23.4.17

3632) “Fatal Philanthropy” – James Bryce And The Armenians by Pat Walsh

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“Fatal Philanthropy” – James Bryce And The Armenians by Pat Walsh

To understand the point of this paper we need to revisit something that George Curzon (later Lord) said as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the course of defending traditional British policy with regard to the Ottoman Empire, on behalf of Lord Salisbury’s Government:

“We were not prepared at any moment to go to war for the sake of Armenia. We were not prepared to plunge Europe into a Continental war for the sake of Armenia. We were not prepared to jeopardise the interests of this country and I will go further and say the interests of the Armenians themselves, in pursuit of… what might, in the last resort, have turned out to be a perilous, if not a fatal philanthropy. [Loud Cheers.]” (1).

James Bryce both personified what Curzon called “fatal philanthropy” and did much to realise such a thing in reality, in relation to the Armenians.

Firstly, in discussing this issue we should say something about the importance of James Bryce. Bryce was a tremendously gifted all-rounder: a Historian, jurist, and statesman. He was Regius Professor of civil law at Oxford University, 1870-1893. In his political career he was elected as a Liberal MP in 1880 and from 1885 to 1907 he was Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs; he was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1892); and President of the Board of Trade (1894–95). He became Chief Secretary for Ireland (1905-6), British Ambassador to the United States (1907–13) and the President of British Academy (1913-17) during the Great War. He was also involved in the estab-lishment of the League of Nations, and served at the International Court at The Hague.

He was author of a large amount of publications including most notably The Holy Roman Empire (1864), Transcaucasia and Ararat (1877), The American ...
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