Heinz Neumann

The Destroyed Equilibrium
in the Orient

(26 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 82, 26 September 1922, p. 615.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

While the peace-loving League of Nations in Geneva considered the question of demobilization, Kemal Pasha moved his troops from the settled Greek front to the Asiatic shore of the Dardanelles. Between the Turkish army and Constantinople there has only been left a narrow zone guarded by English troops and a narrow sea guarded by English men-of-war. Not a single Greek soldier is left now in Asia Minor. The reign of Kemal Pasha, extends from the mountains of Kurdistan to the Mediterranean.

Thus the Greco-Turkish phase of the Orient War is terminated. At the same time the conflict is not yet at an end. The question of Constantinople, of the Dardanelles, of the possession of Asia Minor is just now beginning. The Turks do not even think of contenting themselves with the deliverance of Smyrna and the expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor. They claim Constantinople, they claim Thracia as far as Maritza, they claim, in a word, the restitution of Turkey as a European Balkan power.

These claims confront England with the greatest difficulty against which she had to combat since 1918. What risks the English Empire is running in this game is well known. It is not the question of the city of Constantinople which is decisive, but what is at stake is the equilibrium in the Orient, which means the equilibrium in world politics, if England is repulsed from the straits of the Marmora Sea, then she loses not only her powerful position in Asia, but also her position in Europe, without communication with India, without the control of the Mediterranean, without an access to Southern Russia, John Bull is an invalid. Even in the possession of Constantinople and Western Asia the English bourgeoisie is threatened by ruin. Its European markets are destroyed, its non-European outlets for exports are restricted, its vital force is threatened by powerful rivals. The ascendancy of the United States is making itself felt more and more. French imperialism is advancing all along the line. The colonies are discontented and unreliable. English capitalism, the oldest in the world, already sees the moment when it will have to defend its existence by means of arms or resign it with honor.

German newspapers asserted repeatedly that England would retire from the misery of the reparations crisis into the splendour of her outer-European possessions. The opinion was expressed that British diplomacy would leave the Continent itself. What deplorable illusion! Kemal Pasha's victory shows with a piercing distinctness that, in the age of imperialism, there can be no “localization of conflicts” nor any escape into other regions of the world. If the Anglo-French conflict threatened to break out yesterday over the Ruhr basin, it is provoked today by Constantinople and will break out again tomorrow, over Soviet Russia. There can be no equilibrium in the separate parts when the entire foundation of the capitalist world is shaken.

England will defend Constantinople at any cost. It depends to a great extent on the Turks and principally on France if the war in the Orient will be continued or if it will be postponed for a while.

It is not probable that the Turks will venture by themselves without the support of France, the advance against Constantinople. They could defeat the Greek army with the Creuzot cannons, but against England’s naval guns even the 7.5 cm. guns with which the Turks have been supplied by France, are powerless. In order to take up the fight against the English dreadnoughts with some chance of victory it requires the submarine boats and the aeroplanes of the French imperialism.

Is the France of to-day able and disposed to enter into a war to the knife with England? It may be that the capacity of the French imperialism exists, but neither Poincaré nor the French capitalists are willing to wage a war today on account of Constantinople. The imperialistic antagonism is greater today than even before; the constellation of war is assuming more definite form form day to day, but it is not yet ripe.

The attempts of the imperialistic states to effect a compromise are becoming more and more powerless and hopeless, and yet, they are undertaken again and again.

England and France discuss the Orient question. England finds herself on the defence; France has all the advantages of a successful aggressor She exploits them without any consideration. While the hands of the English are paralyzed in Asia Minor, the French iron and steel industry is uniting with the German big capital. Lloyd George's demand for resolute action on the Orient question is answered by Poincaré by resolute action on the reparations question.

France makes every possible effort to render the disadvantageous position of England still more difficult. While the Turks advance towards the neutral zone and threaten to snatch the Dardanelles from England, France withdraws her troops with an inviting gesture to Kemal Pasha, and a warning finger to England. Italy attaches herself completely to the French policy in the East. England finds herself quite isolated. Even the British colonies, except Australia, refuse to comply with the request of the London Government concerning the sending of auxiliary troops to Constantinople.

It is just in this situation that France can extort great concessions without waging a war. She can, for the time being, leave England in possession of the Dardanelles, under one form or another, in order to gain a free hand in the execution of her European plans. Poincaré can abandon the Turks whom he supported energetically up to now if he obtains in exchange advantages on the Rhine. If the Orient conference proposed by England is held, such a compromise is possible. England would retain Constantinople as the representative of the “international control”. Shattered Greece would receive at most the Island of Cyprus as a plaster. The Turks would have to content themselves with Asia Minor, a part of Eastern Thracia, and a strip of land on the European coast.

The French press proposes this and the English newspapers find it acceptable. This would begin the third act of the Near East crisis. The compromise does not remove the source of the crisis, but produces immediately a series of new conflicts. Turkey, it is true, is gaining a footing in Europe, but she will not cease for a single moment to aspire the complete mastery of Constantinople. Her natural ally in the Balkans is Bulgaria, cut into pieces by the Treaty of Neuilly.

A Turkish-Bulgarian alliance is a permanent danger for the Small Entente. Serbia and Roumania will lean upon Greece in order to ward off the bloc of the defeated. That means the permanent danger of a new Balkan war.

France wrings heavy concessions from England. In exchange, she abandons the Turks. Thus Turkey is facing the question of resigning her existence or continuing the struggle against the two robbers. Turkey being strong enough not to be compelled to commit suicide, she will, in her defence against the English murderer and the French traitor, have to seek support from the only non-capitalistic great power of the world: Soviet Russia.

Soviet Russia has demonstrated by her latest notes that she intends to intervene actively in the decision regarding Constantinople and the Orient. Kemal Pasha has declared that he will not take part in any conference of peace to which the Soviet Government is not invited. Choked by England and abandoned by France, Turkey is pushed on the side of Russia. Thus the apparent contradiction is solved, that Kemal Pasha has been at the same time the protégé of French imperialism and the ally of proletarian Russia. Soviet Russia’s power in the Orient and in world politics is strengthened by this new evolution.

No better proof is needed of the effectiveness of the Communist policy of supporting all colonial peoples.

Last updated on 31 August 2020