Our opinions and advice to the world. Updated whenever we get around to it.

Unwelcome Developments

There is a good piece at OpinionJournal about the deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the United States. Robert L. Pollock observes:
And what a collapse it has been. On a brief visit to Ankara earlier this month with Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, I found a poisonous atmosphere--one in which just about every politician and media outlet (secular and religious) preaches an extreme combination of America- and Jew-hatred that (like the Turkish artists) voluntarily goes far further than anything found in most of the Arab world's state-controlled press. If I hesitate to call it Nazi-like, that's only because Goebbels would probably have rejected much of it as too crude.
Sounds somewhat European doesn't it?

Related to this, I used to read Zaman, a Turkish online daily, nearly every day. But several months ago I noticed that the tone of it's articles was becoming harsher and a bit more extreme.

Why I care about Turkey so much I'll never know. For some unexplainable reason I've always admired the country and it's people. Perhaps I admired Turkey because it tended to use common sense when their European and Arab neighbours perfered pleasant conversation or delusional antics. Who knows?

The times certainly are changing. Not always for the better I guess.


Anonymous said...

The point I’m going to try to make using Turkey as an example is that political leadership counts for a lot more then I used to think it did.

I spoke with a leading Turkish industrialist a couple of years ago who said that he was confident Turkey was on a role unless Erdogan got elected. He said not only was he a religious conservative but Erdogan would be a left leaning, incompetent, leader.

Turkey has nice people, beautiful scenery and Istanbul is a fascinating place. I’ve had dinner under a bridge where the mountain-meets-the-bay, the setting's as gorgeous as San Francisco's in fact I could easily convince myself I was dinning beside the Golden Gate bridge. But the big mistake a lot of business people and politicians make is - Istanbul is not Turkey , even less so then Toronto is not Canada ( sorry) ; Shanghai is not China etc.

Turkey has worked in large part because the army makes sure there is separation of mosque and state. Will that continue ? It depends on the leadership. Turkey's main goal is becoming a "European" country, trying to join the EU over the next decade. Sophisticated Istanbul is probably onside. But the backend of Turkey? who knows? It depends a lot on Erdogan who was probably incompetent when he got elected, has he grown in the job? Hopefully.
But Erdogan is no Ataturk . When thinking back to the 1920’s, Ataturk’s leadership is quite remarkable. The Islamic world could use more Ataturks.
(Dana sorry this comment is longer then your post)

Dana said...

I tend to agree with your comment that political leadership is much more important than we'ld like to believe. Not just in Turkey but everywhere.

As for Turkey I'm concerned because with Erdogan's victory the tone of the public discourse has taken on a particularly European or Arab direction in regards to capitalism, the United States, Israel, and a whole host of other issues.

I always wanted Turkey to reach out to the Western world but I suspect that in the long term that isn't likely. Europeans do not want Turkey to join the EU and the average Turk knows it. How long will it take before Turks get sick of being lectured to and turn back East?

Anonymous said...

And that’s what worries me too Dana

When I had dinner beside that bridge , as the drinks flowed and the nite wore on , my host turned to the idea that maybe if things got worse he should bail out. That’s a huge problem in the underdeveloped world, the honest people with brains leave.

If they don’t join the EU ( and the Mitterand gaffed with the truth that Turkey would never be part of Christian Europe -hypocrisy because it's post Christian ) then I think we should offer them NAFTA. I think Turkey is one of the keys to bridging Islam to the West.

Otherwise as you say “ How long will it take before Turks get sick of being lectured to and turn back East?”

I enjoy your blog,
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