King Crane Commission

“The Central recommendations of the King-Crane commission represent an intelligent attempt to create new political units with sturdier institutions than those of the collapsed Ottoman Empire and free from European exploitation.” Discuss in the light of your own reading of the document.

In the aftermath of World War 1, at the Paris Peace Conference, President Woodrow Wilson proposed that an Inter-Allied Commission visit Syria in order to gauge what its citizens desired (e.g. their opinions on its independence or unity) and report back to the peace conference with their findings and recommendations. Wilson appointed Dr. Henry Churchill King, president of Oberlin College, and Charles R. Crane, Chicago businessman and trustee of Robert College in Constantinople as the US representatives. The French, however, refused to appoint any representatives and although the British named theirs, they too eventually withdrew, leaving only US representation on the commission. The commission, which became known as the King-Crane Commission, was charged with the responsibility of finding out what the people of Syria wanted by following the doctrine of national self-determination and not on the basis of material interest or advantage to an exterior influence. However, one has to question whether or not the Commission managed to act with just the benefit of the people of Syria in mind, without taking into consideration the desires of the West as regards the future of the newly formed state. Is it possible that during their short visit, the Commission succeeded in understanding the people of Syria enough to competently compile a list of recommendations based solely on their needs and wants?

I would like to start off by questioning whether the recommendations of the King-Crane commission present to us an “intelligent attempt” to better the lives of the people of Syria. It cannot be denied that this document is full of good intentions. They begin the document by firmly...