Townshend

General Charles Townsand – 1918

British General Charles Townshend and Turkish regional governor Halil Kut and unidentified officers after the fall of Kut

There is nothing that the Turk desires more ardently than to be friends with us. The price he asks is not exorbitant. It is no more than the heritage of every free-born nation. And the Turk is not a man to accept slavery or dependence. To him death is nothing if the alternative is dishonor. And whether as individuals or as a nation, the Turks will die fighting.

I had this in mind early in October 1918. I conceded the necessity of keeping the … passage of commerce all over the world, I emphasized the need for keeping the frontiers of Turkey in Europe as they had been settled and defined.

The bundling of Turkey “bag and baggage” out of Europe did not appeal to me either as a just proposal or as a practical possibility. The Turk fought his way into Europe centuries ago. He fought his way to the gates of Vienna itself. When finally the forces of Christendom united against him and pressed him back a little, he consolidated his position and stayed where he was for many a prosperous and proud generation. … Those of us who cast stones at the Turk should beware lest we damage our own frail house of glass.

The Turk has had to deal with turbulent … peoples, and his way of dealing with them had the merit of strength at least.

If the atrocities were totaled on either side of an account, we should find that many of the so-called Christian nations were deeper in bloodshed and guilt than the champion of Islam.

After the fall of Kut, I was taken in battle and became a prisoner. In October, 1918, I was released without condition, save that mine was the task of bearing proposals to my own government for a peaceful settlement and the deliverance of thousands of men from bloodshed and weary struggle.

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