The New York Times
December 4, 1922


What The Times thinks about the morality of the Turkish plan to drive every Greek and Armenian out of Turkey--which means that a great many of them will die or be murdered on the way, and that others will fall victims to famine or pestilence in their places of refuge--has already been said. It has been pointed out, too, that the serious thing is not so much the morality of the Turk, which has been fairly well known to the world for several centuries but that of the so-called Christian Powers which stood by and were consenting.

The British Government protested in the name of humanity when the Greek revolutionaries shot a group of ex-Ministers and Generals. But when the Turks announce that a million Greeks are to be expelled from the country where they have lived since two thousand years before the Turks were heard of, and driven out to die, Lord Curzon's moral scruples are satisfied with a request for two weeks delay. Politicians it seems can be knocked by killings only when the victims are other politicians.

Even granting that this eviction on a grand scale will be successful--as apparently it will--what is to become of Turkey? What will become of the deported Greeks and Armenians is, unhappily plain enough.

What of the Turks who will be left to undisturbed enjoyment of the country which has been somewhat inexactly called their homeland? Their friends make much of their "racial vitality" which has been demonstrated by the national revival. But racial vitality which exhausts itself in a capacity for fighting diplomatic intrigue and a low grade of agriculture is poor equipment for a nation in the twentieth century, especially for a nation occupying a country of enormous strategic and military importance. Already there is trouble in Smyrna. The expulsion of the Greeks and Armenians has ruined the town. What has happened in Smyrna will happen in Constantinople if the Christian population is expelled. Turkey will be left a nation of peasants, and the business which was formerly done by Greeks and Armenians will have to be done by somebody other than the Turks.

It is too much to suppose that the world will leave the Turks to till their fields and enjoy the pleasant spectacle of deserted and ruined cities undisturbed by the complications of modern business. Somebody is going after the iron and the oil. The great cultured nations of Western Europe which watch calmly the annihilation of some of the oldest stocks of European culture may be calm because they think they will get a bigger share of the business with resident business men out of the way. But business there must be: even the Turks will need it. And the killing off of the races that have done the business hitherto will merely widen the field for that foreign intrigue which the Near East has known for centuries and will continue to know so long as weak or incompetent States lie in the zone between Asia and Europe.

There is some justice in the Turkish complaint that the Christian minorities were used as pawns in foreign diplomatic games: but the games will go on with other pawns. The Turks will not be let alone, nor will the Near East cease to be a breeding ground of European wars. The Turks have found themselves unable to get along with races whose collaboration was essential if Turkey was to continue to exist under modern conditions. They knew no way to solve that problem but the extermination of the minorities. Yet this murder of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children will in the long run bring no profit either to the Turks who do it or to the European Powers which are apparently going to allow it.




Winston Churchill (1874-1965) - British Statesman

“... Mustapha Kemal's Army ... celebrated their triumph by the burning of Smyrna to ashes and by a vast massacre of its Christian population...”

Churchill W, The Aftermath, New York, Charles Scribner's and Sons, 1929, p444