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A peace to end all peace

Auteur : David Fromkin
Éditeur : Avon Books Date & Lieu : 1990, New York
Préface : Pages : 676
Traduction : ISBN : 0-380-71300-4
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 135x205 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Ang. Fro. Pea. Gen. 2802Thème : Général

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
A peace to end all peace

A peace to end all peace

David Fromkin

Avon Books

The Middle East, as we know it from today’s headlines, emerged from decisions made by the Allies during and after the First World War. In the pages that follow I set out to tell in one volume the wide-ranging story of how and why—and out of what hopes and fears, loves and hatreds, mistakes and misunderstandings—these decisions were made.

Russian and French official accounts of what they were doing in the Middle East at that time were, not unnaturally, works of propaganda; British official accounts—and even the later memoirs of the officials concerned—were untruthful too. British officials who played a major role in the making of these decisions provided a version of events that was, at best, edited and, at worst, fictitious. They sought to hide their meddling in Moslem religious affairs (pages 96—105) and to pretend that they had entered the Middle East as patrons of Arab independence—a cause in which they did not in fact believe. Moreover, the Arab Revolt that formed the centerpiece of their narrative occurred not so ...


The idea of writing this book came to me in the course of a conversation with Timothy Dickinson in which he asked my views about the history of the Middle East. Later I put my ideas in written form. Jason Epstein suggested that the book be structured around a personality. I took his suggestion and chose Winston Churchill. Now I cannot think of how the book could have been structured any other way.

As books on my subject appeared in London, my friend and colleague Robert L. Sigmon would buy them for me and send them to me by airmail. And Professor Stanley Mallach of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee helped me find books I could not find elsewhere.

Alain Silvera, Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College and a lifelong friend, kept me abreast of the latest scholarship by supplying me with articles from learned journals as well as valuable ideas, information, and suggestions. He read and re-read the manuscript and offered detailed marginal corrections and comments. He showed the manuscript also to his Ph.D. student Kay Patterson, who offered extensive and careful comments. At my request, Professor Ernest Gellner of Cambridge University kindly arranged for me to meet Professor Elie Kedourie, whom I wanted to persuade to be the other academic reader of my manuscript. Professor Kedourie read the manuscript and gave me the benefit of his immense erudition and authoritative comments. I am grateful to him, and to Mrs Kedourie for her kindness and patience in putting up with my demands on her husband’s time. Dr Nicholas Rizopoulos read the Greek-Turkish episodes and offered valuable suggestions. I hope I need not add that Professor Kedourie, Professor Silvera, Dr Rizopoulos, and Mrs Patterson are not responsible in any way for the opinions and conclusions I express in the book. Moreover, the manuscript has been extensively rewritten since they saw it, so there may well be factual or other statements in it they would have advised me to change.

Academic readers, in particular, will observe in reading the book that I owe an immense intellectual debt to the books and essays of many other scholars—more, indeed, than there is space to name here. Chief among those to whom I am thus indebted are Elie Kedourie, for his masterful studies of Middle Eastern and British history and politics, and Martin Gilbert, whose great life of Winston Churchill is essential to anyone writing about this period. I have leaned heavily on Gilbert’s volumes—as everyone now must. And 1 was inspired by the example of Howard Sachar to believe that a history of the Middle East can be written—as I was attempting to do—on a very broad scale.

Samuel Clayton, the son of Sir Gilbert Clayton, was kind enough to spend the best part of an afternoon talking to me about his father. My thanks to him, and to his wife, the Lady Mary, for their hospitality in having me to tea at Kensington Palace.

In the course of my research in archives in Britain and elsewhere over the years, I have benefited from the kindness and patience of such unfailingly helpful librarians as Lesley Forbes of the University of Durham, Clive Hughes of the Imperial War Museum, Norman Higson of the University of Hull, Alan Bell of Rhodes House, Oxford, and Gillian Grant of the Middle East Centre, St Antony’s College, Oxford. My heartfelt thanks to them all.

I owe an immense debt of gratitude to Rob Cowley, my editor at Henry Holt and an authority on the First World War, for his knowledgeable and helpful suggestions and for his constant encouragement and enthusiasm. Marian Wood at Henry Holt and Sara Menguç at André Deutsch saw me through the publication process with unfailing cheer and awesome efficiency.

For permission to reproduce quotations from documents I am indebted to the following:
—The Clerk of the Records, House of Lords Record Office, for permission to quote from the Llovd George Papers in the Beaverbrook Collection in the custody of the House of Lords Record Office;
—the Sudan Archive of the University of Durham, on whose extensive collection I have drawn freely;
—Mrs Theresa Searight, and the Rhodes House Library, for permission to quote from the diaries of Richard

—the Brynmor Jones Library of the University of Hull and Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., for permission to quote from the papers of Sir Mark Sykes;
—the Middle East Centre, St Antony’s College, Oxford, for permission to quote from their extensive collection, including the papers of Sir Hubert Young, T. E. Lawrence, Lord Allenby, William Yale, F. R. Somerset, C. D. Brunton, and the King

Feisal and Balfour Declaration files;
—the Warden and Fellows of New College, Oxford, for permission to quote from Lord Milner’s files;
—the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College, London, for permission to quote from Lord Allenby’s papers.
Transcripts/Translations of Crown copyright records in the Public Record Office appear by permission of the Controller of H. M. Stationery Office.

For access to documentary material, I wish also to thank the British Library, London; Camellia Investments, Pic, London; the Weizmann Archives, Rehovot, Israel; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; the Imperial War Museum, London; the Houghton Library of Harvard University; and the New York Public Library.

A Note on Spelling
In spelling Turkish, Arabic, and Persian names and titles, I have used whatever form of spelling I am most familiar with from my reading over the years. So there is no system or consistency in it; but I would guess that the spellings most familiar to me will be the most familiar to the general reader as well.


The Middle East, as we know it from today’s headlines, emerged from decisions made by the Allies during and after the First World War. In the pages that follow I set out to tell in one volume the wide-ranging story of how and why—and out of what hopes and fears, loves and hatreds, mistakes and misunderstandings—these decisions were made.

Russian and French official accounts of what they were doing in the Middle East at that time were, not unnaturally, works of propaganda; British official accounts—and even the later memoirs of the officials concerned—were untruthful too. British officials who played a major role in the making of these decisions provided a version of events that was, at best, edited and, at worst, fictitious. They sought to hide their meddling in Moslem religious affairs (pages 96—105) and to pretend that they had entered the Middle East as patrons of Arab independence—a cause in which they did not in fact believe. Moreover, the Arab Revolt that formed the centerpiece of their narrative occurred not so much in reality as in the wonderful imagination of T. E. Lawrence, a teller of fantastic tales whom the American showman Lowell Thomas transformed into “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The truth has come out over the course of decades in bits and pieces, and now, toward the end, in one great heap, with the opening of archives of hitherto secret official documents and private papers. It seemed to me—in 1979, when I started my research—that we had arrived at a point where at last it would be possible to tell the real story of what happened; hence this book.

During the past decade I have worked in the archives, studied the literature, and put together the findings of modern scholarship to show the picture that is formed when the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. The authors whose works I cite in the Notes at the end of the book made most of the new discoveries, though I have made some too: what the Young Turk leaders may have done in order to persuade the Germans to ally with them on 1 August 1914 (pages 60—6), for example, and why the Arab negotiator al-Faruqi may have drawn a line through inland Syria as the frontier of Arab national independence (page 178).

Then, too, I may be the first to disentangle, or at any rate to draw attention to, the many misunderstandings which in 1916 set off a hidden tug-of-war within the British bureaucracy between Sir Mark Sykes, London’s desk man in charge of the Middle East, and his friend Gilbert Clayton, the head of intelligence in Cairo (page 193). I found that neither Sykes nor Clayton ever realized that Sykes, in the 1916 negotiations with France, misunderstood what Clayton had asked him to do. Sykes did the exact opposite, believing in all innocence that he was carrying out Clayton’s wishes, while Clayton felt sure that Sykes had knowingly let him down. Since Clayton never mentioned the matter to him, Sykes remained unaware that differences had arisen between him and his colleague. So in the months and years that followed, Sykes mistakenly assumed that he and Clayton were still at one, when in fact within the bureaucracy Clayton had become an adversary of his policy—and perhaps the most dangerous one.

Getting the bureaucratic politics right—and I hope that is what I have done—has been one of my chief endeavors. But I have tried to do more than clarify specific processes and episodes. The book is meant to give a panoramic view of what was happening to the Middle East as a whole, and to show that its reshaping was a function of Great Power politics at a unique time: the exact moment when the waves of western European imperial expansionism flowed forward to hit their high-water mark, and then felt the first powerful tugs of the tide that was going to pull them back.

The Middle East, as I conceive it, means not only Egypt, Israel, Iran, Turkey, and the Arab states of Asia, but also Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan: the entire arena in which Britain, from the Napoleonic Wars onward, fought to shield the road to India from the onslaughts first of France and then of Russia in what came to be known as “the Great Game.”
Other studies of the First World War and its aftermath in the region have tended to deal with a single country or area. Even those dealing with European policy in the Arab or Turkish East as a whole have focused solely, for example, on the role of Britain, or of Britain and France. But I place the creation of the modern Middle East in a wider framework: I see what happened as the culmination of the nineteenth-century Great Game, and therefore show Russia, too, playing a leading role in the story. It was in whole or in part because of Russia that Kitchener initiated a British alliance with the Arab Moslem world (pages 97—8); that Britain and France, though they would have preferred to preserve the Turkish Empire in the region, decided instead to occupy and partition the Middle East (pages 137—42); that the Foreign Office publicly proclaimed British support for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine (pages 184—93); and that, after the war, a number of British officials felt that Britain was obliged to hold the line in the Middle East against crusading Bolshevism (pages 465 — 8). Yet, so far as I know, this is the first book to tell the story as that of the Middle East in the widest sense: the Great Game sense, in which Russia plays a central role.

As you will see when you read the book, Middle Eastern personalities, circumstances, and political cultures do not figure a great deal in the narrative that follows, except when I suggest the outlines and dimensions of what European politicians were ignoring when they made their decisions. This is a book about the decision-making process, and in the 1914—22 period, Europeans and Americans were the only ones seated around the table when the decisions were made.
It was an era in which Middle Eastern countries and frontiers were fabricated in Europe. Iraq and what we now call Jordan, for example, were British inventions, lines drawn on an empty map by British politicians after the First World War; while the boundaries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq were established by a British civil servant in 1922, and the frontiers between Moslems and Christians were drawn by France in Syria-Lebanon and bv Russia on the borders of Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan.

The European powers at that time believed they could change Moslem Asia in the very fundamentals of its political existence, and in their attempt to do so introduced an artificial state system into the Middle East that has made it into a region of countries that have not become nations even today. The basis of political life in the Middle East—religion—was called into question by the Russians, who proposed communism, and by the British, who proposed nationalism or dynastic loyalty, in its place. Khomeini’s Iran in the Shi’ite world and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere in the Sunni world keep that issue alive. The French government, which in the Middle East did allow religion to be the basis of politics—even of its own—championed one sect against the others; and that, too, is an issue kept alive, notably in the communal strife that has ravaged Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s.

The year 1922 seems to me to have been the point of no return in setting the various clans of the Middle East on their collision courses, so that the especial interest and excitement of the years with which this book is concerned, 1914 through 1922, is that they were the creative, formative years, in which everything seemed (and may indeed have been) possible. It was a time when Europeans, not implausibly, believed Arab and Jewish nationalism to be natural allies; when the French, not the Arabs, were the dangerous enemies of the Zionist movement; and when oil was not an important factor in the politics of the Middle East.

By 1922, however, the choices had narrowed and the courses had been set; the Middle East had started along a road that was to lead to the endless wars (between Israel and her neighbors, among others, and between rival militias in Lebanon) and to the always-escalating acts of terrorism (hijacking, assassination, and random massacre) that have been a characteristic feature of international life in the 1970s and 1980s. These are a part of the legacy of the history recounted in the pages that follow.

=Two stories are told in the book and then merge into one. The first begins with Lord Kitchener’s decision at the outset of the First World War to partition the Middle East after the war between Britain, France, and Russia, and with his appointment of Sir Mark Sykes to work out the details. The book then follows Sykes during the wartime years, as he worked out Britain’s blueprint for the Middle East’s future. It goes on to show that, in large part, the program Sykes had formulated was realized after the war, and was embodied in documents formally adopted (for the most part) in 1922.
This was the story that I originally set out to write. It was meant to show that if you put together a number of the documents and decisions of 1922—the Allenby Declaration establishing nominal independence for Egypt, the Palestine Mandate and the Churchill White Paper for Palestine (from which Israel and Jordan spring), the British treaty establishing the status of Iraq, the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Britain’s placing new monarchs on the thrones of Egypt and Iraq and sponsoring a new princely ruler for (what was to become) Jordan, the Russian proclamation of a Soviet Union in which Russia would re-establish her rule in Moslem Central Asia— you would see that when taken together they amounted to an overall settlement of the Middle Eastern Question. Moreover, this settlement of 1922 (as I call it, because most of its elements cluster in and around that year) flowed from the wartime negotiations which Sir Mark Sykes had conducted with France and Russia to agree upon a partition of the postwar Middle East between them. The French received a bit less than had been agreed, and the Russians were only allowed to keep what they had already taken before the war, but the principle of allowing them to share with Britain in the partition and rule of Moslem Asia was respected. Within the British sphere, all went according to the Sykes plan: Britain ruled for the most part indirectly, as protector of nominally independent Arab monarchies, and proclaimed herself the sponsor of both Arab and Jewish nationalism.

In addition to establishing that there had been a settlement of 1922 in the Middle East, I show that our quarrel with that settlement (to the extent that with hindsight we would have designed the new Middle East differently) is not what we sometimes believe it to be. It is not even that the British government at that time failed to devise a settlement that would satisfy the needs and desires of the peoples of the Middle East ; it is that they were trying to do something altogether different. For Lord Kitchener and his delegated agent Mark Sykes the Middle Eastern Question was what it had been for more than a century: where would the French frontier in the Middle East be drawn and, more important, where would the Russian frontier in the Middle East be drawn?

That, as I say, is the story which I set out to tell. But in the telling of it, another emerged: the story of how, between 1914 and 1922, Britain changed, and British officials and politicians changed their minds, so that by 1922—when they formally committed themselves to their program for remaking the Middle East—they no longer believed in it. In the course of the narrative we see the British government of 1914, 1915, and 1916, which welcomed a Russian and a French presence in the post war Middle East, turn into a post war government that regarded Russia in the Middle East as a danger and France in the region as a disaster. We see the pro-Zionists of 1917 turn into the anti-Zionists of 1921 and 1922; and the enthusiasts for Feisal’s Arab Movement turn against Feisal as untrustworthy and against his brother Abdullah as hopelessly ineffectual. Above all, we see Britain embarking on a vast new imperial enterprise in the Middle East—one that would take generations to achieve, if its object were to remake the Middle East as India had been remade—at the very time that the British public was turning to a policy of scaling down overseas commitments and was deciding it wanted no more imperial adventures.

It may well be that the crisis of political civilization that the Middle East endures today stems not merely from Britain’s destruction of the old order in the region in 1918, and her decisions in 1922 about how it should be replaced, but also from the lack of conviction she brought in subsequent years to the program of imposing the settlement of 1922 to which she was pledged.

The book I intended to write was only about how Europe went about changing the Middle East; the book that emerged was also about how Europe changed at the same time, and about how the two movements interacted.
Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Kitchener of Khartoum, Lawrence of Arabia, Lenin, Stalin, and Mussolini—-men who helped shape the twentieth century—are among those who played leading roles in the drama that unfolds in A Peace to End All Peace, striving to remake the world in the light of their own vision. Winston Churchill, above all, presides over the pages of this book: a dominating figure whose genius animated events and whose larger-than-life personality colored and enlivened them.

For Churchill, as for Lloyd George, Wilson, Lenin, Stalin, and the others—and for such men as Jan Christian Smuts, Leo Amery, and Lord Milner—the Middle East was an essential component or a testing area of their worldview. Their vision of the future of the Middle East was central to their idea of the sort of twentieth century they passionately believed would or should emerge as a phoenix from the ashes of the First World War. In that sense, the history recounted in the pages that follow is the story of how the twentieth century was created, as well as the modem Middle East.


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