Hulusi Akar / Harbord Military Mission to Armenia: The Story of An American Fact Finding Mission and Its Effects on Turkish-American Relations

An abstract of the Dissertation of Hulusi Akar for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History

Title: Harbord Military Mission to Armenia: The Story of An American Fact Finding Mission and Its Effects on Turkish-American Relations

One of the most important episodes of Turkish-American foreign relations during the Independence War was General Harbord mission. Even though the idea behind the mission was to understand the feasibility of a large, independent Armenia, the real outcomes were mostly unexpected. The main purpose, which was related to the Armenian Question, has already been discussed by several academic studies. They put great emphasis on General Harbord’s final report, which not only destroyed all the assumptions of an independent Armenia, but also of the long established Armenian lobby in America. But the real merit of the mission was its long-range effects on Turkish-American relations. The mission’s findings gave support to the relatively few Americans trying desperately to change the American view of Turkey and establish healthy relations unbiased from the Armenian lobby. The other important side of the mission was unpublished findings about Turkey, Armenians, the independence movement, etc., which had been buried under the archives. The Harbord mission was totally different and unique from its predecessors. First of all, its members were mainly composed of military personnel. They had the necessary cadre and sources to fulfill their duty. They talked to most of the main actors, visited all sides, and traveled across Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. They managed to produce a body of expert reports on all the aspects of these three countries. Unfortunately most of these reports and findings were never published. So, in short the mission’s document collection is a kind of time capsule, which has a variety of information especially about the first phase of Turkey’s independence war.