« AnteriorContinuar »
30,000,000. Mesopotamia might once more become one of the great granaries of the world, and owing to its position it ought obviously to become the granary of famine-stricken and over-populated India. Mesopotamia might become, and ought to become, another, and a greater, Egypt under the united efforts of Great Britain and India. Great Britain's experience in Egypt and in India in the best methods of irrigation should convert the Babylonian waste once more into a paradise.
One of the most important routes, if not the most important, of the British Empire is the sea-route from England to India and Australia by way of the Suez Canal. Admiral Mahan has stated that the control of the Persian Gulf is an important British interest because thence a flank attack may be made on the sea-route to India and China. A glance at the map shows that the control of the Red Sea is at least as important because the Red Sea is merely a prolongation of the Suez Canal. The Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are long and narrow inlets from the shores of which British shipping can easily be attacked by means of mines, submarines, and torpedo boats. It is therefore clear that Great Britain is most strongly interested in the integrity of the shores both of the Persian Gulf and of the Red Sea. Arabia forms the eastern shore of the Red Sea and the western shore of the Persian Gulf. As Great Britain is vitally interested in the integrity of the Persian Gulf and of the Red Sea, she is equally strongly interested in the integrity of Arabia. A hostile Power controlling Arabia might make both inlets untenable to Great Britain and block the Suez Canal somewhere between Suez and Aden. Great Britain and India have shown in the past that they are strongly interested in the integrity both of Southern Persia, which forms the eastern shore of the Persian Gulf, and of Arabia. A hostile Power controlling Arabia could not only attack British shipping in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, but could attack the Suez Canal as well.
On the eastern shore of the Red Sea lie the Holy Places of Mohammedanism, Mecca, and Medina. Ali Mohammedans desire that their Holy places should be controlled by an independent Mohammedan Power, not by Christian States. Great Britain is certain to respect that wish.
If the arguments given in these pages should, after a careful scrutiny, be found correct, it would appear that the problem of Asiatic Turkey can be solved only by placing the country under a European guardianship, and the question arises whether several Powers or a single one should fill this office. As several Powers possess strong interests in Asiatic Turkey, and as the country is of the greatest strategical importance, the ideal solution would seem to be a joint guardianship exercised by some body either on behalf of all Europe or on behalf of the victorious Entente Powers. It is questionable, however, whether the Powers exercising control over one of the most valuable and important territories in the world will be able to act in harmony.
Natura non facit saltum. A guardianship should not be imposed upon Turkey by violent measures. It might be exercised by means of the strictest financial control. A European financial authority might be made to control and direct the entire expenditure of Asiatic Turkey, and might by purely financial means keep the country in order and shape its policy and internal development. If we look for a precedent we find one in the Caisse de la Dette, a Turkish organisation directed by Europeans which has managed the Turkish finances with conspicuous honesty and ability without causing serious international friction. However, the example of the Caisse de la Dette supplies a false analogy. The European nations acted in harmony, when represented by that body, because the Caisse had no political power. That power was exercised by the Sultan and his advisers. Hence, the European nations intrigued against each other not in the Caisse de la Dette but around the Sultan and his Government. If the Caisse de la Dette should be given control over the Turkish Government its harmony would probably come to an end and the European Powers would strive to influence the policy of Asiatic Turkey by bringing pressure to bear upon the international financial commission of supervision.
A condominium, whenever and wherever tried, has proved a failure and a danger. If the European Powers should desire to convert Asiatic Turkey into a peaceful and prosperous buffer State, into a gigantic Switzerland, by means of a European guardianship, the duty of controlling, modernising, and developing the country should be left to a single and a non-military, and therefore non-aggressive, Power acting on behalf of Europe. At first sight it would appear that some small and capable State such as Sweden, Holland or Belgium might act in that capacity. But there are several objections to trusting the guardianship of so large and so important a country to a small State. Swedes, Dutchmen, and Belgians have little experience in dealing with Mohammedans. Belonging to a small State, they would not enjoy sufficient prestige with the Turks. Last, but not least, there would always be the danger that a small State furnishing the guardians of Turkey might be influenced in its policy by the attitude of a powerful neighbour State which thus would be able to influence the guardian of Asiatic Turkey to its own advantage. If the European Powers should decide to place Turkey under a guardianship, a single, a strong, a non-military and therefore non-aggressive Power experienced in managing Mohammedans should be selected. The only Power possessing these qualifications is Great Britain. Great Britain might convert Asiatic Turkey into another, and a greater, Egypt. Outwardly it would remain an independent State with Sultan, &c. However, an inconspicuous representative of the guardian Power, called Adviser or Consul-General, would control the Turkish administrative and executive absolutely by controlling the entire finances of the country.
Asiatic Turkey, like Egypt, would not need, and should not possess, a real army. A police force and a gendarmerie, possibly supported by a few thousand soldiers in case of internal troubles, should suffice. The entire energy of the Asiatic Turks should be concentrated upon the development of the country. Only then would Turkey cease to be a danger to other nations and to itself.
Great Britain would derive no benefit from its guardianship, except the benefit of peace. Her activity on behalf of Europe would be distinctly unprofitable to herself. It is true that the Turks would have to pay salaries to a number of British officials-a paltry matter—and that Great Britain might possibly provide some of the capital needed for developing the country. However, Great Britain will, after the War, have no capital to spare for exotic enterprises. All her surplus capital will be required for developing the Motherland and Empire. Besides, she has no superabundance of able administrators available for the service of Turkey and of other semi-civilised States. Great Britain would see in a guardianship over Turkey rather a duty than an advantage.
If the War, as seems likely, should end in the victory of the Entente Powers, France will probably receive AlsaceLorraine and possibly further German territory. Russia will probably obtain considerable territory from Germany and Austria-Hungary and may receive Constantinople. Great Britain will obtain practically no material compensation, for the German Colonies can scarcely be considered as such. Great Britain has not fought for territory but for peace. The neutralisation of Asiatic Turkey appears to be the most necessary step for preventing the outbreak of another world-war. While Russia and France demand valuable territories as a reward, Great Britain is surely entitled to demand stability and peace as a compensation. No Englishman has expressed the wish that Great Britain should acquire Asiatic Turkey. The aim of the British Government and of all Europe should be to enable Turkey to govern herself. But in order to be able to govern herself
Turkey must be taught the art of government, and Great Britain might be her teacher.
It seems necessary for the peace of the world that Asiatic Turkey in its entirety should be neutralised, and it seems likely that its neutrality can be maintained only if order and good government are introduced into the country under the auspices of a strong but non-military and unaggressive State, such as Great Britain, which is not likely ever to use the unrivalled position occupied by the Turkish provinces as a base for attacking the neighbouring Powers with a large army. A British guardianship would of course not prevent French, Russian, Italian, and Greek capital and labour participating with England in the Government and economic development of the country, in accordance with the policy laid down by the European Powers in concert and executed by Great Britain as their appointed guardian. Thus Russia might develop Armenia, France Syria and Cilicia, Italy the district of Adalia, and Greece that of Smyrna.
If, on the other hand, the Powers should not be able to agree to a British guardianship, it would become necessary to divide Asiatic Turkey into zones of influence. In that case, the Turks would probably be restricted to a comparatively narrow territory in the centre of Asia Minor. Being cut off from the sea and lacking great natural resources, the few million Turks would scarcely be able to retain their independence for long. Asiatic Turkey in its totality would be partitioned by the Powers. Great Britain would probably claim the control, in some form or other, of both Mesopotamia and Arabia as her share. However, it seems very doubtful whether the partition of Asiatic Turkey would prove a final one. It is much to be feared that it would lead to a disaster perhaps as great as the present War.