Perspective: Margaret MacMillan on Gertrude Bell in Paris
A third excerpt from Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, 2002.
“[In Paris Bell] was putting the case for a country in Mesopotamia.... She was convinced, rightly as it turned out, that the fate of Mesopotamia was linked to the settlement of the dispute over Syria: ‘We can’t consider one without the other, and in the case of Syria it’s the French attitude that counts.’ She had been spending a great deal of time with Lawrence and Feisal and now shared their hope that the French might be persuaded to have Feisal as King of an independent Syria… . Bell worried from the sidelines. In April she wrote to her old friend Aubrey Herbert... ‘O my dear they are making such a horrible muddle of the Near East, I confidently anticipate that it will be much worse than it was before the war — except Mesopotamia which we may manage to hold up out of the general chaos. It’s like a nightmare in which you foresee all the horrible things which are going to happen and can’t stretch out your hand to prevent them.”
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