An Ideal Betrayed: Australia, Britain and the Palestine by Leanne Piggott

By Leanne Piggott

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55 Smuts’ view of Palestine, and ‘the Armenian Vilàyets, where Armenian, Turkish, and Kurdish populations co-exist in historic enmity’ was similar. These were, he argued, heterogeneous and administratively dysfunctional and, as in the cases of the ‘barbaric’ colonies, they required mandate supervision under the ultimate authority and control of the League. 56 Lord Alfred Milner, the president of an inter-Allied Committee appointed to prepare draft mandates, promulgated similar views on the basis of his own experience as a key figure in The Round Table group, as the former British High Commissioner to South Africa, and as the new British colonial secretary.

However there has been historical disagreement over their political significance. 1 United States, British, and French government documents also show that toward the end of the First World War the idea of nationality was used by the Allied military as a ruse for undermining the strength of the Austro-Hungarian military, and for a strategic border realignment. 2 To some extent the strategic concerns that lay behind official Allied interest in nationality rendered the question of the specific legitimacy of each national cause irrelevant.

84 From 1917, the Comité d’études held meetings in the Map Room at the Sorbonne’s Institut de géographie de la faculté des lettres, usually on late afternoons on a Monday. 85 Premising a victoire complète that would bring into review a number of related territorial questions, the Comité divided its research between ‘France’ and ‘the Allies’. 86 The Comité spent little time deliberating general guidelines or approaches. 87 Indeed, in many ways the AlsaceLorraine question shaped the Comité’s overall approach.

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