes of which Germany had
been guilty. They believed that Ameri-
can lust for gold and desire for ease were
blinding us to the moral issues at stake.
This was because they saw only one side


of the shield. They were thinking only
of their enemies and the guilt of their ene-
mies. They saw peace attainable only
through crushing their enemies. They
did not realize that Americans knew more
about the complexity of interests at stake
in the war than they did, because we had
continually held before our eyes both sides
of the shield.^ We are as keenly ahve

1 Ever since the beginning of the war, I have been
writing in the American press in defense of the cause of
the Entente Powers, and have pointed out the wrongs of
Belgium, the cruelty of the Germans in invaded regions,
and the aspirations of certain subject nationalities. The
result has been that I have had communications and a
flood of literature from all sorts of "national commit-
tees" with headquarters in the United States. There
are Irish, Polish, Finnish, Ukrainian (Ruthenian), Lith-
uanian, Armenian, Arabian, Syrian, Persian, Egyptian,
Indian, and Chinese committees, whose charges against
Great Britain and Russia and Japan, and whose claims
for independence, are in most cases as fully substanti-
ated and as well worth being considered as the claims
of nationalities subject to Austria-Hungary. The lugo-
Slavs (whose emancipation the Entente Powers' response
to President Wilson specified) seem to fear Italy more
than their traditional oppressor. Jewish committees and



as any Frenchman or Englishman or Ca-
nadian or Austrahan or Xew Zealander to
the moral issues of the war : but we do not
share their illusions about liberal Russia ^
and disinterested Italy. On the other
hand, we know that British and French

the Ruthenian committee have sent me evidence of cruel-
ties committed by the Russians in Courland and Galicia
on a larger scale than those of the Germans in Belgium.
American editors and writers will bear me out in the
statement that we are constantly confronted with these
charges and claims from sources that can in no way be
suspected of being subsidized by or sympathetic to

1 It is too early to assert that the entire foreign policy
of Russia is changed by the March revolution at Petro-
grad. History has taught that democracies are a long
time in the making, and that Jacobins have imperialistic
tendencies. One of the first public declarations of M.
MiliukofiF, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Provisional
Government, was to the effect that the new regime had
not changed in any way Russia's desire to accjuire Con-
stantino])le. Whether we have a Russia coming, to the
Peace Conference without demands of territorial ag-
grandizement and the desire to extend her government

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Online LibraryHerbert Adams GibbonsThe reconstruction of Poland and the Near East ; problems of peace → online text (page 6 of 9)