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What to do about Syria – the view from 1916

One thing was certain: keeping the British there long-term wouldn’t help

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

6 February 2016

9:00 AM

From ‘The future of Syria’, The Spectator, 5 February 1916: We say with all the emphasis at our command, and without the slightest fear of contradiction, official or otherwise, not only that we do not want Syria for ourselves, but that nothing would induce us to take it. Englishmen of all parties; or political schools of thought — as we ought now perhaps to call them — are agreed that the British Empire is quite big enough already, and that at the close of the war the danger will be, not of our getting too little, but of our getting too much — of getting, that is, more territory than we shall have the man-power or financial strength to manage and develop properly.

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  • sidor

    Turkey seem to be paranoid trying to restore the Ottoman Empire. Pity that it wasn’t properly finished after WWI.

    • disruptivethoughts

      This is an interesting observation but I wonder how one would have gone about properly finishing the Ottoman Empire after the Great War, given the resources available at the time. What would have been done differently?

      • boiledcabbage

        A Kurdistan, for one thing.

        • david jones

          There can only be a Kurdistan if the Armenians decide to relinquish their historical lands. So no, there will never be a Kurdistan; not in Asia Minor anyway.

      • david jones

        There is an unwritten, unspoken rule since recorded history: the land that you occupy is in direct relation to the advanced material status of your civilisation. Eg, the lands that are most productive and comfortable for human habitation – North America, the Euro-Asian landmass, Australia, the Southern part of South America etc, have gone to the most powerful civilisations. Muslims have lost the lands that the West and advanced Asians deemed desirable; except for Asia Minor “Turkey”. This anomaly has been as a result of the conflicting interests of the three major powers; USA, Europe and Russia. When the situation is resolved, “Turkey” will also be consigned, just like the Muslim states of the Iberian peninsular, to the dustbin of history.

  • Bill Brinsmead

    Get to the Versailles Peace Conference and we let the French have Syria and Lebanon but kept hold of Iraq (for the oil), Palestine and Jordan. Guess we got the better deal. Perfidious Albion?

  • sidor

    Constantinople to the Greeks, Western Armenia to the Armenians and Kurdistan to Kurds. There is no rational reason why the allies didn’t do it. Was it the British scare after Gallipoli?

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