Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/51

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27
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

was the historic enemy, the nation which had given freedom to Bulgaria and Rumania, which had been most active in dismembering the Ottoman Empire, and which regarded herself as the power that was ultimately to possess Constantinople. This fear of Russia, I cannot too much insist, was the one factor which, above everything else, was forcing Turkey into the arms of Germany. For more than half a century Turkey had regarded England as her surest safeguard against Russian aggression, and now England had become Russia's virtual ally. There was even then a general belief, which the Turkish chieftains shared, that England was entirely willing that Russia should inherit Constantinople and the Dardanelles.

Though Russia, in 1914, was making no such pretensions, at least openly, the fact that she was crowding Turkey in other directions made it impossible that Talaat and Enver should look for support in that direction. Italy had just seized the last Turkish province in Africa, Tripoli, at that moment, was holding Rhodes and other Turkish islands, and was known to cherish aggressive plans in Asia Minor. France was the ally of Russia and Great Britain, and was also constantly extending her influence in Syria, in which province, indeed, she had made great plans for "penetration" with railroads, colonies, and concessions. The personal equation played an important part in the ensuing drama. The ambassadors of the Triple Entente hardly concealed their contempt for the dominant Turkish politicians and their methods. Sir Louis Mallet, the British Ambassador, was a high-minded and cultivated English gentleman; Bompard, the French Ambassador, was a similarly charming, honourable