Berkes (1964, 30-31) thinks that it was “inspired by the recommendations of some European observers who happened to be in Turkey at the time” and suggests more specifically a French officer, De Rochefort, who according to Hammer submitted in 1717 a project to create an engineering corps in the Ottoman court.
According to the text, during the negotiations for the Treaty of Passarowitz a Christian officer (zümre-i zabıtân-ı Nasâra’dan bir şahs) had some friendly discussions with a notable from the Ottoman army (namdârân-ı asâkir-i osmaniyyeden bir merd). The text, which was submitted to the Sultan Ahmed III as it was deemed useful for the arrangement of the state affairs, is structured as a series of questions and answers from both parts. The Ottoman officer first states that he has spent his entire life in the Holy War; he asks then how come the Ottomans prevailed in all battles with the Austrians till the first siege of Vienna, whereas from this point on victory is usually on the Christian side. The Christian officer states that he has no knowledge of the Muslim arts of war, but that he is well aware of the Austrian ways, and then asks in his turn why following the double defeats of Austrian by the French and the Hungarians, the Ottomans were unable to profit and sought peace instead. The Ottoman suggests that the peace implied is the treaty of Karlowitz, and reminds that [Amcazade Köprülü] Hüseyin Paşa had then justified himself (as the principal negotiator) on the grounds of the need for peace for the welfare of the towns and of the treasury and the multiplication of the troops for future revenge. Indeed, he says, it is obvious that the peasants need peace and that war brings only disaster to them.
The Christian interlocutor then remarks that all realms are governed either with justice or with oppression, and it is the task of wise men in a realm to be aware of the situation in the others; thus, himself has read histories of the Ottoman Empire from its very beginnings, and knows well that the Sultan is wise and just and his acts suitable to the law of wisdom (U110, E590: kanun-ı hikmete muvafıktır). Nevertheless, he finds it striking that Ottoman notables (erkân-ı devlet ve â’yân-ı saltanat) change continuously, while in other countries these posts are given for life or, at any rate, are not taken back unless due to serious offences. The answer is that there can be no comparison between the Ottoman and the other states: in the latter, posts belong to the nobility and are hereditary, while the Sultan grants offices to whoever is worthy (U111, E591). However, it is often difficult to distinguish between worthy and unworthy; moreover, the Exalted State is like the human body, with the Grand Vizier being the head: if the head is lucid and wise, an injured limb may function, while in the opposite case the whole organism will be destroyed.
Then the discussion turns again to the question of military superiority. Here the Christian side observes that the Ottomans stopped observing the rules of the Holy Law, as well as their old laws (kavânîn-ı kadîme). Their officers used to be pious, valiant and zealous, while the soldiers used neither to mix with agriculture and commerce nor to pillage the land. That is why the Austrians, knowing that they could not resist an Ottoman assault, started making trenches and using artillery; they began to practice discipline and training, to collect books on government (umur-ı dahiliyyeye dair kitaplar) and to build warehouses. If the Ottomans did the same, they would be invincible, because the Austrians only know the use of guns and ignore combat with swords. Furthermore, the Austrian army uses a high level of organization, with a hierarchy of officers controlling each other in groups of hundreds and thousands; every contingent has its own uniform, so that deserters may be recognized. Moreover, they use their rifles in turn and in concert, so as shooting never stops. There is no way for an undisciplined army to stand against these troops, all the more since Ottoman ranks are filled with “Turks, Kurds and other groups of corruption”. Discipline and order is on the basis of victory.
The Ottoman interlocutor then asks his Christian counterpart whether he also believes that an interval of peace would be useful for an army to reorganize its discipline and material, so as to be able to come back more powerful (U114, E596); the Christian agrees, but remarks that the victorious side will dictate its peace terms to the defeated. He then stresses that, whereas the soldiers may be disciplined in a short time, it requires a longer term for the officers to be trained in the sciences of war. The discussion moves then to the terms of a possible peace: the Ottoman side asks about the possibility of keeping Belgrade and Temeşvar, as well as of an English intervention, while the Christian keeps emphasizing that whoever has dominated the fields of battle will also be the stronger in negotiation. In the case a peace treaty is not achieved, Ottomans should inspire zeal to their ranks and punish undisciplined soldiers and deserters; but the advice the Christian has to offer for the moment, is that they protect their border with twenty or thirty thousand trustworthy soldiers, trained by Christian officers (tavaif-i nasâradan mürettep) and experienced (and, of course, sworn enemies of Austria), who would be paid with the money that would be used for war (U116, E599). The Ottoman insists that the goal is retaliation, and thus a long time of peace is needed so that order is restored; to which the Christian answers that there are two ways of campaigning, one with constant attack and besieging, and another having an army ready in the borders to inspire fear to the enemy and force him make unnecessary expenses.
Then the discussion goes to considerations about the movements both foes are going to make in the following year, with the Christian giving detailed advice to his enemy. As a conclusion, the Ottoman officer admits the honesty of his interlocutor, but notes that Ottoman history has proved that victory comes with God’s help. As for the victories of the infidels, they fall in the category of istidrac or temporary success, as it had happened with the Crusaders when they managed to capture Jerusalem (U119, E602-603). The dialogue ends with the Christian explaining the alliances and enmities in Europe: the Christian kings, he says, always seek to be equal to each other (U120, E604: beynlerinde müsâvât murâd ederler), as they know that once a kingdom prevails over another it will soon prevail over the other ones as well. Thus, whenever a country shows itself stronger, all the others form an alliance against it; this is illustrated by numerous examples from recent European history.
The text seems to be closer to Es’ad Efendi’s era than to its alleged dating. One recognizes Müteferrika’s description of European military discipline and organization, Vasıf Efendi’s ideas on istidrac, the anonymous (probably Ahmed Resmî Efendi’s) work on the balance of powers (Avrupa’ya mensûb olan mîzân-ı umûr-ı hâriciyye) in the last part on the European system of alliances; finally, the idea of the Europeans copying the initial discipline and order of the Ottoman army reflects similar passages in Ratıb Efendi’s and Koca Sekbanbaşı’s work. This last idea is to be found in Esad Efendi as well: Esad Efendi – Yılmazer 2000, LXXXVIII, 456, 569-570.