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Othman and his successors, and wherever the Turks went they created nothing except disorder, ruin, and utter desolation. The country which gave rise to the far-famed towns of Babylon, Nineveh, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Opis, Artemita, Apollonia, Corsote, Thapsacus, Baghdad, Ilium, Pergamon, Magnesia, Smyrna, Sardes, Susa, Ephesus, Tralles, Miletus, Halicarnassus, Antiochia, Laodicea, Iconium, Tarsus, Berytus, Sidon, Tyre, Damascus, Palmyra, Memphis, Thebes—this country became a wilderness. Poverty-stricken villages, or mere heaps of debris, indicate the sites of nearly all the greatest and most flourishing cities of the Ancient World.
How great and how general is the desolation of Asiatic Turkey, which formerly was one of the most densely populated countries of the world, may be seen from the following figures :
The most densely populated vilayet of Asia Minor is that of Trebizond, with 76 people per square mile. It is followed by Ismid with 71, Smyrna with 64, and Brussa with 64 people per square mile. How small the population is even in the most favoured and most advanced vilayets of Asia Minor may be seen by the fact that all Bulgaria has a population of 116.4 per square mile, Serbia 144.0, and Italy 313.5 per square mile. The cultivated part of Egypt had, according to the census of 1907, a population of 915 per square mile, but it should now amount to about 1000
per square mile.
How wonderfully countries which have been under the withering rule of the Turk may flourish when this rule has been abolished may be seen by the example of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Egypt. In 1882, in the year of England's intervention, the population of Egypt was, according to the census of that year, 6,831,131. At the census of 1907 it came to 11,287,359, and by now it should amount to about 13,000,000. During the brief span of England's occupation the population of Egypt has doubled, and its wealth has grown prodigiously. Between 1879 and 1881, three particularly favourable years, Egypt's imports amounted on an average to £7,000,000 per year. In 1913 they came to £27,000,000.
Trade by itself produces but little. The vast wealth of ancient Babylonia, Assyria, Lydia, Media, Persia, Phoenicia, and of the glorious Greek towns on the Western Coast of Asia Minor was founded on the broad and solid basis of agriculture. Asiatic Turkey was in ancient times famous for its agricultural wealth. Numerous existing ruins show that even the uplands in the interior abounded in large and prosperous towns. At present Asia Minor has only 10,000,000 inhabitants. From a statement contained in the 'Historia Naturalis' of Pliny, we learn that Pompey subjected in the war against Mithridates a population of 12,183,000. If we deduct from that number the pirates against whom he fought, the soldiers of Mithridates, the inhabitants of Crete, and those of Armenia and the Caucasus, together about 3,000,000, and add the inhabitants of Western Asia Minor who, according to Beloch, should then have numbered from 8,000,000 to 9,000,000, the whole of Asia Minor--that is, the territories this side of the Euphrates-should have contained between 17,000,000 and 18,000,000 people two thousand years ago.
Asiatic Turkey has large stretches of good soil and an excellent climate. Cereals of every kind, cotton, rice, and tobacco flourish. On the lower slopes of the west figs, olives, and grapes grow in profusion and in perfection,
and in the higher altitudes flourish the pine, the fir, the cedar, the oak, and the beech. Agriculture, aided by modern methods of production and transportation, should be able to nourish an enormous population in that favoured land, and should make it once more highly prosperous. Besides, Asiatic Turkey is extremely rich in minerals, including coal, gold, silver, nickel, mercury, copper, iron, and lead, but these resources have so far remained practically untouched. Under a good Government Asia Minor may once more become an exceedingly wealthy and well-peopled country. The possession or the control of Asiatic Turkey will produce both power and wealth. A military State controlling it would convert its wealth into power. Under its direction Asiatic Turkey would not become a second Egypt but another military State, and its mineral wealth would lead to the establishment of enormous arsenals and armanent factories.
On the Turkish coast there are numerous excellent bays and inlets where in olden times flourishing city States carried on an active trade. Under the Turkish Government these old harbour works, like the old towns, roads, and canals, have been destroyed or have been allowed to fall into ruin. In many places good harbours could be constructed at moderate expense, and the revival of agriculture and the exploitation of the mineral resources of the country would once more create a flourishing coast trade, would recreate the old Greek settlements.
Asiatic Turkey is economically very important, not only because it is possible to increase enormously its stunted power of production, but also because, with the building of railways, an enormous passenger and goods traffic may be developed on the direct line which connects Central Europe with India and China via Asia Minor. The intercourse between East and West is rapidly increasing. The Suez Canal traffic came in 1870 to 436,609 tons net. In 1876 it came to 2,096,771 tons, in 1882 to 5,074,808 tons, in 1901 to 10,832,840 tons, and in 1912 to 20,275,120 tons net. The geographical position of Asia Minor on the shortest trade route connecting the East with the West, which enriched Phænicia, and which made Sidon and Tyre the merchants of the Ancient World and the founders of a far-flung sea-empire, may greatly enrich its inhabitants.
The Turks have no gifts either for government or for business. Their administration in all its branches is a byword for corruption, neglect, disorder, and incompetence, and as the Turks display the same qualities, or rather defects, in business, their trade is carried on almost entirely by foreigners, especially by Western Europeans, Greeks, and Armenians. In their vast Asiatic provinces the Turks possess, admittedly, one of the richest countries in the world, a country which imperatively calls for development.
Asiatic Turkey is the stronghold of the Turkish race. However, only a part of the inhabitants are Turks. In Western Asia Minor, and especially in the harbour towns, live about 1,500,000 Greeks. Smyrna is a Greek town. In Eastern Asia Minor, near the Russian frontier, dwell about 2,000,000 Armenians. Chiefly in the south there are about 10,000,000 Arabs. Besides these there are numerous other races-Syrians, Kurds, Circassians, Jews, &c.
Wherever the Turks rule, they rule by misrule, by persecution, by extortion, and by massacre. The Greeks in the west, the Armenians in the east, and the Arabs in the south sigh for freedom from Turkish oppression. Hitherto Europe has been horrified chiefly by Turkish misrule in the Balkan Peninsula, the sufferings of which have overshadowed the equally scandalous misrule in Asiatic Turkey. When the Turks have lost Constantinople and have been finally driven out of Europe their singular capacity for misgovernment will find full scope in their Asiatic provinces. They will become a gigantic Macedonia, and the outrageous treatment of the Greeks, Armenians, and Arabs will bring about in Asia Minor the same disorders which hitherto prevailed in the Turkish part of the Balkan Peninsula. Here, as in the Balkans, the sufferings
of the subject nationalities will arouse among other, and especially among the related, nations a desire to interfere and to protect the unfortunate peoples against their masters.
The facts given in these pages allow us, then, to draw the following conclusions :
1. Asiatic Turkey occupies a position of great defensive strength and of great potential danger to its neighbours, & position which dominates the three old continents. A powerful military State, possessing or controlling the country, would be able to threaten its neighbours in some highly vulnerable quarters. It would be able to convert it into an enormous military camp, and it might mobilise Islam throughout the world and bring about a gigantic catastrophe.
2. The great latent wealth of Asiatic Turkey, its matchless position for trade and commerce, and the fearful neglect from which it suffers are bound to arouse among all progressive nations a keen desire to open up the country by means of railways and harbours, and to exploit its precious agricultural and mineral resources.
3. The presence of subject nationalities-Greeks, Armenians, Arabs, &c.—in Asia Minor, who are likely to suffer persecution at the hands of the ruling Turks, is bound to bring about a desire for intervention on the part of other Powers. In view of the commanding position occupied by Asia Minor and the possibility of some nation or other wishing to make use of that country for aggressive purposes, the European Powers may as little be able to act in harmony in endeavouring to create good order in Asiatic Turkey as they were in European Turkey. Once more philo-Turkish and anti-Turkish Powers may struggle for ascendancy. Consequently the same intrigues and counter-intrigues, dangerous to the peace of the world, of which during four centuries Constantinople was the scene, might take place in Konia or wherever the Turks should place their new seat of Government.
Apparently the problem of Asiatic Turkey is insoluble.
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