muslim self-understanding, like that of most elites of settled empires, did not have a millennialist touch. Ottoman power definitely did not constitute itself as an ongoing project according to the vision of a Zion to be built up in a process that would culminate with believers gladly sharing or giving away their own power—as did pioneering missionary america.
The first strategy of the american mission to the near east centered on “the Jews” to be “restored to palestine and to Jesus.” This was believed to be the precondition of the near east–centered global kingdom of peace. For pragmatic reasons, the missionaries soon reoriented themselves to the ar- menians of asia minor, that is, anatolia, with many of whom they quickly developed warm individual relationships. at the same time, they became more church-oriented and less “revolutionary” with regard to both Otto- man society and the end of the churches. in the mid-nineteenth century therefore, a revised missionary strategy of restored Christianity attempted to “revive” armenians and other Oriental Christians. The establishment of an Ottoman protestant community (millet) was a by-product of this altered emphasis. in an again readjusted strategy after the young Turk revolution of 1908, missionary america set millennialist hopes on young Turkey but was traumatically deluded during and after World War i, when the young Turk regime eradicated Christianity in anatolia. in american minds, the legacy of an unfulfilled relationship with the Ottoman world endured. mission was drastically reduced in the interwar period; a new generation of representa- tives, professional diplomats, turned to a postmissionary realpolitik.
The period of the world wars (1914–1945) marked the passage from a prevailing “postmillennialist,” historically optimistic perspective on the near east to a deeply ambivalent attitude (see also under “Terminology,” be- low). despite turbulent revolutions in the Old World, in 1918 one could not have hopefully read that “we live in a most interesting period of the world; in a period distinguished above all others for the wonderful magnitude and variety of its revolutions. . . . everything in the scientific, and political, and moral world indicates that the reign of darkness upon the earth is approach- ing its catastrophe,” as the Missionary Herald, a monthly paper produced in the missionary home center of Boston, had written in 1818. “surely these are the times foretold by the prophets of old, when many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased; when wars shall cease unto the ends of the earth; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. and the times are at hand, when the knowledge of the lord shall cover the earth as the water covers the sea.”10
The period of the world wars, in particular the relevant experience of the Turkey mission in the 1910s, gave impetus to a culturally more pessimistic