December 4, 1922
The New York Times
Page 16, Col. 3

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
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.