LESSONS FROM ABROAD
Hindus who will not yield to the demand of the Muslims for the division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan, and would insist upon maintaining the geographical unity of India without counting the cost, will do well to study the fate that has befallen other countries which, like India, harboured many nations and sought to harmonise them.
It is not necessary to review the history of all such countries. It is enough to recount here the story of two, Turkey and Czechoslovakia.
[The case of Turkey shows a steady dismemberment and loss of territory]
To begin with Turkey. The emergence of the Turks in history was due to the fact that they were driven away by the Mongols from their home in Central Asia, somewhere between 1230-40 A.D., which led them to settle in north-west Anatolia. Their career as the builders of the Turkish Empire began in 1326 with the conquest of Brusa. In 1360-61, they conquered Thrace from the Aegean to the Black Sea; in 1361-62, the Byzantine Government of Constantinople accepted their supremacy. In 1369 Bulgaria followed suit. In 1371-72 Macedonia was conquered. In 1373 Constantinople definitely accepted Ottoman sovereignty. In 1389 Servia was conquered, in 1430 Salonica, in 1453 Constantinople, in 1461 Trebizond, in 1465 Quraman, and in 1475 Kaffa and Tana were annexed. After a short lull, they conquered Mosul in 1514, Syria, Egypt, the Hiaz and the Yaman in 1516-17, and Belgrade in 1521. This was followed in 1526 by victory over the Hungarians at Mohacz. In 1554 took place the first conquest of Baghdad, and in 1639 the second Conquest of Baghdad. Twice they laid siege to Vienna, first in 1529 and again in 1683, with a view to extend their conquest beyond. But on both occasions they were repulsed, with the result that their expansion in Europe was completely checked forever. Still, the countries they conquered between 1326 and 1683 formed a vast empire. A few of these territories the Turks had lost to their enemies thereafter, but taking the extent of the Turkish Empire as it stood in 1789 on the eve of the French Revolution, it comprised (1) the Balkans, south of the Danube, (2) Asia Minor, the Levant and the neighbouring islands (i.e., Cyprus), (3) Syria and Palestine, (4) Egypt, and (5) North Africa from Egypt to Morocco.
The tale of the disruption of the Turkish Empire is easily told. The first to break away de facto, if not de jure, was Egypt in 1769. The next were the Christians in the Balkans. Bessarabia was taken by Russia in 1812 after a war with Turkey. In 1812 Serbia rebelled with the aid of Russia, and the Turks were obliged to place Serbia under a separate government. In 1829 similar concessions were granted to two other Danubian provinces, Moldavia and Wallachia. As a result of the Greek war of independence which lasted between 1822-29, Greece was completely freed from the Turkish rule, and the Greek independence was recognised by the Powers in 1832. Between 1875-77 there was turmoil amongst the Balkans. There was a revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bulgarians resorted to atrocities against the Turks, to which the Turks replied with atrocities in equal measure. As a result, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey and so did Russia. By the Treaty of Berlin, Bulgaria was given self-government under Turkey, and Eastern Rumania was to be ruled by Turkey under a Christian Governor. Russia gained Kars and Batourn. Dobrudja was given to Rumania. Bosnia and Herzegovina were assigned to Austria for administration, and England occupied Cyprus.In 1881 Greece gained Thessaly, and France occupied Tunis. In 1885 Bulgaria and Eastern Rumania were united into one state.
The story of the growth and decline of the Turkish Empire upto 1906 has been very graphically described by Mr. Lane Poole in the following words/1/:—
"In its old extent, when the Porte ruled not merely the narrow territory now called Turkey in Europe, but Greece, Bulgaria and Eastern Rumania, Rumania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the Crimea and a portion of Southern Russia, Egypt, Syria, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and numerous islands in the Mediterranean, not counting the vast but mainly desert tract of Arabia, the total population (at the present time) would be over fifty millions, or nearly twice that of Europe without Russia. One by one her provinces have been taken away. Algiers and Tunis have been incorporated with France, and this 175,000 square miles and five million inhabitants have transferred their allegiance. Egypt is practically independent, and this means a loss of 500,000 miles and over six millions of inhabitants. Asiatic Turkey alone has suffered comparatively little diminution. This forms the bulk of her present dominions, and comprises about 680,000 square miles, and over sixteen millions of population. In Europe her losses have been almost as severe as in Africa where Tripoli alone remains to her. Serbia and Bosnia are administered by Austria and thereby nearly 40,000 miles and three and a half millions of peoples have become Austrian subjects. Wallachia and Moldavia are united in the independent kingdom of Rumania, diminishing the extent of Turkey by 46,000 miles and over five millions of inhabitants. Bulgaria is a dependent stale over which the Porte has no real control and Eastern Rumania has lately de facto become part of Bulgaria and the two contain nearly 40,000 square miles, and three millions of inhabitants. The kingdom of Greece with its 25,000 miles and two million population has long been separated from its parent In Europe where the Turkish territory once extended to 230,000 miles, with a population of nearly 20 millions, it now reaches only the total of 66 thousand miles and a population of four and a half millions. It has lost nearly three-fourths of its land, and about the same proportion of its people."Such was the condition of Turkey in 1907. What has befallen her since then is unfortunately the worst part of her story. In 1908, taking advantage of the revolution brought about by the Young Turks, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria declared her independence. In 1911 Italy took possession of Tripoli, and in 1912 France occupied Morocco. Encouraged by the successful attack of Italy in 1912, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro formed themselves into a Balkan League and declared war on Turkey. In this war, known as the first Balkan War, Turkey was completely defeated. By the Treaty of London (1913) the Turkish territory in Europe was reduced to a narrow strip round Constantinople. But the treaty could not take effect, because the victors could not agree on the distribution of the spoils of victory. In 1913 Bulgaria declared war on the rest of the Balkan League, and Rumania declared war on Bulgaria in the hope of extending her territory. Turkey also did the same. By the Treaty of Bukharest (1913), which ended the second Balkan War, Turkey recovered Adrianople and got Thrace from Bulgaria. Serbia obtained Northern Macedonia, and Greece obtained Southern Macedonia (including Salonika), while Montenegro enlarged her territory at the expense of Turkey. By 1914 when the Great European War came on, the Balkans had won their independence from Turkey, and the area in Europe that remained under the Turkish Empire was indeed a very small area round about Constantinople and her possessions in Asia. So far as the African continent is concerned, the Sultan's power over Egypt and the rest of North Africa was only nominal, for the European Powers had established real control therein. In the Great War of 1914 the overthrow of Turkey was complete. All the provinces from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf were overrun, and the great cities of Baghdad, Jerusalem, Damascus and Alleppo were captured. In Europe the allied troops occupied Constantinople. The Treaty of Sevres, which brought the war with Turkey to a close, sought to deprive her of all her outlying provinces and even of the fertile plains of Asia Minor. Greek claim for territory was generously allowed at the expense of Turkey in Macedonia, Thrace and Asia Minor, and Italy was to receive Adalia and a large tract in the South. Turkey was to be deprived of all her Arab provinces in Asia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Hedjaz and Nejd. There was left to Turkey only the capital, Constantinople, and separated from this city, by a "neutral zone of the straits," part of the barren plateau of Anatolia. The treaty, though accepted by the Sultan, was fiercely attacked by the Nationalist Party under Kemal Pasha. When the Greeks advanced to occupy their new territory, they were attacked and decisively beaten. At the end of the war with Greece, which went on from 1920 to 1922, the Turks had reoccupied Smyrna. As the allies were not prepared to send armies to help the Greeks, they were forced to come to terms with the Nationalist Turks. At the conference at Mudiania the Greeks agreed to revise the terms of the Treaty of Sevres, which was done by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which granted the demands of Turkey except in Western Thrace. The rest of the Treaty of Sevres was accepted by the Turks, which meant the loss of her Arab provinces in Asia. Before the War of 1914, Turkey had lost all her provinces in Europe. After the War, she lost her provinces in Asia. As a result of the dismemberment of the old Turkish Empire, what now remains of it is the small state called the Republic of Turkey with an area which is a minute fraction of the old Empire./2/
[The case of Czechoslovakia, a country which lasted only two decades]
Take the case of Czechoslovakia. It is the creation of the Treaty of Trianon which followed the European War of 1914. None of the peace treaties was more drastic in its terms than the Treaty of Trianon. Says Prof. Macartney, "By it Hungary was not so much mutilated as dismembered. Even if we exclude Croatia, Slavonia, which had stood only in a federal relationship to the other lands of the Holy Crown—although one of eight hundred years' standing—Hungary proper was reduced to less than one-third (32.6 per cent.) of her pre-war area, and a little over two-fifths (41.6 per cent.) of her population. Territories and peoples formerly Hungarian were distributed among no less than seven states." Of these states, there was one which did not exist before. It was a new creation. That was the state of Czechoslovakia.
The area of the Republic of Czechoslovakia was 54,244 square miles and the population was about 13,613,172. It included the territories formerly known as Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Ruthenia. It was a composite state which included in its bosom three principal nationalities, (i) Czechs occupying Bohemia and Moravia, (ii) Slovaks occupying Slovakia, and (iii) Ruthenians in occupation of Ruthenia.
Czechoslovakia proved to be a very short-lived state. It lived exactly for two decades. On the 15th March 1939 it perished or rather was destroyed as an independent state. It became a protectorate of Germany. The circumstances attending its expiry were of a very bewildering nature. Her death was brought about by the very Powers which had given it birth. By signing the Munich Pact on 30th September 1938—of which the protectorate was an inevitable consequence, Great Britain, France and Italy assisted Germany, their former enemy of the Great War, to conquer Czechoslovakia, their former ally. All the work of the Czechs of the past century to gain freedom was wiped off. They were once more to be the slaves of their former German overlords.
[Both were brought down by the growth of the spirit of nationalism]
What are the reasons for the disruption of Turkey?
Lord Eversley in his Turkish Empire/3/ has attempted to give reasons for the decay of Turkey, some internal, some external. Among the internal causes there were two. First the degeneracy of the Ottoman dynasty. The supreme power fell into the hands either of the Vazirs of the Sultans, or more often in the hands of women of the harem of the Sultan. The harem was always in antagonism to the official administration of the Porte, which ostensibly carried on the administration of the state under the direction of the Sultan. The officials of every degree from the highest to the lowest were interested in the sale of all offices, civil and military, to the highest bidders. For securing their object, they found it expedient to bribe the inmates of the harem and thereby win the assent of the Sultans. The harem thus became the centre from which corruption spread throughout the Turkish Empire and which was one of the main causes of its decay. The second main cause of the decadence of the Turkish Empire was the deterioration of its armies due to two causes. During the last 300 years the army had lost the elan and the daring by which the Ottomans won their many victories in the early period of their career. The loss of this elan and daring by the Turkish army was due to the composition of the army, recruitment to which was restricted to Turks and Arabs, and also to the diminution of opportunities of plunder and the hope of acquiring lands for distribution among the soldiers as an incentive to victory and valour, in the latter period when the Empire was on the defensive and when it was no longer a question of making fresh conquests, but of retaining what had already been won.
Among the external causes of the disruption of Turkey, the chief one is said to be the rapacity of the European nations. But this view omits to take note of the true cause. The true and the principal cause of the disruption of Turkey was the growth of the spirit of nationalism among its subject peoples. The Greek revolt, the revolts of the Serbs, Bulgarians, and other Balkans against the Turkish authority, were no doubt represented as a conflict between Christianity and Islam. That is one way of looking at it, but only a superficial way. These revolts were simply the manifestations of the spirit of nationalism by which they were generated. These revolts no doubt had for their immediate causes Turkish misrule, Christian antipathy to Islam, and the machinations of European nations. But this does not explain the real force which motivated them. The real motive force was the spirit of nationalism, and their revolts were only a manifestation of this inner urge brought on by it. That it was nationalism which had brought about the disruption of Turkey is proved by the revolt of the Arabs in the last war, and their will to be independent. Here there was no conflict between Islam and Christianity, nor was the relationship between the two that of the oppressor and the oppressed. Yet, the Arab claimed to be freed from the Turkish Empire. Why? Because he was moved by Arab nationalism and preferred to be an Arab nationalist to being a Turkish subject.
What is the cause of the destruction of Czechoslovakia?
The general impression is that it was the result of German aggression. To some extent that is true. But it is not the whole truth. If Germany was the only enemy of Czechoslovakia, all that she would have lost was the fringe of her borderland, which was inhabited by the Sudeten Germans. German aggression need have cost her nothing more. Really speaking, the destruction of Czechoslovakia was brought about by an enemy within her own borders. That enemy was the intransigent nationalism of the Slovaks, who were out to break up the unity of the state and secure the independence of Slovakia.
The union of the Slovaks with the Czechs, as units of a single state, was based upon certain assumptions. First, the two were believed to be so closely akin as to be one people, and that the Slovaks were only a branch of Czechoslovaks. Second, the two spoke a single 'Czechoslovak' language. Third, there was no separate Slovak national consciousness. Nobody examined these assumptions at the time, because the Slovaks themselves desired this union, expressing their wish in 1918 by formal declaration of their representatives at the Peace Conference. This was a superficial and hasty view of the matter. As Prof. Macartney/4/ points out.
". . . .'the central political fact which emerges from the consideration of this history (of the relations between the Czechs and Slovaks) for the purposes of the present age is the final crystallization of a Slovak national consciousness. . . .' The genuine and uncompromising believers in a single indivisible Czechoslovak language and people were certainly never so large, at least in Slovakia, as they were made to appear. Today they have dwindled to a mere handful, under the influence of actual experience of the considerable differences which exist between the Czechs and the Slovaks. At present Slovak is in practice recognized by the Czechs themselves as the official language of Solvakia. The political and national resistance has been no less tenacious, and to-day the name of 'Czechoslovakia' is practically confined to official documents and to literature issued for the benefit of foreigners. During many weeks in the country I only remember hearing one person use the term for herself; this was a half-German, half-Hungarian girl, who used it in a purely political sense, meaning that she thought irridentism futile. No Czech and no Slovak feels or calls himself, when speaking naturally, anything but a Czech or a Slovak as the case may be."This national consciousness of the Slovaks, which was always alive, began to burst forth on seeing that the Sudeten Germans had made certain demands on Czechoslovakia for autonomy. The Germans sought to achieve their objective by the application of gangster morality to international politics, saying "Give us what we ask or we shall burst up your shop." The Slovaks followed suit by making their demands for autonomy, but with a different face. They did not resort to gangster methods, but modulated their demands to autonomy only. They had eschwed all idea of independence, and, in the proclamation issued on October 8 by Dr. Tiso, the leading man in the autonomist movement in Slovakia, it was said We shall proceed in the spirit of our motto, for God and the Nation, in a Christian and national spirit." Believing in their bona fides and desiring to give no room to the Gravamin Politic of which the Slovaks were making full use to disturb the friendly relations between the Czechs and the Slovaks, the National Assembly in Prague passed an Act in November 1938—immediately after the Munich Pact—called the "Constitutional Act on the Autonomy of Slovakia." Its provisions were of a far-reaching character. There was to be a separate parliament for Slovakia, and this parliament was to decide the constitution of Slovakia within the framework of the legal system of the Czechoslovak Republic. An alteration in the territory of Slovakia was to be with the consent of the two-third majority in the Slovak parliament. The consent of the Slovak parliament was made necessary for international treaties which exclusively concerned Slovakia. Officials of the central state administration in Slovakia were to be primarily Slovaks. Proportional representation of Slovakia was guaranteed in all central institutions, councils, commissions and other organizations. Similarly, Slovakia was to be proportionally represented on all international organizations in which the Czechoslovak Republic was called upon to participate. Slovak soldiers, in peace time, were to be stationed in Slovakia as far as possible. As far as legislative authority was concerned, all subjects which were strictly of common concern were assigned to the parliament of Czechoslovakia. By way of guaranteeing these rights to the Slovaks, the Constitution Act provided that the decision of the National Assembly to make constitutional changes shall be valid only if the majority constitutionally required for such changes includes also a proportionate majority of the members of the National Assembly elected in Slovakia. Similarly, the election of the President of the Republic required the consent not merely of the constitutionally determined majority of the members of the parliament, but also of a proportionate majority of the Slovak members. Further to emphasize that the central government must enjoy the confidence of the Slovaks, it was provided by the constitution that one-third of the Slovak members of parliament may propose a motion of 'No Confidence.'
These constitutional changes introduced, much against the will of the Czechs, a hyphen between the Czechs and the Slovaks which did not exist before. But it was done in the hope that once the relatively minor quarrels between the two were got out of the way, the very nationalism of the Slovaks was more likely to bring them closer to the Czechs than otherwise. With the constitutional changes guaranteeing an independent status to Slovakia, and the fact that the status so guaranteed could not be changed without the consent of the Slovaks themselves, there was no question of the Slovaks ever losing their national identity through submergence by the Czechs. The autonomy introduced by the hyphen separated the cultural waters and saved the Slovaks from losing their colour.
The first Slovak parliament elected under the new constitution was opened on January 18, 1939, and Dr. Martin Sokol, the President of the parliament, declared, "The period of the Slovak's struggle for freedom is ended. Now begins the period of national rebirth." Other speeches made on the occasion indicated that now that Slovakia had its autonomy the Slovaks would never feel animosity towards the Czechs, and that both would loyally abide by the Czecho-Slovak State.
Not even a month elapsed since the inauguration of the Slovak parliament before the Slovak politicians began their battle against the hyphen and for complete separation. They made excited speeches in which they attacked the Czechs, talked about Czech oppression, and demanded a completely independent Slovakia. By the beginning of March, the various forms of separatism in Slovakia were seriously threatening the integrity of the Czechoslovak State. On March 9 it was learnt that Tiso, the Slovak Premier, had decided to proclaim the independence of Slovakia. On the 10th, in anticipation of such an act, troops were moved in Slovakia and Tiso, the Prime Minister, was dismissed along with other Slovak ministers by the President of the Republic, Dr. Hacha. On the next day Tiso, supposed to be under police supervision, telephoned to Berlin and asked for help. On Monday Tiso and Hitler met and had an hour and a half talk in Berlin. Immediately after the talk with Hitler, Tiso got on the phone to Prague and passed on the German orders.
(i) All Czech troops to be withdrawn from Slovakia;There was nothing that President Hacha and the Prague Government could do except say 'yes,' for they knew very well that dozens of divisions of German troops were massed round the defenceless frontiers of Czechoslovakia, ready to march in at any moment if the demands made by Germany, in the interest of and at the instance of Slovakia, were refused. Thus ended the new state of Czechoslovakia.
(ii) Slovakia to be an independent state under German protection;
(iii) The Slovak parliament to be summoned by President Hacha to hear the proclamation of independence.
[The force of nationalism, once unleashed, almost cannot be stopped]
What is the lesson to be drawn from the story of these two countries?
There is some difference as to how the matters should be put. Mr. Sydney Brooks would say that the cause of these wars of disruption is nationalism, which according to him is the enemy of the universal peace. Mr. Norman Angell, on the other hand, would say it is not nationalism but the threat to nationalism which is the cause. To Mr. Robertson nationalism is an irrational instinct, if not a positive hallucination, and the sooner humanity got rid of it the better for all.
In whatever way the matter is put and howsoever ardently one may wish for the elimination of nationalism, the lesson to be drawn is quite clear: that nationalism is a fact which can neither be eluded nor denied. Whether one calls it an irrational instinct or positive hallucination, the fact remains that it is a potent force which has a dynamic power to disrupt empires. Whether nationalism is the cause or the threat to nationalism is the cause, is a difference of emphasis only. The real thing is to recognize, as does Mr. Toynbee, that "nationalism is strong enough to produce war in spite of us. It has terribly proved itself to be no outworn creed, but a vital force to be reckoned with." As was pointed out by him, "the right reading of nationalism has become an affair of life and death." It was not only so for Europe. It was so for Turkey. It was so for Czechoslovakia. And what was a question of life and death to them could not but be one of life and death to India. Prof. Toynbee pleaded, as was done before him by Guizot, for the recognition of nationality as the necessary foundation of European peace. Could India ignore to recognize this plea? If she does, she will be acting at her peril. That nationalism is a disruptive force is not the only lesson to be learnt from the history of these two countries. Their experience embodies much else of equal, if not of greater, significance. What that is, will be evident if certain facts are recalled to memory.
The Turks were by no means as illiberal as they are painted. They allowed their minorities a large measure of autonomy. The Turks had gone far towards solving the problem of how people of different communities with different social heritages are to live together in harmony when they are geographically intermingled. The Ottoman Empire had accorded, as a matter of course, to the non-Muslim and non-Turkish communities within its frontiers, a degree of territorial as well as cultural autonomy which had never been dreamt of in the political philosophy of the West. Ought not the Christian subjects to have been satisfied with this? Say what one may, the nationalism of Christian minorities was not satisfied with this local autonomy. It fought for complete freedom, and in that fight Turkey was slit open.
The Turks were bound to the Arabs by the tie of religion. The religious tie of Islam is the strongest known to humanity. No social confederacy can claim to rival the Islamic brotherhood in point of solidarity. Add to this the fact that while the Turk treated his Christian subjects as his inferior, he acknowledged the Arab as his equal. All non-Muslims were excluded from the Ottoman army. But the Arab soldiers and officers served side by side with Turks and Kurds. The Arab officer class, educated in Turkish school, served in military and civil capacities on the same terms as the Turks. There was no derogating distinction between the Turk and the Arab, and there was nothing to prevent the Arab from rising to the highest rank in the Ottoman services. Not only politically but even socially, the Arab was treated as his equal by the Turk; and Arabs married Turkish wives, and Turks married Arab wives. Ought not the Arabs to have been satisfied with this Islamic brotherhood of Arabs and Turks based on fraternity, liberty and equality? Say what one may, the Arabs were not satisfied. Arab nationalism broke the bonds of Islam and fought against his fellow Muslim, the Turk, for its independence. It won, but Turkey was completely dismantled.
As to Czechoslovakia, she began with the recognition that both the Czechs and the Slovaks were one people. Within a few years, the Slovaks claimed to be a separate nation. They would not even admit that they were a branch of the same stock as the Czechs. Their nationalism compelled the Czechs to recognize the fact that they were a distinct people. The Czechs sought to pacify the nationalism of the Slovaks by drawing a hyphen as a mark indicating distinctness. In place of Czechoslovakia they agreed to have Czecho-Slovakia. But even with the hyphen the Slovak nationalism remained discontented. The act of autonomy was both a hyphen separating them from the Czechs, as well as a link joining them with the Czechs. The hyphen as making separation was welcome to the Slovaks, but as making a link with the Czechs was very irksome to them. The Slovaks accepted the autonomy with its hyphen with great relief, and promised to be content and loyal to the state. But evidently this was only a matter of strategy. They did not accept it as an ultimate end. They accepted it because they thought that they could use it as a vantage ground for destroying the hyphen, which was their main aim, and convert autonomy into independence. The nationalism of the Slovaks was not content with a hyphen. It wanted a bar in place of the hyphen. Immediately the hyphen was introduced, they began their battle to replace the hyphen between the Czechs and the Slovaks by a bar. They did not care what means they should employ. Their nationalism was so wrong-headed and so intense that when they failed they did not hesitate to call the aid of the Germans.
Thus a deeper study of the disruption of Turkey and Czechoslovakia shows that neither local autonomy nor the bond of religion is sufficient to withstand the force of nationalism, once it is set on the go.
This is a lesson which the Hindus will do well to grasp. They should ask themselves : if the Greek, Balkan and Arab nationalism has blown up the Turkish State, and if Slovak nationalism has caused the dismantling of Czechoslovakia, what is there to prevent Muslim nationalism from disrupting the Indian State? If experience of other countries teaches that this is the inevitable consequence of pent-up nationalism, why not profit by their experience, and avoid the catastrophe, by agreeing to divide India into Pakistan and Hindustan? Let the Hindus take the warning that if they refuse to divide India into two before they launch on their career as a free people, they will be sailing in those shoal waters in which Turkey, Czechoslovakia and many others have foundered. If they wish to avoid shipwreck in mid-ocean, they must lighten the draught by throwing overboard all superfluous cargo. They will ease the course of their voyage considerably if they—to use the language of Prof. Toynbee—reconcile themselves to making jetsam of less cherished and more combustible cargo.
[Hindustan and Pakistan would be stronger, more homogeneous units]
Will the Hindus really lose if they agree to divide India into two, Pakistan and Hindustan?
With regard to Czechoslovakia it is instructive to note the real feelings of its government on the loss of their territory caused by the Munich Pact. They were well expressed by the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia in his message to the people of Czechoslovakia. In it he said/5/:—
"Citizens and soldiers. . . .I am living through the hardest hour of my life; I am carrying out the most painful task, in comparison with which death would be easy. But precisely because I have fought and because I know under what conditions a war is won, must tell you frankly. . .that the forces opposed to us at this moment compel us to recognize their superior strength and to act accordingly. . . .
"In Munich four European Great Powers met and decided to demand of us the acceptance of new frontiers, according to which the German areas of our State would be taken away. We had the choice between desperate and hopeless defence, which would have meant the sacrifice not only of the adult generation but also of women and children, and the acceptance of conditions which in their ruthlessness, and because they were imposed by pressure without war, have no parallel in history. We desired to make a contribution to peace; we would gladly have made it. But not by any means in the way it has been forced upon us.
"But we were abandoned, and were alone. . . .Deeply moved, all your leaders considered, together with the army and the President of the Republic, all the possibilities which remained. They recognized that in choosing between narrower frontiers and the death of the nation it was their sacred duty to save the life of our people, so that we may not emerge weakened from these terrible times, and so that we may remain certain that our nation will gather itself together again, as it has done so often in the past. Let us all see that our State re-establishes itself soundly within its new frontiers, and that its population is assured of a new life of peace and fruitful labour. With your help we shall succeed. We rely upon you, and you have confidence in us."It is evident that the Czechs refused to be led by the force of historic sentiment. They were ready to have narrower frontiers and a smaller Czechoslovakia [rather than consent] to the ultimate destruction of their people.
With regard to Turkey the prevalent view was the one that was expressed in 1853 by the Czar Nicholas I, during a conversation with British Ambassador in St. Petersburg in which he said "We have on our hand a sick man—a very sick man. . . .He may suddenly die upon our hands." From that day the imminent decease of Turkey, the sick man of Europe, was awaited by all his neighbours. The shedding of the territories was considered as the convulsions of a dying man who is alleged to have breathed his last by affixing his signature to the Treaty of Severs.
Is this really a correct view to take of Turkey in the process of dissolution? It is instructive to note the comments of Arnold Toynbee on this view. Referring to the Czar's description of Turkey as the sick man who may suddenly die, he says:/6/
"In this second and more sensational part of his diagnosis Czar Nicholas went astray because he did not understand the nature of the symptoms. If a person totally ignorant of natural history stumbled upon a snake in course of shedding its skin, he would pronounce dogmatically that the creature could not possibly recover. He could point out that when a man (or other mammal) has the misfortune to lose his skin, he is never known to survive. Yet while it is perfectly true that the leopard cannot change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin, a wider study would have informed our amateur naturalist that a snake can do both and does both habitually. Doubtless, even for the snake, the process is awkward and uncomfortable. He becomes temporarily torpid, and in this condition he is dangerously at the mercy of his enemies. Yet, if he escapes the kites and crows until his metamorphosis is complete, he not only recovers his health but renews his youth with the replacement of his mortal coils. This is the recent experience of the Turk, and 'moulting snake' is [a] better simile than sick man for a description of his distemper."In this view, the loss of her possessions by Turkey is the removal of an anomalous excrescence, and the gain of a new skin. Turkey is certainly homogeneous, and has no fear of any disruption from within.
The Muslim areas are an anomalous excrescence on Hindustan, and Hindustan is an anomalous excrescence on them. Tied together, they will make India the sick man of Asia. Welded together, they will make India a heterogeneous unit. If Pakistan has the demerit of cutting away parts of India, it has also the merit of introducing harmony in place of conflict.
Severed into two, each becomes a more homogeneous
unit. The homogeneity of the two areas is obvious enough. Each has a cultural
unity. Each has a religious unity. Pakistan has a linguistic unity. If
there is no such unity in Hindustan, it is possible to have it without
any controversy as to whether the common language should be Hindustani,
Hindi or Urdu. Separated, each can become a strong and well-knit state.
India needs a strong Central Government. But it cannot have it so long
as Pakistan remains a part of India. Compare the structure of the Federal
Government as embodied in the Government of India Act, 1935, and it will
be found, that the Central Government as constituted under it is an effete
ramshackle thing with very little life in it./7/
As has already been pointed out, this weakening of the Central Government
is brought about by the desire to placate the Muslim Provinces, who wish
to be independent of the authority of the Central Government on the ground
that the Central Government is bound to be predominantly Hindu in character
and composition. When Pakistan comes into being, these considerations can
have no force. Hindustan can then have a strong Central Government and
a homogeneous population, which are necessary elements for the stability
of the state, and neither of which will be secured unless there is severance
of Pakistan from Hindustan.
/1/ Turkey, pp. 363-64.
/2/ The area of Turkey is 294,492 square miles, exclusive of 3,708 square miles of lakes and swamps. The area of Turkey in Europe is only 9,257 square miles.
/3/ See abridgment by Sheikh Abdur Rashid.
/4/ C. A. Macartney, Hungary and Her Successors (Oxford, 1936), p. 136.
/5/ Alexander Henderson, Eye-witness in Czechoslovakia (Harrap, 1939), pp. 229-30.
/6/ Arnold Toynbee, Turkey, p. 141.
/7/ For further light on
this topic, see my tract on Federation vs. Freedom.