The index to Richard Hovannisian’s latest work: The Republic of Armenia. Volume II [From Versailles to London, 1919-1920},1 contains a single entry under: Dunn, Lieutenant Robert S.2 To anyone familiar with the role of Robert S. Dunn in Anatolian and Caucasian post World War I affairs, this cursory treatment must come as a bit of a surprise. Throughout the years 1919-1921, Dunn served as the U.S. High Commissioner, Admiral Mark L. Bristol’s eyes and ears in this sensitive region, and it is no exaggeration to state that this U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer’s contacts with the Bolsheviks, Armenian and Turkish Nationalist forces, and the reports he sent to Bristol based on them, were instrumental in shaping American foreign policy vis-avis this region during and after the period dealt with in the Hovannisian study. Specifically, in the eight months covered by Hovannisian [May 28, 1919 - February 1920], Dunn visited the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia on at least two occasions. 3 On one of these visits he accompanied Admiral
Bristol to Tiflis, where he participated in the Admiral’s meeting with Alexander Khatisian, Premier of the new Armenian state.4
Even more surprising than Hovannisian’s single index entry foj Dunn are the actual references he makes. In a section of his work dealing with the attitudes of Allied officers in Istanbul, he writes:
“The British regarded Admiral Bristol’s chief intelligence officer, Lieutenant Robert S. Dunn, as an eccentric Armenophobe who insisted that whatever responsibility the United States took in the Near East should be for the good ofTurkey and the Turks and that it did not matter if the Nationalists drew upon the old Ittihadist party.” 5
In the footnote appended to this passage, Hovannisian adds his own assessment to that of the unnamed British officials and states:
“Dunn had been a journalist and then a Buddhist monk in India before converting to Islam in Turkey and assuming the name Mehmet Ali Bey. Until the State Department dismissed him in 1922 he continued to file intelligence reports, subsequently described as being “the result more of barroom gossip than of serious intelligence gathering.” 6
As his source for this less than flattering portrait of Dunn the individual and Dunn the intelligence officer, Hovannisian cites an unpublished Ph. D. dissertation entitled: “Admiral Mark L. Bristol and Turkish-American Relations, 1919-1922”, by Peter M. Buzanski, 7 together with a single document from Record Group 59 of the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C. 8 Notably missing from the sources cited are any references to the dozens of intelligence reports actually filed by Dunn during the period in question, or to Dunn’s autobiography, World Alive, A Personal Story, which provides extensive detail on Dunn’s activities between May of 1919 and February of 1920.9
At the outset it must be stated that neither of the two sources quoted by Hovannisian contain any statement whatsoever in regard to how Dunn may have been viewed by the British. Stated differently, the references Hovannisian cites as the source of his statement on Dunn do not support his assessment.
An analysis of the above-quoted passage and footnote of Hovannisian postulates nine premises in regard to Dunn. They are in order of presentation:
1) That the British regarded Dunn as eccentric;
2) That the British regarded Dunn as an Armenophobe;
3) That the British regarded Dunn as pro-Turkish;
4) That the British regarded Dunn as pro-Ittihadist;
5) That Dunn had been a journalist;
6) That Dunn had been a Buddhist monk in India;
7) That Dunn converted to Islam in Turkey and took the name Mehmet Ali Bey;
8) That Dunn was dismissed by the State Department in 1922;
9) That Dunn’s intelligence reports were described as being:
“the result more of barroom gossip than of serious intelligence gathering.”
Having read the above the reader can not help but follow the author’s guidance and conclude that Dunn was an unstable and indeed untrustworthy individual and that Hovannisian must be justified in ignoring his numerous reports and autobiography. The only problem with drawing this obvious conclusion is, that with the single exception of the statement that “Dunn had been a journalist”, each of the remaining eight statements Hovannisian has made in regard to Dunn are false.
In the present study I have set myself the rather limited objective of analyzing the Hovannisian portrait of Dunn in light of a variety of extant sources dealing with his life and career (including those cited by Hovannisian in his footnote, the Buzanski dissertation and the single document from Record Group 59). My purpose is twofold: a) to correct the numerous historical inaccuracies set forth by Hovannisian; and, b) to test a thesis advanced in two recent reviews of Hovannisian’s work. Specifically, the opinion of Professor Firuz Kazemzadeh ofYale University, who concludes his positive review of The Republic of Armenia. Volume II bystating:
But one cannot doubt Hovannisian’s meticulous scholarship or his striving for objectivity. The history he tells in such detail is too recent, the memories too fresh not to arouse passion. Yet Hovannisian does not permit passion to becloud his judgment or guide his pen.10
A similar sentiment is found in the review of Professor Roderic Davison of George Washington University who uses expressions such as: “but the author never takes sides,” “Hovannisian stays very close to his evidence,” and, “one finds a careful objectivity”, in describing the work in question.11
Hovannisian’s first statement in regard to Dunn was that the British regarded him as eccentric. As noted earlier, a careful reading of both the Buzanski dissertation and the document cited by him, establishes that neither contain any direct or implied references to the manner in which Dunn may have been viewed by the British. We do, however, have two British assessments of Dunn, both made during the actual period covered by the Hovannisian study, which have two points in common: a) They are at odds with Hovannisian’s statement; and, b) neither was utilized by Hovannisian.
The first such source is a passage in the work entitled: Adventures tn the Near East (1^18-1922), by a representative of British intelligence in Anatolia, Colonel Toby Rawlinson,12 who, while supervising the disarmament of Ottoman soldiers in July of 1919, reports the following encounter with Dunn near Erzurum:
“We also received a visit from an American naval officer, Lieutenant Dunn, of the American Intelligence Staff, attached to Admiral Bristol, the United States High Commissioner at Constant. Our naval friend and ally was both bright and cheery, and excellent company, finally leaving us for Sivas, a good 300 miles to the westward, on his way to Samsun, mounted on a native pony, with a Kurdish saddle, accompanied only by a native cart and several Turkish soldiers, and, to my great surprise, wearing his blue cloth naval uniform and trousers (!), than which it would be hard to conceive a more unsuitable costume for such an arduous journey. Neither this, nor the fact that he had no stores at all, and only a most elemantary knowledge of the language, seemed, however, to cause him the slight -test concern- a great contrast to the attitude adopted by a senior French officer who visited us about the same time, and who wanted everything from a motor car to an aeroplane.” 13
Rawlinson might have added that he himself travelled with two Rolls Royces (disguised to look like armored cars), thirty plus soldiers, and numerous porters. Consequently, he often covered less than a mile a day in the rugged terrain of eastern Anatolia. There is more than a little envy in Rawlinson’s description of the “bright and cheery” American naval officer, Lieutenant Dunn.
A second contemporary British assessment of Dunn is contained in a transmission sent by Vice-Admiral Sir J. de Robeck to Earl Curzon. Here we have the opinion of a British intelligence officer, who, following a dinner in Istanbul with Dunn reported:
"Lieutenant R. Dunn, United States Navy, dined with me on the evening of 4th October . He is intelligence officer to the American High Commissioner at Istanbul. He has recently returned from Izmir, having been with Admiral Bristol on the Commission of Enquiry, and was keen and communicative on Turkish affairs generally. To my knowledge, since he has held his present position at Istanbul, he has, other than his five weeks stay at Smyrna on duties with the Commission, visited Tiflis, Trabzon, and Samsun, via Batum, to which port he made the voyage in H.M.S. “Gardenia.” He arrived in Turkey about February of this year, and it is his first visit, and his only knowledge ofTurkey and the East as far as I am aware.” 14
Here too, Dunn is praised by British intelligence as “keen and communicative on Turkish affairs generally.” In short, the two extant British evaluations of Dunn (both of which were made during the period covered in the Hovannisian study), during his sojourn in Anatolia, are completely at odds with Hovanisian’s statement that the “British regarded Dunn as eccentric.” To the contrary, it is apparent that he was held in some esteem by his counterparts in British intelligence.
This assessment is strengthened when one reads Dunn’s autobiography. There, in regard to his relations with the British intelligence in Istanbul, he recalled:
“But most nights I listened. A local build-up had me mayor of Pera, skillful at plying uniforms in bars, drink for drink, egging on an officer to talk beyond knowing what he said. I mightn’t know either, but next day my memory became clear. The Royal Navy sent its ships a secret notice billing me as dangerous- “avoid his confidence.” Later a British “I” [intelligence] captain at Tiflis wired ahead to say I was a dangerous character. Of course I was; my job was to be one. Such warnings stirred curiosity and made me more friends.” 15
As for Hovannisian’s claim that the British regarded Dunn as “an Armenophobe,” it too, finds no support in either of the references cited by the author: neither the Buzanski dissertation or the Record Group 59 document he footnotes contain anything to indicate what Dunn’s attitude towards the Armenians may have been.
Dunn’s posthumously published autobiography: World Alive, A Personal Story, contains a wealth of material, which, had Hovannisian utilized it, should have dispelled his notion that Dunn was “an Armenophobe.’" Two passages from this work will serve to illustrate this point. The first relates a discussion Dunn held with a group of Greeks and Armenians in Erzincan on President Wilson's Fourteen Points. In response to the statement that: “America must free us. It’s a country of Christians,” Dunn replied, “Well I’m not one.” He then continued:
“Jaws dropped, eyes clouded. Moslem I couldn’t be, yet one must lie a freak from the moon to have no religion. For three years in Turkey I stuck to my agnostic guns, treated every race or belief alike, and honestly, because Ifelt the same toward each. This helped no end in talk of justice and those Fourteen Points, so that upon long duties in the wild I got on fine with everyone.” 16
Indeed, it was Dunn’s ability to “treat every race or belief alike”, that makes his numerous intelligence reports submitted to Admiral Bristol such an important source for the history of the period Hovannisian writes on. His dispassionate even-handedness in this regard is always evident, as in the following passage in his autobiography in which he describes a visit to Erevan, which coincided with the second anniversary of the Armenian Republic:
“ ‘Claims as to Armenian intelligence and energy are true,’ the Admiral cabled the Secretary of State in summary of my report. ‘But despite reputed ability for self-rule and some able and honest men, weak and stupid politicians are making a failure of the government.’
Next year when one of those quizzes from Harvard wanted my list of personages met in order of ability, after my own admiral and ahead of Mustafa Kemal, Sims and Pershing, I put Dro.” 17
(Dro being the Armenian general, with whose army Dunn travelled on several occasions in the Caucasus.)
In short the charge that Dunn was “an Armenophobe” find no more support in his autobiography or intelligence reports,18 than it did in the sources cited by Hovannisian.
As for the claim that the British viewed Dunn as “pro-Turkish,” once again, neither of the sources quoted by Hovannisian contain any indication ofhow the British may have viewed Dunn in this regard. However, Buzanski, the author of the unpublished dissertation cited by Hovannisian, leaves no doubt that in his own mind Dunn was “pro-Turkish.” In a passage describing the make-up of the “Izmir Commission of Inquiry” he writes that among the members of Bristol s staff was “the ubiquitous turcophile, Lieutenant Robert S. Dunn. ’19 This view is embellished in a later passage, where Buzanski writes: “Dunn was a Turcophile. He also had no love for the Greeks or the other Allies.” 20 Unfortunately, Buzanski writing in i960, resembles Hovannisian writing in 1982, in his failure to document his charges against Dunn. None of his comments on Dunn as a “Turcophile” are footnoted, and indeed, any serious scholar who studied the full extent of Dunn s reports submitted throughout this period would have a difficult time sustaining the Buzanski assessment.
As for the Hovannisian statement that the British regarded Dunn as pro-Ittihadist, not only is it totally unsupported by the sources he cites, there is nothing to support this view in any of Dunn’s intelligence reports or other writings.
While each of the statements regarding the British view of Dunn, which Hovannisian makes in the text of his book, (that they viewed him as eccentric, an Armenophobe, pro-Turkish, and pro-Ittihadist,) are, as we have seen, unsupported by his sources, and likewise not in keeping with the facts as demonstrated by the examples I have given, his first statement in the accompanying footnote is noteworthy as an exception to this general tendency. When Hovannisian writes that “Dunn had been a journalist”, he puts a temporary halt to the string of inaccuracies which have so far
characterized his portrayal of Dunn. Dunn had indeed been a journalist, and a rather distinguished one at that. Between 1901 and 1917, he had covered most of the important international conflicts as a war correspondent. Interspersed among his stints as a correspondent he had established an international reputation as an arctic explorer in Siberia, Alaska (where he discovered, climbed, and named Mount Hunter), and the Aleutians. . Likewise, he had accompanied Cook on his first attempt to climb Mount McKinley, and subsequently published a book entitled: Shameless Diary of an Explorer,22 in which he destroyed Cook’s claim to having succeeded in this feat.
As a novice reporter following his graduation from Harvard, he had so impressed his employer that four pages of The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens are devoted to the fledgling reporter, Robert Dunn. 23 Among Steffen’s comments on Dunn we read the following assessment of his veracity:
“Dunn simply could not lie. 1 used to assign him to report reform meetings; most of my men so disliked reformers that they could not write fairly about anything they said or did. Dunn was the most prejudiced and always threatened to ridicule such a meeting; he meant it, too, but, pencil in hand, this born artist had to report things as they were.’’24
To anyone who takes the time to read the voluminous reports submitted to Admiral Bristol by Dunn in the course of his extensive travels in Anatolia and the Caucasus, it becomes immediately apparent that his character in this regard had not changed since his stint under Lincoln Steffens, he still “had to report things as they were.”
Hovannisian’s brief (and as we shall see single) interlude with veracity comes to an end when he continues by stating that “Dunn had been a Buddhist monk in India.” 25 Here he is apparently led astray by his reliance on the unpublished Buzanski Ph. D. dissertation, where we read: “Dunn was
a journalist who had, at one time, gone to India and become a Buddhist.” 26 Hovannisian’s sole emendation to Buzanski’s comment is to add the word “monk” to “Buddhist." Contrary to the Buzanski-Hovannisian assertion, Dunn never set foot in India, nor, needless to say, was he ever a Buddhist or Buddhist monk there, or anywhere else for that matter.
Equally ludicrous is Hovannisian’s next claim -—that “Dunn converted to Islam in Turkey and assumed the name Mehmet Ali Bey.” 27 Here too, Hovannisian is relying on Buzanski, and he is also supported by Buzanski’s source, a document from Record Group 59: 4867,oo/-i442v. 28 This document, a State Department interoffice memo, reports a variety of rumours regarding Dunn, one of which reads:
“For it appears from what Cumberland says, corroborated by Means of Commerce, that the Admiral’s intelligence officer has turned Turk, being known in Islam as Mehmet Ali Bey.”29
The only problem with this interoffice gossip, emanating from the State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, and typical of a large- number of similar reports intended to cast doubt on the judgment of the non-State Department Admiral serving in Istanbul as the U.S. High Commissioner, and de facto Ambassador, is that it simply wasn’t true. As noted earlier, Dunn, was a life long agnostic. 30 This fact becomes immediately
apparent to anyone who reads his autobiography, as does the source of the gossip that he “had turned Turk.” Dunn writes:
That spring brought point-to-point races over Bosphorus environs. One afternoon at the race-course bar, I met two Arabs in flowing white robes and headgear of sticks at right angles. Both spoke proper English and liked whiskey, over which I told my habit of professing the religion of any country I lived in.
The taller brother lost no time. “Raise your right hand and repeat after me. ‘I believe in one God, and Mohammed is his prophet.’ ” Putting down my glass I obeyed.
“Now you are in Islam,” said the other. “One of the faithful, and no fooling.” The Sikh barman set up a round on the house. But I doubted these brothers’ right to convert me, and also remembered that there was an operation which Moslems, like Jews, must have. “Your circumcision,” the first, intuitive, said with a grin, “will be waived.”
“We are emirs and have the authority,” the brother added, “sons of the Prophet, direct through Ali.”
Now I placed them. The Husseins, who lived in Chichli, were Mohammed’s blood descendants. Wasn’t their cousin Kinq Feisal of Iraq?
“Oh, he is a junior branch,” said the elder. “We are seniors in the caliphate. But Britain could never put me on the Hejaz throne.” “The hell! Why not?”
“Because,” the younger explained, “that would make us royalty, which would never do. For we are also the sons of an English governess.”
This conversation turned out to have been graver than I thought. Later one brother wrote, giving me a new name, as rite required. But--a big advantage over Christianity—you hadn’t to renounce any former faith. I was now Ali, free to choose any handle to that, so I picked Mohammed. After that giaour wags addressed chits to Mohammed Ali Bey. 31
Here, once again, both Buzanski writing in i960, and Hovannisian in 1982, could have benefited from reading Dunn’s autobiography published in 1956.
Hovannisian’s next charge, that “Dunn was dismissed by the State Department in 1922,” also originated in the Buzanski dissertation. Were it true it would mark the first and only time in United States history that the Department of State was able to “dismiss” an officer in the United States Navy. Common logic should have warned both Buzanski and Hovannisian of the falseness of this statement. It didn’t. In point of fact, Dunn, as the Register of the Command and Warrant Officers of the U.S. Navy, the so-called Navy Lists, makes abundantly clear in its 1919 through 1922 issues, was the holder of a temporary war-time naval commission as Lieutenant Junior Grade. He served out this commission which expired on December 31, 1921.32
Buzanski, and Hovannisian after him, were misled by a passage in a State Department note from Robbins to Bliss, which reads:
“I have just received a very unfavorable report of him from one of the representatives of a large American concern at Istanbul. If you see fit I should like to suggest to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy that Mr. Dunn be transferred.” 33
Buzanski has posited a causal relationship between this note and the known fact that Dunn left Turkey early in 1922, and concluded erronuously that “eventually the State Department was responsible for removing Dunn from Bristol’s staff.” 34 Hovannisian goes one step further than his source (Buzanski) and writes “until the State Department dismissed him in 1922.” 35
Contrary to both these interpretations, Dunn continued to serve as a reserve naval officer, and, in 1941, following the entry of the United States into World War II, was reactivated at the age of sixty-four, and sent back to Turkey as the Assistant Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, a position he held for the next two years. 36
Hovannisian’s final volley in the barrage of inaccurate charges he fires at Dunn, is, on the surface, the most damning. He writes “Dunn’s intelligence reports were described as being: ‘the result more of barroom gossip than of serious intelligence gathering.’ ” 37 What Hovannisian fails to state is the identity of the individual doing the describing. His source is none other than Buzanski, who once again in keeping with the pattern seen earlier, goes beyond his source (R.G. 59: 867.00/1495) in arriving at a conclusion not supported by the citation in his footnote. 38 In point of fact, no statement could be further from the truth. Dunn’s intelligence reports were to say the least well-balanced, often brilliant analyses, written under the most difficult of circumstances.
As a case in point, let me cite the hitherto unpublished report he submitted to Bristol following one of his numerous travels, a six-week 1,300 kilometer journey throughout Nationalist Turkish territory, which included a two week visit to Ankara between June 24th and July 9th, in 1921. During his stay in Ankara, Dunn was accompanied by a remarkable American missionary, Miss. Annie T. Allen, who, in addition to her official position as Near East Relief Representative to the Ankara Government, incidentally served as one of Dunn’s chief agents in Anatolia. 39
I have chosen the document in question (See: Appendix II) for a variety of reasons. First, it is typical of the type of reporting which marked Dunn’s tenure in Turkey; second, it is specifically referred to in a negative fashion in the interoffice State Department memo cited by Buzanski and Hovannisian (R.G. 59: 867.00/1495); and, finally, while hitherto unnoticed, it is of extreme importance in its own right as one of the most detailed accounts of early contacts between the American Embassy in Istanbul and the Nationalist government.40 Comprising, as it does, detailed minutes on Dunn’s meetings with a wide variety of Nationalist leaders, including (chronologically): Adnan Bey, the Vice President and Presiding Officer of the Nationalist Parliament; Halide Edib (wife of Adnan Bey); Yusuf Kemal Bey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mustafa Kemal Pasha; Fevzi Pasha, the Minister of War; and Rafet Pasha, the Minister of the Interior, the reader should be able to evaluate for himself the innaccuracy of the Buzanski- Hovannisian characterization of Dunn’s intelligence reports as “the result more of barroom gossip than of serious intelligence gathering.”
Having dealt at some length with the first of the objectives outlined at the beginning of this paper, namely, an analysis of the innaccuracies set forth in regard to Dunn by Hovannisian, we must now turn to an examination of the thesis set forth in the Kazemzadeh and Davison reviews of Hovannisian’s study, to wit their portrayal of Hovannisian as an impartial, passionless, and objective scholar.
While one can not help but be impressed by the massive amount of primary research Hovannisian has accomplished in piecing together the complex history of the Republic of Armenia in this eight month span, his treatment of Lieutenant Robert S. Dunn, a player of some importance in Armenian affairs during this eight month period, raises some fundamental questions in regard to both his impartiality and objectivity, not to mention the passion or the lack thereof with which he treats his topic.
Two facts are clear from the analysis 1 have presented of the Hovannisian passage and accompanying footnote on Dunn. Most of the statements made by Hovannisian in regard to Dunn are unsupported by the sources in his footnote; and, Hovannisian clearly has not consulted the primary sources on Dunn, his reports and autobiography.
Further, the reader is left with the unmistakable impression, that by labeling Dunn as eccentric, an Armcnophobe, pro-1 urkish, pro-Ittihadist, a one-time Buddhist monk, a convert to Islam, and a totally unfit intelligence officer, Hovannisian is neither impartial, passionless, nor objective. To the contrary, his treatment of Dunn is obviously partial and subjective.
We are left with two obvious questions: i) How to account for Hovannisian’s obvious bias toward Dunn; and, 2) How typical is his handling of Dunn, i.e., to what extent may we generalize from Hovannisian’s less than objective treatment of Dunn in forming an opinion of the overall quality of his work?
As regards the bias, we must not lose sight of the fact that in spite of Hovannisian’s claim that it was the British who viewed Dunn as an Armenophobe and pro-Turkish, his sources do not support this charge it is actually Hovannisian who is making this assessment. A careful reading of Buzanski, clearly Hovannisian’s primary source on Dunn, shows only that this author has labeled Dunn a “Turcophile.” From this altogether unjustified label, Hovannisian has concluded that Dunn must therefore have been an “Armenophobe.” This is not the first occasion on which Hovannisian has jumped to such a conclusion. In an earlier study on Admiral Bristol41, I have showed that Hovannisian had mistakenly interpreted Bristol’s evenhandedness in dealing with all the peoples of the region, as resulting from a pro- Turkishness, and likewise had concluded that Dunn’s employer was:
A master of manipulation, Bristol selected excerpts from reports which would sustain his contentions even in the face of strong counter-evidence 42.
This blanket condemnation of Bristol is hardly sustainable in light of his actual reporting. Indeed, Hovannisian’s characterization of Bristol could well be used to describe his own treatment of Robert S. Dunn, as the present study has frequently illustrated.
In short, given the less than positive impression Hovannisian obviously has of Bristol, the treatment of his employee, Dunn, is not difficult to understand. As Bristol’s chief intelligence agent in Anatolia and the Caucasus, Dunn must have been at least partially responsible for helping shape the Admiral’s views vis-a-vis the peoples who inhabited these areas, ergo, as a tool of the “master of manipulation”, he obviously had to be eccentric, an Armenophobe, pro-Turkish, pro-Ittihadist, i.e., all the labels with which Hovannisian, without benefit of source, brands Dunn.
To what extent does Hovannisian’s anti-Bristol/Dunn bias affect the overall reliability of his work? While a comprehensive answer to this query would require the complete reworking of all the material utilized by Hovannisian, hardly a project for an Ottomanist given the relative unimportance of the Armenian Republic to the full span of 600 years of Ottoman history, one example will suffice to illustrate the degree to which his work suffers from its failure to adequately utilize the Bristol/Dunn reports among its sources.
In June of 1919, Admiral Bristol, accompanied by Lieutenant Robert Steed Dunn, traveled to I iflis in Georgia for, among other purposes, face to face meetings with the new Premier of the Armenian Republic, Alexander Khatisian. In the cource of this visit, the first by a high-level representative of any the major world powers, Bristol held a two-hour discussion with Khatisian. As the two men had no common language, Dunn participated in the meeting as interpreter between French and English, it was as a result of the impressions he gained in this discussion that Bristol developed his opinion that the Armenian state as constituted was not a viable political entity.43
A careful reading of the three book-length studies Hovannisian has published on this period, Armenia On The Road To Independence 44, The Republic of Armenia. Volume I. The First Year, 1918-1919**, and, The Republic of Armenia. Volume II. From Versailles to London, 1919-1920**, comprising a total of over 1,500 printed pages, establishes that he never discusses the nature of the bi-lateral talks held between Bristol and Khatisian in Tiflis.
There is no way Hovannisian could be unaware of this historic meeting. Aside from the official reports filed by Bristol, his correspondence from this period is filled with references to these talks47. Nor is it likely, given the importance of American support for the fledgling Armenian Republic, that the Armenian archives for this period neglect to mention such an important encounter. Indeed, the only account of this meeting which clearly
Hovannisian had not seen at the time of his writing, was that contained in the Dunn autobiography.48
How then do we account for Hovannisian’s silence in regard to this important event in this crucial period of the Republic’s history? I would submit, in contrast to Kazemzadeh I Davison, that it stems from an obvious lack of objectivity in his approach. Having determined to his own satisfaction that Bristol was a pro-Turkish “master of manipulation”, and that Dunn was an “eccentric Armenophobe,” who, like his employer, suffered from the additional onus of being pro-Turkish, Hovannisian simply chose to ignore their testimony cn this issue. It hardly fits his thesis of Bristol as a bigoted Turcophile, to cite evidence which establishes that the Admiral formed his opinions on the basis of first-hand observation.
To any serious student of the Bristol papers, it is obvious that it was Bristol’s impressions generated in the course of his discussions with Khatisian that shaped his attitude towards the Armenian state. In a letter of July 3, 1919 to Dr. White, Bristol sums up his attitude in this regard, as follows: “I got back from my trip to the Caucasus about ten days ago. I was gone about two weeks and visited Baku and Tiflis. I arranged to have a long personal conference with the President of Armenia at Tiflis. This conference was very instructive, but it thoroughly disgusted me because I found that this man had only political aspirations and
was very little concerned regarding the starving refugees in his country except to get rid of them and get them back into Turkey. He did not seem to care what happened if this could be done as it was especially desirable that the Armenians should not lose political control in Turkey. These ideas are not my impression for he almost said as much in so many words. I am more than ever convinced that this country should not be divided up and it should be kept together under one mandatory and given good government and universal education and then let the people carry out self-determination.”49 An interesting footnote to this conversation occurred almost one year later, when Khatisian, now the ex-Premier of the Armenian Republic visited Bristol in Istanbul. As Cornelius van Engert, the State Department official present at this second encounter reported in his minutes of this June 30, 1920 meeting:
“Mr. Khatissian stated that since his last conversation with the High Commissioner a year ago, he had come to the conclusion that Admiral Bristol, although very pesimistic, at the time had had a more correct appreciation of the situation than he [Khatissian] himself. He informed Admiral Bristol that he had no illusions left as to the readiness of the Great Powers to assist Armenia. He had come to call on the High Commissioner to get the latter’s views as to the present possibility of saving Armenia.” 50
In conclusion, this reviewer must beg to differ from the confidence in Hovannisian’s work expressed by Kazemzadeh and Davison, to wit, their assessment of this author as an impartial, passionless and objective scholar.
NOTE: This four page document actually consists of two separate memorandums and a note. The original of this document is housed in the U. S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES: RECORD GROUP59 - and catalogued as: 867. 00/1495. Its component parts, each of which are included in this Appendix, consist of:
A. ) A note from H.G.D (Harry G. Dwight), dated 3/7/1922, noting that the document referred to in the attached memoranda is: 867.00/1442. This note is marked as item ‘A’ on page one of the Appendix;
B. ) A memorandum from WR (Warten Robbins) of the Near Eastern Division of the State Department and Dwight’s superior, dated: October 10, 1921, to Robert Bliss. This memorandum is marked as item *B’ on page one of the Appendix;
C. ) A memorandum from HGD (Harry G. Dwight) to Warren Robbins, dated October—1921. This is the actual document in question (867.00/1495), which served as the Buzanski/Hovannisian source for their assessment of Robert Steed Dunn. This memorandum is marked as item ‘C’ on pages 2-4 of the Appendix.
NOTE:This Appendix consists of sections from a report filed by Dunn following his visit to the Nationalist capital of Ankara in June and July of 1921. As such, it is the document referred to in Appendix I as NA: Record Group 59-867.00/1442, i.e., that which provided the impetus for Dwight’s negative opinion of Dunn’s intelligence skills. As 867.00/1442 is missing from Record Group 59.1 have utilized a second copy of this document, which is preserved in: NA: Record Group 84: Correspondence, U.S. Embassy-Turkey, 1921. Volume 16-800 Turkey. The actual document consists of a lengthy letter/ report from Admiral Bristol to the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. (dated: August 22, 1921), and eight enclosures (the actual reports submitted to Bristol by Dunn following his trip to Ankara).
In the present Appendix, I have given Numbers 1-4 of Dunn’s enclosures. They consist of the following items:
ENCLOSURE 4 1: Dunn’s interview with Mustafa Kemal Pa$a on July 1, 1921 (4 pages);
ENCLOSURE # 2: A series of fourteen questions submitted by Dunn to Mustafa Kemal in the course of their July 1, 1921 meeting (2 pages);
ENCLOSURE #= 5: Mustafa Kemal’s answers to Dunn’s questions in Enclosure 2, together with additional answers provided by Yusuf Kemal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (3 pages);
ENCLOSURE # 4. Copy of a telegram Dunn sent to Bristol from Samsun on July 15, 1921, in which he summarizes his impressions based on his Ankara meetings with Mustafa Kemal and other members of the Nationalist Government (2 pages).