No Alternative.

That is why the control of the Straits, as well as the dominion over subject peoples, must be taken from the Ottoman Turks in the reorganisation of Europe, guaranteed by a stable settlement, which is the aim of the Allies. But neutrals, rightly anxious for a peace as speedy as may be compatible with the attainment of the essential objects at stake, may ask whether either or both of the objects essential to the settlement of the Turkish Empire are not attainable by less drastic measures than a redrawing of frontiers and a transference of territorial sovereignty. Cannot the liberation of the subject peoples be effected, without impairing Turkey’s territorial integrity, by some system of devolution or local autonomy, under external guarantee and supervision? Is not this a field where the chief belligerents on either side, with the addition of the United States, might work together in concert? The answer is that this was precisely the solution attempted during the 19th century, and that through the present war it has finally broken down. During the 19th century the Concert of Europe did actually bring Turkey under a certain tutelage. The Ottoman tariff was regulated by treaty; the customs and other branches of revenue were managed by an International Administration of the Ottoman Debt, representing Turkey’s bondholders. There were various experiments in local autonomy; Crete and the Lebanon enjoyed self-government under foreign guarantee; there was an attempt to cure the anarchy deliberately fomented by the Turkish government in Macedonia, by forcing the government to accept foreign gendarmerie-inspectors with definite spheres of supervision; there was a promise of reforms in the Armenian Vilayets, exacted from Turkey at the International Congress of Berlin, but never carried beyond the stage of paper schemes. It is unfortunately true that this joint European tutelage was illusory, that it failed to remove or even mitigate the murderous tyranny that has always characterised Turkish government, and that the Young Turks have used the opportunity of the War to repudiate it altogether. The British people have not lightly or inconsiderately accepted this conclusion—as they have, by implication, accepted it in framing this joint Note in conjunction with their Allies. They advance these two aims with regard to the settlement of Turkey—the liberation of the subject peoples and the expulsion of Turkey from Europe—in the absolute conviction that they are necessary and right. But this conviction is in itself a very bitter confession of failure. It marks the reversal of a policy pursued for a century past; for during the whole of the 19th century Great Britain was the chief advocate of the policy which aimed at the settlement of Turkey by the preservation of her territorial integrity subject to the active tutelage of the Concert of Europe. British diplomacy was constantly exerted on this behalf, and British belief in this policy was so sincere that half a century ago Great Britain embarked in pursuit of it on a bloody war with one of her present allies. If Great Britain is now a convinced adherent of the alternative and more drastic settlement, it is because the system of joint European control, after a century of experiment which perpetuated and aggravated the ancient tyranny, bloodshed and despair, has been made finally impossible by the present War.

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