Karl Radek

The Change in the English Tactics
in the Near East

(6 October 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 86, 6 October 1922, pp. 647–648.
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.

The Allied Note to Turkey of the 23rd September differs fundamentally from all the other decisions and notes of the Allies which have been drawn up during the last few years in reference to the Turkish question:–

“The three Allied Governments request the Government of the Great National Assembly to kindly inform them whether it is disposed to send immediately a fully authorized representative to a conference. ”

“The three Allied Governments take the opportunity’’ of declaring that they endorse the efforts of Turkey again to obtain Thrace up to Marza and Adrianople.”

“The three Allied Governments will willingly support the apportionment of the rightful frontiers to Turkey.”

They wish to “secure the peaceful and regular restoration of, the Turkish Power”.

The three Allied Governments will willingly support the admission of Turkey into the League of Nations.

Finally, “the Allied Governments are convinced that their call will be heard and that they will be able to cooperate with Turkey in the restoration of a peace for which the whole of civilized humanity is longing”.

Six weeks ago Lloyd George spoke of Turkey in the most irreconcilable tones. He declared that all promises which have been made to Turkey during the war with regard to the inviolability of her territory have lost their validity owing to the fact that Turkey had gone on with the war until her complete defeat. Turkey must be annihilated, he said, and almost called upon the whole of Christendom to take up the campaign against the Turkish barbarians. Today the Turks are members of cultured humanity, and they will even have the honor conferred upon them of bring admitted into the League of Nations.

The Turks are a very polite people and can also appreciate the politeness of others. The amiable note of the Allies was probably read with great pleasure in Turkey. But they draw strange conclusions therefrom, namely, that the cultured people adopt cultured language towards the Eastern peoples precisely at the moment when the barbarian East is holding the butts of its rifles under the nose of the cultured people. The whole of the East, the Middle East as well as the Near East, follow the notes of the Allies with the greatest attention, and will not fail to make use of the lesson as to how Turkey forced the English to politeness.

At the same time the people of the East are calculating politicians. They know, from their own experience, that one must discriminate between the amiable form and the contents. And if they had not known this, Lloyd George himself would have assisted them in this respect. After Lord Curzon had already signed this most endearing of the Oriental notes, Lloyd George said the following in an interview: “Tchanak, however, we will strongly retain in our own hands, and we will send our, ships from Gibraltar and Malta to the Dardanelles.” Not satisfied with that, the Daily Chronicle, the official organ of Lloyd George prints two articles (by Lloyd George’s own special journalist), which clearly lay before British public opinion the ABC of the English Dardanelles policy.

In the first of these two articles he declares that the English hold possession of the Dardanelles on the basis of the armistice conditions of the 30th October 1918. The first paragraph of the Armistice empowers the Allies to occupy the Bosphorus, and the seventh empowers them to occupy all the important strategic points about the Dardanelles. While he declares that the Allies must therefore keep the Dardanelles, he writes that “the Freedom of the Dardanelles will be best secured by the Treaty of Sèvres, which provides that the Dardanelles are to be continually open and must not be occupied by anyone without the sanction of the League of Nations. This last sentence reveals the motive of the invitation of Turkey into the League of Nations.

After the victory of the Turkish arms, it is no longer possible for either England or France to grant a mandate on the Dardanelles. One must put the thing somewhat more amiably. Turkey will be accepted into the League of Nations, after which the League of Nations will authorize the English or the French fleet to watch over the Dardanelles. As no other power will have the right to maintain a fleet there, the Dardanelles will thus remain in the hands of England and France. The invitation to Turkey into the League of Nations means the invitation of the ox to the butchers. In most cases it is not usual for the ox to go to the butchers in order to drink tea, but what he usually gets there is a crack on the head.

The author of this article, however, reveals not only the purpose of the invitation of Turkey info the League of Nations, but also the idea of the whole amiable note of the Allies. In his article: “Why must we remain in Tchanak?”, he enters into controversy with the French press which reports that according to the opinion of Field Marshall Foch, the Allies require for the defence of the Dardanelles 100,000 soldiers, whilst they only have at their disposal somewhere about 27,000 that is, 12,000 English and 15,000 French troops. French military circles reckon that the Turks can bring 70,000 men against the Dardanelles and that the British fleet in consequence of the geographical situation of the country, could remain neither in the Straits nor in the Black Sea on account of the danger of being cut off. In addition to this the Turks can cause very great damage to the English by means of their artillery. The English journalist replies to this:

“The French say: ‘do not attempt to retain Tchanak, as this could not prevent the Turks from reaching the Dardanelles, and if they reach the Dardanelles your fleet will not be in a position to fight against them. Therefore abandon Tchanak and allow the Turks to come to the Dardanelles. They can place their guns on the mountains, they can hinder the freedom of movement of our fleet, they can place before us the alternative: either to withdraw the fleet from the Straits or to expose it to the danger of being cut off.’ If the Turks should retain Tchanak in their hands, they would exclude the English fleet from taking any part in the decision; without the fleet, however, the decision of the question would be in the hands of the land army. Turkey, at present supported by a strong army, would have greater prospects of success.”

That is the underlying motive of the suggestion of a conference and of the amiable tone of the Allies.

If England, who at present only has 12,000 troops at her disposal in the Dardanelles, loses the Asiatic coast of the Dardanelles, the English fleet will no longer be able to dictate the decisions of the international conference. Then the conference may end with the success of Turkey. It is therefore necessary that time is first gained. The Dutch merchants in the 17th century crawled on all fours before the Japanese Shogun and declared on that occasion that if advantage is to be gained from it one must creep on all fours. The English policy is no less real. If it is a question of gaining time in order to send troops to the Dardanelles, and to Thrace, Lord Curzon can be very amiable.

The note of the Allies to Turkey is as similar to the note of the same Lord Curzon to Soviet Russia in April 1920 with regard to Wrangel, as one egg is to another. “The English Government – wrote Lord Curzon at that time – will be happy if they can say to the English people, that the Russian Government is granting an amnesty to Wrangel’s soldiers out of humanity.” The English Government also offered itself as mediator and played the part of mediator until France could send the technical reinforcements to Wrangel necessary for his attack. And who does not recollect the friendly and humane notes of the Allies from Boulogne when the Red Army stood before Warsaw. And when it was compelled to retreat from Warsaw, comrade Kameniev was obliged to leave London.

The note of the Allies is no sign of an alteration of their policy towards Turkey; it is only an attempt to postpone their decision until the English reinforcements arrive. Then it will be possible to submit the bill to Turkey: the Dardanelles shall remain in the hands of the League of Nations, i.e., the English fleet; the disarmament of Turkey; capitulation and indemnity.

Finally, there is a trifle which deserves to be mentioned The question why Russia is supporting Turkey is answered by the journalist as follows: “Not to speak of other reasons, Russia herself has dreams of Constantinople and believes that one day she will have better prospects of conquering Constantinople, if between her and her old adversary there stands no international law.” The author is much too intelligent a man, to believe even for a moment in what he writes. He estimates the sagacity of the Turkish people very badly, however, if he hopes to be able to convince the Turks that Lloyd George who pursued the Gladstonian policy of annihilation towards Turkey, will put himself out to defend Constantinople from Soviet Russia after he had (in 1916) promised this Constantinople to Czarist Russia.

The reasons for Soviet Russia’s support of Turkey are quite clear to the Turks as well as to the whole world, these reasons do not consist in purely humanitarian and other beautiful things, which, wares are only offered in English markets. We say it quite frankly because we can permit ourselves the luxury of this frankness. Soviet Russia is actuated by quite egotistical motives. In the first place everything that strengthens the peoples of the East who are suppressed and exploited by international imperialism also strengthens Soviet Russia, which is threatened by the same danger. In the second place, Soviet Russia has a great interest that the grain ships bound for Russia and the ships conveying Naphtha destined for sale in the Western European market are not held up by order of the English Admiralty. These are our egotistical reasons. We hoped however, that the Turkish people will prefer to believe us than give credence to the sublime note of England, who yesterday announced the annihilation of Turkey, who supported Greece with money and arms and who today is playing the part of friend reaching out the hand to the Turkish soldiers.

Last updated on 3 December 2020