4 Dec 1922: The Statesmanship of Extermination, New York Times

nyt 04121922


The New York Times
Dec 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 sat-
isfied with a request for two weeks
delay. Politicians it seems can be
shocked by killings only when the vic-
tims are other politicians.
   Even granting that this eviction on a
grand scale will be successful - as ap-
parently it will - what is to become of
Turkey? What will become of the de-
ported Greeks and Armenians is, un-
happily 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 re-
vival. But racial vitality which ex-
hausts 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 peas-
ants, and the business which was
formerly done by Greeks and Arme-
nians will have to be done by some-
body 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 undis-
turbed by the complications of mod-
ern business. Somebody is going after
the iron and the oil. The great cul-
tured nations of Western Europe which
watch calmly the annihilation of some
of the oldest stocks of European cul-
ture 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 incom-
petent States lie in the zone between
Asia and Europe.
   There is some justice in the Turkish
complaint that the Christian minori-
ties 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
for 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 prob-
lem but the extermination of the
minorities. Yet this murder of hun-
dreds 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.

The Statesmanship of Extermination, The New York Times, Dec 4, 1922. 


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