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Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East

Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East: Missionary Influence on American Policy, 1810-1927

Joseph L. Grabill
Copyright Date: 1971
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East
    Book Description:

    For understand of the Middle East today, it is essential to know something of the historical background of that region, traditionally known as the Near East. In tracing the influence of American Protestant missionary activities on American foreign policy and diplomacy in the Near East, Professor Grabill contributes significantly to an understanding of contemporary affairs. It becomes clear, in this account, that missionaries and philanthropists were the most influential force in the United States’ relations with the Near East through the First World War and its aftermath. An important turning point in the history occurred in 1915 when officials of the Ottoman Empire massacred or deported several hundred thousand Turkish Armenians, among whom were the principal constituents of the American missionaries. This prompted the mission groups to shift their emphasis from evangelism and education to the development of the second largest relief organization in the United States history )eventually called Near East Relief). Through powerful lobbying, the missionaries got their government to consider seriously a protectorate over Armenia or all of Asia Minor. Despite their political failure, the religionists succeeded as cultural frontiersmen through their colleges, such as the American University of Beirut, and their technical assistance programs, which showed the way for the Fulbright, foreign aid, and Peace Corps programs. The archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Congregrational) and the Presbyterian Board of Missions provided rich source material for this book. The illustrations include photographs and maps.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6267-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  3. Chapter 1 “Christianize the Nations”
    (pp. 3-34)

    AMERICAN foreign affairs and Protestant missions to the Near East began turn a corner in the Woodrow Wilson era. Intervention in the First World War by the United States led many of its citizens to believe that their nation needed a new road away from noninvolvement in disorders of the Old World. Upstart internationalists tried to direct American diplomacy away from venerated isolationism. Of some strength in the attempted were Presbyterian and Congregational leaders of mission churches and schools in the Ottoman Empire and Persia. Probably having more effect than public officials upon American relations with the Near East during...

  4. Chapter 2 The Eastern Question
    (pp. 35-57)

    MISSION blending of society and religion — usually guileless, unconscious, defensive about security of persons, property, and program — helped Protestant emissaries become important in Ottoman-American relations. Missionaries disavowed union of Church and State but not of Christianity and culture. Since they dealt with the latter dichotomy so little, they were ill-prepared to cope with upheavals in the Empire which inextricably combined politics and religion. When upsets became large in the 1890s, missionaries were then the main interest of the United States government in Turkey. Other interests concerned tourists, academicians, merchants, and naturalized Americans. There were diplomatic exchanges not directly concerning the...

  5. Chapter 3 “Prelude to Point Four”
    (pp. 58-79)

    LIGHTS started going out in Europe during August 1914, dimming things for the missionaries from the United States in the Near East as well. Forces released in the Western balance of power helped begin hostilities between the Turks and the Armenians and Arabs, and also begin unprecedented trouble for the Protestants. To missionaries it was as if diabolical figures were stoking furnaces hotter than ever before. The American Protestants at first were not certain what to do.

    The religionists eventually responded to the unparalleled adversity. Their trials gave opportunity to express frustrations about their purposes and methods which had been...

  6. Chapter 4 An Unofficial Cabinet
    (pp. 80-105)

    FORTUITOUS circumstances were necessary for the mission-directed American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief to make history move in its direction. No harm had come to its benevolent enterprise because Charles Crane and Henry Morgenthau were both close to the Protestants connected with Turkey and with the Wilson administration. The strongest personal factor helping the ACASR was the friendship of Cleveland H. Dodge and Woodrow Wilson. Until the Armistice of 1918, and beyond that time, Dodge was at the center of relief and governmental interaction with the Near East.

    To understand the preponderance of Dodge in Turkish-American affairs for what...

  7. Chapter 5 Transatlantic Visions and Doings
    (pp. 106-134)

    AN IMPORTANT part of mission-relief strength by 1918 was going into an effort to make America’s internationalism in the Near East political as well as cultural. Old restraints against involvement in foreign policy were weakening. With Armenians moving toward freedom, it looked to many United States religionists as if God favored “Christian” America and Armenia more than “Muslim” Turkey. They deduced that God’s will must encompass some connection between Allied military superiority and an official task for the “Protestant” United States in the Ottoman Empire. Armenianism was more intoxicating to them than the view that the Creator is no respecter...

  8. Chapter 6 The Nestorian Kettle
    (pp. 135-154)

    WHEN in January 1919 Barton met Harry Pratt Judson of the ACRNE-sponsored Persian Commission in London, the two men talked not only relief but also of a Western nation’s sponsorship of Nestorian Christians. Barton desired political security for the Nestorians, not the least because the Presbyterians had fashioned among them before 1914 their model station in Asia. With the World War, military swirls on the neutral soil of the Shah had swept the Nestorians into their vortex. Presbyterian missionaries, like colleagues helping Armenians, had sought to avert tribulation for the Nestorians.

    Protestant work among the Nestorians had begun with nineteenth-century...

  9. Chapter 7 Missionary Internationalism
    (pp. 155-185)

    THE incongruity between Yohannan’s reverie and Persian and Turkish nationalism was one manifestation of the polarities with which Speer, Barton, and their colleagues had to live. Another polarity was a clattering of gunfire in Eastern Europe and Western Asia during the “Peace” Conference as Armenians, Arabs, and Nestorians waited impatiently for the Paris parleys to produce miracles. The negotiators ranged confusedly between the new and old diplomacy, between moralistic internationalism and narrow patriotism. As some typewriters set out Utopian aspirations, certain others demanded petty aggrandizements. Leaders of Britain, France, and Greece saw themselves partly as helpers to people in Western...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter 8 Commissions amid Conflicts
    (pp. 186-213)

    THE month of May 1919 was a pivotal time in the missionary effort for American mandates over peoples in the Near East. Before this month the Protestants had not had one reversal of import in their ever-enlarging philanthropic and government enterprises. Then they discovered they could not brake and redirect inertia from the past century as much as they had thought. Usually optimistic, they became baffled as their opponents advanced old-style imperialism. They wondered as never before if their goals would be possible. Yet there were things to come which encouraged them: the King-Crane Commission and two other commissions to...

  12. Chapter 9 The Isolationist Revival
    (pp. 214-246)

    BARTON by August 1919 had been asking futilely, since the end of the war, for the United States to commit itself to the Near East. He watched disconsolately as the Wilson administration passed one opportunity after another at Paris. Further disappointment came when his and Peet’s cable to Dodge from the Caucasus had brought no United States soldiers. More frustrations were to follow, because the President assumed, notwithstanding his unabashed concern for Armenia, that Senatorial consent to the League Covenant had to come before the mandate question. Waiting was to make mission-relief people ever more anxious, because the tempestuous Senate...

  13. Chapter 10 “Clamorous Armenianism”
    (pp. 247-268)

    IT MUST have seemed in June 1920 to some missionary leaders that God had taken a vacation. There was little left of their peace plans. What remained of a century’s investment in the Ottoman Empire was in such unsettled straits that obstacles to education and evangelism, except in the coastal mission colleges, were almost insuperable. For the American Board and Near East Relief, philanthropy and politics had to be the continued emphases. The Protestants turned to direct help for Armenians, while also looking for signs that Wilsonian foreign policy was not disappearing.

    The defeat of the mandate was not the...

  14. Chapter 11 Xenophobic Asian Nationalism
    (pp. 269-285)

    MISSION-RELIEF people reluctantly admitted four years after the Armistice of Mudros that there was no alternative to talking with the Turks. The Kemalists determined not to be treated condescendingly. The Allies understood this attitude and did not start a war with Ankara. Some voices urged a United States mediation between the European nations and the Kemalists; Secretary Hughes stated in a speech in Barton’s home city that American government did not intend to intervene in Turkey.¹ President Harding did not go beyond sending destroyers to safeguard American lives hi Asia Minor.

    Before the Lausanne Conference opened there was an interesting...

  15. Chapter 12 A Remarkable Heritage
    (pp. 286-310)

    THE story of Protestant diplomacy and the Near East is not only a narrative of pathos. It is a case study of a powerful lobby which wanted the United States government to organize part of the Old World. Failing to achieve this aim, the religionists nevertheless had a continuing effect in diplomacy as well as missions, education, and philanthropy.

    Missionaries foreshadowed actions of the American government to help stabilize transatlantic affairs after the Second World War. Religionists developed Near East Relief, an aid and recovery program not unlike the Marshall Plan and Point Four. Through a leading lobby for the...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 311-348)
  17. Essay on Sources
    (pp. 349-374)
  18. Index
    (pp. 375-395)