Turkish Facts and Fantasies

Courtesy Reuters


IN THE past decade Turkey has passed through three periods of swift transformation. So bewildering have been the changes brought about by them that the atmosphere of the country is still that of the fairy tale. Look at the modern Turkish Republic, purged of Sultan and Khalif and foreign domination--where are the traces of the old Ottoman Empire? Or of the beaten Turk who was to be driven from Europe? Or of the Defender of Islam to whom the Moslem world, from Morocco to India, was supposed to rally four years ago? Gone, vanished, dissolved in the whirl of a fantasy as unreal as is the Turkish conception of it all. This decade is a kaleidoscopic picture of changing forms in front of which has been suspended one screen after another of camouflage. And back of all the shifting scenes the phlegmatic old Turk has remained, one of the most unchanged and unchangeable types in Europe.

The war period stripped the Empire of its non-Turkish possessions, disrupted the country by massacres and deportations and brought about the most abject surrender of any of the Central Powers. But the Turkish armies did not happen to be defeated in lands racially Turkish. Palestine and Syria meant little to the Turkish people: Allenby's campaign still less. And in the end Turkey, alone among the Central Powers, avoided the consequences of her defeat and the punishment she deserved. So when the Turk looks back on the war the camouflage screen falls, the realities disappear and he sees only his great victories of Gallipoli and Kut-el-Amara.

In the period following the war, the period between the armistices of Mudros and Mudania (1918-1922), the puppets moved with accelerated tempo. The Allies had meant to deal with Turkey as they liked. Above all they had meant to internationalize the Straits and to sweep the Turkish power from Europe--little matters of good housekeeping long overdue. They began by bringing upon the scene the most fantastic of their puppets,

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