Puslapio vaizdai

Note. The argument for the extermination of subject races (viz., that if Mohammed the Conqueror had destroyed the Greek population of Constantinople, there would have been no Greek claim to the city to-day) was used, among others, by Halidé Edib Hanum, graduate of an American college and prominent 'Nationalist'. Turkish students have quoted it to me as an illustration in Ethics papers. But I was horrified to hear it used by an American educationalist as an illustration of the tolerance (sic) of the Turk. It was not tolerance but political sagacity. Djangiz Han annihilated the conquered peoples in his path and . . . founded no Empire. Osman allowed the native civilization to survive his conquest and founded the Empire of the Osmanlis. Had the Osmanli Turks absorbed the native civilization-as did the Goths in Italy-they would have established an Empire that could progress with the centuries. Unfortunately they merely exploited without absorbing that civilization, and so remained hopelessly behind their subject races.




HE vast and complex Near Eastern problem has many aspects, many ramifications. It is proposed in this article to concentrate mainly on the question of the significance of Constantinople and the Straits, and, secondly, on the ambitions and policies of Turkey and Greece with special regard to that waterway and to the adjoining regions of Asia Minor and Thrace. The whole topic furnishes a study in the intimate connexion of past history and present politics, in the influence of geography upon history, in the importance of economic interests, and in the strength of racial and religious 'pride and prejudice.'

Not least among the essential factors of the present Near East crisis is the geographical one, the paramount importance of the situation of Constantinople and the Straits. Constantinople is probably the best strategical site in the world. She holds the key of East and West. Guarding both Europe and Asia she stands sentinel on the former continent looking across the narrow Bosphorus to the Asiatic shore. She stands at the junction of two of the greatest inland seas, the Sea of Marmora and the Black Sea. Westwards there runs the deep sea highway of the Marmora and the Dardanelles, linking her to the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and giving access to the chief European countries. Moreover, Constantinople dominates Asia Minor with the Levant generally, and commands the main trade routes to the East, notably the overland routes to Turkestan, Mesopotamia, and India. Control is easy too over the Black Sea and its coastal lands with their illimitable wheat resources and the much coveted oil-workings of Caucasia and the Mesopotamian Mosul district. The closest relations, friendly or hostile, with Russia are inevitable. Moreover, Constantinople exerts a decisive influence over the Danube basin; when it is recalled that this river penetrates Central and Eastern Europe, opening up the heart of that continent and serving no less than seven or

eight countries (Rumania, Bulgaria, Czecho-Slovakia, Hungary, etc.), the significance of Constantinople controlling its outlet and lower reaches need not be stressed-Rumania after her tragedy of 1916 is hardly likely to forget it. With command of the sea the possessor of Constantinople can dominate the whole of the Near East. Even without naval superiority he can pull a very heavy weight, as the Allies found to their cost in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915; it was their inability to force the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople which caused the downfall of Russia and the consequent prolongation of the war at least by one year. Again the topography of the city and its environs lends itself admirably to defence, especially if the celebrated Chatalja lines be included in the area to be protected; she becomes well nigh impregnable. Constantinople bestrides the narrow world of the Near East like a Colossus.

The profound. religious significance of Constantinople should not be overlooked, for she is a 'sacred' city to Christian and Moslem alike. Constantinople was the 'first Christian city', being refounded by Constantine the Great, and associated with the new faith which he virtually established as State religion of the Roman Empire. To this day the Greek Orthodox half of Christendom looks up to that city as the home of its Ecumenical Patriarchate. Some publicists again advocate the claims of Constantinople (as against Geneva, etc.) to be the centre of the League of Nations or a kindred organization for the promoting of universal Christian peace and goodwill. Whether indeed the Utopian dream of Constantinople as the centre of world-peace will materialize in the future, at all events in the present certain solid concrete facts must be recognized. One of these is that Constantinople is the seat. of the Moslem Caliphate-and the Caliphate often brings not peace but a sword. In that city the Turkish Sultan acts as the Caliph or spiritual head of the Moslem world. It may be true. that the Caliphate only fell to the Turks as late as 1517 when Selim the Grim conquered Mecca, took the sacred banner and other precious relics of the Prophet and assumed the title of Caliph. It may be true that important sections of Islam do not recognize the Turkish Caliph, e.g. the Shiah Moslems of

Persia and Afghanistan, and the Wahhabis of Arabia. But nevertheless the majority of Mahometans probably give allegiance to the Sultan-Caliph, including the seventy millions in India; consciousness of this fact prompted the famous Government of India despatch whose publication resulted in the dismissal of E. S. Montagu, Secretary of State for India. Propaganda may have been skilfully engineered by Abdul Hamid, the Pan-Turanian Young Turks and the Kemalists. But it cannot be denied that statesmanship must take into account the strength of the Caliphate agitation and the peculiar veneration in which Constantinople is held.

Add to these sterner political, military, economic and religious excellencies the aesthetic delights and attractions of this 'Queen City of the East.' The incomparable waterapproach by the finely curved Golden Horn, the setting of the city upon its Seven Hills, the exquisite silhouette of the noble buildings with the countless soaring minarets and rounded domes, the appeal of Sancta Sophia, the charm of Oriental gardens and palaces-all this beauty invests Constantinople with a fascination that no city in the world can surpass or even rival.

Possessing such unique advantages, Constantinople could not but enjoy a unique history. It may be an exaggeration to say that 'history is geography in motion', but the vital influence of geography upon the history of that city is an incontrovertible fact. Owing to her admirable position, her wealth, and her strength, Constantinople and the Straits have been perpetual objects of desire and glittering alluring prizes for the beholder. From the dawn of written history, the age of the Trojan Wars and early Greek colonization, during the spacious days of the Great Constantine and the thousand years of the Byzantine Empire whilst barbarians were repulsed and culture advanced, during the Ottoman period of conquest, down to the nineteenth century when Russia, that 'imprisoned giantess', sought a window to look out on the Aegean, when Bulgars besieged Constantinople in the Balkan Wars, when Germany coveted the city as the pivot of her Berlin-Baghdad Railway project, and when in the Great War Allied troops hammered at the gates of the Dardanelles, on these and on

innumerable other occasions Constantinople has played a foremost rôle in international affairs. And once again the world's talk is all of the same old historic places-Constantinople', 'the Straits', 'the Narrows', 'Scutari', 'Gallipoli', 'Chanak', and the rest. The very names strike chords vibrating with emotion in the souls of those who like the present writer look down the vista of the ages past the same old landmarks, his vision coloured by personal memories of the previous Act in the 'Eternal Drama of the Straits', namely, the Gallipoli expedition of 1915, one of the strangest, saddest, and most romantic of all the strange enterprises in this romantic region. What the future has in store for Constantinople and for mankind is unknown. But it is not without interest to recall the prophecy of one who did not prophesy lightly (although its fulfilment seems impossible to our minds), "The master of Constantinople', said Napoleon, 'will rule the world'.

With regard to the other two storm-centres in the present Near East crisis, namely, Thrace and Smyrna, it is sufficient here to note that the safeguarding of Constantinople and the Straits is fundamentally dependent on the possession of the adjoining territory of Thrace, and that the Smyrna district in the hands of a foe is a pistol which menaces both Constantinople and also the heart of the Turkish nation in the Anatolian homelands.

The racial and religious factors in the Near Eastern problem should next be distinguished, involving a recognition of the pride and prejudice revealed in the nations and creeds of those regions. The great protagonists in the recent crisis were the Turks and the Greeks, although in the later and more delicate developments it appeared as if the 'seconds' of the two opponents (namely, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, etc.) were to become the 'principals', and at one diplomatic juncture there loomed up the darkling cloud of a general Moslem 'Jehad', or Holy war against the infidel, countered by a new Christian crusade.

Elsewhere in

As for the Turk and Turkish Nationalism. this number of the Quarterly, Mr. Chambers has presented an able first hand study of the Turkish mentality and of Turkish policies, with special reference to the ambitious designs in the

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