As the Americans journeyed from Constantinople to Europe, the Wilson administration prepared a plan for a separate peace with Turkey. On May 16, 1917, Henry G. Alsberg, “a lawyer and editorial writer for the New York Evening Post” and the private secretary of Ambassador Abram Elkus, held a meeting with Secretary of State Robert Lansing on “the desperate situation in Turkey,” as Lansing described in his diary.1 The secretary of state requested information specifically regarding the economic conditions in Turkey and the nature of the relationship between Turkey and Germany.2 Alsberg informed Lansing that the economic conditions across the empire were extremely difficult and the “industries were at a standstill.” Alsberg estimated that “200,000 persons were starving in Constantinople and he was sure that in the interior conditions were much worse.” These conditions, Alsberg noted, caused a considerable degree of hostility among the people toward the Turkish government; however, lack of leadership had rendered the opposition impotent against the ruling Ittihadist triumvirate Minister of the Interior Mehmed Talaat Pasha, Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha, and Minister of the Marines Ahmed Jemal Pasha. The Turkish leaders were concerned that Germany “designed to rule Turkey after the war,” that such a possibility raises the specter of open rebellion against the triumvirate, and that to counter such a rebellion the triumvirate felt compelled to rely on German military support.3


Democratic Party Congressional Election Relief Work Midterm Election Bolshevik Revolution 
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  1. 9.
    Lloyd E. Ambrosius, Wilsonian Statecraft (Wilmington: Scholarly Resource Books, 1991 ), p. 113; Lansing Diary, Dec. 20, 1917.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Thomas J. Knock, To End All Wars ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992 ), p. 138.Google Scholar
  3. 61.
    James L. Barton, Story of Near East Relief 1915–1930 (New York: Macmillan, 1930), p. 107; Polyzoides, “Passing of Turkey,” p. 34.Google Scholar

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© Simon Payaslian 2005

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