|Tuesday, 26 September 2023|
The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919
III-REPORT UPON NON-ARABIC SPEAKING PORTIONS OF FORMER OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The method of inquiry, in making our survey of the Asia Minor portion of our task has necessarily differed from that followed in the study of Syria. For our ultimate duty, according to our instructions, is ''to form an opinion of the divisions of territory and assignment of mandates which will be most likely to promote the order, peace, and development" of the peoples concerned.
Now we faced in Turkey a unique situation as to mandates. In Syria we were in a region already virtually separated from the Turkish Empire, a region whose boundaries were in general clear, and a region recognized as under a temporary government In such a territory, it was entirely feasible to go from community to community to seek the desires of the peoples concerning a mandate. -None of these conditions held for Asia Minor.
For in the case of the proposed State of Armenia, for example, the territory was not yet set off, nor its boundaries even approximately known; the Armenians were not largely present in any of the territory to be assigned; the wishes of the Armenians themselves as to mandates were already known, and the wishes of the rest of the population could not be taken primarily into account, since the establishment of the Armenian State would be in a sense penal for the Turkish people, and naturally to be accepted only as a necessity.
If a Constantinopolitan State were to be set off similar difficulties, in getting the wishes of the people upon a mandate, would be encountered. For the primary interest in such a State is a world interest, rather than a local one; the population would be likely to shift considerably with so new a policy, and so the choice of the present population, especially in such troublous times, would not be particularly significant; and the fact that a large element of the population belongs to the official class would make an unbiased opinion hardly possible.
Even in the portions of Asia Minor sure to be left with the Empire, an inquiry for choice of mandate, like that conducted in Syria, was not practicable. For the Peace Conference had not declared-at least up to the present-that Turkey must have a mandatory power over her, and consequently it was largely within her own choice whether she should have any mandatory at all. She had also long been an independent country, so that the mandate would be inevitably somewhat modified and adjusted through agreement with the mandatary.
Moreover, even if an inquiry for choice of mandatary were feasible, It would be most difficult to get trustworthy results. For it is perfectly clear that opinion in Constantinople is not free to express itself. The Government pressure in various forms upon individuals and groups, and the partisan censorship of the press, are both manifest. In the case of an American mandate, too, it was not known whether America would take it at all, so that there was fear of punishment from some other power, if declarations were made for America and she did not actually accept the mandate. Like conditions held in the interior, and there is even less understanding there of the political situation, so that it was felt that there would not be much gain from further inquiry in other parts of the Empire, in addition to the frequent reports by various investigators to which we already had access.
The plainly imperative need of the whole country for as prompt a settlement as possible of its fate also led the Commission to give up visits to various parts of the Empire, in order not to defer its report and so possibly delay action by the Peace Conference. The Commissioners have had the less hesitancy hastening their report, because it was believed that the essential facts upon which recommendations must be based were already in hand.
In this situation, the method for our inquiry in Asia Minor has been: To build, first of all, on our two months' study in Paris of the Turkish problems in the course of which we used the reports and other material of the Western Asia division of the American experts, and had many conferences with experts there, and with able authorities coming direct from Turkey- to take full advantage of all the general work done in the survey of Syria, as part of the former Turkish Empire, with its fundamentally similar problems and its incidental side-lights; especially to see as many representative groups and individuals as possible in Constantinople, and so to get reports on all phases of our inquiry, and from all parts of Asia Minor; to supplement the information so received with reports, for recent months, of the American Embassy and Consular Offices (through the kind co-operation of Admiral Bristol and Commissioner Ravndal ) and to supplement still further with reports of personal investigations by American Missionaries knowing the country thoroughly, and by representatives of the American Commission on Relief in the Near East, and of American business corporations.
In this way a large mass of valuable material has been brought together and studied by all three advisers-Dr. Albert H. Lybyer, Dr. George R. Montgomery and Capt. William Yale, U. S. A.-who summarized their inferences from it, and reported on special phases of the common problem. To test our conclusions, expert advice at all possible points was also sought from American and other leaders -many of them personally known by members of the Commission. The report of the Commissioners is based on the whole of the resulting evidence.
Our report falls naturally into five divisions; Pertinent action already taken by the Peace Conference; dangers from a selfish division and exploitation of the Turkish Empire; considerations looking to a proper division of Turkey; resulting problems; and the Commission's recommendations.
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